Well at least you took the time to read part 1 and look for part 2! So lets get right to it.
Don’t Buy a Horse You Can’t Sit On, Put a Bit On, One that Scares You or One that Doesn’t Respond to Your Aids
Do your best to show up on time to your horse shopping appointments. Do not be afraid to ask the seller if you could be there while the horse is being prepared to ride so that you may see what the horse is used to and how he acts. Look for signs of bad behaviors that you do not want to deal with, for example, a horse that fights and slings its head when you are putting a bit in his mouth. You also want to watch the horse, as he is being cinched and mounted. This will give you an idea of how the horse is going to act when you get him home. If you wish, you may ask the seller if you could tack up the horse so that you may be able to get a better feel for the horse before riding it.
If a horse makes you nervous in any way, you are better off thanking the seller and moving on down the road. If you don’t feel safe sitting on the horse and having a casual conversation about him, then you do not want to purchase him. Also, if you can barely get on him in the first place, you do not want to buy him. Horses that have not had proper groundwork and training will often show these signs. When you bring a horse home, you will have to start from scratch and retrain all of his groundwork. Do not buy a horse if you do not have the abilities to retrain him or the money to retrain him.
A horse may not respond to your aids for two reasons. One reason is that he does not understand your aids because he has not been trained properly. The other reason is that he has been spurred, kicked and pulled on so much that he has learned to just ignore the rider. These horses can be dangerous because if the horse were to spook, you would have no resources available to stop the horse or control the horse. If you make simple requests of the horse and he fails to respond, then you may ask if the horse was trained to respond in a different way or why he may not be responding to your commands.
You are not always going to feel completely comfortable on a horse that you have never ridden before, but you should at least feel as though he is safe enough to ride and sit on. If you have any moment in which you feel unsafe or scared, get off the horse immediately. Do not try to ride him back to the barn or the seller, get off where you are at and lead the horse back to the barn or seller. Simply tell the buyer that you don’t think you are experienced enough for him and thank him for letting you look at the horse. Any horse seller will understand completely if you think that the horse is not for you.
Do Examine the Stable for Signs of Vices
Horses that are cribbers may not show this vice while they are in a pasture, although, some of them have been known to suck air on a fence post. If you are able to scope the horse about before officially meeting him, look for signs of weaving, cribbing and other vices. Cribbers will often be wearing a collar while they are in their stall or pasture. Vices may have serious effects on a horse’s physical well-being and they are not generally something that you will want to deal with.
If the inside of a stall is wooden, you will see teeth marks and chew marks on wood that is within reach of the horse. These horses are wood chewers and will continue to chew wood if you take him home. Cribbers will suck air on anything they can get their teeth on. These horses will bite down on something, arch their neck and suck in air. These horses tend to do this behavior after they have eaten. Both wood chewing and cribbing can cause digestive problems later down the road. Cribbers may be prone to gas colic because they are unable to release the gas and air in their stomachs. Cribbers can never be cured, but they can be treated through drugs, surgery and cribbing collars.
Other stable vices include weaving, box walking and stall kicking. Horses that are weavers will sway from side to side on their front legs. They may do this in their stall or the may do this while tied. The nose often moves in a figure eight fashion as the horse sways. This vice may supply the horse with some type of pleasure and many veterinarians suggest that the movement releases endorphins into the brain. The best way to prevent weaving is by allowing a horse adequate time in the pasture so that he will not have to occupy himself by moving excessively.
Horses that constantly turn circles in their stalls are considered box walkers. They often act oblivious to the world while they walk and may even barge into you. Many horses do this out of boredom and will often benefit from being turned out in a pasture or on a regular basis. Some horses may walk to relieve pain, this pain will be able to be determined if the horse continues his behavior in the pasture.
Wall and stall kicking occurs most frequently during feeding time. Some horses are food possessive and they may kick the walls to alert others to stay away. Then there are the door kickers who do it out of boredom. These door kickers put themselves at risk for lameness and soundness problems. They may even kick hard enough to break the little bones in their ankles. You will be able to see dents in the walls of horses that are kickers.
If there is any manure in the stall or pen, this is a good opportunity to see if the horse has any parasite or digestive problems. A horse that has parasites will generally pass them through their manure as well as any undigested corn. This will give you an idea of the level of care that the horse has received.
