Buying your first horse or pony is a pretty daunting experience. Unless you have been riding for years and perhaps already had a horse on loan or share, chances are you are still a bit of a newbie in the horse riding world.
You know that you love it but how can you safely take that first step and locate and purchase your dream horse?
The internet is stuffed full of horror stories so read on and take a look at our top tips, designed to keep you on the straight and narrow and contributed by experienced riders who have bought and sold numerous horses...straight from the horse’s mouth!
Before you even start the process, take stock and truly understand the commitment of owning a horse or pony 24/7 every day, 365 days a year come rain or shine, health and illness.
Many people sensibly loan or part share a horse before they buy their own, sharing the burden of responsibility, time and cost with someone else.
This is a perfect, managed introduction to the concept of caring for and managing a horse, something you could of course also do once you have bought your own
Think realistically about the most suitable type of horse for you in terms of horse breeds, age, height and type.
Many people make the mistake of thinking they can learn together with their new equine friend and buy something too young and novice, sometimes referred to as, ‘green’.
The other common error is buying a horse that is simply too large!!
Different horse breeds are predisposed to different jobs, have distinct temperaments and some require more care than others, for example, a hardy native pony may not require stabling for most of the year whereas a full Thoroughbred would, certainly during the winter months. This impacts on both your time and your pocket
Write a wish list and major on the key factors such as age and health rather than issues that are less essential. Don’t get hung up on colour - a good horse is never a bad colour!
Set a reasonable budget. The purchase price is only the beginning of your costs.
You should have any prospective horse vetted to check it is sound in wind and limb before the sale proceeds and the vet will charge a fee for this – it can get expensive if you see a few and they all fail the vet.
You will also need to budget for your tack, the saddle being the biggest cost although everything else will soon add up
Think about where you are going to keep your new horse, do you have any local stables or are you planning on using land at home?
Is the perfect yard with dream facilities just too far away? How long will it take you to go there and back twice a day?
Some people who work full time opt for full livery where everything is done for you – clearly, this is also the most expensive arrangement.
There are variations on a theme commonly called part livery down to DIY or Do it Yourself where you do everything for the horse.
If you share with a friend then you can share the chores too but assisted livery can work well – help only when you need it
Apart from getting any prospective new horse vetted before the sale, it is also worth taking advice from a professional such as your instructor who knows your riding well or a knowledgeable and trusted friend.
They can help keep you on the straight and narrow so you don’t fall in love with totally the wrong horse.
A competent trainer or coach can spot problems or lameness with a possible purchase that will immediately rule that horse out and save you the heartache of an emotional commitment to an unsuitable animal and an unnecessary vets’ bill into the bargain
Plan out where you are going to look for horses for sale mostly done online these days. Facebook no longer allows horses to be advertised for sale but there are ways around this.
You could think about buying from a dealer who may be able to show you a number of different horses for sale and offer deals on different horses. Whoever you buy from, remember the golden rule, ‘buyer beware’ or ‘caveat emptor’.
It is up to you to find out as much as possible about this horse before you buy. A vet will only cover issues of physical health so ride, behaviour, temperament and vices will all be your call
For your first horse or pony, you shouldn’t need to travel too far afield. Don’t be tempted to journey for hundreds of miles unless you are really certain about what you are going to see.
An owner should usefully be able to share images with your and also film ahead of your visit
Who is going to ride the horse when you go to view?
Ensure the horse is ridden by its usual rider or someone representing the owner before you get on.
You should see that the horse is safe and comfortable under saddle before you put a foot in the stirrup.
You may have turned up in your jodhpurs but be prepared to walk away if you don’t like what you see for any reason – this horse will probably be unknown to you and your safety is paramount. If you take your trainer, then they can ride the horse before you do
Buying a horse or pony is an enormous commitment but it remains an equestrian dream for many.
Be prepared for long hours of hard work, cost and challenging times when things don’t run smoothly. But don’t underestimate the huge bond you will forge with your new equine friend and the fun and joyous times that lie ahead.
Make sure to sign-up to our mailing list to receive more useful equestrian information.