To Go out and Buy a Horse. Buyer beware - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 11-24-2009, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by kevinshorses View Post
Barry, If you ever get to Utah I have a horse you can ride and I can show you country that will take your breath away. I think you should take a vacation to the USA instead of Spain. My QH's aren't as flashy as the Andalusians but they are fun to ride. If you come in the spring I could even take you to a real calf branding done the way it's been done for 150 years. Besides the exchange rate is very favorable to those wanting to visit the US.
I've always wanted to visit and ride REAL western ranch/work horses. Where I live, all the horses are either english or western pleasure show horses.

“Have fun - Stay on top.”
"There's nothing like sixteen hands between your legs"
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post #12 of 20 Old 11-24-2009, 03:37 PM
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It happens every spring all across the country. You just have to get in your car and point it west. Be warned though it's hard to see these places from the interstate.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #13 of 20 Old 11-25-2009, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Well Guys, you are making a trip to the US sound very attractive.
Maybe before I lose another faculty I ought to get round to doing it.

I have to say that riding a horse in Britain is one of the best ways to see what is still a green and pleasant land, so long as one stays away from the big cities. However as the photos show, and from what I have already seen in the past with my own eyes, the US is a fabulous place to ride a good horse.

I'll have to be nice to Her Indoors - she will have to stay behind to look after the horse and the dogs.

This Forum is an excellent way to see how other Horsey folks live.

Barry G
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post #14 of 20 Old 11-25-2009, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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To go out and buy a horse Part 3

Why buy at all ?
Why exactly do so many people set out to buy a horse? It is still just possible, to hire a horse to ride. Indeed it is preferable to learn to ride on a schoolmaster to be found in a riding school ie a horse which does little else in its life other than to teach budding riders to sit up correctly in the saddle. There are centres for both the experienced competent rider and the novice to ride out in the countryside. Although in truth the range of activities open to the hirer of a horse as against an owner is restricted and also the relationship between rider and equine will be very different. Riding centre horses are notoriously independent creatures. The hirer of horses to ride must already be competent enough to turn up and mount any horse presented to the hirer. The mounting up can be a tense moment. The emotions moving between horse and rider are very powerful and should never be understated but rarely is a riding centre horse the one to focus ones emotions on. If you like horses and want to play with them, then you must get your own. But whatever the perceived reasons for taking on the commitment to buy a horse, there should be serious consideration of not only why to buy a horse but why not to buy. A dog is not for Christmas; a horse is not for a fortnight of summer holiday. Owning a horse is a 365 days, 24 hour responsibility taken by a human for the life of a large animal which nowadays is utterly dependent upon humans for its wellbeing. Long gone are the days when horses roamed wild over vast plains in big herds dominated by a stallion. In this modern world, where the owners of horses are insured against third party claims, it is very evident that horses and indirectly their owners can be held liable in law for any misdemeanour. So it is prudent to list just exactly what the buyer of any horse seeks from the relationship. Perhaps during the process there will come the revelation of what the ownership of the horse will cost in money, time and effort. Some folks, whilst desperately wanting to own a horse, do not have the cash or the time or the knowledge to keep one

The buying specification
On the internet now it is possible to refine the search for the perfect horse and interestingly merely the act of filling out the research criteria brings a certain clarity of purpose to the buyer.
Undoubtedly the basic criteria are: type, height, gender, age,
closely followed by: perceived activity and suitability for purpose.
These ideals are usually conditioned by the amount of money available to the buyer to pay for the beast.
Then there is. the basic question of whether the horse is being bought for what it does, rather than what it is. Is the horse to be a “sports horse” or an “allrounder“ ?
Buyers should be very wary of buying on price only. A horse not fit for purpose can be a disaster to say the least. But the buying specification is merely the base starting line for the search. Nothing should be decided until rider has met and ridden the animal.
Every buyer should sit down and carefully compose a specification which suits the rider concerned. The list should also highlight those characteristics which are unacceptable. A great deal of time should be put into this exercise because the key description of any horse to be bought should be that it is suitable for purpose Defining SFP is hard enough, being certain that the horse bought is indeed SFP - will take months.

