Choosing the right horse is an important start to horse ownership.
As often happens, once you've been taking riding lessons for a while, you may decide that you want a horse of your own. Whether you just want a horse to trail ride on, or if you have your sights set on competition, owning your own horse can be very satisfying, if not hard work.
Finding a Suitable Home
Responsible horse owners should first do their homework by finding a suitable home for the horse, before it arrives. Choosing a boarding stable that both you and your horse will be happy at, is of prime importance. If you want to improve your riding and begin showing in a certain discipline, find a stable that offers appropriate lessons and has the facilities needed, such as jumps, barrels for racing etc. On the other hand, if you just want to trail ride, a Hunter barn in the middle of the city won't be a good match for you.
If you have the facilities, you might consider building your own barn and keeping your horse at home.
What Type of Horse?
There are so many choices when it comes to selecting a horse, it can be hard to know where to start. One of the first articles I wrote for the About Horses Web site was about the importance of selecting the right horse for you.
Certain breeds are more suited to some disciplines than others, many are good all-rounders. Before purchasing a horse, do the research to determine if the breed is apt to suit you, your riding ability and your intended use.
In many cases, your location will dictate, to a certain extent, which breed of horse you buy. If you live in an area heavily populated with Paints and Quarter Horses, your dream of owning a Friesian may involve a long and expensive search.
As one of my readers pointed out, whichever breed you select, it's important to match your experience with the temperament of the horse. A horse which explodes out of the stable and dances around while being saddled will probably prove too much horse for a novice to handle, but may be just the thing for an aspiring eventer.
Where to Buy
You can start your search at your lesson barn, where you'll often find horses for sale. In addition, your instructor may know of clients that are selling their horses. If you're searching on your own, you can begin with the Classified Ads in your local paper, or in your favorite horse magazine. In addition, you can conduct an online search. Right here on Equisearch, we have a very popular Classified Ads section, with hundreds of listings of horses for sale.
It's unfortunate that in the horse world, as in many other spheres, there are some unscrupulous people who will take advantage of the lack of knowledge of others. It's not unheard of for horses to be on medication which can mask lameness or behavioural problems when presented for sale.
When searching for a horse, it is wise to enlist the assistance of an equine professional or knowledgeable horse person who you trust. By arming yourself beforehand with as much knowledge as you can, and with the aid of your knowledgeable horse person, you'll be able to sort through the horses you look at and determine which will be a good match, and which won't.
And, of course, any horse which meets your other requirements should be thoroughly vetted by your veterinarian in a pre-purchase exam.
Not sure you are ready to own a horse outright? Why not consider leasing a horse? It can be an excellent way of preparing you for horse ownership, without going to the expense of buying one.