If you’re a beginner horse rider, I need your help!!
The popularity of my blog series on the Top Ten Horse Breeds for Beginner Riders suggests that many beginner riders would like to own a horse. But it needs to be the right horse.
I'm writing a book for first time horse buyers who are also beginner riders, looking for that special equine buddy who’ll take care of them while they’re in the early stages of learning to ride. The horse must also be able to take them further.
Horse Buying for the Beginner Rider: A Stress-Free Strategy for Finding Your Ideal Horse
will be available as an ebook in many different formats, not just Kindle, and also in hard copy.
The success of my book for first-time dressage competitors gives me confidence - in fact I'm almost sure - that I’m up to the task. :)
But, as I mentioned earlier, I need your help, please!
First, see what you think about the following details I'm including in the book. While you're going through, would you jot down anything you feel is missing?
Thanks! I'll catch up with you after you're done reading.
Part One: The Easy Section
No one wants to open a book and immediately be told about how much money this whole enterprise is going to cost.
That's why we're gonna start with the Fun Stuff.
This talks about you, and how certain breeds could be a good fit for you.
It goes into stuff like:
The Fun Stuff helps narrow down the type and breed of horse which will work the best for you.
As you read the next section, you'll be carrying a more definite image of your ideal horse in your head and your dream of owning a suitable equine partner will now become more real to you. :)
Part Two: The Slightly Harder Section
Now comes the Serious Stuff.
This includes budgeting for your horse - how to determine the amount of money you’ll need to spend on him. It also covers the nuts and bolts of finding and buying your ideal horse.
After reading the Serious Stuff you’ll be able to refine your short list of horse breeds to look which you first wrote based on the Fun Stuff.
The Serious Stuff will talk about:
Finally, so as not to leave you hanging once you’ve made up your mind which horse you’re going to buy, the last chapter will discuss bringing your new equine buddy home and how to acclimatize him to his new surroundings while you both get to know each other.
This Is Where You Come In aka This Author Needs You!
Now that you’ve perused the intended contents of
Horse Buying for the Beginner Rider: A Stress-Free Strategy for Finding Your Ideal Horse
- do you have a topic which I haven’t addressed? If so, I'd love to hear from you!
If you're a beginner rider and looking to buy a new horse, what else do you want to know about?
What do you need or what kind of equine buddy would you love to have?
Have you had good experiences with a breed which you want me to be sure and include?
Do you have certain horse or riding details that you’d like to see addressed in my book? Things like what is the quietest breed of horse? Or what horse should you get if you have a disability?
Send me an email via the Contact Page and ask me anything: I’ll do my best to accommodate you by putting it in my book.
What’s in it for You? :)
If you email the details of what you’d like included in the book, I will do two things for you.
1. I'll send you the publish date of the book which means that you’ll be able to get the ebook version FREE FOR THE FIRST FIVE DAYS.
2. If you like, I’ll include your name and a link to your website in the acknowledgements. Just give me the information :)
If that sounds like a good deal (and I hope it does!) please go to the Contact Page and email me your requests.
Callow Double Clover is an Irish Draft x Thoroughbred and loves the cold weather!
Part One of this post asked you some hard-hitting questions to help you find your ideal horse.
Here are more points to consider.
4. What Is Your Budget?
It is normal to expect that the price of your horse is the only large amount you’ll ever have to spend on him. But you need to budget for his monthly outgoings, plus the unexpected costs that crop up with horse ownership.
Be prepared for the following expenditure:
(a) Purchase price of the horse.
(b) Monthly boarding bill.
(c) Shoeing every four to six weeks.
If you can’t be there to hold your horse for the farrier, you will need to pay someone to do this for you.
Some barns require this to be done twice a year, and some insist on extra shots, such as strangles.
(e) Worming at regular intervals. This can vary between daily and every six weeks, depending on the system you or your boarding barn adopts.
(f) Supplements. For example, electrolytes in hot weather and joint supplements for an arthritic horse.
(g) Extra vets’ bills.
No owner expects their horse to get sick, but if he does you’ll need you to pay for his care.
I hope it doesn’t happen to you, but just be aware that these unforeseen problems can arise. You may want to check the cost of horse health insurance?
The purpose of this list is not to frighten you, but to help you make an informed decision when buying a new horse.
Investigate the costs of boarding barns, shoeing and regular vaccinations ahead of time. If you budget properly, there is no reason why you can’t make horse ownership work for you.
