Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
JoJo made a very good post and that is probably the best way to do it. No amount of reading or guesswork can take the place of a lifetime of experience. However, when I look at horses, the first thing I look for is soundness. If a horse is limping, there isn't any way to tell if it is just a bruise or a permanent thing. Then I look for any serious conformational deformities that could inhibit their usefulness or cause lameness later in life. I pick horses that are alert and attentive, even a little bit spooky. If a horse hasn't been around that much of a commotion before, they will usually be a little spooky. And at least that way, I can be pretty certain that they aren't drugged. I can deal with a spooky horse pretty easily, but I don't want one that is going to an aggressive biter and kicker when the drugs wear off. There are certain colors that I generally try to avoid just as a personal preferance but if I see true potential in any horse, color isn't that big of a deal. I look at their eyes. If they are large, soft, and clear, that is a good choice. I don't like a horse with small hard eyes, they tend to be a little harder to deal with (though not always). I wouldn't buy one with a cloudy eye because that could indicate blindness. I watch how they act when they are around the other horses at the sale. If they pin their ears and bare their teeth, I won't buy them. I will accept a bit of ear pinning if a strange horse gets too close because that is just a horse's way. When they enter the ring, I watch their movement to see if there are any hitches or short steps. I watch how their legs move to see how they might ride, where they carry their head, and watch their stride. I can deal with some minor little faults but if I see one or a combination of things that I don't like, I will keep looking. Like a PP said, keep an eye out for excessive droopiness, as that can indicate either drugs or illness.
But these things are what I look for in a horse that will be expected to work for a living. Some of these things could be overlooked if you are simply looking for a companion horse.
Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/