Buying your first horse is incredibly exciting but if you are to get the perfect horse for you it’s important to take a step back and not get carried away – buying a horse on impulse is never a good idea for any owner.
When setting out to search for your first horse there are a few mistakes to avoid and a few pointers to consider so here are our top tips:
- Make sure you can afford it :
Before you start looking at horses you need to be sure you can afford not only the purchase of the horse but also the vet bills, stable fees, feed, tack etc… as all of this can add up. You also need to consider insurance costs as well.
- Make sure you have the time for a horse :
Make sure you have enough time to look after your horse on a daily basis or the ability to pay and trust someone else to do it for you.
- Green is not a good idea :
If you are new to horse ownership then buying a horse described as green is not a good idea. Green horses have little experience and will need educating, and are likely to be unpredictable and young – definitely not the right combination for a novice rider.
You would be far better off looking for a sensible, older horse which you can rely on and who will have a whole history you can explore with its previous owner. Go for horses which are at least five years old as a first time.
- Get a horse the right size for your needs :
Go for a horse or pony which is the right size for what you need – bigger doesn’t necessarily mean steadier or better. Go for the right size of horse to suit what you are comfortable riding rather than what looks impressive.
- Make sure the horse likes being handled :
The last thing you want from your first horse is one that is going to fight you every step of the way and which hates being handled. Check the horse’s manners as you need to be able to work in partnership while you are riding. It needs to be friendly and affectionate and responsive.
- Avoid hot-headed breeds :
If you are a novice rider or owner then it’s best to avoid horse breeds which are highly strung such as Arabs or Thoroughbreds, or show horses. Go for a more even tempered horse, perhaps a cross-breed as a first choice. Consider the breed of horse which you learnt to ride on as a good starting point.
- Look at the horse’s temperament :
Consider what the horse is used to and its temperament – if you are moving it to live on its own and it’s been used to a lot of company in a big stable it might change when you get it home – it needs to be able to adjust to its new living conditions.
- Handle the horse yourself :
Whenever you go to view a potential horse for yourself, make sure you handle the animal directly – tack it up, catch it from the field and ride it – do everything you would do if it was your own horse to see how it responds and how you get along.
- Trust your instincts :
Always trust your instincts when it comes to choosing an animal as it needs to be a partnership. If you find yourself questioning it or making excuses for the horse then it’s not right for you and you should steer clear.
- Get it vet checked
If you find a horse you are considering then ask a qualified vet to carry out a pre-purchase examination to make sure your chosen animal is in good health as they will be able to pick up any issues which you might not be able to see.
If you want to insure your horse for vet fees then an examination is essential and it’s also good to know if there are any potential issues or problems to be aware of.
- Make sure the paperwork matches up
You need to check that the horse matches the paperwork and you are not being sold a different animal. You need to ask for the horse’s history including previous owner records, vaccination and medical history.
Buying your first horse is a really exciting time but if you get it wrong it could become a costly mistake and cause all kinds of riding confidence issues. If you follow the steps outlined here you won’t go far wrong and your new partnership with your new horse should be a successful and fun one, bringing joy to the whole family. Just make sure you don’t pick a horse you can’t handle.