what should you look for when buying a horse?
what would be things looking for in a horse or questions to ask?
You should look for any faults in conformation such as ewe neck, long pasterns, etc. Check the horse over for any injuries or bumps. Check that the feet are roundish and in good condition and if the horses foot looks like it grew up and had to be cut the horse might have foundered. Ask the owner about any past injuries/health records , training, vices etc. If a horse has dull eyes and/or a dull coat it may not be healthy. Hope this helps!
Make sure the horse fits your experience level. Make sure the horse's age fits your experience level. Have a vet check done and if at all possible do a trail period.
You want the owner to ride the horse before you try it. Don't get on it unless you have a helmet on. If you can talk to other members at the barn (if the horse is boarded), they often give away a lot of info the owner wouldn't. Don't do it in front of the owner just casually ask. Come a little earlier than you had planned. Sometimes you'll catch the owner lunging the crud out of the horse or doing something to make the horse seem different than what it really is.
I request that the horse remain turned out so that I can see how it is caught and how it leads in. How it acts leaving it's herd members. I watch how it walks carefully to see if it missteps.
Request to see all records on the horse, vet and otherwise. Always make sure you check papers if you are getting a papered horse. I don't know how many times I've heard "they were supposed to send me the papers once they found them but never did".
Talk to the farrier to see how the horse does and if the horse has had any hoof problems.
Take someone that knows a lot about horses and can offer a different perspective.
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 dont 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. DONT.
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.. DONT 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 ;)
Make sure you go to see the horse more then once. My current horse I saw twice. The first time was just to see if I was interested. The next time I got to ride him in a lesson, and that really helped to see how he was with other horses and crowds.
Spend time with the horse, see if your personalities mesh. See how the horse is when grooming and tying. I agree with others on how easy the horse is to catch.
If you ask a question and the owner doesn't really answer it (skips it, or changes subject) or answeres vaguely the BACK AWAY! For example, if you say "how well does the horse load?" and the owner says "okay I guess. tries some things but is okay." or just says "eh." then that could be an issue. Ask what he/she means by "tries some things".
Ideally you would be there for the horse to go into the trailer and see how the horse loads. Sometimes the horse "loads great!" but they only load great with 20 people trying to get the horse in.
Any special shoeing? Medical issues? If the horse has had x-rays done before ask why and if there is any way you can see them/ get a copy of them.
I was very fortunate with my horse, because the owner told us upfront about ALL of his issues. She gave us his x-rays, told us about everything he needs. She was a very honest seller because she wanted her horse in the right hands.
Most of all, good luck and remember horses should be FUN!
I think everyone here has pretty much summed it up. The other thing I would suggest is taking pictures and videos of the horse. ie. Their feet & legs, a conformation shot if possible, videos of the horse being ridden by you (I never see much point in videotaping the owner, as you would be the one purchasing the horse.) etc. If at all possible, get an experienced horsey friend to come with you (like a trainer.) If that's not possible, be sure to take tons of video, so you can show them and get some other opinions. Also, you will rarely find the perfect horse the first test ride. We got our first gelding like that. First horse I tested, and we never even vetted him. He's the sweetest horse we could ask for. It took me about 8 tests to find a horse I liked, and I test rode my mare twice, at two different barns before purchasing her. My sister took over a year to find a horse! Just be patient :)
It truly depends on what your intentions for the horse are. Some conformation issues are not a problem if you only intend to trail ride vs trying a career in the jumping arena.
On the other side - if the horse is perfect for your job requirements but you don't care for an intangible of the horse (aloof attitude, too nosey, etc) then that won't work for you either.
The horse needs to suit it's intended job and needs to be right for you.
That is step one. Then make sure the horse fits what you want it to do. No reason to buy a horse that is not comfortable outside the ring when all you want to do is trail ride.
I also agree that a PPE is a good idea, no matter how much the horse costs.
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