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Top tips for first time horse buyers

Wednesday 5th November, 2014

For horse lovers everywhere, the prospect of owning your own equine can be an extremely exciting one, however it is a decision that should never be taken lightly. All too often first time horse owners fall in love with the idea of finally owning their own horse, however the reality can be far more than they bargained for, resulting in an unhappy match to an unsuitable horse. Read on to discover our top tips to buying the right horse for you first time round.

Finding the perfect match

Owning a horse can be an extremely rewarding experience as horse lovers choose their companion, then spend time getting to know them and training together to learn new skills. Just as single people need to decide what they are looking for in a partner and what they want to accomplish in the future, so it is with prospective new horse owners looking to buy a horse. Finding the right horse for you is the foundation to a great relationship and ultimate success within your chosen discipline, and your choice of breed, height, age and experience will have a great effect on your compatibility.

Horses are exquisite, emotional creatures that are incredibly intelligent, and it is all too easy to become bowled over by their beauty, however when considering buying a horse you must go beyond its looks and put it through its paces. There is no point in investing in a pure thoroughbred to become a once a week hack for a fair weather rider, this finely tuned horse is going to get bored and eventually act up becoming a danger to himself, his rider and others. Equally, you would not expect a heavyweight cob to have the agility and speed necessary to become a superstar show jumper so it is important to get to know your breeds.

Get the vet

Once you have found the perfect horse for you, it is time to put him through his paces to see if he is all he cracks up to be. Sadly, not all horse dealers and private sellers are entirely honest about the character attributes and confirmation details of the horse they are selling, therefore it is recommended that all horse buyers make arrangements with the seller to have the horse checked by a veterinarian prior to purchase.

There are two version of a vetting, a basic vetting and a five stage vetting. A basic vetting costs around £75 and entails your veterinarian visiting your prospective horse to check breathing and heart rate, dental health, skin confirmation and in hand paces. A five stage vetting will include the above as well as examination during and after strenuous exercise, examination after extended rest periods and also a blood sample, and will cost between £200 and £300.

Counting the cost

Following the initial investment of vetting and buying a horse, you will then be face with the somewhat costly task of looking after your new companion. Horses require a huge financial commitment from their owners, with food, accommodation and veterinary care bills easily running well in to the thousands each year. Horses require regular vaccinations, worming every two months, new shoes every 6-8 weeks, feeding of hard feeds, molasses and/hay twice a day, turning out on to good quality turf daily, and not to mention bathing and grooming them through the week.

In addition to this you will need to think about where you are going to keep your horse. While it is true that some horses can live outdoors 24/7, you are still going to need to check on them at least once a day therefore a purpose built yard with lighting and electric will be of far more use than a bare field during the sub-zero temperatures of the British winter. The accommodation needed by your new horse will depend upon where you live, his breed and what you intend to do with him. A fine Arab will not thrive in a muddy field with no shelter from the elements, whereas a sturdy Welsh Cob cross would be blissfully unaffected by his wet and windy surrounding thanks to a thick coat and shaggy mane.

Stable Mates

If you have a busy and demanding work schedule where you are expected to work long, unsociable hours, you need to consider whether you are going to be able to visit and feed your horse every day. Will you keep him in a field or at a livery yard? By nature horses are herd animals, so always try to stable or turn out your horse out in the company of others to promote security and prevent boredom. Many yards operate different levels of care for your horse, starting with the cheapest option of DIY livery where owners complete all tasks to do with care for their equine, through to Full Livery where your horse will be fed, rugged up, turned out and even exercised each day. Of course there are premium costs associated with a premium service so you need to carefully consider your personal budget against the livery care you require to find the perfect balance for you and your horse.

Ask the Experts

If in doubt about any aspect of buying a horse, from finding the right breed through to accommodation solutions, it is highly recommended that you consult an expert when buying a horse. An ideal candidate would be your riding instructor or a close friend who has a great deal of knowledge and experience in the equestrian world, and also knows your riding style and ability. They will be able to give impartial advice that could help prevent you making an impulsive decision that could later turn out to be a huge mistake.

There are so many things to consider when buying a new horse, and although by no means exhaustive, we believe that considering these top tips will give you and your new horse the best possible start on your journey together.

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