The nature of the buyer
Essentially all horse owners fit within six categories:
sportsmen, general horsemen, happy hackers, pet owners, breeders and dealers.
Many a horse owner during a lifetime amongst horses will drift from one category into another. Indeed there are a lot of owners who keep a horse at grass, because they just can’t bear to consider euthanasia. A horse bought for specific sporting purposes might not be suitable for general riding and visa-versa. So unless it is understood by the buyer that he/she might be keeping the horse for a limited period only, buying a horse for what it has achieved in the past is a risky business in the extreme. If the performance horse were to break its leg or pull a ligament, then undoubtedly it won’t be performing as well in the future. So being too dogmatic about the physical characteristics, or the perceived reputation, of any horse can be misleading.

So far we have not discussed the most serious consideration for any buyer to consider. The relationship between horse and rider has to be compatible but the rider should be the master. So it is important to assess whether any proposed pairing of horse and rider is indeed workable. Just because a rider has been taught how to manage a horse, it does not mean that the rider will be the boss in the relationship. It is also important to assess how any move of home for the horse will affect its subsequent behaviour. This compatibility issue is a difficult one for any newcomer to the world of horses to assess in the short space of time usually available when buying. But this problem in no way negates the need for the buyer to try to make such an assessment If the horse is an angry horse, then you can quickly find out; if it is an uncooperative horse, then again it is easy enough to ask for cooperation and then not get it. Every buyer must stand back, exclude the looks of a horse and ask himself or herself whether the horse’s attitude to life and humans in general, is as attractive as the horse’s visible appearance might project. The horse’s fundamental temperament must always be assessed; a horse with an unsuitable temperament can carry its rider to disaster.
The advert may allude to behaviour but quantifying temperament is subjective and very much in the mind of the beholder.

The horses history
The other key impact on a horse’s behaviour in the stable or under saddle is it’s memory. Horses have incredible memories and not all of them are happy memories. Some of a new owners actions may invoke in the horse bad memories and some of those bad memories might lead to unacceptable behaviour. Some good trainers will point out that many horses may not exhibit a reaction to a fear they have never had because they have no memory of that particular fear. The list of any horse’s fears will only become evident with time. Sadly even the best of trainers cannot eradicate some of the deeply engrained fears which become lodged in a horse’s memory. As has been said, temperament and memory are attributes in a horse which take time to appear and to be quantified. The best person that can help define these fears and memories is usually the present owner but getting such information from the seller can prove to be difficult. The buyer must nevertheless probe for the truth by constant questioning and the observation of the seller and by asking the same question several times. Question and answer is certainly a ploy to be utilised in the horse buying process. Don’t be shy to put under gentle pressure the seller who may sometimes become agitated. Just maybe the agitation develop because the probing is touching a sore spot. The ultimate risk for the buyer is that the seller’s problems will become the buyers once the horse and been bought.

As has been said there is usually a good reason or set of reasons why a horse comes to market. What is likely to a significant extent is that the reasons for sale may not be fully explained. So the only way the buyer can assess if he/she can cope with any problems with a particular horse is to decide for himself whether or not the truth and the whole truth has been told about the horse. Of course some new and capable owners might not have the same problems as the original owner but the buyer should be honest with himself as to his or her own capability when retraining spoiled horses.
Appaloosas have spots - otherwise they are not spotted horses.
An alpha horse wont ever become meek - unless you break its spirit and then in the process you will break the horse.
It is relatively easy to test a Performance Horse; simply put it to the test.

However an Allrounder calls for a far more circumspect evaluation

to be contd
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post #15 of 20 Old 11-25-2009, 02:04 PM
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Wonderful piece Barry!
I would have to add a couple more categories to the horse owner though.

The Neurotic horse owner:
Has too many physical and mental problems to ACTUALLY ride the horse but owns one so that they can live life vicariously through the poor creature.
The horse and owner attend any and all self help clinics that the bank account will allow it search of the "Perfect ride" that never happens mainly because they are afraid of horses or anything else that is big and furry.

The Reminiscent Rider:
Still trying to recapture the last time that they were truly happy in their life and it was when they were 15 and went for a ride on a horse bareback.
Everything else in their life has been down hill from there and the quest has turned into duplicating that moment(which never happens).

The Deal Seeker:
Does not really want a horse but their girlfriend has one and they are bound to find one cheaper and better.
This same person also clips out thousands of coupons and is also obsessed with parking that is validated.

The Soccer Mom:
Does not really want to own a horse but it is a necessary tool to teach their kids that winning is EVERYTHING in life and has gotten them to where they are.
Horses fit into the same category as baseball bats,running shoes,tennis gear and any other "GEAR" that is required for the sport that their children must learn to win at.

There are MANY others.

