Buying a new horse is always daunting because it is not only an expensive exercise but more importantly you want to find a partner that is right for you. One you can trust, learn with and have a successful relationship with.
Some riders are looking for a companion that they can love, feel safe on and can take anywhere they want and others are looking for this special horse who they can achieve their sporting goals while developing an awesome team relationship with.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a dressage horse, a show-jumper, eventer, stock horse or a trail riding horse, there are some criteria that you need to keep in mind, that will help make your buying experience a positive success.
So how do we go about finding that special unicorn?
Firstly, you need to know exactly what it is you are looking for.
Just like in a relationship with another human, if you are attracted to someone purely for their looks and for the way they can move their body you most likely find that the relationship is short-lived because you don’t necessarily like the person behind the ‘facade’.
The same can be said for the relationships we start, because we feel like we need to ‘rescue’ someone. These types of relationships generally don't go so well, because we find we get dragged into the ‘stuff’ the other party is dealing with.
Horse & rider relationships are the same. If you are attracted to a horse because of their looks or the way they move/jump, then make sure you are also able to ride that horse, not just look at it. You need to take into consideration, that if a very experienced/professional rider has ridden the horse, you are able to ‘maintain’ the same level of training. Otherwise, the horse won’t stay the same for long. Too many riders underestimate the influence daily riding, routine, environment and training has on the way the horse feels under saddle. Generally, you are better off to buy a horse that has been ridden by someone with a similar level of experience and routine you are able to provide. Commit to regular lessons and training, with help from an experienced trainer.
When it comes to rescuing a horse, just like people, someone who needs rescuing may mean they have baggage and it needs a professional or at least someone with experience in dealing with such ‘baggage’.
Now we are clear on your expectations, obligations and commitment, lets have a look at how you can find that special unicorn..
Firstly, I'd ask you to start with writing a list of ALL the things that are important to you when it comes to your perfect horse.
Start with thoughts such as -
- Temperament; what does the perfect horse feel like when you ride it?
- Ability; what do you want to do with it?
- Experience; do you need a horse that can teach you, put up with you, give you confidence if needed? Or do you need a horse that is quirky, young and inexperienced, one who relies on you for its confidence?
- Height; what size are you looking for? Bigger size comes with bigger strides, scarier handling when things go wrong…….
- Breed; Warmbloods look great but are not always easy. T/B can be hot but are also forgiving. Performance bred horses are not always the easiest, and be mindful - little, scruffy crossbreds can also do a dressage test and jump a fence too!
- Age; young and inexperienced don’t go well together, same as mature, yet sat in someone’s backyard for years with no exposure. Age and experience are two separate things.
Now create your perfect ride.
- What would it feel like when you are riding your perfect unicorn?
- What is a perfect day spent with your unicorn?
- How does it feel when you are out and about? Either a lesson, competition, trail ride, beach ride……. What would the whole experience feel, look and sound like? Start with the moment you catch your horse in the paddock, to floating and riding in a new, unfamiliar environment with a group of other horses/riders.
Thinking about your perfect ride will give you an idea if you are looking for a young/inexperienced/haven’t been ridden for a long time/professionally trained mostly ridden in an arena horse, or in fact an older/experienced/been there done that/always ridden outside with other horses, horse..
When you have made your lists and you start looking for that perfect unicorn and have began the enquiry process, make sure you ask alot of the right questions, and you let the seller tell you all about the horse. Too often people fall in love with a picture/video, then they either don’t ask the right questions beyond that pic or video, or they don’t listen to what the sellers telling them about the horse beyond that romantic moment. (Don’t worry I have made that mistake too!)
The ideal outcome everyone wants is to match the right horse with the right rider. Therefore stick to your list and your ideal prerequisites, so you have more chance at finding the right horse for you. Sometimes it might seem that it takes a long time, but believe me, it is still quicker than buying the wrong horse, then having to re-sell again.
Be patient and know what you want and I promise that you will find exactly what you are looking for.
If you would like further assistance in finding your perfect unicorn, I am happy to help. This is actually a professional service I offer. Reach out. I am so happy to help.
Happy riding everyone,
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Great advice. Putting these things into practise has helped me buy a fantastic horse.
Great questions to get the right horse ! Look forward to more wonderful tips.