Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

How to... Buy a Horse or Pony

There are very few riders who do not yearn to have a horse of their own. It isn't as simple as going out and handing over your hard earned money though. You need to consider whether you have the time, money and expertise to take on this huge commitment. Do you have the time? A horse needs to be checked at least twice a day and this will usually involve a car journey to the stables and back, so you will have to find time before and after school or work to fit this into your daily routine. You will also have to allow time for unexpected delays as horses have a knack of causing you extra work by knocking over water buckets or damaging rugs, fences or even themselves! Horses are creatures of habit and like a set routine, changes to this can cause some horses great distress and anxiety. Your weekday lifestyle is likely to dictate the routine you set for your horse, so you will have to be prepared to stick to this on your days off too, even if that means you lose your weekend lie ins. It is worth remembering too, that any holidays you plan to take will also involve finding a capable and knowledgeable person to care for your horse whilst you are away. Can you afford the expense? When deciding what your budget will be to buy your horse, remember to take into account all the extra costs that are involved with buying your first horse. Although you will hopefully have the correct riding kit, you are unlikely to have everything you need to be a responsible horse owner. The most basic equipment you'd need to be able to care for your horse is as follows
  1. Headcollar and Leadrope
  2. First Aid Kit
  3. Grooming Kit
  4. Bridle and bit
  5. Saddle, including girth, leathers and irons
  6. Feed bucket
  7. Water bucket
  8. Haynet
Total cost £209.95 Bear in mind, this is the very minimum cost for basic equipment and you are highly likely to need more kit than is listed here. Most horse owners want to rug their horse up when the weather turns wet and cold. Its advisable to have at least two turnouts so you always have a dry rug to put on your horse, and at least one quilted rug for when your horse is stabled. Owning a horse involves a huge financial commitment every month, in the Northwest of England you're likely to pay the following:
  1. DIY livery charges £25 per week
  2. Worming £12 every 6-8 weeks
  3. Shoes £50 per set of 4
  4. Dentist £30
  5. Booster Vaccinations £30
  6. Feed £7 per bag
  7. Bedding £6 per bale of shavings
  8. and vet's fees... unlimited costs
Do you know your limits and aspirations? Finding the perfect horse is impossible, they just do not exist, finding the perfect horse for you is achievable but you must be realistic in your expectations and requirements. Its always advisable especially when buying your first horse to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced person. You must be sure of your riding ability and your competence in handling a horse from the ground (this is something first time horse owners often have very little experience of). Its likely that you will also need to broaden your knowledge of horse care and stable management. There are courses designed especially for horse owners, these will provide potential owners with the basic knowledge needed. It may help if you write a list of all the qualities you would like in your horse, working from the most important at the top of your list, down to less important but desirable characteristics near the bottom. Be careful not to be too ambitious, thinking you can learn to ride a more advanced horse, this will undoubtedly result in an accident and possibly injury to yourself, your horse or both. Finding the right horse for you can be a long process, don't be tempted to rush into buying the first horse you see. It is likely that you will have to view several horses before you find your ideal equine partner. Can I buy a horse at my local tack shop?
This may sound like a silly question but the answer could be 'Yes''. Although Robinsons don't actually sell horses themselves, they do have a notice board which advertises horses and equestrian related services so this may be a good place to start your search. Also try checking the facebook group, Robinsons Online Riding Club, as members can also advertise their horse for sale there. There are many magazines and newspapers too which feature equestrian adverts.
Also try asking any horsey friends you may have, as they may know someone who is selling a horse that is suitable for you. Avoid sales and markets, as you have no idea of the horse's history and even the most experienced horseperson can be caught out. Horse dealers and traders can offer trial facilities, but beware, as not all are reputable. Although they may offer to exchange an unsuitable horse, they will rarely refund you. Try to get several recommendations from satisfied customers before you visit any dealer. Ask lots of questions Once you have identified some horses that sound right for you, ring the seller for more details. Compile a list of questions to ask on the phone so you can determine some more details and be more confident that you aren't going to have a wasted journey. Here are some basic questions but many more can be added depending on your specific requirements.
  1. Ask why the horse is for sale - but beware that you may not always get a truthful answer.
  2. Confirm the horse's age, sex, height and cost - a mistake in the advert could make the horse unsuitable for you.
  3. Has the horse had any serious or ongoing illnesses or injuries?
  4. Does the owner have a passport and are all vaccinations recorded on it and up to date?
  5. Does the horse have any vices, whilst stabled or ridden?
  6. Are tack and rugs included in the price?
  7. Will the horse hack out alone and in traffic?
  8. What is the horse like to catch, load and clip?
  9. Confirm that someone else is prepared to ride the horse before you.
Although you may feel like you are bombarding the seller with questions, the answers could help to prevent wasting your time and theirs with a visit to a horse that is unsuitable for your needs. If you still think the horse sounds right for you after you've asked all your questions, arrange a viewing and make sure your advisor is able to go along with you. Ask for detailed directions as stables are rarely on a map or easily located street. Viewing a horse
When you arrive to see the horse, ask to see it being led in hand at walk and trot, observe whether the horse remains calm when asked to trot. Run your hands over its body, starting with the neck and going down each leg in turn. Observe how the horse reacts to your touch and whether he objects to having his feet picked up, enquire how any lumps or scars have occured. If you are happy with what you have seen so far, ask to see the horse tacked up and ridden. It is perfectly acceptable to ask to see the horse ridden in walk, trot and canter on both reins, jump a small fence and be ridden on a public road. If the seller is not willing to do this, ask why as these are all things you will want to do if you purchase the horse. Once you are happy that the horse is safe and is of the right standard for your riding, ask to ride the horse yourself. Again you should ride the horse in walk, trot and canter on both reins and try a small jump. Your first horse should be well schooled with good manners so check this for yourself by riding several circles and transitions.
Once you feel satisfied you've asked all the necessary questions, thank the owner for their time. If you feel that the horse is not right for you, tell them politely as they will appreciate your honesty. If you think the horse is suitable, don't make a rush decision. Instead, tell the owner you will be in touch and discuss your feelings with your advisor. Buying 'THE ONE' When you are happy that you have found the right horse for you, it is strongly recommended that you ask a vet to carry out a pre-purchase examination. This will check that your potential new horse has no ailments or health concerns. Be sure to tell the vet exactly what you will want to do with your horse, and enquire exactly what the vet does and does not check for so you are confident that the horse chosen will be fit for your chosen discipline. Providing you are happy with the vet's findings, you can now complete the purchase of your first horse. It's advisable to request a receipt from the owner and possibly a contract of sale which includes
  1. The sale date and price paid
  2. Signature and name of the owner and yourself
  3. A brief description of the horse bought along with any Freezemark or Microchip number the horse may have
Make sure that you receive the horse's passport at the time of the sale and that you send it off straight away to amend the ownership details. Allow yourselves time to adjust
Try to arrange for your horse to arrive at his new yard during a quiet period of the day, and allow him to get accustomed to his new stable without an audience of admirers looking over his door. Remember that it may take at least a few weeks for him to feel completely settled in his new surroundings, so spend the time getting to know his character and let him get to know you. Once you have both built up a relationship you can enjoy fun rides together, and maybe join a local riding club. Always try to keep up regular lessons with a qualified Instructor so you can improve your experience and neither you nor your horse develop bad habits. Enjoy your new horse and the adventures that come with it.

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