A good place to buy a horse is the stable where you ride or plan to keep the horse. The stable owner has an interest in keeping you satisfied, and knowing your abilities and temperament he or she can suggest a suitable animal. Riding instructors are also good agents for locating a suitable horse since it is important to them that their students do well in competition. Breeders are another good source. Generally they want to see their animals well placed and will make every effort to provide a horse you can enjoy. Most every breed has a registration association that can direct you to breeders in your area. A common source is the classified section of your local newspaper or the bulletin board of your local tack shop. Here you have little knowledge of the seller and little recourse should the horse purchase prove unsatisfactory.
Trying Out the Horse
When going to look at an animal, the first-time buyer should be accompanied by a knowledgeable horseman or horsewoman. There is so much to observe and so much to ask that the inexperienced buyer may have trouble remembering it all. Observe the horse in the stall and pasture, and how it behaves when someone is loading, hauling, and catching the horse. Temperament should be most important to you - leave health to the experts. Look at the horse's eyes and ears and general manner when it is brought out. Does it look alert? Be sure that you look at the animal in a well-lit place, preferably outdoors in the sunlight. Watch the owner saddle up the horse. Does it stand quietly? Does it kick or bite? Do not buy a horse with bad stable manners.
Do not get on the animal right away. Ask the owner to ride the horse first. Watch how the animal acts when mounted - does it stand still or does it dance around? Ask the owner to take the horse through its gaits, the walk, trot, and canter. Does it look smooth? Does it toss its head or fight the bit? If you are buying a hunter or jumper or other specially trained horse, ask the owner to demonstrate. If you and your adviser are satisfied that the horse is safe for you to ride, it is your turn to mount. Once again, observe how it reacts when you mount, and how it reacts to your commands. Try out any special skills that the horse has. This is a major investment and you should be allowed to test the animal thoroughly. You could make observations on a second visit that you did not see the first time. Many times a brief trial period (7-10 days) can be arranged for the prospective buyer. This allows the buyer to have the horse and see if the two are really compatible.
Discuss exactly what the pre-purchase examination will include so that the necessity of additional tests such as x-rays, drug tests, or endoscopy can be determined. After you have purchased your horse, your veterinarian is your best source for information about vaccinations, parasite control, and other routine health matters as well as emergency medical care. One final point that all horse owners, beginners and experienced, should remember is that a horse is a living being whose life and welfare is in your hands. As we domesticated horses, we deprived them of their natural, all-day grazing patterns. It is therefore vital to take care when choosing a feed and feeding pattern. Research various feeds, with their pros and con, including factors, such as a horse's individual temperament, age and workload, that affect the amount and type of feed appropriate for that horse. Educate yourself on the fundamentals of feeding and make sure you know the golden rules for first-time owners when deciding upon an appropriate feeding routine.
Housing your horse, whether in a stable, field or in a combination of the two, requires careful thought and planning. Issues, such as workload and type of horse must be taken into consideration. It is natural for a horse to graze freely and for as long as possible. There are instances, however, when a horse is better off indoors. Safety and warmth are of paramount importance. Topics such as stable fittings and structure are discussed, together with ideal field options and the hazards of poisonous plants. When it comes to expense, purchasing a horse is just the beginning. Equipment costs can, in many cases, exceed the initial outlay on the horse! This basic equipment you will need to invest in includes saddles, bridles, grooming kits and rider's clothing. A happy horse means a happy rider. A horse's welfare should always be of "overriding" importance to the thoughtful owner.