Do Think Long and Hard about Potential
All horses have “potential” for something. Many of them are sold as having “potential” and “prospects” in a variety of different classes. Every year there are thousands of Thoroughbred colts that are born and are described as having “potential” to be the next Kentucky Derby winner. This goes for hunters, pleasure horses and halter horses as well. No matter what discipline or equine sport, there are several colts born each year that have potential in some sort of discipline. Unless you are willing to put in the money to train a horse and work to make him successful will you have always have a horse that had “potential.”
Most horses that are described as being prospects or having potential tend to become horses that have either never trained and sometimes never even broke to ride. People buy these horses that have potential with dreams of grandeur in the show ring and then “life happens.” They never get them sent to that trainer that turns colts in to halter champions and often times they are put out to pasture and fed with little or no training. By purchasing one of these horses, you are committing yourself to caring for that horse even if you are unable to train him to be a world champion.
If you like to gamble, then you will buy a prospect. Equine potential is rarely realized and realizing that potential often comes with a hefty price tag. Only buy a horse that has prospect if you are sure that you are willing to pay the money to have the horse trained and showed properly. If you buy a horse that is considered to have potential, then you will be doing yourself a favor by sending him to the trainer right away. Do not buy a horse if you cannot send him to the trainer immediately to see that potential realized, otherwise, the horse might grow-up in your pasture with no ribbons and no titles.
If you are tempted to buy a horse that has been described as having “potential,” you should weigh the asking price against what it is going to cost to have the horse trained by a trainer, boarded and fed. When you purchase a horse, you will always be losing money in hay and feed, but is it worth it to board and train the horse as well? Even if you were able to go and win thousands of dollars at cutting and reining competitions, will the horse end up paying for itself in the long run? These are important points to cover before you decide to buy a horse that is described as having “potential.”
If you are a novice and have limited horse training and riding experience, you will not want to even consider purchasing a horse that is young and full of “potential.” You will end up spending more money and time on horse training, while you should be riding an experienced horse that you will be able to learn from.
Do Take a Trainer with You
Whether the trainer is your own or a friend, most trainers have the ability to pick out horses that are exceptional or average. They will also be able to tell you whether or not the horse is worth the asking price.
Have your trainer or other knowledgeable person ride the horse as well. This will give you something to compare your ride to. If the horse is dropping a shoulder or has a choppy stride, your trainer or friend will also be able to confirm what you felt in your ride. If you are new to the horse industry, the trainer will be able to help you look for good qualities in confirmation and movement of the horse.
A trainer will be able to help you examine both the good qualities and the bad qualities of a horse. The trainer will be able to tell you which confirmation flaws will affect performance and which confirmation flaws will not matter. They will also be able to tell you if the horse is performing in a proper manner that will make you a success in the show ring. As your trainer examines the horse, you will be able to examine the horse at the same time. Together, observe the horse in the stall, in a pasture and under saddle.
The temperament of the horse should be examines. You will want to get a good feeling of the horse’s attitude and disposition. Is the horse interested in you? Does the horse willingly come to you? These are important, as a horse that is standoffish may be more difficult for a novice to handle. Watch how the horse is handled and how he reacts to being handled.
Have the owner first ride the horse. How does the horse act for the owner? Watch the horse while he is being mounted; watch the horse as he works through his gaits. Does the horse look smooth? Does he swing his legs or does he have knee action? Knee action is required in many breeds such as Saddlebreds, but if you are looking at a Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred, you will want the horse to swing his legs from his shoulders and hips.
After the owner has ridden the horse, allow your trainer to ride the horse. The trainer will be able to ride the horse in the manner that you will eventually be riding the horse. The trainer will be able to assess what the horse knows and what the horse will need to be trained. After the trainer has rode the horse, then you should ride the horse. Have your trainer give you a short “lesson” on the horse and ride the horse as you will be riding the horse should you purchase him.
Do Buy a Horse that is Trained in Your Discipline
Do buy a horse that is trained in your discipline, as you do not want to have to retrain a horse to perform differently to suit your needs. It is true that Thoroughbreds have been used and have made great barrel horses, but you wouldn’t necessarily take that horse and ask him to perform in a Hunter class, nor would you ask a Hunter to run barrels. Buying a horse that is already trained for the discipline or activity you plan to pursue will keep you from spending more money in the long run.
