(A buyer's guide)

The horse
Do you like the horse?
(Colour, size, height, confirmation, face, eyes, disposition)

Is it alert and shows interest in what goes on?

Does it look well cared for ?

Does it look healthy?

Does it appear content rather than nervous/tense?

Do you feel the horse is HAPPY?

Do you want to KNOW this horse?

Do you want to ride this horse?

Do you want to be there for this horse and for all its needs?

Will you look after him in health and sickness?

Do you almost feel like getting married?(Good)

Are you prepared to end his/her life when there is no quality of life for him/her anymore?

The horse and handler other than you
Is it coming towards the handler when being caught - or at least waiting to be caught (rather than running away)?

Does it show kind and interested rapport  with its handler?

Is it calm when being tied, saddled/bridled rather than putting ears back, bracing itself?

Does it respect the handler's space

Does it stand still when being mounted?

Is it willingly going forward under the rider?

Is the rider  a "professional" and trying to show the horse off?

Has the horse three clear paces:
4beat walk, 2 beat trot, 3 beat canter and moves freely in all of them?

What does the horse's facial expression tell you./ Look closely.

Is it concentrating but enjoying working under the rider?

Is it's mouth moist and is it chewing the bit?

Has the rider shown any lateral movements (leg-yield, shoulder-fore/in, travers or more?

Did the movement flow?

Are transitions smooth and flowing?

The horse and you
Do you feel confident around the horse?

Do you feel the horse is confident around you without disrespecting you?

Is the horse interested in you (is there attentiveness?)

Is (s)he allowing you to touch everywhere (BE CAREFUL & pay attention to horse's bodylanguage!)

When mounted, does the horse's shape fit you?

Is it responsive and accepting your aids (ask discretely to find out how sensitive the horse is!)

Does it feel comfortable and reasonably balanced?

Do you feel you can relax and ride more forward?

Do you love the feel of what you have under you? Do you enjoy to ride this horse in all paces?

Did you have a ride outside the arena?

Can you trust the horse?

Does (s)he listen to you in different situations?(e.g. on the field/roads)

You liked spending time after the ride and helped to care for the horse after your trial?

You want to come back and ride him again before you make up your mind?
and... DID you indeed come back to ride him/her again?

NOTE: If the rider uses "gadgets" like running reins, or the like, ASK WHY  and ask for them to be removed!

*  Why are you selling?
*  When can I make an appointment with my Vet to have  the horse checked ?
*  Has the horse any competition records/
*  Is (s)he registered with the EFA?
*  What is his/her training level (should be 2 levels higher than the competition level)
*  If not competed (that's o.k. not everybody competes!) ask if his laterals are established and what else he can do. (Rider    can show)
*  Has (s)he had any illnesses or injuries?
*  Is (s)he vaccinated/ Regularly wormed?
*  Does (s)he load/float well?
*  What about handling his/her feet? (Try and give the feet a few knocks with a hoof-pick)

IF ALL IS POSITIVE AND YOUR "GUT-FEELING" (YOUR (!) "gut-feeling") is good and  you are bursting for excitement because this might be your new partner, then go home and sleep over it.
If you still feel the same the next morning, ring the vendor and make a second appointment.


I FEEL PRIVILEGED TO HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE and wish you both many smooth transitions,

"Horse Hunting"  (or ...Considerations for buying a new horse)   by Carola Adolf NEP/fSHP
The process of getting "ready" to have your own horse will have included some soul-searching. Now you just have to find the right one.
Before you go out there and meet the horses that are for sale, you must understand that you will be looking at horses that are not longer wanted by their owners.
It helps if you can find out why. 
(I will talk about reasons a little later, as it might be important to know why the vendor has given up on one particular horse and wants to sell it. Most of the time it is NOT the horse's fault!).

A "soul-search" will help you immensely to find the right horse for you:

Be honest with yourself about.......

A)  Your motives for becoming a horse owner (why not just continuing lessons on a school horse, or leasing a horse)

B)   If this is the right time in your life to own a horse (how much of you is "work", social life, being a "normal", clean, well
     groomed and dressed person? Your lifestyle (and your fingernails) WILL change once you have a horse!)

C)   Can you make a long-term commitment with all its consequences? (Wind, hail or shine, Christmas, Easter or Sunday morning:
     Your horse has no idea what day it is, but (s)he might have to be fed, rugged, de-rugged, exercised, hoof-trimmed, wormed, or simply   
     cared for and checked up on EVERY DAY,  better even TWICE A DAY. 

