Choosing A Horse

Choosing a horse: questions to ask and points to ponder.

Whether this horse is suitable for a beginner. Most people will be honest here, not wanting to endanger someone.

The horse's age, height and build. Does it match your criteria?

Color and markings, if these are important to you.

What sort of temperament he/she has. Quiet, calm, bombproof, gentle.

If she is a mare, what to expect with any mood swings, if any.

The suitability for your chosen horse activity. This is an opinion only, and should be taken with a grain of salt unless there is a solid reason for that opinion. For example, if you wanted a horse for jumping and the owner advised you this horse always refuses...

Any vices or bad habits. Charging, biting, kicking, bolting, bucking, rearing. Any of these and you can thank the owner for their time and end the call.

Easy to catch and shoe and trailer and worm? A horse that won't do these is a pain in the behind and you should consider carefully if you want to put up with these bad habits.

Any fears (dogs, bicycles, cars). These aren't ideal either.

Any health issues. So you can research if an issue would be a problem for you.

Any soundness issues or physical limitations. A vet check will show these up, but why visit a horse that is known to be very lame?

What the horse has been trained and used for, now and with previous owners. Has the horse had experience in what you want to do? You'll have a lot more fun on a horse that can teach you rather than the other way around.

How long the horse has been in work (ridden regularly) and has it been in work recently. Some horses aren't trained until later in life. Sometimes horses are trained and worked and then put in a paddock and left for years.

Any quirks of personality to be aware of. Just so you know. Personality can be a big factor in choosing a horse.

Why it is being sold. You may not get an honest answer, but it's worth asking anyway.

(reprint of the article by Phil Tragear)

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