There are several horses that have been trained and have made great all-around horses. If you are looking for a horse that can do everything, then you will want to ask the seller what other classes or areas the horse has performed in. If a horse has been shown in Western Pleasure, then there is a good chance that you will be able to teach him to lengthen his stride for a Hunter class, although I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to take jumps in Hunter Hack.
Choosing a discipline is something that you should think long and hard about before you go horse shopping. Most individuals begin by taking lessons in either English or Western and then go from there. There are those individuals who enjoy riding both and an all-around and versatile horse will suit their needs best. If you just plan on riding the horse on the weekends and on the trails, then you may want to ride Western for the extra comfort of the Western saddle on the trails. If you love the idea of wearing breeches and boots and taking jumps, then you will definitely want to choose English. There are also derivatives and variations of both these disciplines. Many trail riders and recreational riders enjoy the Australian saddles because they are a sort of hybrid between Western and English. There are also English style trail saddles that have been designed for added comfort. Choosing a discipline is important because after you go horse shopping, you will need to go tack shopping.
After you have chosen a discipline, then you will be able to define your riding goals. If you want to shoot for the National Finals Rodeo in roping, then you will know what type of horse you need to buy. If you aspire to compete in three-day events, then you will need a couple of different saddles and a few different riding clothes options. You will also need a horse that can jump and do dressage as well as be fit enough to cover many miles on a cross-country course.
Take into consideration any equine activities that you intend to participate in and then look for a horse that can help you achieve you goals.
Do Test Ride a Horse Multiple Times
The initial test ride is important, but you should always test ride a horse multiple time to ensure you get a clear picture of the horse and his attitude. Schedule multiple rides at different times of the day. This will help you see the differences in the horse in the morning, afternoon or evenings. This will help you get a clear picture of the horse and his ability. Also, if the horse was medicated the first time, there is a good chance that the horse will not be medicated every other time you ride the horse. If the horse acts very differently from the first time you rode him, then the horse may have been sedated.
If the horse is located at a riding stable, ask if you can take a few lessons on him to get a good idea of how the horse reacts to other horses and riders in an arena. If you are considering purchasing the horse as a trail horse, then you should ask if you could ride the horse on the trails. If you intend to do this, be sure to ask the seller if the horse is safe to ride on trails and if he has any riding experience on trails or outside of the arena.
If you plan on riding the horse English, then you should ride the horse English or if you ride Western, ride the horse Western. Every time you ride the horse, you need to ride as you will be riding when you take him home. Put the horse through his paces; work on maneuvers, figure eights, and gait transitions, everything that you will be doing at home or in your lessons. You can also ask your trainer or riding instructor to come along with you as well. Don’t just go to ride for ten minutes, but spend at least forty-five minutes to an hour riding the horse just as you would at home. Give him a good workout.
After you have rode the horse, spend time grooming him, just as you would a horse of your own. You want to get a clear picture of how the horse is going to act on a daily basis and any bad or good habits he has been trained. See if he prances while you tack and untack or if he nips at you while you groom him. These behaviors will be something that you will deal with on a daily basis and this is your chance to decide on what behaviors you can live with and which ones you won’t.
Each ride you take on the horse will give you a better idea of how the horse acts every time you ride. If he feels more solid and works well every time you ride, then you may have found your match. If you are still nervous on the third ride, then you may want to keep shopping. Don’t expect to find the perfect mount at the first barn you visit. The process and shopping may take weeks to months before you find a horse that matches your skill level and you feel comfortable with.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
There are no stupid questions and this is especially true when it comes to horse shopping. In fact, you should ask every question that you can think of. The seller of a horse is required by law to answer every question you have to the best of their ability. Here are a few questions that you may ask the seller of a horse:
• Does the horse buck? Has the horse ever bucked?
• Does the horse kick? Has the horse ever kicked?
• Does the horse bite? Has the horse ever bitten a person?
• Has the horse ever ran away with someone?
• How old is the horse?
• What are the horse’s bloodlines?
• Is the horse registered? Can I see his papers?
• How long have you owned the horse and why are you selling him?
• Where did you purchase the horse?
• Has the horse ever colicked and if so what type of colic?
• Has the horse ever foundered?
• Does the horse have any chronic medical conditions? Does the horse need regular medication for any problems?