5. What Living Situation Can You Offer Your Horse?
Depending on where you live and the breed and type of your horse, he may be happier either stabled overnight (during the day, in hot summers) or being left out 24/7.
If your budget restricts you to grass board (living at pasture 24/7, with a field shelter) you need to look for a horse which will be happy with this arrangement.
This is unlikely to work for most full Thoroughbreds or other hot-blooded types. Good candidates are the hardy native British breeds such as Highland, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Dales, Irish Draft and Welsh Cobs/Mountain ponies and crosses with those breeds, and with cold bloods such as the Percheron or Clydesdale.
I own an Irish Draft x Thoroughbred (pictured above) and Cruz is a ¾ Thoroughbred/Welsh Cob Cross (pictured left). They always have the option of coming into their stalls, yet they both adore the cold weather. I let them grow their winter coats out fully, and when it’s below freezing, they still prefer to stay outside. In the summer they have fans in their stalls to keep the flies away.
You should consider putting fans in the field shelter if your horse will be out in hot weather.
6. The Boarding Barn
I will be writing a post later about how to choose the right boarding barn. But here is a quick check-list.
(a) Is the barn in good repair and does it look tidy?
(b) Are the stalls clean and airy, without being draughty?
(c) If required, does the barn offer field board with good pasture and a run-in shed in good repair? Will your horse be with other buddies? He shouldn’t be left alone.
(d) Is there enough bedding in the stalls?
(e) Do the horses look content and well-cared for?
(f) Are the aisles clear of potential hazards such as wheel barrows, pitch forks, etc.?
(g) Is clean water available at all times in the stalls and paddocks?
(h) Do the horses get sufficient turn-out? (At least 6 hours a day.)
(i) Are the paddocks large enough for the number of horses in them, and is there enough grass? If not, is hay supplied to make up for the lack of grazing?
(j) Is the fencing in good repair? No barbed wire, loose trailing wires or debris in the paddock?
(k) Are the riding arenas regularly graded, with good footing, no stones, and not cluttered with equipment?
(l) Do the boarders have the same riding interests as yourself?
There are many other considerations, but these are the main ones to help you choose a good barn.
7. How Often Will You Be Able to Ride?
The answer to this question will heavily impact the type of horse you should be looking for.
If you are only able to ride on the weekend, your new equine buddy will need to be extremely laid back. You will also have to be realistic about your long term goals. A horse which is only ridden twice a week will not be able to do heavy work, as he is likely to pull a tendon or suspensory.
You may want to consider having a capable rider exercise your horse during the week (at least three days) if you want a fit, trained horse which you can take to shows. Perhaps you could lease him out?
8. What Size Horse Do You Need?
Be sure to find a horse which is neither too large nor too small for you.
You will read about a lot of rider to horse weight ratios, some of which are completely off base. As a rule of thumb, your weight should be between 10% and 15% of your horse’s weight when he is fit. (Not when he is fat!)
Buy a measuring tape from a saddlery store and use it to gauge the weight of any horse you are considering buying. The instructions for weighing are printed on the measuring tape and it is very easy to use.
You also need to take into account the overall picture you and your horse present. As an example, long legs dangling below the horse’s stomach line look rather silly.
9. How Fit Does Your New Horse Have to Be?
A big consideration when buying a new horse is how much work you’re prepared to put into getting him fit.
You may need a horse that is immediately ready for full work. In this case, make sure that he has been ridden regularly and will not break down under a regular riding routine.
If you have the time and patience to bring him back into full work, you may get a bargain on a horse whose owner is no longer able to ride him and is desperate to sell.
Be careful not to override him when you try him out, so he doesn’t strain anything. But get the owner to pop on him first! Take into account the fact that he may be a little more ‘up’ once he gets his stamina back.
It took me many years and a lot of buying dissasters befored I worked out this sensible approach to horse purchasing! Now I have three lovely horses who’ve been with me for over fifteen years.
Save yourself a lot of heartache: take the time to think through exactly what you want from your horse, and what you have to offer him. Then you’ll find your perfect equine partner.
You’ve made the exciting decision to buy a new horse and now you’re rarin’ to get on the road and go looking for him.
Before you rush off and fall in love with the wrong animal, think about this. For a mutually happy relationship, your horse needs to fit your requirements and you need to fit his, too. So first figure out what those requirements are.
