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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I'm looking for a Quarter Horse to purchase, and I am going this weekend to look at a few potential matches, so I am compiling a list of questions to ask about the horse. This is my first horse, and first time horse shopping, and I want to be as thorough as possible.

If I like what I see/ride, I am planning on taking my instructor with me on a second trip, as well as get a vet check, before I agree to buy.

Here is a little information about myself that might help:

I am a novice rider, looking for a well broke horse QH that I can use for pleasure trail riding and also for practicing trail (competition) with the possibility of showing western pleasure with my instructor.

The horses are being described as very broke, confidence builders for beginners that have great handle, neck rein, move off the leg, and back up. Both are geldings.

Very short descriptions, I know. I suppose it doesn't matter much until I ride, as the seller can promise the world in an ad. :wink:

The horse doesn't have to be competition ready, as long as the basics are there. I am hoping the horse and I can hone our show skills together :)

Any shopping tips and advice is appreciated. Thanks!
 

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I would ask how they are in traffic! i had a friend who bought a horse and they said used on trails but when she got her home she found out this only meant bush trails and the horse had never been in traffic' if you are a novice a bombproof horse in traffic is essential!!! also ask that they not catch the horse before hand so you can see it being caught or if stabled see the horses behaviour in the stable. see the horse have all its feet picked up try and touch the horse in as much places as possible to see if anything sets the horse off. Always get the rider to ride the horse first!! then ride the horse yourself and make sure you really test the horse out many horses will do a few laps of an arena find until they get bored then things can get interesting.. all the normal stuff also how they are with other horses' what there like around feed time' trailering. there are all basic things that i would ask but being your first buy maybe i have been able to mention something you haven't been told to look for yet... :) very exciting good luck :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Actually, it didn't occur to me to ask them not to catch the horse ahead of time. Very good point.

Being accustomed to the traffic is also something I will definitely bring up, because I live in and will be riding in an area where you have to cross traffic to access different trails.
 

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Try and ride the horse in the ring and on the trail, alone, and with at least another horse. Those are all different situations for a horse (especially riding alone) and they all react differently. You should be able to ride an experienced trail horse alone without the horse being nervous, spooky, or herd bound, and in a group, the horse should 'get along with others' (e.g. no fussing/kicking).
Handle the horse as much as possible, e.g. handle the feet, pick the hooves, groom, saddle, lead in hand, etc. to see if there are any obvious bad habits.
Load the horse in a trailer.
Look at the condition of the feet and find out what the horse is being fed. These are the two areas that can make the difference between a low maintenance, easy keeper, and an expensive, high maintenance horse.
 

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*Has she ever been shown
*Has she ever been taken on trail
*Has she any shown any type of aggression towards certain horses
*Ask if it would be okay to have a vet check, even if you don't plan on getting one. Watch their reactions closely.
*Pick up their feet!!!!!!
*Ask what farrier they use
*Ask if they're current on shots
*Ask if you can take her on a trial period
*Ask about bad habits
*Ask why they're selling
*Ask why the price is the way it is if it seems unreasonably high or low
*Load the horse before aggreing to buy him and have the horse clipped (just his bridle path or something to make sure he really does clip if the owner says he does)
*Take the horse on a ride alone and with another horse. If she avoids taking a horse with her that's already caught or something, ask why she's not taking him along, as this could tell whether or not the horse gets along with mares, for example
*When I went to look at Molly for the second time the other day, the owner told me to ignore her and pretend Molly was mine. So I caught her, haltered her, lead her in the barn, cross ties, groomed her, picked her feet, rubbed her all over, tacked her up, loaded her in the trailer, etc. I reccomend this as it can tell you so much if the owner's hiding something
*
 

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oh just a quick note i noticed equiniphile mention to ask for a trial period if they say no to this it does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the horse as i do not allow trials on horses i am selling or i should say i don't allow them to leave the property until they are sold... I bad rider can stuff a horses training pretty quickly as well as teach them bad habits so i like to be able to see the people handling the horse and riding just in case they do something i don't agree with in which case they arn't the right buyer! not saying you are at all but as a person who has sold horses a few times you always protect your asset.
you may find you can trial the horse as much as you want but it's not to leave the property were its kept this should be an acceptable outcome to asking to trial the horse. in my opinion anyway
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It is hard to find places that allow you to take the horses on a trial, and understandably so.