• Does the horse mind being de-wormed and is he on a regular de-worming schedule?
• Are the horse’s vaccinations current? What has he been vaccinated for?
• Do you have any records of his health?
• Does the horse have any stable vices such as cribbing or wood chewing?
• Does the horse get along with other horses in the pasture or while riding?
• Has the horse ever been shod? Does he mind the farrier working on his feet?
• Has the horse had a current Coggins Test?
• Does the horse require a special diet?
• When was the last time his teeth were floated?
• If the horse is a male, has he had is wolf teeth removed?
• How does the horse act on the trail? Is he barn sour and eager to get back to his stall?
• Has the horse been ridden mainly indoors or outdoors? This is important if you ride indoors frequently as the horse may have to get used to riding inside or outside.
• Is the horse safe for children?
• How do you prepare the horse before riding him? Does he longe?
If there are any questions you can think of, ask them. The owner has to answer them to the best of their abilities. You may also want to have a notebook with you and write down the answers and date them. If you were to buy the horse and the horse does something that is different than what the owner answered, you have those answers documented should someone get hurt.
Don’t Skip the Pre-Purchase Exam
No matter how inexpensive or expensive the horse is, you will want to have the horse examined by a veterinarian. Veterinarians are not allowed to do a pre-purchase exam if they have performed services for either the seller or the buyer. This is to keep the pre-purchase exam as ethical as possible. The buyer and seller should decide on a veterinarian that neither the owner nor seller have previously used. Call the vet ahead of time to schedule the appointment and to get the cost of the exam. It is the buyer’s responsibility to pay for the vet check.
It also does not matter what age the horse is. A vet will be able to tell you if the horse has the beginnings of any conditions that may limit the horse’s future performance. For example, if you are buying a two-year-old colt or filly, the vet will be able to X-ray the legs and ensure that the knees have fused. Horses of this age may also show the beginnings of degenerative arthritis that will keep you from riding and training the horse. No matter how much you like a horse, you do not want to buy a horse that is only going to cost you more money in upkeep and feed in the long run, especially if you are not going to be able to get any enjoyment out of them.
The vet will provide a written report for you on the horse’s condition. The vet will do blood tests, musculoskeletal tests, they will put them through their paces, check lungs and heart and respiration. They will check virtually every area of the horse. Should the vet find a flaw, ask the vet if the flaw will affect the horse’s future and life later. The vet will also be able to tell you whether or not the horse is suitable for what you want to use him for. The teeth will also be checked and the horse will be aged. You will be able to compare the vet’s findings to what the owner has stated.
This exam is even more important if you are buying the horse to add to your breeding stock. The vet will do a reproductive soundness test on both mares and stallions. If you are purchasing a stallion for breeding purposes then you should have a semen exam and collection done. The vet will be able to find any conditions the horse may have that may prohibit him from performing well in the breeding shed. They will also do sperm counts and tell you whether or not the horse will be able to reproduce. On mares, the vet will check for reproductive confirmation and will tell you if the mare will be prone to problems such as urine pooling which may cause uterine infections. You will also be able to find out if the mare has any bacterial infections of the uterus. If it is in the spring, the vet should be able to tell you what part of the cycle the mare is in.
Listen to the vet intently. Although the vet will issue a written report, you may be able to pick up enough information that will help you make your decision immediately. If you feel that the horse is right for you and that you are going to buy him, go ahead and have the vet perform a Coggins test as well as update the horse’s vaccinations before you take the horse home.
Do Prepare a Contract
There are too many circumstances in the horse business that a horse is sold without a proper contract being drawn up. There are a lot of details that cannot necessarily be pinned down in the sale of a horse. You can avoid many problems by drawing up a simple contract that states an individual’s responsibilities.
A sales contract can protect both the seller and the buyer. A sales contract can protect a seller from future claims by a buyer if the horse is sold “as is” and the contract includes a disclaimer that states the seller does not guarantee the future performance or soundness of a horse. If the contract requires the seller to disclose all existing defects of the horse, then the buyer has the right to expect that from the seller. For example, if you sell a horse that has a history of colic and you sell him without disclosing that, then the seller could be liable to the buyer.
