It would be easy to fall in love. There’s a lot of beautiful horses out there. However, let’s take a step back. Before deciding to buy you have:
1.) Taken riding lessons or know how to ride. If you have been off from horses for years, it’s best to take about a 3 month refresher course before buying. The benefit of taking riding lessons is you can ride multiple horses helping to determine your skill level and what type of time commitment you can really make.
2.) You have a place to keep it. For first time buyers, keep it where you can get assistance from an instructor or trainer; the backyard is not the best place for those new or returning to horses after many years being off.
3.) You’ve evaulated how much riding you will actually do and know what type of horse fits that schedule. Someone who works full-time will have little time for young horse; weekend warrior riders need something well broke and a bit older then a youth rider.
4.) You have a more experienced horse friend you TRUST who can advise you.
When you send off an email about a horse realize that you will get two responses to about every 10 sent. Listed horses have been sold, the owner doesn’t check email often (don’t ask me why you would post a horse online then but…), or they decided against selling the horse, etc…
Horse sellers are also tired of tire kickers: people who want to buy a horse on payments, are too far away to visit the horse or ship it (particularly true of cheaper horses), and 14 year old girls who want their parents to buy them a horse. In order to get a better response to your inquiry I suggest sending along a list of short, sensible questions along with your city and state in the signature (don’t send a phone number til you have seen PHOTOS!):
~ ask them to describe the horses personality/temperment
~ how long have they owned the horse?
~ barefoot or shod?
~ type of bit regularly rides in?
~ assuming UTD (up to date) on shots, worming and current Coggins?
~ recent riding history?
~ any known health issues?
~ current feed?
~ more photos? and any video available?
This should get the ball rolling. It shows you have some intelligence about horses and are interested in it’s care. If, after an email back and photos you want more info, I send some more detailed questions that get into the nitty gritty:
~ how does the horse behave when it spooks? what types of things spook it?
~ if a trail horse – what trails has it been on, how long ago? how does it cross water, bridges, deals with traffic, dogs, cars?
~ if a show horse – what shows, what placement, how long ago, was it ridden by owner or a trainer?
~ if a dressage horse – ask for copies of the judges comments and scoring to be mailed to you (if you are really serious)
~ what reason for sale?
~ will the horse pass a vet examination (this lets them know that drugs are not going to hide issues and they better come clean right now)?
After the above, it would be time to schedule an appt to see the horse or tell the owner, thanks, but no thanks. Don’t keep them dangling!
Some things that should be warning signs:
~ No photos. Don’t bother seeing any horse without seeing photos first!
~ photos of grazing horses that are being sold as a riding horse. Demand to see a photo of the horse being ridden – not being led around or stuck with a toddler on it’s back. I personally prefer to see women ride the horse then men, kids or teens. Anyone can stick a kid in the saddle, take a quick photo, and then call the horse kid-safe.
~ Saddled photos that hide the fact the horse has a swayed back. Ask to see unsaddled and riding photos.
~ Horse that has been listed for six months and it has not sold. Why?
~ No proof of show history. Hm big question is WHY!? Find out if the horse is listed for sale with their local show club and ask around with that group to see if the horse has a history that is causing those in-the-know to avoid buying.
~ they are selling the horse as calm and accomplished but are asking to buy a horse that is calm! Why would they sell a horse they know for something else? Because the first horse is too much for them. You would be surprised at how many times I’ve seen this!
~ they have owned the horse for a short period of time and are selling it. This could mean someone who flips horses (tunes them up and resales), or horse has issues. One person here always says these ponies are her kids’ horses but if that is so, her kids go through an amazing amount of ponies! She shows them riding a different pony on a new ad every week! I prefer horses that have been with the owner 3-5 years.
~ I prefer to buy a horse from a woman then a man. In my part of the world, male riders are generally rough guys who will “put a handle on a horse” through brute force. They can often be insensitive to a woman’s hesitancy on getting up on an unknown horse. And most horse traders (flipping auction horses for sale to unsuspecting innocents) are MALE.
~ Women who try to rip off innocents are those who are trainers and instructors; they build a relationship with you before they start the rip off. They will con you into thinking they are treating you like a friend and giving you a break. They will try to convince you to buy a horse THEY want to buy and then when it doesn’t work out for you, buy it back from you at a much more reduced price.
I cannot stress this enough: TRUST YOUR INTUITION. If you get a FUNNY FEELING about the situation that makes you go hmmm…..? then STOP ALL INVOLVEMENT IN THE BUYING PROCESS.
By this time you should have a good feel about the horse and if it would be a possible choice for you. Visiting and buying I’ll put under different blog posts.