Here are some important points to consider before you hit the road to hunt for your perfect equine companion. Pull out a big piece of paper and a pen, and write down the answers to these questions.
1.How Experienced a Rider Are You?
You need to be brutally honest with yourself here.
Don’t try to impress your friends by buying a flashy animal. Find a horse you’re comfortable with and will enjoy being around for many years to come.
Be realistic about your level of horsemanship. If you're a nervous or inexperienced rider, buy a horse that will look after you.
Don’t forget that a quiet, safe horse is much easier to sell - if you later want or need to -than a hothead!
2.What Is Your Riding Discipline?
Horses are bred to excel at particular jobs. Make sure your new horse can perform the task you require of him.
For example, a Quarter Horse may do well at trail riding and barrel racing, but is not usually a good choice for dressage. You need a different type of horse for this, such as a German, Swedish or Dutch Warmblood or an Irish Draft/Thoroughbred Cross.
Research the best breeds for your intended riding purpose.
Here are some helpful links to get you started:
Western Riding – a useful forum with helpful answers
3.What Are Your Riding Ambitions?
You’ve decided what your riding discipline is. Now you need to examine your long-term goals. This will determine how talented your horse has to be – and how much he will cost.
Perhaps you’re content to ride the local trails, or maybe you’d like to take up endurance riding?
If you want to show, will local schooling venues be enough for you, or do you aspire to larger, national competitions?
You don’t want to buy a horse with limited potential if you have large ambitions. But also be honest about your own abilities, and don’t fall into the trap of buying a horse with massive potential (and a massive price ticket to match) which you’ll never be able to realize. (Been there, done that!)
It’s better to buy a horse with enough ability to help you along your chosen path, than to be over-horsed and seriously out of pocket with a horse which is too advanced for you.
Next Friday we’ll complete the list of questions to ask yourself about the horse you need and what he’ll require from you.
Last week we looked at the first five steps to finding your perfect horse.
Here are the final five.
6.Don’t Just Test Ride the Horse
When you own a horse, riding is a small part of your interaction with him. Much more time will be spent on peripheral activities, such as grooming and leading him to and from the field.
If you think he’s a good prospect after you’ve ridden him, ask to do these things with the horse.
Also watch him being saddled, to ensure he behaves during the process. If he is already saddled up, be suspicious. Ask them to remove the tack and start again.
7.Take Him to a New Environment
My husband and I became very tired of buying horses that behaved well at home and were obnoxious in new places, including ours!
So when we were looking for his new showjumper, we asked to have him taken to a new environment, where we could pop him over some fences he’d never seen before.
The owner was a bit surprised, but agreed.
This way we got to see how the horse loaded, traveled and unloaded, as well as how well he coped with a strange place and new cross country jumps.
He passed with flying colors and is a wonderful horse with a great temperament. We have owned him for fifteen years now.
If the owner won’t agree to this trial off the property, ask why. At the very least say you want to see him being loaded.
Leasing a horse with the option to buy is a great way to get to know a new horse.
This adds the safety net of allowing you to spend an extended period of time with him before making the decision to buy.
9.Get the Horse Vetted!
It is false economy to skip this process. You will regret it if you don’t have the horse thoroughly checked out once you decide he’s the right one for you in every other respect.
Any agreement to buy has to be subject to passing the vet. No exceptions!
The thoroughness of the vetting will depend on how much the horse costs and how much you are willing to pay. But at least have him checked out for soundness of wind and limb, and take a blood test to ensure he has not been given any medication to mask lameness, or any sedatives to alter his behavior.
Some owners will take offense at the blood test. But tell them you've heard horror stories and, in any case, you're paying for them.
If your prospective horse fails the vet, WALK AWAY!
10.Ask For a Trial Period
It is worth asking for a trial period of two weeks, provided you insure the horse first.
If the owner refuses, this does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the animal. But a trustworthy seller will often agree to take the horse back within a stipulated period of time - if the partnership doesn’t work out - provided the horse is returned in the same condition as when he was sold.
Buying a horse is a risky enterprise, but there is much you can do to find your perfect equine partner. And when you do, the time and effort you put into the search will pay off.
Next week we’ll be looking at things to put on your shopping list when looking for a horse.
Horses are my big obsession, and I'm constantly striving to get better, smarter and more in harmony with my equine buddy, Cruz Bay.
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