It is up to the buyer to full investigate the horse they are buying. In many situations, you are able to control the information that the seller has a legal obligation to disclose. Take another person with you as a legal witness and jot down all answers the seller gives you. Don’t skip the pre-purchase exam and include the findings in the contract. By omitting a pre-purchase exam, you are waiving any warranties of the horse’s health and soundness.
Should you have to get involved in a lawsuit, your contract and your notes will be able to back you up as a buyer. If a buyer is able to prove in a lawsuit that the seller did not disclose information that they were obliged to, the liability could extend beyond a full refund for the purchase price of the horse to including the buyer’s expense in purchasing and keeping the horse.
If the horse injures the buyer or someone else through an undisclosed bad habit, such as rearing, the seller may be responsible for those personal injuries if the habit exceeds the boundaries of normally accepted “dangerous” or unpredictable behavior. The liability is even higher if the rider has disclosed himself or herself as a novice or beginning rider or if the buyer told the seller that the horse was intended for a child. Should these events happen your notes, witnesses and contract, as a buyer these will help you to prove negligence by the seller. It is not wise to go buy a horse for the intent of suing the seller, but you should have your bases covered should something happen to you or visitors to your barn.
In writing your contract, you will also want to consider your state’s laws on equines. The state may allow additional inclusions in the contract that will help protect both the buyer and the seller. It is also important that both the buyer and the seller understand that horse’s are dangerous and are capable of unexpected behaviors that may cause injury or death, this fact should also be considered in the writing of your contract.
Hope this helps you re-consider a few things you were thinking about. I published this a couple years ago but thought it to be time to re-hash it.
Stop by the forum and say hello if you get a chance.
Thanks again friends
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Your horse's health is important!
To keep your horse in good health, it's a good idea to get into a routine of doing a daily health check. Don't worry—a good health check takes just a few minutes! In order for it to be meaningful, however, it's important that you know the signs of a healthy horse, as well as the signs of an unhealthy horse. Go down this checklist every day, and keep your horse in tip-top shape!
• How is your horse standing? Horses who are relaxing often stand with their heads down and one hind leg resting. This is a completely normal posture! However, if your horse is standing in his pasture or stall with a front leg resting, further investigation is probably needed. Trot your horse out to see if you see any signs of lameness. If you aren't sure, call your vet and have him do an evaluation. As a general rule, horses don't stand with their front legs resting.
• What is his expression? You can often tell if your horse is feeling under the weather just by looking at his expression. You see your horse every day, and you know what to expect. If your normally alert, curious, ears-forward horse is hanging his head with dull eyes, then he probably doesn't feel well. Watch him carefully, and if his expression doesn't improve, call the vet.
• How is your horse lying? All horse lie down sometimes. Sometimes it is to rest, and other times it is just to bask in the sun. If your horse is sunning himself with other horses peacefully in his pasture, then leave him be. Chances are, he's just enjoying some down time. And while every horse enjoys a good roll now and then, if your horse rolls repeatedly and seems agitated or restless, it's possible he has a tummy ache. Restless, agitated rolling is a sign of colic, so if he doesn't stop within a few minutes and resume normal behavior, call your vet.
• Check your horse's legs. This is a good thing to do every day, even if you haven't ridden your horse. Horses can injure themselves just about anywhere, including their pastures and their stalls. Run your hands down each leg, looking for wounds, heat, bumps, and swelling. It may take a while, but at some point you should know the difference between your horse's normal leg temperature and an elevated temperature. If you notice anything abnormal, trot your horse out and look for signs of lameness. If your horse seems stiff, limps, or bobs his head when he moves, call your vet.
• Check his appetite. Most horses love to eat! If your horse falls into this category, you'll know something is wrong if he leaves his food alone. A horse who isn't feeling well may lose his appetite, and may also stop drinking. If you notice that your horse's eating patterns are off, observe him for a few feedings. If he doesn't regain his appetite, call he vet.
• Check your horse's manure. Your horse's manure is a good sign of his health. You most likely know what normal manure looks like. The balls are well formed but easy to break in half. If the balls seem extremely dry or hard, suspect that your horse is not drinking enough water. Loose manure can mean a couple things. Either your horse is eating a diet that is too rich for him, or he has some sort of bug that is giving him diarrhea. And always look for worms. Worms in your horses manure mean that he is carrying dangerous, sometimes even deadly, parasites. Time for a deworming!
