Whether you grew up around horses or got into riding lessons as an adult, getting your own horse is always a massive commitment that requires a lot of consideration. As pets, horses need considerably more compared to other animals like dogs and cats. You’ll need to consider the amount of space that your horse has to graze and suitable stables for it to stay at night and during the winter. Some horses can stay in the paddock year-round, depending on their breed, but you’ll need to be ready to invest in a lot of accessories like turnout rugs, headcollars and riding tack on top of the cost of purchasing your horse. Add that to veterinary bills, transport, stable bedding, feed and hay and it’s easy to see that getting a horse is a huge financial commitment that you will need to be ready for.
So, what are some of the main things to consider before you get your own horse?
Breed and Temperament
Like people, horses do all have their own personalities and some breeds will be more laid-back than others. It’s important to put some time into thinking about what you need and be honest about your own abilities. If you’re fairly experienced and have been around horses all your life you might have what it takes to bring on a young, green horse but on the other hand, a slow, safe and steady horse might be the better option for you if your only experience around horses has been riding lessons.
Don’t Buy Unseen
Today, most of us are used to buying items that we haven’t seen in person first thanks to online shopping, but this should never be the case with a horse. It’s important to always go and see any potential horses before you buy them and take them for a ride so that you can determine if this is a good horse for you.
Take an Experienced Person with You
Regardless of the amount of experience that you have with horses, it’s a good idea to take somebody else who’s just as or even more experienced than you are when you go to see a potential horse to buy. They will be able to view the horse objectively and ask questions that you might not think of in the moment. And, taking somebody with you means that they can watch you riding the horse to assess them or even take a video which can help you get a clearer perspective of whether or not the horse is a good match.
Get a Vet Opinion
Before committing to buying a horse, it’s a good idea to ask a vet to carry out a health assessment, which can save a lot of expenses and heartache in the future in some cases. There are various levels of vet assessments that will be carried out depending on what you want to do with the horse. If you want a horse to take on laid-back rides, for example, you probably won’t need as intense a vet check as you would if purchasing a competition horse. It’s recommended to get your own vet rather than going with the seller’s vet since there will be a conflict of interest, and beware of pressure from sellers to avoid vetting.
Check the Horse’s History
Don’t just take the seller’s word for it. It’s a good idea to spend some time trying to find out as much as you can about the horse’s history, checking for any previous claims, veterinary problems or other issues. This is another reason why it’s so important to have your vet check the horse over before you buy as some sellers will even dope horses to try and cover up obvious behavioural problems during the viewing.
Consider a Trial Period
Sadly, there’s only so much that you can learn about a horse in a short viewing, and many new horse owners only find out certain things once they bring the animal home with them. It might be worth considering taking on the horse on a short-term loan basis or having a trial of a week or two with them before you decide if they are the right fit for you. Not only will this help you discover anything that might have gone overlooked in the viewing but you’ll also learn more about the horse and their little quirks, giving you a good idea of what your life is going to be like with them.
Ensure the Seller is Reputable
Many horses are sold by private sellers for sad reasons such as no longer having enough time for them. But others are sold by studs and breeders, so there might be some information about them online that will help you get a better idea of where your potential new horse could be coming from. Take some time to research the seller and check their reputation amongst friends in the industry or on online equine forums and social media sites. See if you can find out where the horse came from originally and if you can get in touch with the previous owners as they might have more information to share with you.
Check the Horse’s Identity
In the UK, horses must be issued with a passport, so check the animal’s identity to make sure that it matches up. It’s also worth asking your vet to check for a microchip or any evidence that microchips have been removed. Take the time to check the passport over for authenticity and if you have any concerns, you can double check with the Passport Issuing Organisation who will be able to let you know whether or not the passport is valid. Avoid buying any horses where the passport is not available.
Be Careful with Return Agreements
Some equine dealers will offer return agreements that you can take advantage of if the horse is not suitable for you. However, it’s important to be wary of such agreements as often it will be to exchange for a different horse that may have even more issues. Some dealers will offer to purchase the horse back from you but at a much lower price than you paid. Be sure you are happy with the terms before signing any return agreements.
Consider What You Will Need
Speak to the seller to see if they are happy to include accessories such as riding tack, rugs and headcollars that already belong to the horse. Many sellers will be happy to include them for a small fee and this can often work out better for you since you know that the equipment will fit the horse. Consider everything else that you are going to need such as specialised dressage or show jumping saddles if you plan to compete. You can find horse tack, horse care and horse supplies and equestrian equipment such as breeches and jodhpurs, riding boots, riding hats and more from Equi Supermarket. They stock top equestrian brands like Ariat and Horseware and offer free delivery for all orders over £25.
Buying a horse of your own might have been your dream since the day you started riding. But it is also a massive commitment that needs plenty of time and careful consideration before you find the perfect riding companion for you.