It’s only natural to be confused and anxious before you commit to buy something. Be it a car, a house or your first horse, the decision-making process is always the toughest. Therefore, if you’re confused on how to buy your first horse, you’ve come to the right place.
This article will list down the factors that you should consider when buying your first horse.
Tips for Buying Your First Horse
Buying your first horse is actually no different from buying a car. If you have not carried out enough research, your experience might turn out to be a daunting one. We care about your relationship with your new pet and also know how important it is to provide you with the right tips to buy your first horse.
1. Keep Your Safety in Mind
No matter what kind of a horse you buy or how much money you spend, it won’t matter if you’re not well-trained and the horse ends up hurting you.
It is important to know that breed and color are not the only factors that should be considered before making a decision. It is only romanticizing to want a beautiful fast horse but we strongly suggest consulting an expert trainer and evaluating your riding skills. If you’re a beginner, then you should go for a starter horse breed that is safe for you and will help you learn basic horsemanship skills.
This article will further guide you on how to look out for a well-trained and well-mannered horse before making the final purchase. However, it is also important to learn the basic skill of riding and keep upgrading yourself before you buy a horse. Always remember you can buy another horse as your skills get better but if you get hurt, your relationship with horses might be scarred forever.
Whatever the case is, your safety should be the primary pointer on your buying a horse checklist.
2. Planning a Budget
Money is the most important element that decides what kind of horse you’ll buy. The initial purchase price of the horse will depend on various factors such as breed, age, color and skills.
Before finalizing your budget, you need to know the purpose of buying a horse. If you want to just go out and have a good ride, then a beginner horse might be best for you. On the other hand, if you’re an ambitious racer, you should be ready to go deeper into your pockets.
However, I always suggest starting with a beginner horse as it helps you learn the basic aspect of controlling your ride and is always the safest option.
One important thing to remember is that the initial purchase price is just a fraction of the amount you’ll be spending on your horse. Horses require frequent and costly maintenance. The expenses may include:
- Boarding charges (These are full-time horse care facilities)
- Vet visits
- Farrier charges (a trim is required every 6-8 months)
- Ride learning lessons
- Stabling and caretaker chargers
- Feed and supplements
- Miscellaneous expenses
It’s not always feasible to accommodate your horse in a stable. The cost can be very high pertaining to various factors such as the quality of care and shelter your pet is provided.
Therefore, always consult a horse-owner before finalizing your budget. This will give you a more realistic idea of how much money you will be spending on buying a horse for the first time.
3. Choose the Right Type of Horse
Once you’ve finalized your budget, you might get into the specifics of the mare. Usually, horse-owners will look into four major factors before buying a horse
Just like cats and dogs, horses also have a variety of breeds. It is important to remember that a general outline might be laid forth for an entire breed. Horses are individualistic animals and major personality differences will be seen in the same breed very often.
However, if you’re a beginner, some breeds have to be completely avoided. For instance, the Thoroughbred and most Arab horses are generally very pacy and strong. This makes it extremely hard to find the right balance and control while riding them.
It’s good to buy cob-type horses and ride them to find the right balance first. Similarly, if the horse has been bred as a cross between two heavy breeds, it should be suitable for a beginner to train on.
As a rule of thumb, you might want to buy the same breed as your training-horse so that you may be well aware of its specifics.
It is important to remember that age and experience are two different factors. Age is, however, a very important aspect of a horse due to a common misconception. A first-time horse owner’s checklist will usually include a young horse that could grow up with the family. Although this sounds very cute initially, it might lead to disaster.
Young horses are usually untrained in both skill and temperament. Therefore, when owned by novice owners, they will begin to dominate and your experience would turn out to be a dreadful one once again.
If you’re a beginner, never completely eliminate the option of a well-trained, older horse. Even a 15-year-old active horse can be expected to serve you for a long time.
Color is probably the most important aspect of a horse’s aesthetics. It is quite true that a dark black or a clear white color seems to be pretty appealing initially, but trust me, this isn’t really a big factor in the long run.
Temperament and training are the most important aspects to look for. Usually, an eye for color makes you overlook these factors. Hence, always look into the other factors first and keep color as a secondary factor at best.
When it comes to the gender of a horse, this aspect might be ignored at times but can prove to be very important. Horses can be divided into three categories when it comes to their gender:
- Mares (female horses)
- Stallions (uncastrated male horses)
- Geldings (castrated male horses)
Mares are usually very loving animals but they can become very sensitive during their estrus cycle (breeding period). Thus, they aren’t considered the best option for beginners.
Stallions are probably the worst choice for beginners. They are aggressive and their high testosterone levels make them very difficult to ride.
Geldings have been castrated and therefore do not usually possess a lot of aggression. They are broadly considered the best option to be on your “buying a first horse checklist.”
This is only a generic analysis, however, and whenever you’re buying a horse, examine its individual temperament rather than assuming it.
4. Know the Right Place to Buy the Horse
After answering the question of which horse is right, we can safely move on to the part where we discuss where we can find one. The most important thing to remember is to always buy your horse through a personal sale rather than an auction.
As we discussed, the horse’s training and temperament are the most important qualities and these cannot be judged for in an auction. In fact, horses naturally freeze when they see such huge crowds and they might even be drugged to appear calmer than they actually are.
Secondly, try to involve your personal instructor or someone who knows about horse markets in your decision-making process. Focus on the advertisements for such sales and do not let yourself be misled. For instance, avoid advertisements relating to pregnant-mares and hyper-horses. Some ads might be specific for experts and you as a beginner should avoid them at all costs.
