Horse ownership is fun and rewarding, but time-consuming and costly. It’s a big commitment and there are a lot of things to consider before jumping in.
It’s important that you consider the right questions and determine whether buying a horse is the right decision for you.
Unlike other hobbies, such as tennis or golf, riding involves a living being that will always require your attention no matter your mood or the weather.
Your horse is completely dependant on you for feeding, care and exercise all seven days a week and there are no days off in horse ownership.
Even a horse that is not being ridden will need daily feeding, grooming and exercise.
The result of not honestly considering all that is involved in horse ownership can result in some very ugly outcomes and it is always the horses that suffer for it.
Animal welfare organisations are very familiar with what happens to unwanted horses and spend a great deal of time trying to prevent it and rehabilitating and rehoming unwanted horses.
Owners that lose interest in their horses can resell the horses in the hopes of making some quick money and the slaughterhouse is the fastest way to sell a horse.
Horses also get left standing in stalls, for weeks or months on end, or left out in grassless fields with the wrongful notion that they will “fend for themselves”.
Please consider carefully and answer the questions honestly before buying a horse.
Your horse is something that you should enjoy without it being a burden, but a responsibility that provides you with a wonderful time and personal fulfilment.
The information and questions here will help you along the road to your decision and help you decide what kind of role horses will have in your life.
Why do you want a horse?
Does a horse mean a hobby for you, companionship or do you wan to compete?
Thinking about why you want to get a horse will help you answer questions surrounding horse ownership and deciding what kind of responsibility you are ready for.
Especially when getting a pony for a child it is important to honestly assess the time, skill and commitment both you and your child are ready and able to put forward – a horse is always a shared responsibility and should never be left solely to a child to care for without support and guidance.
Where can you buy horses from?
There are several ways in which to buy a horse. Depending on what type and breed of horse you want, you may or may not find one locally.
Buying a horse from a private seller
Advertisements for horses for sale from private sellers can be found in saddlery shops, local papers, equestrian magazines and on web sites or friends and family may know someone who is selling their horse.
Visiting private sellers to view potential horses can be costly and time-consuming, so if the seller can provide additional pictures and videos, you can get a better idea of the horse before heading out.
Visiting several sellers on the same day can help cut down on time spent running around, so you should plan appointments with that in mind.
No consumer rights exist when buying a horse from a private seller, so you, as the buyer, should always do your homework and be satisfied that you’re making a good choice and are aware of the legal aspects of buying a horse.
Make sure that the purchase contract, including the details of the horse, is as advertised and described to you and that it is approved and signed by the seller. If you should happen to need evidence in the event of a later claim for misrepresentation, this is the most important one.
Buying a horse from a dealer or agent
Dealers’, sales agents’ and importers’ business is the buying and selling of horses.
The advantage of buying from a dealer is that they are acting in the course of their business and so the Sale Of Goods Act 1979 and Trade Descriptions Act 1968 apply, giving the buyer better protection than when buying from a private seller.
However, there are still more and less reputable dealers around, so before visiting one it’s a good idea to do some research and see if you can find reviews or ask someone you know if they’ve dealt with them before.
The other advantage of buying from a dealer is that they have several potentially suitable horses at their premises, and potentially many more at other locations, that makes it possible for you to see a great number of horses in a very short time – even a single visit.
You can also make requests and give them specifications about the kind of horse you’re looking for and they’ll find as many suitable candidates as they can.
If you can’t find a good horse the first time, you can ask that they keep their eyes open and notify you should an appropriate horse turn up.
Even though buying from a dealer offers greater protection than buying from a private seller, you should still obtain a written horse purchase agreement from the dealer and a copy of any advertisement in the event of a dispute.
Buying a horse from a riding school
Riding school often change their horses and ponies on a regular basis and from time to time you can buy a horse from them.
Horses are usually chosen for riding schools because they have quiet temperaments and are suitable for riders of varying abilities. Buying a horse from a riding school is a great choice for a first-time buyer as this will almost certainly guarantee you a calm and experienced horse.
If you have the opportunity to buy a horse from the riding school you’re already attending, the advantage is that you may be able to buy a horse that you’re already very familiar with.
It’s always worth while to check if your school or any other riding schools are selling horses that would be suitable for you.
You should keep in mind, though, that riding school horses are used to working several days a week and will often do several lessons a day. So, when you get your calm and sedate riding school horse home and start riding him less regularly or with less intensity, you may find that he is a bit more lively than he was in lessons.
Buying a horse at auction
When you buy a horse at auction it gives you the advantage of being able to see a variety of horses in once place. This saves time from having to plan a number of trips to different sellers.
However, unlike when you’re buying a horse from a private seller, dealer or riding school, where you can see and try the horse – and taking time to think about it – before making a decision, at auction you’re buying at once.
You’ll need to be able to quickly assess any horse before deciding to bid on it and be prepared that you may be coming home with a horse that very day.
Buying at auctions isn’t for the faint of heart or for the inexperienced. If you want to buy at an auction it’s a good idea to get some advice first and bring along someone who’s used to buying at auctions to have a second opinion.
The price you pay for a horse at auction is very much determined by the number of people interested in the horse. Horses that only attract a few potential buyers may be sold at below the market value where horses that attract several bidders may go for more than their market value.
When you do attend an auction, even simply to observe, you should remember that there are horses (and even other livestock) from various locations and backgrounds there.
Furthermore, they’ll have been touched and handled by a large number of people, so it’s advisable to change clothing and footwear as well as wash your hands properly or even disinfect them before handling horses at home – this all to avoid passing anything you may have picked up on to your own stable.
Having a horse is fun and fulfilling, so long as you’re aware of all that comes with it
A horse needs a lot of time, attention and money and is completely dependant on you to take care of it.
It means braving any and all kinds of weather to exercise your horse and making sure that he is fed, cleaned and happy before doing anything else. Caring for your horse can take up to several hours a day (depending on your livery model) and you need to be sure you can make that commitment.
I cannot stress this enough: if you’re getting a horse for your child you need to be prepared to do a lot of the chores together and taking shared responsibility of your horse.
This includes coming up with ways of making going to the stable and exercising your horse interesting and motivating even if your child starts to think it’s a bit boring.
Varying your routine and playing different kinds of games together will be excellent stimulation, not just for your horse, but for your kids as well.
I recommend you go and have a poke around in the buying a horse category to get acquainted with all the moving parts that go into buying and having a horse.
Good luck! ?