Buying a horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-24-2013, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Buying a horse

Hey, everyone! So I've been on the market for a new horse since giving my draft cross, Callie, to my uncle. I raised her from being an 8 month old to nearly 4 years old (she turns 4 in August and I gave her up in march). I'm not new to riding - started in 2nd grade and I'm now 23. I have a low budget so I'm perfectly fine with a sort of green horse. I actually prefer somewhat green because I like putting the work into it and plus I learned tons more in the last 4 years training Callie than the 14 years that I've had my older gelding haha.

The thing is this. Since I don't expect to find a perfectly trained horse at my budget, how will I know the horse is "THE" horse for me? Will it just be personality that I'll fall in love with since I can't expect a made horse that will do everything perfectly? In your experience, how did you know that a horse was the one for you? Was there an instant click? I'd love to hear about it.

Also, I've been emailing people about horses and have visited a couple. One person, however, said that if I want more information that I would have to call her husband. I'm shy and so I will sometimes freeze up on a phone conversation with a stranger. What are some good questions to ask over the phone?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-24-2013, 07:58 PM
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I am very much a list person, so I bet you know where this is going.

Make a list of things you need this horse to already know.
Do you want him green broke, or are you comfortable starting him? Or do you have someone to start him for you?
What do you consider green broke? WTC? Knows leads? Rides down the road or on the trail, or just arena ridden?
Do you want him already neck reining, or are you comfortable teaching this, as well?

If you are going for a green horse, ride him (or her, it's just easier for me to use one pronoun and I'm a lazy typer). You are looking for a horse that wants to work for you. It's okay if he doesn't know what you're asking, as long as he's trying to figure it out. If he gets frustrated easily, I'd pass. If he's not broke, you want to get an idea of how he will respond when you ask him for something.

I'd look for at least decent conformation, especially the legs and feet. Look for a horse with good quality feet, too.

If the horse is not built to do what you want to train him to do, pass on him regardless of how well you like his personality.

It surely helps to make a list (told you I was a list person ) of questions to ask over the phone. Things I typically want to know:
How has the horse been handled?
How does he respond to new situations?
A brief medical history, including vaccination status.
Has he ever foundered, tied up, had an abscess?

There are many more questions you could ask, but on a telephone interview, you want to keep the list fairly short. I'm sure other people will chime in with great questions as well.

I've had good luck buying unbroke horses and sending them off for a month to get started. Some people can handle a horse with less time at a trainer's, some people need more. There's no shame in either situation, just do what's right for you.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-24-2013, 08:17 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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My experiences with buying horses have been fairly different every time.

My first horse, there were around 25 or 30 to chose from. 3 year old draft cross PMU mares. I just saw one that caught my eye and picked her. She was perfect for me. Didn't act up too bad but she put me in my place when I got too rough with her.

My second horse that I bought, I wasn't really on the market for a horse but this one was for sale for cheap or he was auction bound. His only problem was spooking. I rode him, my sisters rode him. I fell in love and bought him. He was a sweet heart and the best horse I've owned yet.

The third horse I bought was just from my dad. She had a few problems, but I just wanted her for an investment. I bought her, trained her through the summer, and sold her in the fall.

The fourth and fifth horses I bought were are the breeder's. They were out in a large pen and I did my best to see good conformation, pretty, and not too excitable. I got a yearling and a weanling, both were bays. I seem to like bays with a star and a white right hind cornet or half cornet. Because even though I didn't realize when I picked them out, both of them had those markings.

The sixth horse I bought, I rode and clicked with him. He was rusty but trusting and tried his hardest. I knew within a minute of getting on him that he was perfect for me. I had ridden a lot of horses when looking for one that time, a lot of good horses too. Some horses you just click with.

My gelding now was my dad's horse. I worked with him once and swore I would never touch him again. He was rearing, striking, and kicking at me when I let his friends get too far away. Scared me half to death.
I ended up working with anyways because I didn't have a horse to ride that summer. I moved away the next summer and my dad sold the horse. That fall I was looking for a horse to buy and came across Coyote's ad in the paper, called the folks up and bought him back. He has his moments (spooking at the grass moving wrong), but he doesn't kick, rear, or strike anymore. And I can ride him by himself no problems.

My filly I bought on an impulse because I liked how she looked in the picture. So far she seems to be a sweet heart and loves people. Hopefully I lucked out on her and she'll be a good horse.



Now after my book, onto your questions..

You'll know which horse you click with. Whether you decide right then, or later when looking at other horses and you keep comparing them back to that one horse. Some horses just feel 'right'. Maybe it's the gaits that you like, maybe it's the attitude.

Other than that, I have always just bought the horse that I liked the looks of. I know nothing of conformation.
If you can bring along a couple of experienced horse people to go a look at the horses, that helps a lot!

I figure if a girl wants to be a LEGEND, she should just go ahead and be one. ~Calamity Jane
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-25-2013, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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I'd be more than happy with a horse that knows w/t/c and has just started over cross rails or something. If not jumping, then at least w/t or w/t/c. I have a trainer that can help me if I need it :)

And there's nothing wrong with lists. I need one to keep my thoughts together on a phone call regarding a horse otherwise I'll forget a lot of stuff but remember when it's too late.