For more great info on horses or if you just like to chit chat stop by our award winning horse forum we are always looking for new friends! We will leave the barn door open for you EquestrianHorseForum
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Buying a horse, whether it is your first or your tenth, is a big decision and one that you should make well educated. These fifteen tips will tell you what to look for and what to avoid:
Don’t Shop with Your Heart?
This is one of the most important tips that you need to consider. Purchasing your first horse with your heart is sure to lead to trouble. Remember that you are picking a partner that will be with you for life, or so you hope. This horse may be your teacher and your mentor in all things equestrian, so you want to be sure that you are making a first good decision. Don’t look for the pretty face, but look for the disposition and the attitude that fits you.
Women, especially, tend to have trouble with this concept. Women would buy every horse, pony or mule that looked like it needed a good home. Women have been taught to work from their hearts and to reach out to those in need of good care taking. In buying horses, however, this is not necessarily a good thing. You don’t have enough pasture or stalls to bring them all home with you, so you need to be sure that your decision is a good one. A good horse trader can see your heart glowing as you drive your truck up to the barn and for women, it is hard to hide it. A good horse trader can see you coming!
For men, they don’t necessarily shop with their heart, but they want their ladies to be happy. They will seriously consider buying a horse that a wife or girlfriend has fallen head over heels for despite the fact that the horse might not be a good mount for them.
Don’t fall for the cute faces, many a horse trainer can tell you that there may be a lot of bad attitude and disposition hiding behind those cute faces. Yes, even the cutest horses can be the hardest to handle and train. The horse that you often fall in love with first should be just a crush and you should seriously think about whether a long-term relationship will work out with that horse or not.
Be practical and unemotional when your looking at horses. In fact, you are better off acting like you really don’t care for the horse all that much and act as though you are straddling the fence on a decision. This will keep the salesman’s sales talk to a minimum because they won’t be able to read you very well, even if your heart is pounding in your chest and you really like the horse. This will keep you from getting talked into a bad purchase.
The bottom line is this. Will you ever see a horse that you really just don’t like? All horse enthusiasts know that there is a special place in your heart for even the ugliest horse because they can be so ugly that they’re cute.
Don’t Consider Inappropriate Horses
When deciding on a horse you first need to consider your situation and your goals. How experienced are you? Have you been taking riding lessons for a few months and you really enjoy it so you want your own horse? Have you been breaking colts since you were thirteen and you’re ready for a new project? How much are you willing to spend on the horse, training, etc? All of these factors play a major role in deciding on a horse.
If you are new to riding or you have a year of riding lessons under your belt, what level would you consider yourself? Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced? If you are in the beginner or intermediate category, you are going to want to avoid any horse that has been described as “green” or “in need of an advanced rider.” For you, these horses only spell danger. What exactly does “green” mean anyway? There are some horse sellers or traders that refer to a “green” horse as one that has about thirty days of riding on him. He knows how to turn, walk, trot and lope and that is about it. This is probably a good definition of “green,” however, there are those sellers and traders that call a horse that is barely halter broke “green.” This basically means that you are going to have to start from scratch, because they probably haven’t been halter broke right, nor do they tie properly and they may not even get in a trailer. This horse may even be too dangerous for a rider that considers himself or herself advanced.
In your shopping, you might as well just knock out any advertisement that has “green” or “prospect” in it. These horses are not going to be for a rider who wants to ride. These horses are for riders who want to train and then ride, or for a rider who is willing to put forth the money to have the horse properly trained. If you are looking to be able to ride as soon as you get your new horse home, you will want to avoid these horses. There is no consistency in the horse business lingo and as a horse buyer; you are better off not getting yourself caught up in these circumstances.
Instead, define the perfect horse for you. Perhaps he has been over a few jumps or won a few blue ribbons. He might even be a fifteen-year-old gelding that has been ridden on so many trails; he could bring you back home with you asleep. If you are a beginning rider and you feel you need a well experienced mount, then that is the type of horse that you should begin looking for. If you aspire to be a dressage rider, don’t buy a cutting horse. It is possible to retrain horses, but are you willing to spend the time and the money to do it?
Many men may find it tempting to buy a “green” horse because they are able to manhandle the horse and make it do what he wants. They may be able to jump on, kick the horse into high gear and slam the breaks. Just because you are able to make the horse do what you want, does not mean that the horse is appropriate for your wife, girlfriends, children or friends. If you have a family and you are buying your first horse or an additional horse, then you will want to ensure that the horse is safe for you and your family. This goes beyond riding but in everyday handling and feeding as well.