However this seller does have a policy where I can take the horse for a 10 day trial for $200. If I purchase the horse, that money goes toward my purchase price, if I decide the horse isn't right, the $200 is considered a rental fee. Being a novice, I think this will be VERY helpful, and I find the fee very reasonable.
 

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If there are multiple people there, ask both of them the same questions if you can get them apart.

I went to look at a "bomb-proof" quarter horse and when the guy hopped on to show me what he could do, his daughter was busy telling me that Mr "bomb-proof" hadn't bucked anyone off in over 3 weeks now! Considering that the guy had just told me that the horse hadn't been ridden in about 2 weeks... I ran from that one!
 

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Yeah, it was one of those situations where things got worse and worse the longer I was there. Brand Inspection? Oh I didn't *need* a brand inspection you see..the vet drew a lil picture of the horse when he did the Coggins and that's good enough ('till the first cop stopped me!).

Oh and bring your saddle with you, you'll find out if it fits and more importantly, you won't be standing there looking at a ginormous 18" saddle with stirrups that are a good 2 feet too long because that's all the owner has (well he did offer me his kid's 12" saddle.... I'm not THAT small!).

If the horse is housed with a friend, make sure you get to separate him/her. I also looked at a lovely mare who apparently had NEVER been away from her buddy to the point where she screamed the entire 20mins we were gone and her buddy was SO upset he beat himself against the metal corral panels until he was bloody and practically unable to walk.

Tie the horse and see how that goes.... looked at yet another lovely mare who flipped out the second she was tied. Owner insisted she'd never done that before....

Take your time, I probably viewed 25 nightmarish wrecks of horses, 5 - 10 decent ones and only a couple that were actually what they owner claimed they were before I bought my horse.
 

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I would also ask for the horse's medical history - any colic, lameness, special diet or supplement needs, etc. I also like to ask what the horse's best traits are and what their worst traits are. What experience does the horse have on trails? Will they cross roads, water, ditches ? Any issues with 4-wheelers, bicycles or dogs? Not that any of these are deal breakers, but at least you will know what you need to work on or avoid until you are confident enough to work through the issues.
 

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Any shopping tips and advice is appreciated. Thanks!
I always suggest asking -

Why the horse is for sale? (everyone these days says downsizing - so why is THIS horse on the cull list)

Would they themselves buy the horse?

Typically the look on their face when you ask if they would buy the horse is very telling. Some all but panic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone. Really good advice. I'm writing these things down.

I know it's going to be a struggle for me to be firm & focused, especially since I have yet to meet a horse I didn't like, but the last thing I want to do is bring home a horse that needs more training and guidance than I can give him/her. That would unfair to both the horse and myself.
 

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- How are his feet?
- Does he mind traffic?
- How is he with cows?
- Has he ever had colic?
- How often do you shoe?
- What bit do you ride him in?
- Has he ever been shown?
- Do you have his show records?
- Is he registered?
- Who are his parents?
- Why are you selling?
- Has he ever been lame?
- How is he with feeding?
- Is he a dominant or submissive member of the herd?
- Does he get hot after eating grain?
- Do you have to lunge before riding?
- Do you use split or barrel reins?
- Does he cross water?
- Does he cross logs?
- Does he get excited when going bck to the barn?
- Is he pasture/buddy/barn sour?
- Has he ever foundered?
- Where are you housing him?

Just make sure that you take him through his paces and make sure they ride first, and ask to leave him in the pasture until you get there so you can see him caught and groomed and saddled and all that. Make more than one visit and one unannounced. Vet check of course, and make sure he isn't irritable about being touched anywhere. Pick up all his feet and look in his mouth.

This is generally all I do, and if I can I will take the horse on a trial basis.
 

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On a side note, depending on your experience and what you're looking for, you may WANT a horse with some hangups you can cure if he's selling for a cheaper price because of them. If you're looking at a horse and the owner is honest about a hangup he has, and you're positive you can cure it, give it a go. I don't reccomend this for novices if you're not experienced in handling a situation like it. For example, I'm buying a horse who was VERY well-trained at the walk and trot, but when the previous owner got her, she deleted all of her work on the canter by never cantering her. I'm confident I can solve her problems, though, because she's a great all-around horse other than trying to gallop when I ask for the canter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone! Your input has been really helpful!

SorrelHorse- I literally cut and paste your list into a word doc to take with me!

I am very excited, tomorrow is the day I start "casting" my potential matches.
I have 3 candidates so far.

I will be sure to post pictures if I find a winner.

