Buying Your First Horse

So, You’re Buying Your First Horse?

by Mary Haley, Editor

My First Horse

When deciding to buy your first horse, there are many factors to consider. Owning a horse is a major responsibility and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a good idea to spend time talking to current horse owners about their experiences, and to take riding lessons so you understand more about the basics of horse husbandry.

There are many ways to find your first horse, including auctions, on line sites and from private owners. (See our article Top Ten Tips to Sell a Horse Online for ideas from the seller’s point of view). Until you know more about “horse trading”, auctions should probably be avoided. But no matter where you buy your horse it is important to get a thorough history from the owner, as well having a pre-purchase exam done by a veterinarian. Doing these two things might just save you money and lots of future stress.

There are over 350 different breeds of horses to consider, but the main consideration should be the temperament of the horse. As someone new to horse ownership, you will likely want to choose a calm horse. The age of a horse is not as important as temperament. Age is a factor to consider but not probably as much as you might expect. Horses can live up to 30 years. Choosing an older horse, even ten to twelve years old or older, with several years of training is probably a good choice for your first horse. This assumes your first horse will be a pleasure horse. If you are looking for a jumper, barrel racer or other rigorous activity, you may want to look for horses under ten year old.

Another consideration before buying a horse is how much time you have to devote to the horse. Horses need to be fed twice a day, stalls need to be cleaned, and training needs to be done regularly. Having a horse, as with any pet is a major time commitment. Boarding stables often provide various levels of services. Enlisting the help of stable workers may be the only way you can provide the amount of time horses require.

This leads to another key part of your pre-purchase planning, where will you keep your horse? If you are among the lucky few, you already have room for a horse or know someone who does. But for many horse owners a boarding stable is their only option. If you must board your horse, phone calls to prospective stables in your area followed by stable visits are in order. You will want to verify the stable will provide the level of service you need. As mentioned in the last paragraph, horses require daily attention. Boarding facilities have staff available to attend to stall cleaning and the daily requirements of clean water and the necessary food, supplements or forage. Some stables can also provide exercise and training.

And lastly, there’s the cost of horse ownership. New horse owners have much more to consider than just the cost of the horse. Boarding fees, stable fees, feed, veterinarian bills and tack can add up very quickly.

In closing, for those of us who are truly horse people, the rewards of horse ownership far outweigh the responsibility and cost. Feeding and breaking the ice on the water trough on the coldest mornings are more than repaid on your next ride. A ride where your mount seems to know what you expect from him even before you know yourself. Good luck with purchasing your first horse but be careful; you might just get hooked on a lifetime of horse ownership…

This article may be reprinted with permission so long as no changes are made to the text and the following credit appears: 2006-2008 Horse Resource Organization Information, products and resources related exclusively to horses. Author: Mary Haley.

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