Buying a Horse
Tips before you go out and start looking that could save you thousands of hours and dollars and increase the chances in getting a safer horse.
Horse Classifieds Decoded
Some adverts ring true but others advertised as the 16hh schoolmaster end up a 15.2hh crazy horse who can only canter one way.
Jargon and sneaky phrases that appear in horse ads are enough to confuse even the most experienced of horse owners.
Here’s a guide to help you along your journey, and it is certainly a journey to learn by experience in the world of buying horses……
Advert Words and Phrases
- Forward moving = Not for beginners.
- Great on the ground = Not so good for riding.
- Very pretty = But not so safe
- Can be pushy = Bad manners, will knock you over and pull you like a steam train on the ground.
- Great trail riding horse = Not so good for anything else. Circles are not this horses’ specialty.
- Cold backed = You will always have to lunge this horse before you ride it and beware it may still buck.
- Been to many natural horsemanship clinics = can only work with this horse on the ground and too scared to ride it.
- My horse trainer has done a lot of work with my horse = Because I’m too scared to ride it.
- Very athletic = Yes, at moving quickly underneath you.
- Would make a good all-rounder = Horse is either easy and willing to turn a hoof to most things which will be your perfect go to horse, or is not very good at anything.
- For sale with all his tack = Owner will do anything to get this crazy animal out of their sight.
- Not a novice ride = Grab the nearest pro and make sure they wear a body protector. But could be the next champion.
- Once-in-a-lifetime horse = Because your lifetime will be very short after buying the horse. OR this is an incredible horse, very special and should be selling for a good amount of money if it is a good horse and you will be lucky to have found one of these horses.
- Safe and bombproof = Good luck getting this horse to move. Great first horse for young kids and the best horse to build confidence. You are on a winner with one of these horses if you are starting out.
- Uncomplicated, easy ride = For beginners. Not a fancy horse. If you can’t do basics on this horse, you need more lessons.
- Forward going and a fun ride = Doesn’t come standard with brakes. Often paired with ‘not a novice ride’ and ‘very athletic’.
- Excellent dressage prospect = Terrible jumper, knocks all the fences. Probably has beautiful movement though.
- Very flashy = Very expensive, very good looking and a great winning competition horse with the right education.
- Can be “mareish” = The moody teenagers at your daughter’s school. Can bite and kick at other horses depending on the mood. Probably try to nip you doing up the girth on the saddle.
- Started over fences = “Jumped” a cross pole twice.
- Careful jumper, never touches a pole = Will not go near a pole, thus never touches one. Or jumps much higher than necessary so hang on.
- Loose jumps 1.20m easily = Hope your paddock fences are high. Definitely talent for jumping.
- Brought on slowly/low mileage = Has done nothing even though the horse is basically old enough to vote. Probably broken in late.
- Moves beautifully = When he runs away from me as I’m trying to catch him, his extended canter looks wonderful. OR this is a very nice horse to seriously look at with the right education.
- Make an offer = If it is lower than we want (and we want too much), we will be angry. Probably had trouble selling the horse/
- Consistent jumper/dressage = Consistently below average. Or this is your awesome fun everything horse that will always try their best for you.
- Amazing bloodlines = No good for riding. Could be expensive just because of the bloodlines but might not be any good OR it could be the next winning champion.
In summary before even going to look at a horse
The number one piece of advice is to ask for a video to be sent to you of the horse walk, trot AND CANTER in a circle BOTH WAYS and see a nice stop. See it standing still, tied up, being groomed and having a saddle and bridle being put on.
When you go look at the horse make sure the owner rides the horse first to show you what it can do because if they are too scared to ride the horse then you shouldn’t get on. Don’t take the excuse that they have no one to ride it for you or make sure you are comfortable after seeing the video. Maybe give it a lunge both ways first.
For beginners stay away from forward moving – look for the words quiet and no vices, been there done that, older than 9yrs, preferably older than 12.
18-25yrs is absolutely fine if the horse has had regular light work and fed really well. Riding school horses have continued into their 30s.
Horses are no different to people in that with good food and exercise they can achieve anything and if you retire and sit on your bum all day you will get old and useless.
Once a horse reaches late teens is when the price should start going down considerably based on age. And the good old saying of what price do you put on your children’s or your own safety!
Ideally buy from a horseman or horsewoman that has grown up with horses and knows horses.
Stay away from off the track quiet on the ground thoroughbreds unless they are older than 12 and have been well educated.
Ask your local riding school instructor that knows you to review the video and the advert so they can read between the lines and assist you with what is a good or bad option.
HAPPY HORSE HUNTING and GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR CHOICES