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Buying an Untrained Horse: Many experienced horsemen and women will tell you they see this too often. Because untrained horses are often cheaper, or for whatever other whim, beginner riders will choose untrained horses. Don’t buy a horse that you plan to train yourself or even send to a trainer. Training can take months. It can be dangerous if not done right. Young or inexperienced mature horses are not reliable. Beginners will be safer and happier with a horse they can enjoy the moment it gets off the trailer.
Ignoring Older Horses: An older horse, which has seen the world, makes a great first time beginner horse. Beginners might shy away from a horse into their late teens and twenties. But many healthy, sound horses can be ridden well into their senior years. In fact, light daily exercise, such as a quiet hack or drive may be beneficial to both horse and rider/driver.
Buying a Young Horse for Their Children to ‘Grow Up With’: This is a romantic notion, but the reality is that young horses and young beginner riders or drivers are not a safe mix. Buy your kids a mature, well trained horse they can saddle or harness up the same day you bring it home. Buy a horse that knows how to handle itself when all the scary aspects of the world present themselves—because a young beginner won’t know how. On an older, well trained horse or pony kids will learn and have fun in greater safety.
Buying Your Horse at an Auction: It takes a keen eye to pull a good horse out of an auction. Horses can appear docile at auction because they are so confused they ‘freeze’. Horses can be drugged to make them look calm or healthy. I know of a pony that several days after being brought home, showed all the symptoms of ‘heaves’—similar to emphysema in humans. The indicators had been masked by strong drugs. The new owner faced constant expense helping the pony breath easier.
Impulse Buying Equestrian Style: Don’t buy a horse on first sight!!! Bring your expert. Try the horse out, try it again, ask lots of questions. Go home and think about it for a few days. Look at other horses besides the one you’re smitten with and make comparisons. Be absolutely sure you’ve chosen the horse most suitable for you.
Not Asking for a Trial Period: Don’t be afraid to ask the seller for a trial period. Most private owners want their horses to go to good homes, and are confident about the type of person they feel can handle the horse. Many dealers will agree on a trial period, or help you find another horse if the one you are looking at doesn’t work out. Just ask. And if you get a ‘no’ answer, ask why. There may be a valid reason; or an unethical one.
Buying Your First Horse to Breed: Do you want to buy a horse so you can breed it and have a foal? Before you do visit an auction where horses are destined for rendering or meat. Pay attention to how many look like the result of backyard breeding experiments. Consider if you can live with this outcome for a horse you have brought into this world. Horses should be bred because they have outstanding qualities to pass on. The fact that you love it or think it would have a really cute foal is not an outstanding quality.
Buying “Too Much Horse”: You may envision yourself jumping 5 ft. concrete culverts in a cross country event. But the reality is you’ve only been riding six months. The type of horse required for high performance sports may not be the one suitable for safe learning. Buy a horse to match your skill and fitness level, not one to match a dream that may not come true for 5 years or even vanish.
Buying a Horse of a Particular Color: While it is perfectly reasonable to want to own a special coat pattern horse like a Paint, palomino or Appaloosa it isn’t wise to buy for color only. If you have a choice of several horses, and all are of the same sane mind, and good training, of course buy the color you like. But don’t base your decision on the color if the mind and training aren’t suitable. When buying a car the adage is ‘you don’t drive the paint’. With horses, you don’t ride/drive the color.
Not Considering the Time and Expense of Horse Care: Horse ownership is a big responsibility. Horses don’t stop eating and drinking on the weekend when you want to go away. The expenses don’t stop because you want to spend the money elsewhere, or you’ve been unable to work. Be honest about the time and money you are able to spend on a horse. It's okay to admit you love horses, but would rather spend $30 on trail ride or riding lesson occasionally and leave all the other expense and fuss to someone else.