Buying a horse can be a daunting experience. It’s not only a massive financial investment, but a huge time commitment too.
The wrong horse costs money and still needs to be looked after every day, so making sure you pick the right one for you is vital.
Finding the right horse takes time
My first words of advice is: be patient.
We’re all guilty of the “I want it now” syndrome. Our minds are made up – we’re committed to buying a horse. This weekend, we’re going to a nearby yard, trailer and BFF in tow. We’ve already decided that a four-legged beauty is coming home with us to wear the rugs that we have ready and waiting. Basically, we’re getting our forever horse, and it’s happening now!
Hold it right there. Rushing is a bad move, and deep down you know it.
There are thousands of horses for sale every day in the UK. You might like the first one you see but be patient. There’s no harm in seeing a couple more, I promise.
If the one you had your eye on is already sold, then it was never meant to be. At the time you might be heartbroken, sadly contemplating the amazing cross-country course that you and your new horse were going to jump. But don’t despair! There’ll be another horse, at another yard, with an equally beautiful face for your profile pictures.
A checklist of must haves for your new horse
My second tip is to begin by writing down the key characteristics that your horse of a lifetime must have.
For example, I’m 6’1”. That means for me, a key requirement is the horse has to be 16.3 or I’m just not interested.
The number of times I’ve phoned potential leads and explained that I want a tall horse, and then driven two hours only to find a horse that’s barely 16 hands is frustrating to say the least. Then when I’m there, I can’t help but start thinking that my “must” could become a “maybe”. I’m excited. I want a new horse, and suddenly I’m convincing myself that a smaller one will be just fine.
This is when my checklist comes in handy.
My emotions are running away with me, so I need my list to bring me back to reality and prevent my excitement from getting in the way of what I’ve already decided I want. Any horse you consider must tick all your boxes or you need to keep looking.
I apologise for stating the obvious, but in emotional moments we often lose our sense of logic.
Ask for advice from an experienced horse person
If possible, have someone knowledgeable accompany you on any visits, or alternatively, take someone who won’t mind telling you it straight.
As with the checklist, it’s handy to have someone to pull you back when your emotions are getting the better of you.
The best option for this is your trainer. They’ve seen you ride, they know what level you’re at, and they should have enough experience to guide you to a suitable decision. Failing that, an honest purchasing partner is the best remedy for any rash decisions you might be tempted into.
If you can’t find someone to accompany you, get the person you’re buying from to take a video and when you get back, get the opinion of someone you trust.
Always get your new horse vetted
My last piece of advice might be the most obvious of all, but it’s one we’re all guilty of trying to avoid: remember to get a vetting.
I know that it’s expensive, and that you might end up not going through with the purchase in the end, but it’s better to know about any issues before you get your new horse home. It’ll save a lot of cash on vet bills in the long run.
None of us like to see our vet’s phone number in the recent calls list, or feel the hit of the monthly direct debit to pay for treatments that could have been avoided with a simple vetting.
And remember — don’t accept any claims that “he was vetted a couple of months ago”. Suck up the £500 bill and remind yourself that ultimately, it’ll save you money.
These tips here aren’t a foolproof route to success, but taking these measures can help to guide you through what is always a tricky process.
Buying a horse is never risk-free, but as we all know, this rewarding hobby is worth the challenges. When my own beauty whinnies as I turn up to the yard each morning, it’s the best part of my day!
Please post your own experiences when buying a new horse in the comments section below. We’d love to hear them.