Buying a horse is quite a heavy commitment, and not everyone’s ready for it. While most of us would love to have our very own horse, there’s plenty to consider before plunging into a buy — horses live a very long time, require a lot of attention, and can be expensive to keep as well. Especially for first-time owners, it can be a very challenging thing to undertake. So here are six things to consider before buying a horse.
1 Do I have time to own a horse?
This might seem like an odd question, but it’s a very important one. Horses require regular exercise and care to truly thrive, and it’s not everyone who can make such a commitment. This also combines with other points (see below) where we discuss things such as where will you board the horse, and whether you will be able to commit to be there frequently enough.
If you do not have enough time (and enough time also depends on your goals, whether it’s just for fun or riding professionally and competing), it might be best to lease or co-own rather than buy your own, as this may help share the responsibility for the horse with other people. In any case, it’s a thing to consider.
2 Where will I keep my horse?
That’s a very important question as well. Horse owners have plenty of options, such as boarding at a livery or housing the horse in your own property, and each come with their advantages and demands, as well as downsides. Depending on where you live, boarding may be scarce around your region and demand commute time (which ties in with point #1).
Many places also require you to take care of your horse frequently. Deciding where to board your horse can be a complex balance between time, distance, and affordability, as well as compatibility with your goals.
If you’re boarding the horse on your own property, on the other hand, you’ll have to take care of all its needs, including veterinarian, training, exercising and feeding it, including during winter months when turnout might not be ideal, or rainy seasons.
3 Can I afford a horse?
Horses are expensive animals, and while being with them is very rewarding, it would be a lie to pretend it doesn’t take a lot of money. This includes tack, feed, veterinarian bills, provisions for emergency times, training, exercising, transportation, and other demands any animal has. Even if you already own horses, it’s always important to make sure you can afford another one without straining your bank account, otherwise, you might find yourself in a very unpleasant situation.
4 What type of horse do I want?
This crosses everything from personality to discipline, to breed. What sort of horse do you want, and more importantly, what sort of horse do you need and can afford? While everyone would love to have a show horse that’s an international champion, it would be overkill to have such a horse (which will come with a hefty price) only for weekend hacking. Worse, it’s very important to balance your goals with your reality: that of your skills and ability to handle the horse and its demands.
This applies to the individual horse’s personality as well. A schoolmaster horse (one used in riding schools, or an older, calmer and more patient horse) is better for a new or younger rider who may not ride as well than a feisty young stallion. This applies to breed as well, as some are typically calmer than others, and should influence your decision and suit your goals as well.
5 Where will I buy a horse?
Buying a horse can be a very delicate process and it’s best if you choose a good place to buy from. Whether it’s buying from riding schools, horse dealers, or from a private individual, there are pros and cons on every choice.
However, it’s best to buy local, when possible, especially for new owners. Not only a local seller will be easier to access, including to bring your horse home, it’s also more likely to have an established reputation in the area.
Before acquiring your future companion, explore the background of the seller: track record, opinions from others, reputation, etc. This lowers the chance of dealing with shady, unreliable sellers. Frequenting and asking questions on Facebook groups such as dodgy horse dealers is a good place to start
6 Thoroughly inspect your potential buys
This is a fundamental step before closing a deal. Always have a trustworthy veterinarian check the horse thoroughly, request medical records, observe its behaviour. Always ride or have some contact with it before buying. This way, you won’t be surprised by a horse that looks sound but isn’t or a horse that has behaviour issues.
Don’t lead with emotion. While liking the horse is an obvious reason to buy, it might turn sour if the horse doesn’t fit you or is more than you can safely handle. While caring for a horse is rewarding, certain animals may prove too much, whether in health issues or behaviour issues. Be realistic about what you can handle, and make sure your final choice fits what you expect and need.
There is no such thing as a perfect horse, but with care and patience, you can find the one that is a good fit for you. Following these tips, you will be able to make a conscious and mature decision. Happy buying!