February 27, 2020 4 min read

Buying a Horse

Are you thinking of buying a horse? Then there are guidelines that you should follow to make sure you buy a good horse without ever regretting it.

Before you buy, get ready!

All horse lovers would like to have a horse. However, this animal requires a lot of time and money, and you will also need to consider the space needed for the horse to live and thrive! This is why it is important to think very well about deciding to buy a horse.

Here is some important information to consider before purchasing a horse:

  • Don't be in a hurry: there are plenty of horses to buy out there. It is important to evaluate and visit many horses before making the final choice. Remember that you will incur expenses for veterinarians, food, training, farriers, and travel.
  • Rely on experts: talk with horse breeders, highly rated traders, and trusted trainers for advice.
  • Consider a half-trust agreement: this is when a commitment is made to pay part of the horse's expenses in exchange for time to be together. You can train and ride the horse, while also assuming all other responsibilities of its care.

The Pre-purchase Exam

information how to buy a horse

Before buying a horse, you must make sure that it is in good health. To avoid unexpected veterinary expenses later, it is advisable to have an exam beforehand, even if the pre-purchase exam can be expensive. For example, you may find yourself not riding at the level you set due to issues with the horse’s health.

Be wary if the horse’s current owner offers to pay a veterinarian's medical examination, as you may not receive an objective opinion. Have your own veterinarian examine the horse. Talk to your vet to decide what tests to perform on the horse, and what you can avoid doing.

Usually pre-purchase exams may include checkups of the legs and joints, blood tests, x-rays and other general health indicators.  

The Trial Period

how to buy a horse age

Enter into a contract with the Seller that allows you to take the horse home for a trial period.

Most Sellers are open to a trial period also for the horse’s benefit. A trial period will allow you to evaluate the horse's character, temperament, and habits, and you can then understand if it is the perfect horse for you. There may be traits of the horse that only come out when you bring it home, as a result of changes in the surroundings, stable and different people interactions.

Trial periods can last up to 6 months, but most Sellers prefer a shorter period of about 15-30 days. In addition to the written agreement, you must also obtain an equine insurance policy to cover accidents while the horse is in your care. Some horse owners may ask to view the place where you will keep the horse, others instead will only allow you to carry out the trial period at their own stables. 

The Budget to Buy a Horse

Decide on a budget to make sure you don't go overboard with all the expenses. The price of a horse will vary depending on the type you choose and they type or riding you will do. If you plan to only hack for leisure and compete in small local events, you can find a good horse even under 2 thousand euros (approx $2,200). If, on the other hand, you need a performance horse, from which you may also want to make money by competing, you will surely have to spend more money, and your instructor will certainly be able to help you with your choice. Always keep in mind that your first horse can also be an "entry-level" to understand if the world of horses is truly your passion.  

The main costs of keeping a horse are: 

  • Farrier: At least every 6 or 8 weeks you must consider having a farrier visit your horse. The cost will depend on the type of horses you want the horse to wear, as well as on the material and any special processes, such as to correct the horse's posture.
  • Food: Older horses require less food, but more supplements and special feeds to keep them fit. Instead, younger horses require food in large quantities. Consult your veterinarian for more specific nutritional advice.
  • Lessons: You should plan lessons, even if you have been doing them for several years, so that you can continue developing your skills. Having a continuous relationship with a professional instructor can help prevent problems and resolve those that arise, in case the horse you take is not what you expected.
  • Vet: At least twice a year you should have your horse examined. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a vaccination schedule. In your budget, also take into account the veterinary expenses for urgent horse care. To offset the cost, you may want to purchase a medical insurance policy for your horse. Keep in mind also dental costs, which can be costly.

Finally, ask the horse owner if the price is negotiable. In this case, try to get as close as possible to what you think is the correct price to buy a horse.

Things not to do when buying a horse

  • Do not buy it without an inspection by an expert or veterinarian. Always rely on an expert.
  • Do not base the decision to buy a horse on the basis of the color, or favorite breed. Think about the important attributes, age, character and health of the horse.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the owner that the horse is unsuitable for you.
  • Don't be in a hurry, choose it well. It is a choice that you will carry with you for life.

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