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aharlov 05-08-2013 09:50 AM

What to look for when looking to buy
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I am going to see a horse that I am considering purchasing in just a few weeks. Originally, my horse trainer friend was going to come along, but she is no longer able to go. I now have to go on my own!!

Only problem, is that besides obvious glaring issues with temperament and riding, I know NOTHING about what to look for or questions to ask when considering purchase. Luckily, the woman selling the horse is someone I have been talking to for a few months about training, etc, isn't just someone I found randomly on craigslist or something. I know some of her friends and they all speak glowingly of her.

That being said, I need some advice on what to look for and questions to ask. I am simply looking for a trail horse, so I'm not sure what I need to look for conformation wise or training wise. ANY help is appreciated!

TurnNBurn144 05-08-2013 10:07 AM

well first off whats your experiance? questions to ask are: does he cross water? does he cross roads? how is he when hes not in work for a fw days to weeks? ask about tack, like the bit, saddle type. how is he with other animals youll come across. how is he horse in the arena. what kind of spook he has if he has one. how he is for the vet/farrier/dentist/chiro. does he need shoes or go barefoot. conformation doesnt really matter for trail riding as long as the horse stays sound. ask if hes had any health problems.
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aforred 05-08-2013 10:13 AM

First, welcome to the forum!

I would ask if the horse has any management issues you should be aware of. If he has navicular changes, for example, he won't be able to handle a lot of steep terrain. If he has any metabolic disorders or has a history of founder, you need to know that in order to manage him properly, or pass him over if you're not equipped to do so.

As far as training, I would look for:
How he rides alone, how he behaves when asked to leave other horses or when they leave him
Smooth gaits
Easy whoa
The ability to neck rein, move off your leg, and back up
How he handles crossing creeks and rivers
How he handles steep terrain
How he handles walking over logs and other obstacles on the trail
How he stands when tied (you want a nice quiet one)
How he handles for the vet and farrier

Check out his feet and legs. Conformation-wise, a trail horse can have a few flaws, but you want decent sized feet and relatively correct legs. Short, upright pasterns, for example, are going to cause a horse to have a rougher gait.

Also, if you're seriously interested, or do end up buying, ask for the horse's vaccination and worming history.

waresbear 05-08-2013 10:20 AM

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All what was posted and get a prepurchase examination by an equine vet and ask the owner for the horse's medical records.
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hemms 05-08-2013 10:23 AM

Once you get through your list of official questions, take some time to work quietly with the horse, just you and it. Pay attention to how it responds to what you ask of it. Challenge it with tasks like turning on the haunches or forehand, even just from the ground. You want to know that you have a willing and engaging partner who's mellow and relaxed. At least, that's the kind of partner I look for. Open yourself up to who the horse is and follow your gut. As great as a horse looks on paper, a personality mismatch is a deal-breaker for me.

Good luck!
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Dustbunny 05-08-2013 10:33 AM

Is this your first horse?
Do you have friends you are going to be riding with? Maybe one of them could go with you. If you are new to horse ownership sometimes it's good to have another pair of eyes along. They may see something or think of questions you haven't thought of.
One thing to consider is the breed of the horse. Most breeds make excellent trail horses. But if you are going to be riding with family/friends who ride a stock breed (i.e. Quarter Horse, Paint) you probably don't want to be sitting on a Tennessee Walker because they (as a rule) travel at much different pace.
If this is your first horse I would look for a mature horse with a mellow disposition and plenty of trail experience.
Good luck and happy trails!

BlueSpark 05-08-2013 10:42 AM

Also, dont ever rush into buying. In your case, where you are not looking for a project, I would veiw the horse, take a couple pictures or even a video, thank the lady for her time and go home to think. Get your horsey friend to take a look and/or folks on the forum can be helpful.

I always try to do two things when I look at a horse. 1) be objective, dont alow your heart to take over. have a list of qualities that are important to you and check them off before you even start to "love" the horse. For example, a list of priorities could look like:
a)I feel uncomfortable on a tall horse, must be under 16hh
b)I like slow trail rides, the horse must have a laid back temperment
c)I'm a timid person, the horse has to have a mild personality
d)I'm a begginer, the horse must be easy to handle on the ground and under saddle

etc. If the person who's priorities are above goes out to see a horse and its too tall, has a strong personality, is very forward or hard to handle, it gets crossed off the list. I know a HUGE amount of people who dont do this, use their hearts first and get hurt.
2)listen to my 'gut' .if I feel uncomfortable with the seller for any reason, I get very suspicious. I have walked away from horses I like, only to find out the seller was dishonest and misrepresented the horse later. If something feels 'fishy' about the horse or owner, walk away.

aharlov 05-08-2013 04:57 PM

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Thank you so much for all your replies! Reading through them has been so helpful.

I think part of the problem with finding someone to go with me is the horse is 2.5 hours away! He sounds like my dream horse on paper, but now to see him in person is the part I am nervous about.

I have been riding for about 18 years or so, but I only took lessons for about 10 years of that time. I did mostly pleasure riding, basic dressage/ basic jumper, but now I just trail ride a neighbor's horse a few times a week. I wasn't really looking to buy, but a boarding situation dropped in my lap that I really liked, and the owner of this horse had known my passion for horses and contacted me herself about rehoming her gelding! He isn't even technically listed for sale, but she knows I would be a good owner.

My husband and I did out the cost for farrier, board, vet, etc, plus factoring in a savings in case anything major happens and we really believe this to be a good decision.

Although now that I agreed to look at the horse I do feel nervous about turning her down if he isn't the right fit, since I hope she isn't banking on me buying him (since she just got his health certs done in case he has to cross the border to my state).

All that to say... I have enough horse experience to know the basics of "is this horse lame," "do we get along" type things.

I did post his picture in another forum under horse sales, and got some good responses. He has done breed demonstrations each year, but isn't ridden super consistently (will have months off at a time, but gets right back into it when he comes back). I am a teacher with summers off and I don't mind putting the schooling time in to make sure he is back in regular work.

So far the information I have on him is:

He has never had any colic issues and stays a good weight and healthy on hay and grass alone.

He has never had soundness issues, and the farrier says his feet are "the best feet he's ever seen" and he "wishes he could take them off to show others the example of a perfect foot." He is barefoot, but with hard feet good for trail riding.

He is 12 years old and never had an emergency vet visit.

He is great ridden bareback, as his previous owner mostly rode bareback (I hope he can transition to English riding okay? I am NOT going to be showing with him, just fun hacks).

Even though he is an easy keeper, he has never had any laminitis or founder worries.

He is gorgeous :) haha I threw that in. At least from his pictures!

Here he is :

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Keep the questions I should ask coming.. I like to be prepared to meet him and his owner.

aharlov 05-08-2013 04:58 PM

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Oh, he also is ridden in a bitless bridle, and the owner has had him since birth - she owns his mother as well!

jaydee 05-08-2013 05:10 PM

So you're going to see him then
That pic of him on the other thread standing outside the Pizza place says a lot for his temperament as its on a busy road and lots of stuff going on around there
Just don't get rushed into anything and give him a really good try - then if he seems OK get him checked out by a vet - even the nicest seeming people aren't above sedating horses or giving them pain killers to hide problems

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