Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
Glad to see you're at least putting some thought into it beforehand.
1- Auction? First thing that should come to mind is Why is that horse at the auction? We just went to an auction today, actually the first one I've ever gone to. It was sad. Most of the horses looked thin and almost all had very bad hooves. Yes it would be a cheaper price at first, but you don't know what kind of problems you are getting, health or training.
-Buying outright? You will pay more but you can actually see and work with the horse beforehand. Plan on spending some time with the horse. Some people will mildly sedate the horse when they know someone is coming to look at it. If you spend a few hours there, the sedative would wear off and you can see the true horse. Take someone with you that knows about horses, a trainer or maybe a barn manager, that way you can have somebody that would know what to look for and what to watch out for.
2- For your very first horse, I would suggest at least 10 years old but would say 15 would be better. Since you are learning yourself, why make it harder by adding in teaching the horse also. When you get an understanding of how to work with the horse and know how to ride, then you could get a younger one.
3- Boarding. You'll want to call around beforehand and go to different barns to check them out. You can find out what they offer, how much they charge, and you could talk to the boarders there to find out about what the barn is like. As for getting the horse to there, many barns will go and pick the horse up for you, but you may have to pay a fee for it. Unless you are going to do shows, I would choose a family run barn. Like you said, the upper class show barns seem to be about the show and not the horse or the owner. Th family run ones, I think, offer better care and are willing to work with you if a problem would come up financially. As for the type of boarding is up to you and/or the barn. Some only have stalled horses that are let out daily, some only have outdoor boarding, and some offer either. Personally, I think it is better for the horse, physically and mentally, to have the horse outdoors all the time. When they are stalled, they have more time to do nothing except to develope bad habits. When you visit the barns, let them know that you might be looking at an auction for a horse and then ask them if they would be able to quarantine the horse until the vet check and coggins test. Some won't even let a horse in the barn without a coggins test. You don't say where you are and a coggins is more important someplaces than others. If you were in the southern US, coggins is very important. Here in ND, it's not as important because we hardly ever have any cases of it, unless the horse was shipped here from out of state.
4- Time. How much time can you give the horse? How much time can you set aside for lessons? We only see our horses on the weekends or holidays, but that's fine with us and them. If you want to do shows or compete, you'll have to have more time.
5- Money. The cheapest part of owning a horse is the purchase price, lol. Things to consider: shots once a year(for us about $100/horse), farrier every 8 weeks (us $35 for trim $100 for shoes), floating the teeth (every year or two $100), boarding/month (us $200/horse), worming (we do it same time as farrier so we don't forget $5 to $15 on rotation). Then there is the tack: saddle, pad/blanket, halter, lead rope, bridle and bit, grooming supplies, etc. We are not rich either and have sacrificed things like going out to have the horses.
6- I don't do lessons or have ever taken them. I think they are about $50/ hour here. You could offer the barn or trainer to do work for the lesson in exchange.
Instead of buying a horse now, why not look into leasing a horse for the time being or just take lessons on a barn horse? Just a thought. It would end up cheaper in the short run, at least until you get more financially sound, and have more time and experience. You would still be able to be around horses and learn more about them.
Everyone should be allowed at least one bad habit, and that's NOT owning a horse! Mares RULE! Geldings drool!