Thanks again,

Jenny
 

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Take your trainer or a very experienced horse person with you. Another set of eyes can pick up on things you didn't notice.

I made a major, major dumb purchase one time. I bought two horses together, because the owner and his wife were getting out of horses. The one I wanted was an 8 yr old Paint mare. But she came with her 20 yr old grade gelding buddy. Okay, no problem, I had room at the time. So I test rode one with the owner riding along on the other, then switched horses, and rode the other. We did a little trail ride that way and it went fine. They were maybe a little excited, but they hadn't been ridden regularly. No problem, I ride regularly, right?

Well, I got them home and found out the wouldn't ride apart! The mare would actually rear and refuse to leave the property. Both were miserable, buddy sour, dangerous horses. I lost a lot of money on them, and I actually had to pay a horse trader to take them to an auction for me. It was one of the worst horse experiences of my life! They taught me a fear I never had before, and I ended up a very paranoid horse buyer as a result. After that, I pretty much expected everyone out there was trying to cheat me and dump their dangerous horses on me. :-(

The good news is, the next horse I tried out and bought was the best horse I have ever owned. I've had him (my Mustang John) for 5 years now and he is as true-blue as the day I bought him. I got him from a friend of a friend, and the gentleman let me take him on a two week trial. I knew after a week of throwing every situation at him I could think of, that he was the horse for me. :p So there are some good horses out there, but there are also some people who don't know anything about horses, or may actually be trying to dump their problems on you. But take another set of eyes with you. I didn't the first time, and I think if I did, my friend would have seen the warning signs I missed.
 

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Well make sure you make multiple visits to the horse you decide on. After all, you will not be receiving the horse immediately after the decision, so visit it as often as possible to see if it acts any differently.
Make sure you try everything you plan to do while riding it. If you plan on crossing rivers in trail riding, you'll want to ask about that.

How does the horse act with other horses?

How does the horse act around dogs? (This is very important as many stables have dogs around)

Make sure you ask about the horse's diet if you plan on buying. This way the horse can maintain it's usual feeding, which can keep it healthy.

There are many people in the horse world who will manipulate people. Keep in mind that just because they seem nice, doesn't mean their horse is the best buy.

And, go with that gut feeling. It may not be one of those horses that ends op your companion! Keep looking!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi Everyone,

Just thought I would update about the shopping trip. I looked at 3 horses.

One of them was very naughty. He didn't have much for ground manners, never mind saddle manners. I shouldn't have even mounted him, but I did, and he skipped walking and ran right back to his corral to be with his buddy. That one was definitely a no.

#2 was well behaved and polite, and had really comfy gaits, however he wasn't trained as described. He didn't back or move off the leg very well.

#3 was a cute little TWH mare, that I tested just for the heck of it. I wasn't there to look at her. My first time on a TWH and it's pretty awesome. I have always liked the breed. She was the best behaved of all of them. She backed well and easily, moved off the leg, neck reined, good stop. However, she wasn't at all trained for western pleasure, so I could only really use her as purely a trail horse. She is also pretty small, 14.3. I prefer taller horses. However I haven't counted her out. I just can't seem to get that little mare off my mind.

One thing that kind of turned me off to this buyer was the general way they were kept. One of the geldings had so much mud and gunk packed into his hoof that I couldn't even make out the bottom of it. She had mentioned she had some flooding, and I am guessing no one bothered to keep his hooves clean? Also his hay had urine all over it. Is is normal for a horse to urinate on his food, or did someone put his hay down over his urine?

I understand that not everyone keeps their horses in posh barns, but it seemed like some of the horses were less than maintained.

I definitely learned that if I want a ready-trained, show quality horse, I am going to have to either increase my budget, or get very, very lucky. :p

Thanks to everyone that replied and gave advice. I am learning more and more everyday, and hopefully soon I will have my dream horse!
 

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One of the geldings had so much mud and gunk packed into his hoof that I couldn't even make out the bottom of it. She had mentioned she had some flooding, and I am guessing no one bothered to keep his hooves clean?
If the horse was in a muddy pasture, it will only take a minute for them to get packed with mud.

Also his hay had urine all over it. Is is normal for a horse to urinate on his food, or did someone put his hay down over his urine?
It's not unusual for some horses to urinate on their hair. From what I've read, horses don't like to get 'splashed' and some just use their hay.

In any case, though, I would expect most sellers to clean up the horse before having someone take a look at it, so perhaps that says something...
 
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