I'll definitely be looking at conformation (I've learned a lot from the conformation critique board) because my last horse was back at the knee so I didn't want to risk injury and train her for jumping. I will make sure that the horse has the body and structure to jump. I can't afford to overlook important parts of the horse's conformation again :(

GallopingGuitarist, I've usually done that haha. I based my last purchase on looks alone - she was in SD (and I'm in VA) so I could only go by her appearance. Gorgeous foal but as she matured her angles weren't working out and then of course she was back at the knee. I adored everything about her except her conformational faults :( When you clicked with that one horse, how did it feel? lol. I'm so curious if I'll be able to tell the difference between 'yeah, I really like this horse' vs. 'I really want this horse.' Did you get on and just never want to get off?

See, I have my old gelding, but he was a Christmas present. I leased him for a year and would cry all the time because he was hard to handle, strong, and stubborn... and I was only 9 or 10 years old. I didn't click with him but by this point I love the bits out of him. I've owned him 14 years now.

I first go to see the horses alone and if I like them then I would probably bring my trainer for a second visit to see what she has to say. I always try to see what the horse -can- be rather than what it currently is which may be problematic haha I always try to see their potential.

Thanks for your replies, guys! It really helps!
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-25-2013, 12:39 PM
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Hmm, how to describe clicking with a horse. With Pache I was impressed by his quietness, even though his owner had him set up as a wreck waiting to happen. I worked him a bit on the ground, and then got on. He just felt 'right'. I knew he wasn't going to blow up on me, he was a honest horse. I liked his gaits as well. I found myself comparing other horses to him.
I guess his gaits and attitude were what I really liked.
I prefer a horse that steps out and is very forward moving. That the main reason I went and bought my current gelding. He has huge gaits! I don't look for color. In fact I prefer sorrels, bays, and chestnuts. Bays being my favorite.
Conformation is hugely important. I was just buying trail horses so a long back or other small conformation issues weren't a problem.
I am hoping to get into jumping soon, and I totally know what you are saying a out needing a horse that is built correct for the discipline.
I'll go back and re-read this on my computer and see my typos and cringe. Sorry in advance if something doesn't make sense.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-25-2013, 12:55 PM
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Think long and hard about what your riding needs are and your true abilities as a rider. Are you looking to show or relax and trail ride? Both? Can you safely educate a green horse? What will the goals be for your greenie? Are they achievable and realistic?

Also, as far as "clicking" with a horse goes, your going to be more likely to click with a horse who isn't a chore to ride. Let's face it, we all have horses who just make us go "ughhh", whether it be spookiness or their way of going.

Look at a whole bunch of horses, don't just settle for the first one, the prettiest one or the fanciest one. See what's out there and remember, you can't ride color/gender/papers/etc. Training is number one.

Ask and observe the horses personality. Do you want a horse who is an in your pocket, cuddly, in your face kind of horse? One who enjoys the occasional scratch? Or one who could careless if he ever saw another 2 legged creature? Watch how he interacts with the owner. Does the horse pin his ears when you go near him, brush him, touch him? Like wise is her relaxed and seem to enjoy the attention? Or is he frisking his ower for treats, pushing them around, nipping, etc? Some people like that in your face personality, others like horses who don't care about people that you pull in from pasture, get the job done, then part ways.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-25-2013, 02:19 PM
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Slidestop I totally agree with everything you said! Why can't I think that way and be able to put it out in words?!

Now looking at it the way you said it, I clicked with Pache because he wasn't challenging my leadership every step but I still 'had to ride'. I couldn't just sit there, but I wasn't fighting him every stride.

This has been really good to read! I'll use it when looking for my next horse (providing it's not just another impulse buy with no plans for the horse actually). I really would like to try my hand at cross-country jumping and will be needing a horse that is suited for it.

For the fun of it, here is the horse I 'clicked' with on the first ride. Others have all been picked for looks or lines.

Funny enough, I didn't click with a very 'fancy' horse, he could almost be a little fugly, but what a sweet heart!


He was a bit skinny when I bought him, but he did fill out.


I did sell him a while later because I wanted a better built horse. He totally clicked with his new owner, a 9 year old girl, who uses him for 4H. I think he was just the type of horse that clicks with everybody. I am still in contact with the girl and Pache looks really happy!
One more pic with my little sister.

I figure if a girl wants to be a LEGEND, she should just go ahead and be one. ~Calamity Jane
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-28-2013, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Aw he's cute! Well, I definitely know when I don't click with a horse. I've tried a couple and although they were nice and I liked them, I sort of felt 'eh' about them, too.

Yesterday, however, I went to go check out an OTTB. I almost immediately fell in love with him. His personality was so sweet and mellow. He's been lightly worked since retiring from the track. He stood in the cross ties and was nearly snoozing. I was able to just rub and hug his face. I watched the girl ride him and he was always trying his best but he is still fairly green. I just LOVED his personality. I didn't ride him yesterday because he is currently foot sore from poor trimming and having been living outside right after having his racing plates pulled off. I'll be seeing him again this Friday to ride him in the grass where it doesn't hurt as much. I was just so happy after meeting and seeing him yesterday. I didn't want to leave him. I wish I could've just taken him home then haha. He is a nicely put together tb. I'll probably post him in conformation critique sometime today. I'm excited to see him again though :) hopefully I will like him under saddle as much as I like him on the ground.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-28-2013, 02:53 PM
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Go check out others too!!
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-28-2013, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Oh and question! What are the next steps? I'll see him again. If all goes well I will find a vet in his area to perform a pre-purchase exam (they're so expensive in northern va though!). Or do I go for a 3rd visit (I don't like the idea of yet another 2 1/2hr drive to and from). If I like him do I pay with a cashier check or what?
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