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype-Stick to Your Type
No matter how hard the trainer or horse trader tries to sell you a horse, don’t get caught up in the hype. They will give you a hard sales pitch and they will tell you how much potential this horse has or what he has already achieved. They will tell you what the horse’s mother did and what his daddy did and what his granddaddy did and they will go on and on. Before you know it, you will be having visions of yourself turning reining spins and sliding stops or jumping over six foot fences. Don’t let this skew the type of horse that you have in mind, no matter how impressive the horse sounds.
If you do want to rein, then by all means look at reining horses. Just be sure that they are at a level that you can ride and be successful on. Don’t get on a young horse that has just learned to stop and expect to be running a whole pattern on him. If you are new to the discipline, then you need a good teacher and one that already knows what is going on in the ring. An older horse that has been trained right will be the best bet.
If you show up to a barn to see a horse that you want to be a jumper, but it turns out that he is a western pleasure mount, don’t change your type just because the horse is good looking. They will all be good looking! Instead, tell the salesman that he doesn’t exactly fit your type and your goals, they will understand. Ask them if they have a horse that you can look at that will better fit what you have in mind.
If you are interested in barrel racing, but all the girls at your barn have started to show halter, don’t change your type and goals just because that is what everyone else is doing. There are many fads in the horse industry from different types of show halters to show clothes and saddles. Stick to your guns and follow your plans and goals and don’t let others stray you. You will be a lot happier in the long run when you are achieving your goals and the kids at the barn are still changing with the fads.
This tip also goes back to not buying with your heart but your brain. Look for those horses that are experienced and can help you achieve your riding goals rather than hold you back. Young horses may very well turn out to be great barrel racers, jumpers or pleasure horses, but you should be learning while someone else is training. An experienced horse will help you reach your goals more quickly, so don’t follow the hype and stick to your type.
Do Exhibit Proper Barn Etiquette When At the Seller’s Barn or Home
No matter where you are, you should always be cordial and polite when visiting another person’s barn or home. Buyers should show up at the seller’s barn or farm at an agreed upon time, especially if the horse is at a boarding stable and both the buyer and seller are driving to the location. Try to call on a cell phone when you are about 10 minutes away from arrival. If you are running late, definitely call the seller and let them know. Avoid catching the seller while he is still preparing the horse for your visit by being there very early, unless you have called the seller. Give the seller time to prepare the horse; they will want to groom them and have them ready to be shown off.
When you arrive, try to find out as much information as possible, but avoid giving the seller your equine life story. You are not trying to impress the seller with your stories, accomplishments or affiliations. Trying out the horse is also not the time to prove anything. Avoid schooling the horse as much as possible, if the horse does not respond to your cues and aids then make a mental note. While the seller is riding the horse, do not offer your opinion of their riding style or skills, as it is inappropriate.
Sellers should be diplomatic in the process as well. If you are trying out a horse and make an attempt at a flying lead change, but it doesn’t come off quite as well as you would like, the seller should keep their comments to themselves. They do not know your riding level, but they do know the horse’s training level. If the horse cannot do a flying lead change, then the seller should let you know that the horse has not yet learned those skills. They should not comment on your skills because for all they know you are a Grand Prix rider and the horse just didn’t respond well to your cues. The seller may also try to flatter you, but that can backfire as well.
As a buyer, it is inappropriate to give the seller an indication of your intentions. You don’t need to give extensive details but let the seller know that the horse is nice and you will consider it. If you like the horse and you are considering, you might say, “I think the horse is nice. Would you mind if I came back and rode him a second time?”
Try not to give the seller your opinion of the horse. Sometimes the seller will ask for an opinion, but you don’t want to start listing the flaws of a horse. Comment on the positive aspects of the horse and let the buyer know that you will keep him in mind.
Also, when visiting a barn remember your manners. Shut gates behind you, shake hands, pet the dog, etc. Be nice and cordial. Take the extra ten or fifteen minutes to chat and get to know the seller, they may have another horse that you are interested in and didn’t know it was for sale as well or they may have a friend that has a horse that is better suited for you.
