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Four Things Every SMART Horse Buyer Should Consider

Updated: Feb 26, 2020


1 – Does the horse fit you? Not in the sense of size of your shoe… but does it fit into your lifestyle, ability, and desired tasks you want to use it for?

Really being honest with yourself and deciding what are you going to use the horse for is something that many new horse buyers really don’t take the time to do. Is it a tool for my job, a side hobby or my passion? Before buying a horse, it’s important to evaluate your “program”. Selecting the horse that fits your lifestyle, ability, and use. Once you are honest with yourself this will make the entire horse buying experience much more enjoyable for you and the horse.

Realize also, that every horse is not ideal for every job. Quarter Horses will be better in the rodeo arena and gaited horses will perform better on the trail. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but be honest and fair in your assessment of their physical ability and breeding. NOTE: If you are new to horses or training, don’t buy a cheap green broke or young horse that will take years to train and refine. Spend more time and money to get the finished horse, or aged horse, that better fits you and your program.

2 – Is the horse you want to buy healthy?

Determining if it is sound, correct, and has the disposition you need is another important step in the horse buying process. There is a lot to evaluate here; age, physical condition, past injuries, and overall temperament of the horse. Getting a professional opinion with a pre-purchase vet exam and a buyer’s agent can help eliminate buying the wrong horse, even if you are an experienced buyer. You will never take out ALL the risk of horse ownership, (Remember that you are buying a living breathing animal that can get hurt on the ride home in the trailer after you purchased it. It’s murphy’s law, right?) BUT there are things you can do prior to the sale to assist in your decision to buy or pass on the right horse.

3 – Do you have a license to fly it?

If you buy a jet airplane, you better have a pilot’s license. Too many times people purchase a very well-trained horse they see perform in the hands of a professional and expect it to be the same for them. “Good Horses Come from Good Hands” as the expression goes, but remember a horse rides at the level of their rider. A horse that just won a World Champion Buckle and shows well in the hands of a professional, does not mean the horse will ride the same for you. BE HONEST with yourself and take time to research the seller you plan to buy from and schedule a ride on the horse you are looking to buy. Any good seller, within reason, will allow you to try before you buy which should eliminate buying a horse that doesn’t fit your level of riding, exposure and experience. If the horse is more trained than you, go get lessons, keep learning, and get your pilot’s license. When you get better, so do your horses.

4 – Set a realistic budget. A good horse isn’t going to be cheap.

What is your budget, and have you saved enough to buy the horse you need? Now that you know the type of horse you want; its time look at the current or fair market value for that kind of horse.

Basic feed, hoof and vet care for one horse is about $1,000 per year in Wyoming. If training is needed, you can conservatively add another $1,000-$5,000 per year. It would not be unreasonable to spend $16,000 on a solid, seasoned, 8-year-old horse that will give you many years of enjoyment and companionship.

It’s tempting to buy the cheaper horse and hope for the best. But remember “good horses are never cheap, and the cheap ones are (usually) not very good” and it costs the same to care for a good one as it does a bad one. So, take your time and buy the right horse, one that will work for you, bless your program and make you want to be at the barn or in the arena.

Happy Trails, Bill Oliver

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