Before buying your first horse or pony it is important to consider what type is right for you, and have the accomodations arranged before bringing your horse home.
Horse or Pony?
Your size, age and experience all come into play. Generally speaking, children are better suited to ponies and adults to horses. This is not set in stone however. A lightweight adult may feel more comfortable on a large pony, something around 14.2 hands. Likewise, a tall teenager may be better off with a small horse, something around 15.2 hands. The size is important because how you sit and feel on the horse affects your performance and ability to ride effectively.
Schoolmaster or Green Youngster?
Whether you buy a green youngster or an experienced "schoolmaster" type also depends on you. If you are a novice rider, you will get a lot more enjoyment from a horse that already knows the ropes, whether you want to trail ride, run barrels, learn to jump or do a little elementary dressage. Things will be easier and more satisfying for you if your horse already has an education in your chosen field.
Experienced equestrians, on the other hand, will derive great satisfaction from schooling and teaching a green youngster. Winning that first ribbon in the first show is very pleasing when you know that you have taught your horse everything it took to win that ribbon.
If you want to compete right away it would be appropriate to look for a horse that is already showing in the type of competition you want to enter.
Does breed make a difference?
While some breeds are bred for a specific job, most horses are adaptable and will be capable of doing whatever you want. Some will just be better suited to some things than others. For instance, Tennessee Walkers excel at walking. I know, it sounds obvious, but if you are looking for a super comfortable horse who can walk for ever and not tire either himself or you, the Tennessee Walkermay be the horse for you. They are good on trails and exceptional in the show ring.
But if you want to gallop and jump across country or cut cattle then you would do better to choose something else. The English native pony breeds are very versatile, able to turn a hoof, so to speak, to almost anything from Pony Club games to dressage, jumping, hunting and hacking or trail riding. American Quarter horses are also very versatile. Their activities range from working cattle, barrel racing and reining to hunter competition, dressage and combined training.
Of course, there are many different breeds of horse. Some are universally known, such as the Arabian and the Thoroughbred. Some are more specific to a certain area of the world, such as the Connemara or the Australian Waler. Having said that, in recent years, the export of stallions from their native countries has meant that many breeds have become global with enthusiastic followers all over the world.
So where will I find him?
The search for the perfect horse can be a long and arduous one. Once you have decided what type of horse or pony you want to buy, there are several different approaches you can take.
You may be in the market for a competition horse. If so, visiting the shows and the show bars will be the best way to see your prospective horse in action. Quite often there will be an annotation in the prize list (show schedule in Engand) that a certain horse is for sale. Or perhaps your instructor or trainer will know of a suitable horse.
Another place to look is the barn or riding stable that you ride at regularly. Discussions with the Barn Manager or instructor will let you know which horses may be for sale.
On the high market end, there are many Horse Brokers who will, for a fee, find you exactly what you are looking for. Their reputation depends on your being happy with the horse they procure for you.
If you are looking for a specific breed, the breed Association will be able to put you in touch with breeders or owners in your area who may have horses for sale.
And, of course, you should not overlook the many thousands of horses who are advertised for sale in newspapers and horse publications or who are sold at auctions. This can be more time consuming than having someone point you right at the perfect horse for you, but many great horses are sold this way.
It may be necessary for you to make many phone calls and look at many horses before you find the right match, but in the end, hopefully, you will find a suitable horse and will be able to move on to the next step towards horse-ownership.