Questions to ask when buying - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Questions to ask when buying

Hello, I'm trying to make a list of good in depth questions to ask a seller when I call (oh my gosh I'm so nervous!) to inquire about a horse that is for sale. I'm not particular in disciplines, and I'm still working on riding lessons, so what are good questions to ask from a non riding perspective? Health? Hooves? How would I tell how hot tempered a horse is based on questions over the phone and also if I do not do a test ride? Any other buying advice would be appreciated! I do plan on getting a PPE done! Thank you in advance!!
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post #2 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by findinghappy View Post
and also if I do not do a test ride?
I've bought after only watching the seller ride. If the seller says the horse can do X, Y and Z, I want to see that horse do those specified letters. That you can't make the horse do it is irrelevant (at this point) as long as the horse can do it.
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post #3 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 05:56 PM
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My best buying advice, have your trainer go with you..

No trainer yet? Get some lessons and a good trainer..then you will find out what sort of horse you NEED, not want but need.

I am the poster child for this advice, the last horse I bought on my own nearly killed me, the last two horses have been trainer chosen, and were perfect for what I needed at the time.
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post #4 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 05:58 PM
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Seller: "Horse can do such-and-such." - You: "Can you show me?"

- Do you have vet papers showing the medical history since you owned him (and possibly before)?
- I would like to take him on a trial basis...
- Would you have references from people who bought a horse from you before?
- What are his dietary requirements? How (if at all) is be being shod?
- Can I come to just observe him in pasture for a bit? (There has to be some way to forestall the horse's being "prepped" for your visit.)
- Interaction with, and reaction to, dogs/kids/traffic/agricultural machinery/scary things he will encounter at your home, so you're not blindsighted.

I'm just shooting from the hip here, but work on the assumption that if you aren't seeing the sucker in the room, you are (supposed to be) it. Also look for signs of deception - overly elaborate stories, shifty body language, vague language in response to concrete questions, contradictory details and "facts".

Ask some questions you know the (supposed) answer to, and see if sellers recollection of the facts matches what he wrote in the sales ad. You can also "confuse" his sales ad with a different horse's and see if he corrects an "honest mistake" you made in your statements, especially if the mistake shines a positive light on his horse.

Take someone experienced who can check for conformation issues (in light of what you want the horse to do) and someone who can ride him for you.

You must visit the horse and interact with him yourself, even if you yourself do not ride him.
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post #5 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 06:01 PM
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The sort of specific questions you want to ask may vary a bit depending on the particular horse and what you want to do with it. That said, some good basic questions I would ask are:

- Has the horse ever foundered?
- Any past or current vices you should know about? (i.e., you don't want a horse that is known to bolt, buck, rear, or otherwise be difficult to handle, and so on)
- Do they have a history of colic?
- Are they a cribber?
- Will the horse ride out both alone and in a group (in the case of trail riding)?
- What have the owners primarily used the horse for?
- What are their reasons for selling?
- Are they safe in traffic?
- How do they load/unload? --> trailering issues are correctable, but it's always nice to know before you buy if a horse has issues here.
- When did they last have their teeth floated?
- Do they stand tied?
- How are they with the farrier?
- What do they generally feed said horse? Do they need any special maintenance/care?
- Barefoot or shod?
- Do they require any special tack?
- What skill level of rider have they been used by? --> This may give you and idea of how "hot" a horse might be. If beginners or children can comfortably handle the horse, it's likely that it's a pretty mellow animal.

I also highly recommend doing a test ride anyway if you can. The best way to get an idea of if a potential horse is right for you is to meet the animal and work with them a little. So definitely ask about that. If the horse is close to you and the seller will agree, go meet the horse.

You want to have a general idea of what the horse is trained to do even if you aren't particular about discipline, because you don't want to waste your and the seller's time by going to see a horse that is trained for something completely different than you really need. I would also recommend waiting on the PPE until you have actually met the horse and decided if you would mesh well since those are generally at buyer's expense. I also agree with Golden Horse that you should take an experienced horse person with you. A trainer, or if not a trainer or instructor, a friend who knows horses.
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post #6 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Golden Horse View Post
My best buying advice, have your trainer go with you..

