Buying my first horse (tips? advice?) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Buying my first horse (tips? advice?)

Hey guys!

I'm buying my first horse to bring to college with me in the fall. The barn is right on the campus, so the situation is ideal. :)

I'm going out to look at horses in the summer, probably, though I might wait until my winter break to give me a chance to get used to college.

I've been riding for about 11 years now, so I have a lot of experience with horses, leased a couple, but never actually owned one. Needless to say, any tips, advice, suggestions, warnings, etc, would be greatly appreciated! I don't have any specific questions, just looking for some people to share some guidance about buying a first horse!

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post #2 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: southern Illinois
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questions,questions,questions!!...never feel like your asking too many questions when your talking to the seller. And, although its a little expensive, a pre-purchase exam is a must!! Better to shell out the money for that, then a lifetime of medical costs for something a PPE could have caught in the beginning.Because as we all know, not everyone is honest,and people will lie just to make a sale. Bring a knowledegable horse person with you when you go look at the horse,they may be able to spot something you might miss,and a second opinion is always nice anyway.
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post #3 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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How expensive is a pre-purchase exam? My parents want me to keep the total cost of the horse, ppe, tack, and transportation under $5,000.

Do most sellers let you keep the horse for a short trial period? I'm worried about people drugging or schooling the horse before I try it out.
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post #4 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Sphi View Post
How expensive is a pre-purchase exam? My parents want me to keep the total cost of the horse, ppe, tack, and transportation under $5,000.

Do most sellers let you keep the horse for a short trial period? I'm worried about people drugging or schooling the horse before I try it out.
It doesn't hurt to ask for a trial period. Some sellers have no problem with others may not want to.

Don't fall in love with the first horse you see. I would commit to looking at least 10 horses before deciding on the right one. Remember there are a lot of horses for sale. It is a buyers market.

If the owner has the horse caught and saddled before you get there that can be a red flag. I would have them to unsaddle and put the horse back out. Then have them catch and saddle the horse again.

Never get on the horse before you see the owner get on first.

Ask lots of questions. Be skeptical. Good luck and have fun.
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post #5 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Florence, SC
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Like AnnaLeah said, ask TONS of questions. Ask for vet records, registration papers (granted the horse is registered), etc. Whatever pops into your head, just ask.

Don't fall in love at first sight! I did that and it almost cost me buying a horse that would NOT have been a good match. So don't set your heart on a horse due to its color and looks alone.

Observe the horse getting caught, groomed, tacked, and ridden. Then test ride for yourself.

Do a pre-purchase exam and BE SURE coggins are negative and up to date.

Take an experienced horse buyer with you if possible or film good quality videos and take good pictures to share with an experience horse person for second opinion.

Don't be afraid to negotiate price. Most people will budge, especially in this economy, but don't insult the seller with a low ball offer.

If you can, I've heard of potential buyers showing up unexpectedly at the barn where the horse is located in order to be sure the horse wasn't drugged or anything when they came to see them.

Good luck on buying your first horse!
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post #6 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 02:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Auburn, Washington
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I leased horses for about 10 years before I bought Copper... let me tell you it helps with the riding and care, but there is SOOOO much more with owning. I about lost it when Copper went lame for the first time. Basically you are buying a 24 hour job, it is going to be way different than the lease. Just a little heads up. Most horse owners will let you take a horse for the weekend.... that is one way to find out if the owners are confident. If they say yes than chances are you are looking at a good horse. kinda put your guard up too if all they are doing is bragging about how great the horse is but won't let you even hold the lead rope.

Annaleah is absolutely right about questions. I actually brought a paper with all of them written down to ask Coppers old owner. Probably had about 25 of them. But I kinda want to eliborate one the other piece of advise... bring a knoweledgable horse owner! Owners have seen all the little wierd things that I never thought to look for with Copper. But my friends was all over thats horse's body with her hands. Coppers vet exam where they check the eyes, lungs, weight, all the basics was 50 dollars. Not bad at all, but once the you buy the horse you'll want to have them looked down to the details... that was $120 for a physical.
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 04:20 PM
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Good idea to write down questions. You first need to determine what you are going to do with the horse riding wise. Dressage, jumping, western riding etc and also determine your breed and age restriction. Make a consideration based upon yuor riding ability and don't over inflate that ability. Are you confident on a nutcase then go for it. Are you timid over jumps but good on the flat, the horse needs to be a quiet jumping type (hunter or jumper) and one that can help you build confidence. Do you want to trail..if so, make sure the horse registers low on the spook meter and won't try and send you into orbit at the least sign of an imaginary shadow. Watch out for horses that are quiet but underweight. Generally, when a horse picks up and gets to their correct weight it can change their energy level.

