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marjie01 01-01-2012 01:33 PM

In Virginia ~ thinking about my first horse age 59, I'm living with a retired hubby on a small farm, and my aim is to purchase a horse this year. However, I don't know where to start. There are many in my area (southern Virginia/Blue Ridge Mountains), but other than knowing in general what I'd like to have, I worry about finding a horse that is healthy, gentle, etc.

maura 01-01-2012 01:45 PM

Well, first of all, what's you previous riding experience and what's your assessment of your level of expertise?

Next, what type of riding do you want to do? English, Western, gaited? Do you want to trail ride, show, do flat work in a ring?

Will you be keeping the horse at your home?

Do you know any experienced horse people or horse professionals?

Do you have a price range or budget?

Good first steps are to make a list of the qualities that are non-negotiable - years of experience, size, age, temperment, abilities, etc, and then make a list of nice to have qualities but not deal breakers.

Then I'd start looking at all the online horse sale sites - equinenow, dreamhorse, horsetopia, Virginiaequestrian, etc. and browse and make a list of the horses that seem to meet your criteria.

Contact those sellers and ask for addtional info, videos or photos.

At this point you'll need a experienced friend to help you sort through this info and decide which horses are worth going to see.

franknbeans 01-01-2012 02:18 PM

You do realize that horses are herd animals and are generally not happy alone, right? Something else to consider, as you answer the above questions. In your area, western is a bit more acceptable than in NOVA, where I am.......if that is what you want to do.

marjie01 01-01-2012 04:15 PM

Thanks to both of you, Maura, and then Frank.
Yes, I had western riding lessons as a young adult many moons ago, and my husband has given me a series of upcoming riding lessons this spring as a present. I'm going to ponder Maura's good questions further, but Frank, yes, one of the things I've considered is getting two horses...perhaps. My Great Pyrenees will at first most likely (in an adjacent pasture) be the horse's first friend, and my husband also has 7 young Angus steers. This may have nothing to do with anything, so don't laugh too hard, but my husband has had horses in another life, and I have many years' experience with dogs - our Pyr came to us 'lively' and I have developed a close, calming relationship with her.
I have no pretensions of showing, competing, etc.: I just want a good horse friend whom I can ride for as many years as my ol' bod will hold up...:)
There are also other horses in our 'neighborhood' (other small farms) with possible trail buddies down the road. And several people at work are experienced horse people as well. I just simply want to ride around our rolling pastures, and do a bit of trail riding. Very modest goals.
Yes, the horse would live here, and we have a barn where my husband has offered to carve out a stable area.
The website suggestions are great, Maura!
As for budget, I've been saving some 'coin' and realize this will not be an inexpensive undertaking -
Please keep the suggestions coming...

maura 01-01-2012 06:01 PM


For you modest, reasonable goals, you shouldn't have to spend a lot of money right now. The horse economy is poor, and frankly, the general economy in SW Virginia isn't great. However, I would set a preliminary budget of $2500 - $5000. You'll most likely find a nice horse at the lower end of that price range or even below it, but at your age and stage of life and riding, safety and suitability are paramount, and I would suggest you be willing to pay for the *right* horse, and not let a couple of hundred bucks either way be the deal breaker.

So, first, I'd like to second frank's suggestion that a single horse is often not a happy animal, and I would consider getting either a suitable horse for you husband as well, or perhaps a companion animal such as a pony or a goat.

Second, I suspect you will end up riding western and may even end up with a gaited horse for your purposes. Working gaited horses (as opposed to show gaited horses) are pretty popular in your part of the world and are a good choice for an adult rider looking to trail ride because they're easier on the joints. Working gaited horses often have wonderful, sensible, kind dispostions.

For a new horse owner as you describe yourself, impeccable ground manners and a truly well trained experienced horse is the ticket. I suggest you look for something no younger than 8 years old, and perhaps no older than 12. I'd be more flexible on the upper number than the lower.

Other non negotiable criteria would be the ability to be ridden alone (some horses don't do this well, some horse do it only under an assertive rider. Based on your description, you don't want to have to wait to ride until someone can ride with you. A horse that will cheerfully go out alone without fuss is going to be important) and lots and lots of trail experience, preferably under a novice rider.

Do find an experienced horseperson you can trust to help you through this process. DO NOT EVER get on a strange horse to try it without the seller or someone else getting on it first. Do get an experienced horseperson to ride with you and give you an honest appraisal of your skill level. (Way more valid than a stranger's opinion on the internet.)

Do not buy the first horse you try, or the second, or the third. Try a *bunch*. If you end up coming back to the first or second horse, that's fine. But make sure you understand the whole range of options available to you before making a decision. DON'T settle. There are a lot of lovely horses out there, wait for the one who's right for you.

Do have a prepurchase exam, and do be present for the exam. Be the one to ride the horse for the vet if possible.

That's it for advice right now. I am excited and happy for you embarking on this adventure. Good luck, and do keep posting back about your progress.

franknbeans 01-01-2012 07:08 PM

Guess I have not ever really adjusted to the "VA state of mind"........that seems like LOT to me to spend for what she wants. JMHO. Guess I spend too much time in NY. :-)

farmpony84 01-01-2012 07:28 PM

I think you can get something around 1800 to 3500ish. I would plan to spend around 2k. My suggestion is to stay away from auctions because people tend to get rid of their problems at those places. (not saying you can't pick up a gem at an auction but not a place for someone new to shop).

I would look for either a Tenessee walking horse or a quarter horse. (this is my opinion of course). TWH's have huge hearts and are usually very gentle and kind natured. They appear to be very fiery but surprisingly, they arent. QHs have a generally calm demeanor.

I would aim for the ages of 8-15 and something that has been there and done that. Don't buy the first one you see and take your time. But I think you'll do ok.

maura 01-01-2012 09:24 PM


It is a lot of money, and the OP might very well find something suitable for less. However, if you go out into the marketplace saying "I won't pay more than $1500." you tend to exclude horses that are suitable or could be bargained down into your price range.

And a horse that's truly safe for an adult beginner to trail ride and can ride out alone should fairly bring 1800 - $2500.

franknbeans 01-02-2012 08:36 AM


Originally Posted by maura (Post 1289138)

It is a lot of money, and the OP might very well find something suitable for less. However, if you go out into the marketplace saying "I won't pay more than $1500." you tend to exclude horses that are suitable or could be bargained down into your price range.

And a horse that's truly safe for an adult beginner to trail ride and can ride out alone should fairly bring 1800 - $2500.

Agree totally about the negotiating of the price. I also agree on the fact that she should be able to find a suitable horse for $1800-$2500. THere is a BIG difference between that amount and $3500-$4K, IMO.

iridehorses 01-02-2012 09:18 AM

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your research. I moved the thread to the Horse Talk forum which is more appropriate for your questions.

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