Iain Miller: Horse buying tips & truths

The horse-purchasing process can be a minefield for inexperienced and experienced buyers alike. Contributor Iain Miller shares some sage advice.

Top photo: Wikimedia Commons

From Iain:

Avoid problems mounting up when buying a horse

When it comes to buying a horse, an inexperienced purchaser and impertinent seller can occasionally combine to create an unfavourable situation for everyone involved.

From horses sold to unsuitable buyers and animals not subjected to appropriate veterinary checks, the fledgling horse owner’s naivety could perhaps excuse the purchase of a veritable “lame duck” – but inexperience only tells half the story.

Even veterans of the equine world fall foul of unscrupulous sellers, which is why it pays to read our top tips on what pitfalls to avoid when you’re standing in a mud strewn field desperate to hand over your hard earned cash for the horse of your dreams…

Not every seller will be truthful

It’s hard to believe, I know, but the little old lady with a horse for sale is perfectly capable of pulling the wool over your eyes if it means your cash ends up in her purse. Of course, not every seller is out to deceive, that much is obvious, but it’s worth keeping your wits about you to avoid being blinkered by the beautiful beast bounding around before you.

Pay a vet to check the horse’s health

Following on from the first point, it’s advisable to fork out for a vet check to ensure the horse or pony you’re buying is sound and isn’t suffering from navicular syndrome (an inflammation or degeneration of the navicular bone which can lead to disabling lameness). Navicular can be easily concealed with a little pharmaceutical help, so it’s prudent to have the animal examined thoroughly to save you future financial problems dealing with an incapacitated horse.

Ask the seller to take the horse for a ride

Just like you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, never buy a horse without seeing how it moves and behaves with a rider on its back. If the seller is reluctant to demonstrate this in front of an audience, you may have a problem. Take an experienced rider along with you so they can gauge how the horse reacts to a stranger. If everything looks good, take a ride yourself – but remember, a horse suitable for a proficient rider may not be ideal for one who is just learning.

Horses for sale on the internet

Looking at horses for sale on the internet is an excellent way to do business, especially for first time buyers seeking more information before taking the plunge. However, using a reputable site is essential, as is trying the horse out in person. The only way to truly evaluate the soundness and temperament of an animal is by seeing it yourself. Remember, though, sometimes you and a horse can click immediately – on other occasions you may want to visit a second time. Don’t rush in, and, if necessary, go back to make sure you’re making the right choice.

Don’t stop learning

So you’ve found the perfect horse? Great. But it doesn’t stop there. Continue to keep abreast of the latest trends from the equine world and ensure you’re as knowledgeable as you can be. You’re not expected to be The Horse Whisperer, but trying to tune in to how your horse thinks will go a long way to securing a healthy relationship for years to come.

Iain Miller is a marketer, Scottish travel enthusiast and spends more time in the mud than in the saddle and a first time contributor to horsenation.com.

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