Be super critical in your evaluation and avoid the temptation of that pretty color and beautiful markings taking your attention away from possibly missed issues. As a friend of mine once said, stop looking at the head and you may miss the bowed legs below.

Also agree with taking a trusted trainer who knows your capabilities or other horse type friend who has experience.

The pre-purchase exam is paramount. The basic exam will include a flex test to test for joint issues, mostly in the hind end. A more detailed exam with x-rays can also be done but that is pricey and not always necessary depending on what form your riding is going to take. It is also a good idea to have a farrier take a look at the hooves. While the vet will do a general pressure test, a good farrier can spot potential problems a vet may not pick up.

Asking for a trial is also good. If you can get that prior to going away to school all the better as your trainer can also do an eval. Some owners are leary of letting ahorse off property as you can probably understand, however, as indicated earlier, an owner who has no problems is going to be confident in the horse. If the owner presses for an immediate decision the red flags should start to go up.

Avoid a horse that cribs. You don't want the potential health issues that can result and cribbing collars don't always work. I went to look at a horse recently wher ethe owner said the horse didn't crib. The say I went the owner called off but I didn't get the message. She said I could look at the horse and I went and brought him in. I was planning on going back a few days later until I took him back into the paddock. He immediately turned and started cribbing. The barn owner saw it but the owner still insists the horse doesn't crib.

The way I look at it, if it is meant to be then things will work out.
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 04:43 PM
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I spent $500 on my last PPE. Took nearly 3 hours and included some X-rays..... totally worth it as it turned up something that is most likely a non-issue but the seller agreed to drop the price of the horse and a several year buyback clause if the horse becomes lame from the noted issue.

Most sellers won't allow a trial period because they have no way of monitoring the potential buyer and what they could possibly do to the horse. A PPE is once again needed here because the Vet will check for signs of drugs and can also draw blood that could be tested at a future point should you think the horse had been drugged.

Who you purchase from is also a consideration. I bought my last horse from an established, trustworthy trainer. She'd been training from her barn for many, many years, had many references from people she'd sold horses to and when my trainer and I dropped in a local tack shops and asked about about her and her training facility, all we heard were positive reviews.

Now I probably paid a bit more than if I'd bought the same horse out of someone's backyard but I KNOW that I bought a young, green horse that nobody abused or mistreated (well other than he was pretty tubby! LOL) and his previous trainer keeps in-touch with me and has passed along some valuable tips on dealing with his specific attitude when I had some cranky baby tantrums arise.
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post #9 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 05:25 PM
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Yeah throwing the xrays in the PPE will def. boost the price up lol. I agree with tlkng1... Cribbing is a hard habit to break, and it usually requires a crib collar. which I think is so, not mean, but sad I guess to have to use on a horse. To be honest about those, I don't think they really do anything. There is a horse at my barn that cribs with one on the tightest setting. Perfect example of if there is a will there is a way.

I also agree with if you are set on a horse and have that gut feeling things will work out go ahead and try. Not to sound heartless but, if anything you can sell them. Copper wasn't finished with training, and I had never done anything like that but I worked with him for hours a day, and we are great now. BUT I'm not saying it is always going to be okay lol... I am very very lucky things turned out for me and him... So yeah keep your head on straight! All the questions I asked where answered with what I was looking for, but a horse trained for your confidence level is a biggie. I knew I was very confindent around horses so Copper would never get away with anything, and he never did; which probably helped.
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-29-2011, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

I'm definitely bringing the trainer from the college's equestrian team, I've talked to her on the phone and she's really nice and knowledgeable, but I don't know her in person. Is that okay? I can't bring my current trainer because I'm going to be looking at horses several states away.

I definitely want a horse that can jump at least 3ft. I'm totally comfortable at 2'6'' - 2'9'' right now but want to move up. Thanks for bringing up the thing about trail riding, too—I'll be sure to ask about spookiness.

I'm going to go for a PPE but probably no x-rays. And I will bring a whole bunch of questions for sure.

And I plan on trying as many as I can find, even if I think I might like one of the first ones. I'm going to take video of all of them so I can review them later too. Once I settle on a couple favorites, I'll go back for another visit.

Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions!

Oh and one more thing. Does anybody have experience with owning a horse in college? Do you think it's a better idea to settle the horse in at the beginning of the year, or wait until my first winter break to give myself a chance to get used to college first? I can see pros and cons of either. What do you guys think?
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