Reading through horse for sale classifieds is exciting and interesting: in your mind you might already sit or drive your particularly well described "dream horse", seeing its long mane flow....
Buying a horse needs some initial preparation and considerations:
it is a serious investment and commitment. You need to have knowledge ahead and you need to know what you are looking for.
I.) Judge your own experience and knowledge!
Are you new to the equestrian world ? - Then look for an experienced horse you can trust and learn from and handle with ease.
If you are an experienced enough horseman/-woman you might be comfortable to teach a young horse from scratch.
Most important: be honest with yourself.
This will save a lot of hassle and tears and perhaps money.
II.) What is the best breed for you?
You might have already a breed in mind. But is this really the right one for you?
Remember, horse for sale ads describe always the ideal horse.
Is it capable for the discipline you want to use it for?
Research thoroughly and collect as much information as possible about that particular breed
Make sure the considered breed is the right for the discipline you want to use it in: e.g.a more versatile breed enables you to ride and drive
a great way to get invaluable hands-on experiences and information are equine forums and websites: visit them and post your specific queries.
keep in mind that breeders and breed associations usually evaluate all positive characteristics of the breed they represent. And breeders want to sell, associations want to increase the figure of their paying members.
III.) What age should you consider?
Well, again this depends much on your own experience.
If you are a novice driver or rider a more experienced, older horse would make sense. A good age would be between twelve and fifteen years: by then it is over the "silly"youth stage and if it has been ridden/driven often enough it has reached a certain level of experience. On the other hand is it still young enough to give you many happy, enjoyable years.
IV.) What gender should you consider?
Stallion: Definitely nothing for a newbie. They need a strong hand and a fair mind to be controlled and requirea lot of knowledge and experience. Their main thought is "Breeding".
Mare: They can be difficult at times, especially if in heat: some are quite temperamental . But, if well trained and you can keep up with temperamental ups and downs she might show, a mare can be a very reliable and hard working horse.
Gelding: They are usually easy to handle and train. They seem to fit easily into herds, obviously because they do not have to compete with breeding. They are reliable and more level-headed.
V.) Where to buy a horse?
They breed to sell their horses. They do not train the horses they sell thoroughly. Often you will purchase a young horse, barely broken in or driven. Chances are that you will ahve to train the horse or send it off for training, which again can be rather expensive.
Auctions are actually not ideal to find a suitable horse for sale.
Good horses are usually not sold through auctions, however exceptions are possible. Well trained horses are far more worth and sold privately.
Usually you cannot try the specific horse beforehand. You don't know, if the horse has been sedated before the event. How much do you know about the seller?
Private Horse Sale:
Most horses are sold locally between private parties.
There are obvious advantages:
any post-purchase problems- the seller is nearby and can be approached.
you might get the horse for a trial period
you can be there for the vet-check
you will have more time to make up your mind
you can probably visit and try the horse on different occasions
They are possibly the best place to find a horse for sale.
They will have always well-trained horses for sale, as this is part of their business.
A lot of people sending off their horse for training won't pay, so the trainer keeps it and will sell it.
You might get a horse for a reasonable/cheap price!
And they have got contacts and might know a horse for you and your needs.
A horse that went through their hands is likely to be well-trained. (They do not want to loose their reputation.)
"Horse for Sale" - Websites:
Certainly a good thing, if the seller is based locally.
But I personally would never bid on and purchase a horse in online-auctions.
You would buy without seeing it.
Veterinary Prepurchase Examination
This is an overall veterinary examination and will help you to make your final decision. An independent equine veterinarian of your choice will do this. Up front you will have to tell him/her details you know about the horse and what purpose you intend to use it. A prepurchase examination consists of different stages. In our practice in the UK we offer three stages:
General examination of all organ systems, senses, condition and conformation before performing
Examination in movement and/or under the rider and examination of the above after being longed and ridden
Taking a blood sample for a general health profile and if necessary, additional special lab examination (e.g. Coggins test)
It is a good idea to invest in such an examination, as you might need it for your horse-insurance and it realy will help you to make your final decision:
often the veterinary examination of a horse for sale reveals hidden health problems, that can get worse and influence the horse's performance severely or can cause total loss of use.
So don't save on the wrong end!