Don’t Ride a Horse that Has Not Been Ridden By Someone Else First
You should never buy a horse without riding it first, however, do not ever ride a horse that has not been ridden by someone else first. If you are looking at a young colt that is unbroken, then that is different, but if the horse is supposed to be trained to a certain level, you should ask to see someone make him perform. The best person to ride the horse would be the current owner. The horse is going to show his true self when the owner is riding him. If he is a little barn sour, that behavior will come out in the ride. If he doesn’t respond well to aids, then you will notice that behavior as well.
If you go to see a horse and the owner will not ride the horse for you, then you should probably just leave. You don’t want to chance it with a horse that the rider won’t even ride. Trainers do not always give you a clear picture either because horses will act differently depending on who is riding them. The horse may recognize that the trainer is riding him and he may be a perfect gentleman, then when you get home, he is a complete wreck. This is because the horse has been taught to adjust differently to different people.
Before riding an unknown horse ensure that you are safe first. Even if you have never rode with a helmet in your life, this is the time to do it. Do not risk your health and safety on a horse that you don’t know. For all you know, as soon as you sit in the saddle the horse may turn into the wildest bronc you have ever seen. If you eat dirt, you will be happy that you were wearing a helmet. English riders should definitely wear a helmet and if you are going to be jumping, you may consider a vest as well. You can never be too safe when trying out a jumper for the first time. If the horse does turn into a bronc, then you will not have as much to hold on to and you will be better protected if you take a fall.
Check with your state on any state equestrian laws. These laws will tell you what you need to ask an owner before purchasing or riding a horse. If the owner is negligent and you get hurt, then you may have cause for a suite. This is especially true if you ask the owner blatantly and outright if the horse has a history of bucking, biting, kicking, etc. Most horsemen will already have knowledge of your state’s laws, but it is important that you understand them as well. Also, if the owner has you sign a waiver, it does not necessarily mean that the horse is unsafe, but that they are trying to protect themselves should something happen to you.
Before mounting, check that the girth is tight and that the reins and bridle are in good repair. If you are riding English, make sure that the stirrup leathers are well-oiled as well. You do not want to have any accidents if they can be prevented first.
Do Make Sure that the Horse is Not On Medications
This one can be hard to ascertain, especially for a new horse owner that has not been around many horses that are on medication. The best you can do is look the seller straight in the eye and ask, “Is this horse on any medication today?” “Is this horse ever medicated, when and why?” Look for any eye shifting and any body language that may lead you to believe that the horse may be on medication. Along with this question, ask the seller what they have done to prepare the horse for your try-out today.
Legally, sellers are required to answer these truthfully and directly. Not telling you answers to specific questions may be considered negligence should you buy the horse and you have an accident. Depending on the laws in your state, you may have a course of action that you can take should the owner not answer you truthfully. The owner is especially putting you in a dangerous situation by giving a horse medication and allowing someone unknowingly to ride it. The horse may come out of his sedation at any moment and where would you be? If you have any reason to suspect that a horse is on a sedative, do not ride the horse. You are better off getting back in your truck and driving on down the road.
This is one reason to have a pre-purchase exam before buying a horse. A veterinarian will be able to do blood samples and ascertain if the horse has been on any drugs or medications. Medications can be used in horses for various reasons. The horse may be high-strung and hyperactive, so the owner may have given the horse a sedative. The horse may also be on a painkiller to cover up lameness issues or some other problem.
Acepromazine or “Ace” is one of the most commonly used sedatives in horses. Ace causes the horse to have a lower blood pressure is often prescribed to treat the early stages of laminitis. Ace takes approximately thirty minutes to an hour to take effect. The effects may last from one to four hours. This gives you a guideline to go by in the event that you feel the horse is under a sedative. Ace is also prohibited in most competitions and repeated dosing may increase detection time in horses. A horse that is sedated may appear uninterested in his surroundings and will not be interested in you or what is going on. They may also be slow and unsteady in gait.
Before riding a horse, you will also want to ensure that the horse also not dehydrated. Dehydration may be used as a means of slowing down a horse and may be used in conjunction with medications. Sellers have been known to purposefully dehydrate horses so that they are slower and more lethargic. You can check for dehydration by pinching the skin of the horse. If the skin snaps back quickly, the horse is not dehydrated. If the skin does not snap, the horse may be dehydrated.
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