No trainer yet? Get some lessons and a good trainer..then you will find out what sort of horse you NEED, not want but need.

I am the poster child for this advice, the last horse I bought on my own nearly killed me, the last two horses have been trainer chosen, and were perfect for what I needed at the time.
^^^^Listen to the Voice of Experience:). Nothing speaks better than to hear from someone who has been in those shoes

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #7 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
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As a seller and buyer I'm always asking loads of questions

My number one recommendation is to see the horse in flesh. Buying sight unseen is great for me if I want that unbroken 3 yr old that has a nice canter, but if you're buying a trained horse that you want a particular way, the only way you'll know what it's like is to go visit him in person. But if you do choose to go that way, as ducky1234 said, lots and lots of videos of someone riding him.

To see how hot they are you could ask questions like, does he need a whip or spurring to get him going, will he get faster if you drop the reins when riding trot or canter, is he spooky, does he jigjog/trot on the spot, how sensitive is he to your leg?

When people call me up asking about my horses for sale I get the general questions of how's his Health, temperament, and hooves are. Also when were his teeth done and if he's up to date with vaccines and worming.
I then ask who's he for and what will they be wanting to do with it, or, they will tell me this before I ask which is nice.

I've told a few people he doesn't sound suitable and they've come to view him anyway, which I'm fine with as I want the perfect rider for my horse, not a quick sale, every time, they agree, not suitable, but once I was wrong. I'm saying that because sometimes words don't get across right and things aren't always as they seem. (I was selling a OTTB, and it was for a 10y/o, but she rode him perfectly and tested him and now they're jumping 1m rounds)

I tell people everything about my horses, good and bad, I rather a bit longer phone call then waste a few hours of my time if they come ride. I usually get a lot of naughty horses to re-train and I'll tell the viewer that they used to be a bucker etc. telling people this has never turned anyone away surprisingly!

I'm going off track - but above answers have great questions and considerations.

I don't know your level of riding but my final thing is that if you're not 101% confident around that horse right there and then when you go see it, then chances are that you won't be for a very long time, if ever. Make sure you walk trot and canter, and push all the buttons you know, and if you feel like you could do anything with this horse then it's the horse for you, but if you're scared to canter it, it's not for you.
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- - Without horses, my house would be clean, my wallet would be full, but my heart would be empty - -
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post #8 of 28 Old 03-23-2018, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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These are all fantastic and extremely helpful, thank you so much!!

finding happy
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post #9 of 28 Old 03-24-2018, 01:02 AM
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Besides all the other advise and because I see it so many times on this forum...If you want a registered horse make sure all the paperwork is current. Don't fall for them telling you the horse is registered and all you need to do is get a transfer paper signed by a previous owner. That is much easier said than done.

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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post #10 of 28 Old 03-24-2018, 04:32 AM
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Even if you are experienced, it helps to have two experienced people looking at the horse. It's so easy to forget things you wanted to look at or ask. The second set of eyes will notice something you missed.

I even have an experienced friend look at sale ads to see if I should consider the horse. Recently I was looking at a horse ad and my friend pointed out that the horse was standing on a pile of shavings in front so he was built downhill even though his back was level in the photo.

Something can be missed that will seem obvious to another person, and even the vet can miss things. A friend brought a horse home and the first thing I saw was that his hind heels didn't touch the ground. It was a check ligament/growth issue, but thankfully he was young and outgrew it. Another horse a friend brought home had a huge groove in his tongue where a bit had cut him. The vet didn't look at the horse's tongue, and that is something that can cause bitting issues.

So have a trainer or experienced horse person along, and if they're the only experienced person I'd say bring a second set of eyes too. They also might be able to tell you things about how the horse behaves when you are riding, or how he moves under saddle which you may not feel. I would hope a trainer would not be offended by you bringing another person along. If they are offended, they are unwise, because it is so easy to miss things when looking at a horse, no matter how expert your eyes.
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