Finding your perfect match: Horse shopping 101

Ellie and Edie, good friends.

Ellie and Edie, good friends.

I’m known around our barn as a sort of Horse Yentl or match maker. I’ve helped more than one friend find her perfect match, although truth be told, I’ve made a few mistakes for myself and friends along the way. No one’s perfect.

Looking for a horse is a lot like looking for Mr (or Ms) Right. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the Handsome Prince. And sometimes the one you thought was a Handsome Prince turns out to be a Cad. Yikes!

But we soldier on because – let’s face it – we’re addicts and we need our fix, e.g. a horse. We’re beginning a series of articles about horse shopping, with topics such as:

  • Deciding what kind of horse you are looking for – temperament, size range, age range, type, training, how far you’ll travel to look at it, price range, etc. Questions to ask yourself before you start shopping.
  • Using resources such as the internet (and which sites tend to be most fruitful), sales barns, friends, a buyer’s agent, etc.
  • How to read ads, and some questions to ask before deciding to go see a horse. The value of video and what to ask for in the video.
  • Which questions to ask on the first visit, and before considering any kind of purchase agreement.
  • The test ride(s).
  • Evaluating a horse. Using your head AND your heart to find your right match. The importance of balancing intuition and logic.
  • Who to take with you when you go horse shopping…and who to leave behind.
  • The pre purchase exam; the contract; trial periods if allowed.
  • and more! If you have questions about how to shop for a horse, send me your questions now, as I am developing this series, and I’ll try to address them.

Fall is a good time to get a good deal on a horse, by the way, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. A lot of people don’t want to feed it through the Winter and so prices become very negotiable. On the other hand, Fall can be a tough time to build IMG_0080a relationship with a horse as the weather gets cold and difficult to ride in many parts of the country. That nice calm horse you bought may become rather fractious and full of herself in the cold weather! Unless you are experienced or have a good trainer to help you, take your time and wait until the warmer weather of Spring. You might pay a bit more, but you won’t have had to board that horse or pony all winter, either. Bookmark these articles for when you’ll need them, and come back to them later.

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