Important Factors to Consider

When it comes to horses, they're like humans. Some are high strung, while others are content to sit around and eat. There are a few things to consider when purchasing a horse.

Purpose

The first thing to consider is its intended purpose. Will this be an athlete or a pet? Some breeds are used for specific purposes, such as Arabian horses being used heavily in endurance and competitive trail riding. If a show horse is desired, a registered pedigree helps when signing up for competitions, and with a horse’s papers comes a club that supports specific competitions for certain horse breeds.

Conformation

Conformation is the way a horse is put together. It helps to get a second opinion on this, be it a trainer, veterinarian or friend. Any second set of eyes will insure it isn’t being bought purely as an emotional purchase.

It’s also recommended to get a veterinarian to look at a horse and its records if they’re available – especially if this horse will be resold or used in a competitive setting. Even a pet will need to be inspected with care to make sure no injuries are being hidden from the new owner.

Rider Experience Level

A lazy horse will not succeed on a cross country course, just as a hot-headed horse will not be a good fit as a beginner lesson horse. That being said, a potential owner needs to recognize his or her experience level. The horse should challenge, but not frustrate or frighten, a potential rider.

If the seller cannot guarantee a horse is child safe, it’s not for a child looking for that first horse. To understand what level a rider is at, lessons are suggested for at least a year so that the rider understands what being a horse owner means. Experience level doesn’t just mean a rider can get on a horse and get it to work. It also means a potential owner can handle the horse’s every chore and problem.

Space

Horses, like people, need to play and let off steam. Because of this, they need space to run around and be a horse. It’s generally accepted that the average horse needs roughly one acre to itself. Multiple horses require multiple acres. Therefore, when purchasing a horse, this should amount to at least one acre of space to roam with water and hay available at all times – per horse.

Do not purchase a horse without at least a place to keep it; a back yard is not a suitable environment for a horse unless it is one acre with some sort of place to get out of the weather.

Budget

The first place to start is the money it takes to purchase the horse. How much horse can the owner afford? Is it a reasonable expectation to have for a beginner safe horse to have a price tag of less than $1,000? It depends on the market. If a horse isn’t available that ticks off every item of the checklist, don’t purchase it.

At the end of the day, purchasing anything is a risk assessment. Horses are no different. As a general rule, it’s best to at least test drive the horse as if it’s a car purchase. Go see the horse. Pick up its hooves. Have it under tack if you can. Do as much as you can. Try to see its faults, and decide if they’re worth working through. Ask for a trial period with the horse before going through with the purchase.

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