Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
I'll tell you some mistakes I made when looking for a first horse years ago when I was young.
Do NOT look for a particular breed! You get good horses for all disiplines in every breed.
Also, don't let anyone tell you not to buy a mare. You can get miserable geldings that kick & squeal just as often as mares & personally the best horses I ever had (and do have) were mares.
Also, if you're looking for a starter horse or a horse for young kids don't set your price range too low as you can't put a price on safety.
I wouldn't tell you not to buy older horses, but with old horses comes a greater risk of health issues as well as the horse being unable to handle hard riding within a few years (i'm talking horses 20+).
Like someone said, you need to take conformation into consideration as well. The horse doesn't have to be perfect, though I suppose it depends on what you plan on doing with it.
Legs & hooves are a big thing to look out for. You don't want a horse that has any preexisting leg problems such as founder or cronic lameness. Even if the owners say the horse is fine now, you don't know if the problem with come back once you get it home.
I'm not saying this about everyone of course, but the horse industry is renouned for people who lie and even dope up a horse just to get their money out of it so keep your eye out.
Ask how the horse loads, make sure you see the owner pick up all 4 feet and that you see how the horse catches. Someone might say the horse is easy to catch, when in reality they aren't.
It's ok to test a horse in an area or round pen but be sure you get to ride the horse out in the open as well. Some sellers who aren't confident with how the horse will do outside the arena will pressure you to keep them inside for your test ride. Don't.
Ask how the horse does when riding out on its own as herdbound horses can be a pain.
Other things to ask about are; does the horse go through water? Does he stand tied nicely? Does he clip, bath, etc? Is he jumpy or spooky? How is he around vehicles, highways & especially dogs? Are his feet tender & does he need to be shod/has he ever been?
Ask when the horse was last ferriered, dewormed, had his shots, etc.
And above all.. don't SETTLE FOR THE FIRST ONE YOU GO TO LOOK AT! Finding the right horse can take awhile & you may go through several horses before you find the right one ;)
"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly." www.wildestheartart.com