D)   Can you put in the time needed to provide the animal with appropriate care, exercise and training so (s)he is a well 
      mannered, content horse and  a good home could easily be found IN CASE you have to part with him/her (for
      whatever reason).(This is an extension of the previous point and your selfless responsibility toward the horse.)
      You must be clear about that you will have to give  up certain conveniences in favour of  this 500-600kg "dependent" new family 
      member and do the best to give him/her the best chance for a fulfilling happy horse-life. (This includes becoming a better horse 
      person for him/her by learning as much as you can)

E)  What are your ambitions and plans for the both of you (obviously you must get something out of all the trouble you get yourself into.
     What would you like to do with the horse?
     Would you like to compete?
     How "seriously"?
     To compete at higher levels in any discipline requires not only talent of both, horse and rider, but the complete 
     commitment of an athlete to his/her sport and considerable financial investment).
     To compete at local official/unofficial events as part of a pleasure horse ownership is a lovely idea, because you will do it "for fun" and as a       challenge to yourself  (therefore "bad" days won't matter and you will not be tempted to compromise the relationship with your horse just 
     for a coloured ribbon!
     Unfortunately many competitors do as they are taking themselves way too seriously and set their expectations way too high, 
     overestimating their own and their horses' abilities.)

What else is there to do with a horse?
If you don't have the urge to compete (not everybody has and it is NOT a condition to become a horseowner  -  YOUR HORSE, couldn't care less!), you can find great enjoyment and satisfaction in some of the following:

-     Building a true relationship with your horse by watching, listening, interacting, playing, grooming (incl. hooves), 
     massaging, walking - simply spending time with him/her without demanding anything
-     Training your horse on the ground and under saddle in schooling sessions that you have prepared, followed by a relaxing ride over the paddock or       the like
-     Visiting clinics with the horse to enrich your knowledge and expose yourself to a variety of instructors and clinicians 
     (there is something to be learned from almost everybody!)
-     Joining a local riding club and participate in their rallys and events, become an active member,
-     Taking regular lessons with an instructor who understands you and your horse and practise exercises in between 
-     Going for relaxing trail rides with friends or alone.
-     Taking your horse on "holidays" to visit like minded friends or horse/riding farms/centers
-     Get all dressed up and "blitz" a local Aggi-show (and hear the comments)
-     Become expert in something WITH your horse as your partner and teach others (e.g. "clicker training", Natural
     horsemanship, Dressage, Equine massage/shiatsu, Herbalism.. whatever. )
-     Write about all your adventures/experiences with your horse and get it to print.

You see, there is more than just training to compete.  It is a whole lifestyle.
And being with horses brings you back to feel nature at its purest. You must learn again to listen to your instincts to be able to tune into your horse.When you do, nothing else matters.

The choice is not an easy one and depends on what you want to do.
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Mature Horse
- Should be settled in temperament
- Has established education
- Been there, done that attitude
- Has a history of performance
  (if competed and performance was recorded)
- Go out and compete NOW
- May have been mistreated (intentionally or              unintentionally) by previous owner(s)
- May have established vices
- May have soundness problems
Young Horse
-"Clean sheet" - you can train the horse yourself        and know what you got.
- Should be sound
- The challenge of "growing together"
- You have to put in the commitment, patience and    time to educate the horse (so he or she will have     a chance for the best  life (s)he can get, even if        you can't keep him/her)
- Work through all difficulties (and joys) of training.
                                                                                  BREED AND SIZE?

Again, it depends on what you want to do:  Obviously, there are purpose bred horses, with appropriate price-tags. If you buy of a breeder, go for a reputable one. (Do some research into the breeding stock)
Otherwise each horse is an individual and temperaments vary. If however the horse was treated well in the past you can expect to find "friendly" specimens.
Horses are generally not aggressive. They are by nature curious but alert.
(Stay clear of stallions, unless you have educated yourself to understand them! Remember, they are horses, too!)

Size DOES matter.  The horse should be build to carry you comfortably.
Height: If you can just see over the wither - fine
Built: Complement your stature. If you are well proportioned and relatively slender, an elegant TB would just look great . If you are a little short in the leg, avoid a big barrel-horse. Etc.
Use common sense and a camera to see for yourself.
Do you both look "right" together and well proportioned?

Listen to advise and comments but never let anybody else make the decision for you.
Do not buy out of pity unless you can afford it.
Do not buy out of impulsion, think of the future of the one you adopt into your life.
Remember that the horse you buy doesn't have a choice.
Give him/her the best life possible.
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