Lastly, after consulting with your instructor, choose a horse-farm close to your stable and pick a farm that raises its own horses and trains them individually. A well-raised horse is the best option no matter where you buy it from.
5. Avoid Impulsive Buying
Everyone’s really excited when buying their first horse. This feeling of restlessness is natural. However, this excitement should never translate into impulsive buying. For many people buying a horse is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So, savor this feeling and take your time before reaching a decision.
Once you visit a horse ranch, try and look for multiple choices. Ask a lot of questions and let the owner untie the horse in front of you so that you may see how it behaves. Visit multiple sites and compare the nature, agility, appearance and all the other aspects of one horse with the others. Even while purchasing the horse, always ask the owner for a trial period.
Consult your trainer at every step of the way and give yourself a few days before you decide on finally buying your own horse.
6. Buying a Trained Horse
I’ve been stressing on always looking out for a trained horse but what kind of a horse is this? And how can you determine whether a horse is well-trained or not?
First of all, it is very important to determine whether the horse’s temperament matches your requirements. For instance, if you decide to keep the horse in a busy area, then make sure that its upbringing has been among multiple people and that it enjoys the hustle and bustle that comes with it.
When you visit the farm, spend time with the horse and make sure that the horse is tracked in front of you so that you may see how aggressive it is while coming out of its pasture. Always ask the owner to ride the horse first and meanwhile focus on how submissive or aggressive the horse is during mounting.
Let the owner ride for ample time and through open spaces to judge the speed and control of the horse. Also notice how often it tries to disobey the rider. If the owner’s ride is smooth, mount on the horse yourself and see how receptive it is to you. If it tries to attack you during the mounting phase or tries to get out of hold during the ride, this horse might not be the best option.
Once again take an expert with you who can aptly judge the horse’s movements and give yourself time and multiple rides before you make a final decision.
7. Notice the Personality of the Horse
While training does link to this aspect as well, manners and personality are broader scopes that should be evaluated otherwise as well. Make sure that your horse is friendly and loving. Ask the owner to let you spend some alone time with it and judge its non-verbal cues.
The horse should be willing to let you pet it after some time and will prick its ears when it sees you. As a beginner, this well-mannered personality should be on your checklist for buying a horse.
8. Know Your Personal Riding Level
I know we’re all craving for well-built and agile horses when we look at horse races, but it is important to not overestimate our abilities.
As beginners, you need reliable and predictable horses in order to gain confidence in the saddle. It will take time to develop more advanced skills and a beginner horse like the American Quarter will offer just the right pace and control.
Beginner horses know that they need to take care of their riders, and are understanding teachers when their riders make mistakes.
Therefore, consult your trainer to get an unbiased evaluation of your riding skills. Once you buy the right horse, work on your skills so that you can move on to the more advanced breeds.
9. Arranging the Right Space for Your Horse
Stabling is a major part of a horse owner’s expenses and it adds up if a caretaker is kept to attend the horse at all times. Excessive shelter, strong fencing and an adequate exercise area for riding and paddocking are the major requirements of a stable.
Alternatively, one must be ready to bear the expenses of boarding the horse away from home. Although that is more expensive, it keeps your horse under good care at all times and also gives it enough space to live in.
If you can afford it, look for boarding facilities near your place as it is a more convenient and better place for your horse to live in.
10. Know the Horse’s History
As I have emphasized before, do not hesitate in finding out everything about your horse. Ask the owner multiple questions about the horse’s lifestyle and its history. Connect to all the previous owners and get a complete picture before taking any decision.
11. Consult the Horse’s Previous Vet And a New Vet
As far as the horse’s personality development is considered, we consult all its previous owners. Similarly, the horse’s vet should be consulted to medically examine the wellness of the horse.
The previous vet can provide the health records of the horse and you can find out if it has major health issues and how fit it is. Meanwhile, the new vet can independently examine all parts of the horse and make sure that it has not been sedated to hide any disabilities.
Make sure you, alongside a trusted expert, witness the examination so that the results can be fully trusted. Only after a complete medical evaluation should you make the decision of buying the horse.
FAQs About Buying Your First Horse
You still might have some questions regarding this big decision you’re about to undertake. To answer all those queries is this informative FAQs section
What should a beginner look for when buying a horse?
It is important to financially and mentally plan your first horse-purchase. Therefore, a beginner should first identify why he needs a horse and should consult an expert on whether he is ready to buy a horse. If yes, a financial plan should be prepared considering the purchase price, maintenance cost and stable preparations for the horse.
As a beginner, one would require a well-trained, loving and preferably an older horse.
What is the best horse to buy for a beginner?
A horse is pretty much like a car and the right horse can only be identified after taking into account the personal preferences, requirements and personality of the buyer. A beginner would most probably require a mature gelding that belongs to one of the beginner breeds. The breed, age and gender will once again vary from one individual to another.
What to do when you first get a horse?
After you have bought your first horse, make sure that its stable is fully ready. Check the shelter, make sure the fencing is strong, and clear the exercising area. Buy the additional equipment such as boots and saddle, and make sure they are in-place beforehand. Try to make the stable as receiving and adjusting for the horse as possible.
Make sure there is adequate pasture available and if not, arrange some hay and other feed according to the requirements of the horse. Finally, if the horse is not vaccinated, get its vaccinations done as soon as possible.
What do you need for your first pony?
A pony will require a proper stable to live in. It should be provided with adequate shelter and a good exercising area. Equipment such as a saddle and boots should be arranged and the pony should be fully vaccinated. Food nutrients and natural hay are the most welcoming gifts for the new member.