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.
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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