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The top 10 questions to ask when buying a horse

by Marlen Fischer
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To ensure that the purchase of a horse is a positive experience, there are a few important things that you should consider. With the right questions, you can learn a lot of information about the horse. Here are the most important questions to ask when buying a horse and which potential pitfalls you should not ignore.

10 important questions to ask when buying a horse

Identifying the most important questions to ask when buying a horse can be very helpful before signing a horse purchase contract. You can easily save these on your mobile phone or write them on a piece of paper to take with you to the potential seller of your future horse. This way you can be sure that none of your questions will remain unanswered when buying a horse.

We have put together an overview of the most important questions to ask when buying a horse. You could also copy them into a document and print them out!

1. Why is the horse being sold?

This question is especially interesting for private purchases. Is the horse being sold because the owner can no longer care enough for it? Or is it because the horse has a few quirks that the previous owners don’t want to deal with?

2. What is the horse’s character like?

Of course, the character of a horse plays a big role for the owner. Some like bright, lively horses, whereas others may want to take a quieter approach. Often there is also that “one moment” when the buyer looks the horse in the eye and knows straight away: “This is my horse.”

The behaviour outside is also worth noting. If you want to ride out on your own, the horse should have no problem separating from its herd.

3. What is the horse’s level of training?

Here it is especially important to understand what YOU would like to achieve. Bear in mind, however, that highly trained horses are not suitable for beginners, because they want to be stimulated. Accordingly, the level of training should be well matched in order to be happy together.

4. Known illnesses or operations?

You should definitely ask about the horse’s medical history. Has the horse had a vet check at the time of purchase? This health check will give you information about possible problems. For example, if a horse has already been diagnosed with arthrosis, this can considerably impair the riding. The vaccination status and last dental check should also be asked for. In addition, look at the condition of the hooves and, if relevant, ask about the last farrier’s visit.

5. If it is a gelding: When was he castrated? / If it is a mare: How does she behave when she is in season?

When stallions are castrated late, they usually still show some stallion behaviour when they are older. This means that the time of castration can be a decisive factor.

Mares may display some ” bullish” behaviour, as they say, especially when in seasont. Find out how she normally behaves during this time.

6. How many owners did the horse already have?

Constantly changing owners is not very pleasant for horses. Moreover, there may be some reasons for this. It could be that the horse has hidden problems and is constantly being passed on for this reason. You should really be sure when you buy a horse to avoid such issues.

7. Does the horse have any known “vices”?

If the horse weaves, cribs or shows other disorders, this may reduce the price of the horse.

8. Previous keeping method

Ideally, the current form of stabling is the same as the future one. A change of stable usually means enormous stress for horses. To help with this, the stabling should be relatively similar or the horse should be allowed to get used to the new stabling slowly.

9. What feed has been given up to now?

Changing feed, just like changing stables, means enormous stress for horses. When both happen at the same time, it can lead to problems. The horse’s stomach is a very sensitive organ. Try to follow the previous feeding method, both in terms of feed and frequency per day. If you want to make a change, it should be done slowly over a period of at least 14 days.

10. What is the price of the horse?

Last but not least, the most important question is the price. People don’t like to talk about numbers. Therefore, the price is often asked at the end of the discussion. Depending on your preference and how important the price is, you can also raise it at the beginning of the conversation.

Avoid these common mistakes when buying a horse!

Buying a horse is certainly an emotional experience. However, during this emotional experience it is easy to get carried away and forget that there is more to buying a horse than meets the eye. Especially for beginners, the “wrong” first horse can mean the end of the love and passion for horses. Bad experiences can happen and insecurities grow. Below you will find some common mistakes and possible risks. Along with the most important questions, you should definitely consider these when buying a horse.

Choosing an untrained/green horse

Untrained or unbroken horses are usually cheaper than educated horses – for many horse buyers this can be an argument for buying. However, especially as a beginner rider, the horse’s level of should not be ignored when making a purchase decision. Even if the thought of training the horse yourself or with the help of a riding instructor may be tempting, horse training is not easy. Not only does it take several months, but it can also be dangerous, especially for novice riders, because young or uneducated horses are often still unreliable and their reactions unpredictable.

Disregard older horses

Older horses are often great teachers, especially for beginners. Not only are they easier to handle, but they also forgive the odd rider error. Therefore, you should not discard a horse simply because it is already 15 years old or older. As long as they are healthy and fit, many horses can be ridden into their late twenties. Light daily training helps horses to stay sound for a long time.

Buying young horses for children

A young horse and a young – or inexperienced – rider can be a dangerous combination.

A well-trained horse gives children security and the opportunity to quietly learn how to ride. A young horse, on the other hand, can quickly become insecure or overreact because it does not yet know how to deal with rider errors.

Buying a horse on impulse

Buying a horse is an important decision – even if you like the horse right away, you should not buy it “on impulse”. A test ride, a vet check and a few days to think things over are important when buying a horse. You can also compare other horses.

Ask for a trial period

Riding lessons are essential for beginners. In order to be able to develop a partnership with your first horse and to assess whether you will make a good team in the future, it is best to arrange a trial period with the seller, especially for inexperienced riders. Many horse dealers even offer a 3-month return policy.

Buy horses according to their appearance

There are many beautiful horses – and especially special breeds, coat colours, etc. draw the attention of many people. However, it can backfire if you only choose a horse for its looks. After all, you don’t ride the look, but the horse. Therefore, the focus should always be on the character (temperament) and the level of training.

Underestimating the cost and time of owning a horse

Owning a horse requires a lot of responsibility and you should be prepared for this beforehand. This not only includes an overview of all the costs involved, but also the realisation that a horse takes up a lot of time.

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