How To Avoid Mistakes When Buying A Horse

Buying a horse can be a complicated and confusing process. It is important to know what kind of horse you are looking for and have a plan laid out before you begin shopping. The article below discusses some tips to help your horse buying experience.

Whether you’re buying your first horse or your 21st, it is both an exciting and scary process. You have dreamed of the day when you could own this horse, and you want everything to be perfect. There are several things you can do to improve your chances of selecting a suitable horse.

Know Your Requirements

If you don’t know what you are looking for, you won’t find it. Have a list of what you want in a horse and imperfections you are willing to accept because there is no perfect horse. Consider your equestrian goals and what attributes a horse would need to attain these goals with you. Determine your riding level or have a riding instructor or professional trainer assess your skills.

Enlist A Professional

If you are inexperienced, enlist the help of an equine professional. In an online query by Equus magazine, one of the major causes of a sale that did not turn out well was buyers purchasing unsuitable horses. Another cause was the buyer lacking knowledge or the financial assets to keep the horse healthy and able to perform to its ability. Make sure that the professional you enlist has no conflict of interest through prior contact with the seller.

Consult A Veterinarian

Consider having your veterinarian perform a pre-purchase exam. This may include including taking radiographs (X-rays), checking for lameness and taking blood samples in horses you are seriously considering buying. Blood samples may be drawn for the purpose of determining a complete blood count, chemistry analysis, Coggins’ test for equine infectious anemia, drug testing for analgesics and tranquilizers, equine viral arteritis (EVA) titers for broodmares and EVA or piroplasmosis testing for horses traveling abroad. You should discuss testing with your veterinarian to see what tests he or she recommends for the type of horse you are interested in purchasing.

The most common deceit practiced in horse sales is use of local or systemic medications to mask physical or behavioral problems. Make sure the veterinarian does not know the seller; most will refuse to do the exam if they know the seller due to possible conflict of interest. Attend the exam yourself so that you can hear what is said. Realize that the pre-purchase exam is not a guarantee nor will a horse “pass” or “fail.” Instead, you will simply be made aware of the veterinarian’s findings.

Check All Paperwork

Carefully inspect the horse to be sure it matches the description on the papers and consider contacting the registry to double check that the horse is registered. Consider contacting previous owners to ask about the horses’ physical condition and normal behavior under their care.

Ask Direct Questions

In general, sellers not legally obligated to volunteer information about the horse they are selling unless directly asked. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, Sales Article 2, horses are considered “goods.” This code has been adopted by every state with minor variations. According to the code, the seller must truthfully answer the buyer’s questions, or the seller may be guilty of fraud and selling a horse that was not as warranted. Instead of asking if the horse has any vices when riding, ask, “Does he buck when ridden? Does he rear when ridden?” Direct questions such as these may result in hesitation by the seller when responding if the seller is hiding something. If looking for a seasoned show horse, ask for a list of shows where it has competed and any awards its won and then verify the information. Watch the horse in action at a show if it is currently showing in order to see how the horse behaves in that environment.

Show Up Early

By arriving early, you may be able to see things like how hard a horse is to catch, halter, lead and tack up. You will get a good idea of its ground manners.

Evaluate the horse’s conformation.

Do not be distracted by an attractive head. This does not mean that the rest of the horse has good conformation. Remember the old adage, “Pretty is as pretty does.” Have knowledge of the ideal horse for the breed and compare the horse you looking at to this ideal to see where it comes up short, or consult an equine professional for assistance in judging conformation. The horse’s conformation can dictate future soundness concerns as well.

Watch The Horse As It Is Ridden

Ideally, the owner, or the representative, should be able to ride the horse and show it in its best form. If the owner is injured, it may be from the horse. If the owner does not provide a rider to ride the horse before you, assume there’s a problem.

Examine Its Attitude:

  • Is it calm or tense, does it avoid work or is it ready to go?
  • Watch for head tossing, which could be a sign of resistance, mouth problems or allergies.
  • Look for lameness when it is trotting, as well as stiffness.
  • Make certain the horse is worked both directions at all gaits.

Ride The Horse Yourself

When the horse is cantering or loping, watch and determine if the horse has an even cadence and if it picks up the proper lead readily in both directions. Also listen to its breathing during cantering and see if it is regular, relaxed and in time with its strides, with no rattling or gurgling.

As another test, if it is within the skills you will ask the horse to perform, consider taking the horse out of the arena and trot it up and down some hills.

  • Does the horse have comfortable gaits?
  • Is the horse relaxed and fun to ride?

Write A Good Contract And Get A Bill Of Sale

Be wary of a seller anxious to close the deal that day, regardless of his/her reasons for a quick sale. Don’t rush into the purchase. If others want to buy the horse, let them. You should only purchase a horse when you are absolutely sure that the horse is suitable for you. Write a strong sales contract including at least a three-week trial period, if possible, using a ready made form or one prepared by a lawyer. Be sure to get a bill of sale. It is important because it will prevent misunderstandings and protect your interests in the event of a legal dispute. Consider having a lawyer draft the document so that it will be written with your needs in mind. Make certain that any guarantees provided by the seller are clearly identified in the contract as well as the recourse should the horse not meet such guarantees, such who will provide return transportation.

Hopefully these pointers will aid you in your next equine purchase. Remember that there is no substitute for knowledge and experience and do not be afraid to admit you need help and enlist the aid of a reputable trainer and veterinarian in your search. Good luck and caveat emptor!

Courtesy of eXtention