Can You Afford A Horse, and Where Will You Keep It?
The first thing to consider is the monetary investment. You are about to add a very large member to your family, and you should treat it like you’re preparing for a baby! What will you do if your horse gets sick, how will you keep them warm in the winter, will you be able to spend enough time with them, do they have enough space, what kinds of plants are poisonous to horses, what kinds of foods and treats are healthy for them, and the list of considerations goes on and on. Many of these concerns can be handled by your local stable, but boarding is often the more costly option (like sending your child boarding school) and really, if you’re the one buying the horse, you should be the one doing the necessary research. Ask for advice, and read as much as you can!
Why Do You Want A Horse?
Now that you have a budget and living situation all figured out, make a list of exactly what you will expect from the horse. This will narrow down the breed, age range, and maybe even gender that you look for. If it’s a horse for your child, probably best to steer clear of that spirited Arabian, and no need to break the bank on a hoity toity show horse if you’re really only planning to take it on trail rides around the property. If you do plan on entering horse competitions, you will want to do additional research on the trainers and stable that the prospective horse is coming from, as well as look into the horse’s lineage.
Looks Don’t Matter
I know it’s tempting to focus on how a horse looks, but unless you plan on competing it really doesn’t matter! Don’t get a horse you think is absolutely ugly, but don’t let their breed or coat become a tie-breaker between the perfect horse for you and a horse you’ll be unhappy with. Temperament and training and age and so many other things should rank before appearances when making your decision. Seriously. And I know it’s hard, I or one always dreamed of owning a slew of Shires, or a posse of Peruvian Paso Finos, but practically speaking a nice Quarter Horse or Paint would do just fine for my trail-riding purposes.
You Found The Perfect Horse! Now What?
Most importantly, ride the horse more than once before purchasing it, even ask for a trial period if possible. The horse will be nervous, and you need to spend time with it on different days in different moods. Think of it like the courting period, the first date probably won’t be the best indicator of their personality, but as you start to get to know each other better you’ll get a feel for your mutual compatibility. Watch how the horse behaves when approached in the pasture, while being tacked up, how does it respond when you’re riding, how does it respond when others are riding, etcetera.
Once you’ve both gotten to know each other a bit, as a final step it’s probably wise to bring a vet along with you (or someone experienced in spotting red flags in the horse’s conformation/health) to give the final go-ahead. If everything checks out, and you’re not buying the horse for it’s appearance or buying an untrained horse because it’s cheaper or any other number of no-no reasons, then…