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initial visit
how to buy a horse
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phone call
How To Purchase A Horse - The Initial Visit
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How To Purchase A Horse - The Initial Visit

Now that we've discussed the basics regarding how to buy a horse it's time to hone our skills and get real picky about what may be one of our biggest financial and emotional investments. It's time to go see the horse!

So what should that first visit be like? What do you need to be looking for? I'm hoping you have the checklist I suggested in the last two articles in your hand when you go see the horse. By now you should already have noted down information and questions based on the ad and your phone call to the seller.

Check Your Emotions At The Door

First of all, leave your heart and your emotions outside the barn door and make sure they are out of sight. At this stage of the game - your first look at a horse you are interested in - you need to be focusing on the personality, training level, and health of the horse. Whether or not the horse is pretty and will look good in your pasture is the last thing you need to consider. Be sure to have along an advanced, confident rider with horse experience and savvy whom you trust, and who has your best interests at heart.


Begin your visit by obtaining as much information on a horse as possible. If the seller is vague make a mental note of it. Why are they being vague? A little red flag should go up whenever a seller is not answering questions fully. Another red flag should go up if the answers to any of your questions are not favorable. For example, if the seller tells you the horse you're looking to buy has not been ridden for a couple of weeks or more you need to find out why. It could very well be that no one has taken the time to do so; maybe they are busy riding the horses they are keeping. It may be because the horse is hard to get along with. Either way, you need to find out why the horse has not been ridden recently.

Find out what the horse eats. Find out if it is fed grain or just hay. Find out how much and what kind of grain and what type of hay it is given. Some horses are "easy keepers" and require only regular horse-quality hay and some grain to supplement their diet. These types of horses have a good weight on them. Other horses may require more than the usual amount of grain and perhaps special hay, or even a hay replacer. Such horses will cost you more money in feed and their being underweight can be a big concern.

Find out if the horse has been regularly wormed and vet checked. Ask about any health issues, including lameness or other issues regarding the farrier. Be sure you are using your checklist. Much of this may be redundant since you may have already found much of this out during your phone call.

Tack N Ride

After you've gone down your checklist and - if you've got more "Go" flags than "Red" flags at this point - ask the seller to tack up the horse and to ride the horse while you watch. If the seller or someone representing the seller won't tack and ride the horse, my suggestion is to thank them for their time and walk away.

Once the seller is on the horse ask them to walk, trot and canter the horse. Most horses - whether they have attitudes or issues or not will at least walk and trot. It is the canter that will bring out the beast if it exists, so be sure to always, always, always ask the seller to put the horse into a canter. If the horse bucks, rears, crow-hops or kicks out perhaps it is not the horse for you. It is not a good purchase if a well trained, well broke horse is what you are looking for.

Try It On

If all goes well have your horse-savvy friend ride the horse. Then you ride the horse. Be sure to take your time and really spend time with the horse. This is potentially going to be your riding buddy so make sure the two of you get along.

By this stage you will likely have some more questions for the seller. Ask away. There really is no stupid question other that the one not asked (except if you’re talking about a news reporter's questions).

Should I Buy A Horse Today?

"Should I buy this horse today?" Not yet. If all has gone well that's great! Your next move is to ask if you can have the horse vet-checked. This should be no problem for the seller unless they are hiding something. So if their answer is no, walk away and go on to the next prospect.

If they agree contact your equine vet and get the visit scheduled. So far, so good. Keep plugging away at your checklist.

Street Talk

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