Last edited by Marecare; 11-25-2009 at 02:06 PM.
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post #16 of 20 Old 11-25-2009, 02:20 PM
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I'm currently looking round for my first own horse so I emailed a dealer in Norfolk who has some fantastic looking and sounding horses but out of my budget so I asked them what I should ask the seller. Here's the reply:

Firstly buying private is different from buying from a trader.Like
buying a car; if its a private sale, if you are mis sold there's
not much you can do.
Always take someone with you, preferably a experienced rider.
Always see the horse ridden first, preferably off the field.The horse
should not be tacked up on arrival.
How long have they had the horse? If a trader what type of tests have
they done to prove it is what they say?
See it being loaded,sprayed,hosed,groomed,pick feet out,ridden out in
traffic,on tracks and away from home.Ask them or take the horse out by
itself and company,ride front middle and behind.
iI the horse does something you dont like, dont be put off if
everything else is ok, you have to think can I cope with the thing the
horse is doing?
Generally cobs are lower maintenance then thoroughbreds, so think hard
about this. Shoeing feed and general up keep like rugging are more
complex.A cob is much easier to maintain!
If you like the horse and the people are genuine insist on a trial, 7
days is good 14 is of course better.
Good luck, dont buy for looks, buy the horse for your compatibility and
what suits your riding and lifestyle.

Eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
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post #17 of 20 Old 11-27-2009, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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Seems to me that the Norfolk trader might be one of those genuine traders who seek to find a good home for their horses.
Can't fault what he said.

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post #18 of 20 Old 11-27-2009, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Lis View Post
...ridden out in traffic,on tracks and away from home. Ask them or take the horse out by itself and company,ride front middle and behind...
This is very good advice and something I always suggest to folks. You would be surprised at how many people go to buy a horse, ride it in the arena for 30 minutes, buy it, then take it home and find out the poor thing is terrified of being on the trail away from the barn.

And I'll add that a good horse trader/breeder cares about the home his/her horses go to, will ask about your experience, goals, price range, watch you ride prospective purchases, let you ride alone, offer to ride in a group, and will not be shy about saying that a particular horse is not a good match for you.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #19 of 20 Old 11-28-2009, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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To go out and buy a horse Part 4

The sellerss concerns
In principle any genuine seller should be concerned that the horse in question is going to the right home. If there are concerns then they should be voiced. For this reason any reluctance of a seller to sell should be treated as a positive response rather than a negative rejection of the buyer’s money. In such instances it then becomes the buyer’s responsibility to show the seller that the horse in question will most likely be happy in its new life. What is however always a difficult scenario is when a buyer is put under pressure to make a decision to buy in a short space of time. Horse buying is not the sort of scenario where such pressure can be acceptable. It might well be prudent, that when a buyer is suddenly put under pressure, that if he/she is not completely sure of the suitability of the horse, then the buyer should walk away.

The gut reaction
Every experienced buyer of horses will have their own special criteria to abide by when choosing a horse. There is a lot to be said for standing in front of a horse and looking up at it, thereby giving the horse the chance to inspect you, the buyer. Body language is not an exact science but there are significant risks in buying a horse that obviously doesn’t like you, fears you or simply disrespects you. By watching the horse’s body language, the buyer should be able to sense just a little of what is going on in the horses head. The other very simple test is to sit on the horse’s back. If the pit of your stomach shows the slightest signs of apprehension then again beware One does not ride with the conscious brain alone - it is the sub conscious brain which keeps us in the saddle. The rider must be able to pick up the horse’s rhythm and its mindset. In return the horse should feel comfortable carrying the rider at all paces.

The process of buying a horse
The buying of a horse can prove to be an exhausting and long winded affair but getting the choice wrong can not only prove to be an expensive mistake, it can also prove to be a dangerous mistake. The only way to approach the search is to keep one’s eyes and ears open. The buyer must follow up the adverts in all types of media and to be prepared to travel any distance from which it is feasible to bring the horse back home. When one thinks about the process of buying, one becomes more and more aware that the price paid for the horse is a relatively small consideration - although of course it may well be the break point of any deal. However, the joy from riding one’s own horse up in the woods on a sunny day makes the effort well worthwhile - just be prepared for a few disappointments along the journey towards compatibility.

Veterinary Inspection
Once one has found the horse which is seemingly fit for purpose, there must be one last inspection - that made by the vet. Yes, this can be an additional cost but so be it. Only an experienced and qualified vet can find and point out any physical imperfections which could range from marks of previous injury to signs of problems to come. Even the lack of imperfections is an indicator of sorts and if coupled with flabby or non existent muscles then it could be understood that the horse has done little in its life other than to eat grass. A simple rule must be that if the vet says: “don’t buy this horse“, then don’t.

