How To Buy A Horse
Tuesdays with Tony
So you wanna buy a horse. What kind of horse do you want? Oh wait I know, because this is what all the humans say: a gelding who is 16.2, black with some white (but not too much), must be ready to go Grand Prix (dressage, and show jumping, in the same weekend), oh and must be able to trail ride on the buckle despite deer and turkey making a ruckus, and, finally, must poop in one spot in the stall so it’s easy to clean.
Sure, I might have taken the description a bit far there, but you get the idea. Cats do love hyperbole. Let’s talk about what you really, really want in a horse, and how to find it.
Step 1: Write down some stuff
What do you currently do with your horse? If it’s take a lesson once a week on someone else’s horse, that’s great! If it’s walk and trot for 15-20 minutes, that’s good, too. If it’s compete at the National level in Western Pleasure, that’s fantastic! Start with where you are now. Then, and only then, move on to where you want to go next. You can dream a bit, don’t go too wild. If you’re doing Intro Dressage, maybe you want a horse that can take you up through 4th level. Maybe it’s a horse you can trailer to out-of-state parks to camp and ride. Be careful to stay within what’s reasonable for the next few years. For example, if you just started taking lessons last month, and now you want an Olympic-level show jumper, this is not a good plan. An even worse plan is now I want a 2 year old so we can “grow” together. You humans are really good at dreaming a little too big during this phase of the process. Not sure what a good future goal would be? Find a professional who can help you with that!!! Pay them for this knowledge. It’s totally worth it!
Step 2: See what’s out there
This does not mean call up McLain Ward and see if HH Azur is available to try. This means check out the ads on Facebook, and all the horse-for-sale sites to see what’s around. Use your goals list to find horses actually doing what you want to do. Now, and here’s the tricky part, how much do those horses cost? Sure, Dr. Lacher wants a horse that will take her around the International Hunter Derby, but until she gets adopted by Bill Gates, that’s not likely to happen. You get the idea. Let this portion of our activity be the check on your wishes. It’s also why I said don’t dream too big in your goals in Step 1. Again, know who else can help you with this phase? A good professional. Oh, and pay them for this knowledge, too. It’s still totally worth it.
Step 3. Now go look at what’s out there
Alright, you know what you want, and you have a reasonable price range. Go try some horses. This is really, really, really where you want to have a professional helping you. You know why? Because you humans will fall in love with the wrong thing every time. From other humans to horses, you just don’t pick well. You need someone with an objective eye. Sure, that chestnut mare with the white stockings is beautiful, but she pinned her ears and tried to buck you off every time you asked her to lope off. Now maybe that’s something you have the skills to work through, maybe it isn’t. Having someone else’s thoughts on the matter is really important! After you’ve tried each horse, use those opposable thumbs, and write some stuff down. What did you like? What did you hate?
Step 4. Get a pre-purchase exam
You knew I was going to get to the doctor stuff at some point. I do live in a veterinary clinic, after all. When you decide which horse, get a thorough pre-purchase exam done. The key part of that is PRE. Yes, before you buy the horse.
A pre-purchase exam is an incredibly thorough evaluation of a horse. My Docs look very closely at every part of them from the whiskers on their nose, to the hair on their tail. They do a full lameness and neurological evaluation as well. In other words, they check for all the things. Now, these are horses, and no one can 100% predict the future, especially when it comes to horses. However, they will know the most they can for you about this horse, on this particular day.
After the exam, the Docs usually recommend some x-rays. X-rays help them evaluate what’s going on inside. In particular, front feet, hocks, and stifles can be future problem areas. Knowing what they look like on this day can give them an idea about the future. Pre-purchase exams can get very expensive, very quickly. I’m not saying everyone needs to take x-rays of the entire horse. I am saying don’t skip the exam part of things!
A horse is a major expense, whether you’re spending $5,000 or $500,000. Spending a few hundred dollars to check it out first is called being a Smart Buyer. Be a Smart Buyer. If you’ll read my blog on nutrition, you can pay for your pre-purchase exam with the money you save on all those unnecessary supplements!
Step 5. Put it all together
Each one of these steps is important. Don’t pick the horse that won’t meet your goals, because it passed the pre-purchase. At the same time, don’t pick the horse that is perfect in every way, except it’s lame in three legs on the pre-purchase. Take everything in consideration.
The most important final step
Scroll down a little bit further, and subscribe to this blog. Then go subscribe to the podcast the humans do called Straight From The Horse Doctor’s Mouth. The more you know about horses, the better-prepared you will be as a horse owner. And seriously, I’m giving you all my cat knowledge for free. Where else can you get that kind of love?
Until next week,
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!