Next... a real one!

Ready for the first horse? ~ photo by Gabby Ledger

UK-based horse junkie Joyce Pearson has been riding horses since she was a young girl and now has two of her own. She sent us a blog post with tips for first-time horse buyers. Thanks Joyce!

Buying Your First Horse

If you have been riding other people’s horses all your life, then you will be desperate to own your own. However, it is a massive commitment and not something that should be rushed into, no matter how excited you are.  Horses are expensive after all!

It’s not just the cost of buying the horse you have to take into consideration; it’s the monthly cost of keeping that horse happy and the daily commitment you have to be willing to put in, no matter what the weather is doing.

Before you even start looking for your new friend, it is important to work out all the costs:

•    How much will it cost you per month?
•    How much can you afford to pay for a horse?
•    How much will the insurance cost?
•    How much can you afford to put aside for any emergencies that may arise?

You also need to consider where your horse is going to live. This decision will depend on how much time you have to spend with the horse. If you have a busy lifestyle, then you should seriously consider boarding your horse in a livery yard (aka barn for American readers).

There are different types of livery available so you can choose the one that suits your needs the best.  A full livery would be the best option if you work full-time as this means the yard will be responsible for the day-to-day tasks like mucking-out, turning the horse out and daily feeding. If you have more free time, then you can opt for part livery where you would be more involved in looking after the horse. The level of livery service obviously affects the price you will pay so it’s a good idea to work out what you will need, how much it will cost you and to find a location for your horse before you even start looking.

It is also a good idea to write a list of what you are looking for from a horse. Think about the level of experience you would like the horse to have and what your needs will be.  This will help you to narrow down your options when you start searching.  The best place to start your search is on a listings site, like Horse Deals, as this will give you a wide selection to start with and it is very easy to take the requirements from your checklist and put them into the search part of the site.

Once you have narrowed it down to a few options, make sure to write out a list of questions that you would like to ask the current owners and then give them a ring before deciding whether to go and visit. If you do go for a visit then make sure you take your list with you. It is all too easy to get distracted by an amazing horse that is nothing like what is on your list.

Your list will stop you from getting too carried away and will help to guide you in the questions you want to ask. If you don’t consider yourself an expert then take someone more knowledgeable with you who will know exactly what to look for. Watch the horse’s behaviour closely throughout your visit as the temperament of your horse is one of, if not the most, important aspect.  Make sure you take a shot at grooming him yourself so you can see exactly what kind of horse he is.

Ask the current owner to ride the horse first; this gives you the opportunity to see how he rides before you jump on yourself. It is a very good idea to go and visit the horse on more than one occasion so that you can ride him in different locations to check that this is the horse for you.  Possibly the most important part of the whole process is having the horse checked by a vet. Whatever you do, DO NOT hand over money for a horse that has not been given a clean bill of health.

If the owner seems wary of a vetting then you would have to ask yourself why and if they have something to hide. If they are reluctant then it might be wise to give that particular horse a miss. The current owner shouldn’t have anything to hide and if they seem as though they are trying to keep something from you, then it is a good idea to ask them up front. Anything suspicious should be a warning that something is not right.

All this advice can seem a little bit on the boring side. After all, all you really want to do is buy a horse, get it home and start riding. However all of these steps are completely necessary to make sure you don’t make a mistake you will live to regret.