It`s that time of year when horses start to flood the market, parents realise they`d better start looking for their child`s next mount, and those who have retired their horses over the winter feel inspired to take up the reins again. But buying a horse is not so simple.
The first place I always think people should start, is by getting an idea of what horse they want; critically examine all different shapes and sizes, perhaps try out some friends` horses and get a feel for what is right for you; be it height, width, forwardsness, responsiveness, etc. Start to make a list of what you want from a horse; what traits are a must and what traits are a bonus.
Then you want to start reading some adverts; learn the lingo and how to interpret each advert. Contact owners and ask questions if necessary; ask a couple of close friends or your instructor for advice. You don`t want everyone giving their input because we all have our own personal likes and dislikes. Just choose some trusted people who know you and your riding well. It`s also helpful to have some eyes peeled for any word-of-mouth sales. Making a list of questions to ask owners is really helpful.
Draw up a short list of horses to view; take a knowledgeable friend, and don`t be afraid to ask questions, go for a second viewing, or do whatever you need to, to find out if the horse is suitable for you.
Now that you have an idea of your ideal horse, and what sacrifices you will make in buying a horse, it`s time to work on the budget.
Factors to consider when purchasing your horse
- Livery yard – you may be better having more support or facilities from a yard while you are getting to know your new horse, but these come at a cost so you need to consider this.
- Tack – some horses come with tack, but you want to ensure you have funds to get the saddle checked in the near future as it may not be the best fitting of saddles or the leatherwork in the best of conditions. Likewise, you may need to change the bit, or buy different stirrup irons. You should also be aware that saddles are fitted to both the horse and rider, so it is quite possible that the saddle that comes with your horse isn`t the best suited to you, anatomically.
- Riding lessons – yes, you`ve purchased your own horse, but that doesn’t mean you can give up on the lessons just yet. An eye on the ground can give you hints and tips as you get to know your horse and build a relationship. After all, you`re better off nipping any issues in the bud than letting them evolve from a molehill into a mountain.
- Vetting – whether you choose to have a five stage or a two stage vetting, there is still a cost implication to consider when calculating your budget.
- Insurance – You need to consider whether you are going to self insure your horse for vet bills, or take out vet insurance. Then there is also public liability and third party insurance, which are often required by yards.
- Horse – what is the lump sum you can afford to pay for your horses? Does this include tack or rugs?
- Rugs – Although you don`t need to buy all your rugs at once, take into account the time of year you are purchasing the horse and budget your horse allowance over the next few months to take rug purchasing into account. Of course, some horses come with an extensive wardrobe, in which case it`s worth considering if your horse budget needs adjusting to take this into account.
- Transport – You may have a generous friend who will collect your new horse for you, but if you are buying long distance, then you will need to consider how to bring your new purchase home.
- Bits and bobs – you may already have some of these, but your horse will need a headcollar, leadrope, haynet, feed buckets, water buckets, grooming kit, and a whole host of paraphernalia. You want to focus on getting the essentials, and there are plenty of tack sales where you can get many things second hand, or even unused second hand items.
- Feed – not only will you need to purchase feed for your horse, but you will also need to ensure you have vermin proof bins, and feed scoop and mixer. It`s worth speaking to the previous owner to find out what feed the horse is currently on, and continuing that for a few weeks before making any adjustments you feel necessary.
- Dental, Farrier and Physio – whilst you don`t necessarily need to have your horse checked out immediately, depending on when their last appointment was, but you need to factor them into your budget.
There`s a lot to think about when purchasing a new horse, but by breaking down your budget and by taking your time to build a clear picture of what you want from a horse you should find the process simpler and stress-free.