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Buying a Horse

[You can scroll to the bottom to download this article]. Buying a horse, especially your first one, is a big thing to do. People say that buying a house is the biggest thing you’ll ever buy but I think a horse should definitely be considered equally challenging. We hear lots of horse-buying horror stories so thought we’d offer our advice on some things to consider when buying a horse. It’s not an exhaustive list but could save a headache or 2 later on:

  1. BEFORE you go and look at a horse for the first time get a copy of the horse’s passport including previous owner history, blood lines and registration numbers and investigate all aspects relevant to you (what has he done in competition, when, check the previous owners as to how he was etc). Don’t ask for the seller’s opinion on anything at this stage as of course everything is going to be rosy and perfect! Once you are happy that there is nothing odd in his official history you can arrange a first visit.
  2. Don’t take anyone else’s word for anything INCLUDING the VETS. Go with your gut feeling. You are the one who will be left with the problem at the end of the day

We recently had a horse with us for backing which was behaving a bit oddly. Something didn’t seem right in the way he reacted to a couple of specific things. On closer inspection we discovered the horse was blind in one eye. The vet agreed that he would probably not have picked it up in the vetting as the eye looked normal.

  1. Get a 5-stage vetting of course from a trusted vet who specialises in locomotion issues. These are going to be your biggest issue.
  2. Take a trusted friend with you. Get them to observe people’s reactions to what is going on around you and be a second pair of eyes
  3. Do a trial with the horse as if it were your own:
    • Tie it up and tack it up. Does it take the bit easily?
    • Does it stand still when mounted?
    • Ride it out
    • Ride it in the manege in all gaits
    • Ride it with other horses in all gaits
    • Ride it in traffic if they say it is good in traffic
  1. Are there any visible signs on the horse which might suggest an accident? Tell-tale white marks on the fur, bone splints
  2. Go online on e.g. Facebook and online databases and see what you can find out about the history. If anything doesn’t tally, walk away.
  3. Ask why the horse is being sold
  4. Of course get Samsara to do a full pre-purchase assessment. This is not legally binding like a 5-stage vetting but we look at other things a vet might not, such as the state of the muscles and soft tissue
  5. Check when it was last wormed and last had its teeth checked. If these are not up-to-date it might suggest they are less than careful owners. It’s a bit like not having had an MOT
  6. Take the horse for a trial period of e.g. a week so you can get a good feel for how he will be at your place. Pay a deposit but not the full amount.
  7. Have blood taken and stored securely at the time of purchase. If anything suspicious turns up you might find something in the blood to back up your story.
  8. Take lots of detailed photos
  9. If there have been previous owners, especially the last one, ask for contact details and CONTACT them. If there have been lots of previous owners you might want to ask yourself why?
  10. Making sure the horse loads before handing over any cash! Don't just take their word for it.
  11. If it's under conditioned and skinny it could be that when the horse is carrying a little more weight they become sharper.
  12. Don't buy a an x-race horse straight out of racing unless you know what you are buying
  13. Ponies with sweet itch are often sold in the winter once the mane has grown back!
  14. Is this person a dealer in disguise?
  15. Get the seller to write down what they say. If they won’t write it down then it can’t be true and WALK AWAY.
  16. If the horse’s current vet does the pre-purchase exam, they have, by law, to disclose all previous knowledge of the horse

Download the PDF here.

Samsara Equitation Equine Rehab Centre - nr. Whitney-on-Wye, HerefordSamsara Equitation Equine Rehab Centre - nr. Whitney-on-Wye, Hereford


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