Expert advice
It is always wise to take a knowledgeable friend along to any viewing but do bear in mind that your companion’s ideas as to the character and desirability of the horse may not be the same as your own ideas. At the end of the day, the choice must be the owner/rider’s. After all, you will saddle up the horse and you will ride it.
Realistically getting the right choice of horse is at best a 50:50 chance or if you prefer: a heads or tails wager.
The more one knows about horses the more difficult becomes the choosing. It helps if the buyer recognises his/her own short comings, for then perhaps there is a better possibility to call either for heads or for tails but it is in the lap of the gods as to which way the coin will fall.

One thing is of supreme importance in the process of buying a horse: to take your time. When you think you may have found the right animal then somehow negotiate with the seller enough time to reconsider the choice. Sometimes the seller will agree to a loan which certainly offers some advantages to the buyer, although the act of sending the horse back might prove to be a fraught experience. Personally I would never loan my horse out to any stranger and I would not therefore ask anyone, unless I knew them previously as a friend, to loan a horse to me. Letting go of one’s horse to a stranger is a pointer to the values the seller puts on the horse being sold. However going back several times to the seller’s premises in order to ride again the horse being considered must be acceptable to both parties. In the interim it is important to ask yourself why not to buy the animal and make sure you are honest with yourself when doing so. If there is a query then try to resolve it before you pay the money and instruct the horse box to collect the animal. In Britain alone there are well over a million horses to ride, not all of them are for sale or indeed ever will be, but for sure there will be at least one which will make a good companion for the searcher. The only problem is finding that animal and more importantly recognising the horse when you meet it. But expect it to take time. One further warning on the subject regarding price. Never ever choose a horse because of price alone. Birds cheep, horses neigh.
to be contd
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post #20 of 20 Old 11-28-2009, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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End Game

It took a long time to arrive at the situation when it suddenly became obvious that the right horse was standing in front of me. The previous day, I had almost decided to buy a beautiful horse which was 5 years old and badly in need of re-schooling. It would be a risk because the horse was just about entering into its adolescence and he was a big boy to argue with. But with a little help from my friends just maybe the project would be workable. He virtually fitted my purchase specification but in truth he was too young and he was very strong.
Then, I got home, I did another search only this time I left some of the search engine criteria off - like sex. I also left off the price maximum and the breed choice. Up popped an Irish Draft/Connemara Mare for the maximum price I had specified. When she saw a photo I was told by my McTimoney practitioner that the mare was grossly unsuitable and that I should in no way go and see the horse. Delta turned out to be well schooled, pretty and up to weight, with a super, kindly temperament. She was eager to please; she was traffic proof; she was easy to ride; she was forward going. I watched her being hacked out into a village by her owner and the horse ignored everything going on about her. On the way back to the livery yard, I hurried to get ready to ride her in the arena. Instantly I got up on her back, I felt comfortable and I rode her without inhibition. I felt myself sitting properly for a change. I also sensed that if I wanted to get a move on, then she would go. For the first time, there were no ifs or buts - she would do. That afternoon I confirmed the deal and I realized that I was looking forward to her arriving at the livery yard. But suddenly I realised that I had seen her only the once but I knew that this was the horse I had been looking for. I had of course the benefit that I knew what I must avoid but when I saw this girlie I knew instantly that she fitted the bill. Of course we knew we would have to wait and see if indeed she was “suitable for purpose” and by my own admission I may have got it wrong. I hope not and I don’t think so. It remains for me to learn to ride her sympathetically. But just maybe I had to go through all the anguish of the buying process to know what I wanted and to recognize it when I saw it. Perhaps I’ll come to appreciate DiDi more because of the wait.

Postscript. One year on
The horse I eventually bought was all of the things which I had seen in her at the time of buying. Sadly what I had not recognised were the problems I personally had developed as a result of my falls from Joe my previous horse. Put simply DiDi being a sharp responsive creature soon discovered my recently acquired tensions. I was finding it difficult to relax when riding her. Exchanging a difficult horse, as Joe had become, for a more benign horse brings up some serious issues which can cloud the buyers judgement when looking for a replacement.

I have come to the conclusion that it takes time for a horse to settle into a new home so the buyer must take time to select the horse in the first place. I am firmly convinced now that the odds of finding the perfect horse are daunting but there again I am not the perfect rider either.


Barry G
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