Welcome to my blog about horsey life in the North East - the good bits, bad bits, endless coffees and plenty of mud!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Buying your first horse

Anyone see Watchdog last night?

If you did then you'll have seen an unscrupulous horse dealer exposed. Sadly there are many more out there and they often make their money from first time buyers unaware of the pitfalls.
If you're thinking of buying a horse for the first time then the most important thing you need is knowledge.
Here are some tips.

1. There's no such thing as a cheap horse.
Boy is this true. You cannot buy a healthy, safe and sensible allrounder with tack and rugs for £1,000. People selling healthy, safe allrounders have a queue out the door of potential buyers willing to pay before they've even finished the sentence "I'm thinking of selling/loaning Copper..."
Not that spending money will protect you, just know that if the upfront cost is small, then chances are the vet's fees, training bill and heartache are likely to cost you dear.

2. Consider loaning first
The best way (I think) is to loan a nice horse on a nice yard and get to know as many people as you can. You'll always have help and back up if you need it and if you're not suited to the horse it's much more simple to move on. If the loan goes well and you feel ready for your own, chances are you'll hear through the grapevine of suitable candidates. If they live on the same yard even better - you can get a proper idea of what they're like. I've bought two first class horses from friends who were everything they promised to be.

3. If it's your first horse, think sensible and safe.
It doesn't matter if a horse is pretty, or shows an amazing trot in the field, if it scares the bejesus out of you then owning it will be a nightmare. Owning a horse is so different to having riding lessons. There's a lot more to think about (worming, livery yards, vets, teeth, etc, etc) so if the horse is difficult on top of that it really isn't much fun.

4. Prepare yourself mentally.
You've done everything the right way, and unloaded your sensible saint. Guess what? You're still in for a rollercoaster. It will go lame, it will most likely have some bad habits and you're probably going to fall off. The first time you see it on three legs your heart is going to stop. Be prepared for the fact that there will be bumps in the road. When they come along remember the drill.

- deep breath
- get help
- get on with it

5. Try the horse properly.
If you're planning on catching, leading, loading or hacking alone once you get the horse home, make sure you've done all those things at the trying-out stage. Don't let a seller prepare the horse and then just leg you up in the arena unless you have a groom at home who's going to recreate that scenario for you every day. Even if you do, it's still sensible to check the horse isn't perfect to ride but terrible to handle!

6. Avoid wasting time.
If you know a horse is not for you, it's polite to say so and shove off so the seller can crack on. Don't keep riding/trying a horse that you don't like or want.

Happy horsing everyone!

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