Personal Horse Shopping and Consultation

As I continue to observe the horse community, I have noticed the stress and distress associated with locating and buying the right horse. I have prioritized several key reasons why horse shopping is stressful, especially for first time buyers. My goal is to eliminate the stress involved in the purchase of your horse and help you find the horse that is right for you.

These are some important points to consider before beginning your search:

1. Bring along an expert who has your best interest at heart. Unless you are very confident that your knowledge of horses can help you discern which horse is right for your skill level, which horse is least likely to have future physical or mental issues, and can avoid making an emotional choice, you should have the help of someone who knows horses, knows your skill level, and is not financially or emotionally invested in the seller. If you already have a trainer that you enjoy working with, that you feel will not push you to buy a horse beyond your ability for the sole purpose of creating more work for the trainer, then your trainer might be the best help you can get in finding your perfect horse. If you do not have a trainer, the next best person is someone who specializes in finding horses for buyers. This person should be a fully qualified horseman or horsewoman with many years experience with all different kinds of horses and all types of riders. If you are a first time buyer, this is THE most important point to consider before making a purchase.

2. Analyze your financial capability. If you have budgeted just enough money to buy and keep one horse, you will very quickly discover that you did not have enough after all. The expenses of one horse can quadruple with one veterinarian bill, or one farrier bill, or one feed bill, or one visa bill after you leave the tack store. The initial cost of the horse, including the pre-purchase exam, is most likely going to be minimal in comparison to the future costs of the horse. You may be one of the lucky ones whose horses don't need to eat anything but grass and hay, never need to see the vet except for routine procedures, such as dentistry and vaccinations, never need to wear shoes or special protective boots, and can wear nearly any saddle you want to use. A horse like that is truly a rare individual. Before beginning your search, locate professionals in your area to discover what typical rates apply for a set of shoes, or a full dental float, 30 days training, or a custom made saddle. If you begin your search fully aware of the expenses you may incur with your horse during its lifetime, you will have more clarity as to what horse would be a better match for you and your lifestyle.

3. Have clarity on what you are looking for. If you want a 6 to 10 year old gelding that is great on trails, prioritize which point is important. A 22 year old mare can also be great on trails, and might be less surprised by unexpected obstacles. A 9 year old gelding might be great on trails he is familiar with, and be insecure about new trails. A younger horse may or may not be sounder than an older horse. An older horse is not necessarily quieter. Above all, consider the temperament and ability you desire. Do not buy "potential" unless you are willing to train the horse, or pay for training the horse, possibly without much involvement by you at first. Buy a horse that already does what you want it to do. The horse should not be a mirror for your inexperience, but should be solid enough to build confidence in you. Keep an open mind as to breed and color, but be very focused and specific on the temperament and training of the horse you'd like to have.

4. Should you own a horse? It's often been said that every little girl loves horses, but that does not mean every little girl should have a horse. Even little girls all grown up and keeping their dream alive may not necessarily be good horse owners. A horse is a living, breathing, thinking and feeling animal. A horse comes into your life not of its own choosing, and it becomes your responsibility to put the needs and feelings of the horse above your own. It is not fair to treat the horse as if it was a "motorcycle with hair." If the only value you place on a horse is in riding it, consider leasing instead of buying. Most horse owners will tell you of many experiences with horses where riding wasn't possible, sometimes for a year or more. Accidents can happen, horses grow old and a horse can become an expensive pasture ornament. If you are unwilling to accept the responsibility of caring for an older or permanently disabled horse, your only other option might be euthanasia. You should determine if this an option you can live with. Allowing a horse to suffer needlessly or neglecting its basic needs because you can no longer ride it can be considered abuse in most states. A horse can be the most wonderful addition to your life. Many long time horses owners have said they do not know what their lives would have been like without horses and could not imagine a life without them. If you are willing to take a horse into your heart as well as your life, be willing to value its welfare beyond its usefulness, and give its needs and feelings priority over your own, then welcome to the wonderful world of horse ownership!

Let me help you find your perfect horse! I have 30 years of experience training horses, instructing riders and locating horses for horse shoppers. Because I value the needs and feelings of a horse, my primary interest is in matching the right horse with the right person, so that both are happy in their relationship with each other.


Copyright 2008 - Heidi Bylsma ~ Spirit of Equus Design
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