As lifelong horse people, we've all had our share of good and bad horse-buying experiences. Most of us admit that we'd rather deal with the purchase of a car than a horse, and who really enjoys buying a car?
But, it's got to be done, unless you breed all your own horses. If you do, you might want to read an article that discusses buying vs. breeding horses. It's an eye opener, especially when it comes to cost. I'm somewhat convinced horse breeders do so out of love, not profitable business.
Determining what you want vs. what you need in a horse can take some real soul searching. Most of us probably aren't the riders we see in our dreams. But taking the advice of your trainer or a friend willing to ell you the truth might be wise. And it will be simpler for both you and the sellers if you're honest with yourself. It will save time and heartache.
Then, once we've chosen your perfect horse, the real work begins.
You need to ask your veterinarian to do a pre-purchase exam, which involves a host of decisions from you, based on your needs and your budget. We remind everyone that veterinarians do not have crystal balls. All they can tell you is what they see, based on the exam you're purchasing, at that very moment. For more thoughts, read Performance Editor John Strassburger's articles: The Pre-Purchase Challenge and What to Expect from a Pre-Purchase Exam.
Taking a horse on trial is becoming far more common, as it benefits both buyer and seller (well, usually the seller too). I must admit after several difficult experiences, I would not buy a horse without a trial.
If you do arrange a pre-purchase trial, get all the requirements in writing and signed in a Pre-Purchase Agreement. Susan Quinn, Esq,. a lifelong horsewoman, offers advice and a sample contract you and your own attorney might consider using before you put that horse in your trailer.
Finally, Contributing Veterinary Editor Dr. Grant Miller recommends you also establish an Escrow Account. This is a fairly new concept that has common sense written all over it. After all, money matters.