When buying a horse – Checklist

Part 1

When your on the market for a new horse or pony the excitement and anticipation can distracting for us and inhibit our judgment. Below are a few points to note when choosing a horse, choosing a vetting and questions to ask the vendor.

Before you start looking for potential new horses be clear about what you are looking for and assess yourself, your ability and time restraints – honestly. For instance, you may have been a competitive rider who brought on young stock some 20 years ago but maybe now, career and family come first so in that case you may require a different type of horse than you did 20 years ago. Speak to your trainer about what type of horse they think you need, whether it be a schoolmaster, all-rounder, bombproof or horse with potential.

But first things first –

Understanding the lingo:

There is no magic formula to finding the right horse or pony but there graphs might help to cross reference between your rider advancement and the horses description, to narrow down a search option.

Questions to ask the vendor:

You’ll have your own specific question but here are some you may not have thought of. These will help to pass onto your vet.

  • Is your horse open to a full vetting by a vet of my choice?
  • Any previous surgeries, illness or disease e.g. Colic, laminitis or cushings disease? If the answer is yes, ask is the horse on any painkillers or anti-inflammatories.
  • Can you ride the horse or pony in a field for us? Ensure the horse is sane in and out of the arena.
  • Any vices? Discuss the vice with your trainer, yard manager and vet. A vice doesn’t always have to be a red light but the price should reflect the vice.
  • What is the reason for selling?
  • What is the horse or pony’s temperament like away from home or at a show?
  • What is the horse’s history? See was there a break in their career, this COULD signify there was a problem with the horse.
  • What type of bit do you ride in? Ant special tack requirements?
  • Any special hoof or farrier requirements?
  • Has the horse ever had chock?
  • Has the horse ever suffered from allergies?
  • Has the horse or pony ever showing sign of been cold backed?
  • Do you sedate the horse for farrier, vetting, clipping or loading?

Vetting a horse

I would always encourage a pre purchase exam, even if the horse or pony doesn’t have a high monetary value. If you take a chance and buy it and it has undisclosed medical issues this can end up costing more than the horse is worth, and the responsibility will be on you as the new owner. A second and unbiased pair of eyes is invaluable. Insure the vet knows what your plan with the horse or pony is before vetting.

Types of vetting

  • 5 stage vetting – The vet will give a very thorough exam and if initial stages are passed the horse is x-rayed. Ideal for young horses, competitive, valuable or project horses I’d recommend a 5-stage vetting.
  • 2 stage vetting – vet looks at the horses vitals and basic soundness exam. Ideal for unbroken 2,3 or 4 years olds, semi-retired or happy hackers. Most older horses and ponies over 15, I would recommend a 2-stage vetting.
  • Breeding – If you plan on breeding in the future ask the vet to handle her and get a breeding certificate.

We will have another blog all about vices coming next!

Good luck !

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