What do you look for in a horse before you buy? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-14-2009, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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What do you look for in a horse before you buy?

With the horse market being what it is, there are hundreds of cheap horses in my area alone. At our local horse sales, unbroke/green broke horses rarely bring more than $150-$200. I am considering buying another one, because since my mare died 3 months ago Molly has been all alone. I wouldn't mind to get one that needs some training, but I just don't want to get stuck with a crazy one. I would love to get a good deal on a good horse, but I also know that there are a lot of bad horses out there for a cheap price. I got Molly at a horse sale for $250, and she has turned out to be such a great horse. I was very lucky to get her! In a horse auction though, you don't have a lot of time to think about a horse before bidding. How do you know if it is a good horse or if its a bad one someone is just trying to get rid of? I have always heard that certain face/head shapes indicate the temperment of a horse, is that true? Are there any other indications of a horse's attitude that you can look for in the auction ring? What do you look for before buying? Thanks!
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-14-2009, 08:18 PM
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The shape of a horse head will not indicate their personality.
At auctions, you have little time to actually have a good look at a horse, but here are a few tips.
1)Look at its legs. This is really important, you don't want a horse with bad knees, or hocks etc. It could cost a lot more in the long run.
2)Look at the horse being led into the ring. Does it lead fine? Is it jumpy at all the noises? Is it calm?
3) If the horse is being ridden, watch it really close. Does it do it's transitions well? Is it grumpy and head-tossing? Does the rider look like its having to ride it really hard?
4)And make sure you know when a horse is drugged. I've never bought from an auction but I have seen quite a few horses which have been drugged at the auctions. Sluggish movement, droopy heads, very relaxed posture, lack of alertness are all indicators of a doped horse. If in doubt, take someone who has experience at auctions with you.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-14-2009, 08:41 PM
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I recent bought a 6 year old mare at an auction. I had probably ridden about 10 other horses that were for sale prior to the auction. I believe I got a winner. What was my secrete? I found the most experienced horse people (three of them) and paid them to go with me. How much did I pay? I bought breakfast, lunch and a very nice dinner. I drove. I picked them up at their houses and I let them do all the talking. I gave them my price range. It happen these were three older gentlemen. They had seen, done it and been there. I essentially had about 180 years of experience to help me make a decision in about five minutes (we did get to look at the horses before the auction). Now I did not approach these gentlemen out of the blue. I asked around about knowledgeable horse people. I visited their stables. If they were working I joined in. When they talked I listen. It took six months to build the friendships. I am very happy with my purchase and my new friends. Hope something in this post helps.
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-14-2009, 09:22 PM
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I guess it depends on what you're looking for...but if you're looking at horses at auction, try and arrive early so you can take a look around before the bidding begins. I would definitely look at the legs like Gidji said, look for any old scars or deformities...it would help if you were looking breed-specific so you could educate yourself on the breed standard. Personality wise, I'd look for a horse that was at least relatively interested in what was going on, hanging out towards the front of the stall or with its head over the door so it can see whats going on. See if you can touch its face, muzzle, eyes, ears, etc.

I've heard that the face/head shape can indicate temperament also, and at least with my gelding have found it to be very true. This is a link to a couple of sheets you can print out....the truth you choose to take from it is your own, I guess.

Temp DOC
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-20-2009, 01:56 PM
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They say the higher the "swirl" of hair is on the forhead, the smarter, and better behaved they will be.

~~Sarah & Hershey~~
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-21-2009, 12:24 AM
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Color color

~*~Saving just one horse won't change the world...but surely the world will change for that one horse~*~ (Unknown).
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-21-2009, 03:10 AM
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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/
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