Listen in the Horse Happening Podcast, with Lindsey Partridge
Buying a horse can be very stressful and time-consuming. Here are some tips and tricks for buying horses and things to consider when viewing potential prospects. Whether you’re looking for your future horse or know someone looking and want to give them some advice, these tips will help you in doing so.
The first tip is using the triangle method, which evaluates the health trainability and price of the horse. The saying goes, you can only have two things out of the triangle, which means you must be willing to compromise on the third. So, for example, you might find the perfect horse that is trained, and its health is precisely how you want it to be, but then that means their price is probably not going to be where you want it to be. In another scenario, you might have a horse that’s priced right and trained how you want it to but may have some health issue. Where that matters is you have to decide what is most important to you on that triangle, is it price, health, or trainability?
There are many horses out there that have some health issues but are still capable of doing certain types of disciplines. We don’t want to discount horses with these health issues, like clubfoot or cushings, etc. That is not the end of the world; it just must fit in with what you will be asking it to do.
The second thing to keep in mind is that there are no guarantees. It’s very common to look over a horse, vet check a horse, and receive a 100% clean bill of health, and still, something goes wrong after the fact.
I was buying a horse for my two-year-old daughter Evelyn. Because she is only two, I don’t know if she will take up horses or even like horses. I didn’t want to spend a lot but knew I needed something safe and trainable. So for my triangle, that meant I was willing to compromise on the health of the horse. Luckily the pony I found ended up being free, but she came with health issues. She was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, basically like human diabetes, and takes daily medication; they cost $100 a month. But I got a safe and highly trained retired show pony for my daughter to build confidence. You can see some of their rides together on my YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/682740
Another example is my current horse for the thoroughbred makeover Alyssia. I bought her as a three-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred that hadn’t had a whole lot of training. I purchased her sound, but the day the deal went through, she ended up with a puncture wound on one of her legs. The vet came but didn’t x-rayed her and thought it was no big deal. However, when she came home, we found out that she had a piece of dead bone tissue and needed surgery to have it removed. Thankfully she was completely sound, with no hindrance.
For those of you that have considered getting horse insurance, at the time, I did have the additional horse insurance for accidental life-saving surgery, so the surgery was covered by the insurance. So, in this case, health was my number one priority in my triangle.
When it comes to the trainability factor, I had four four-year-old horses that I purchased, hoping that at least one of them would be a good lesson candidate. Out of the four, only one ended up becoming a lesson horse. I fell in love with one named Pebbles, she was a sweetheart, and I hoped she would work out as a lesson horse. Unfortunately, she never did, not because she was nasty or did anything wrong but because her canter was swift and unbalanced. She was also more of a finer build, so she couldn’t necessarily carry the variety of students. Thankfully she ended up going to a trail riding home who adore her. The others were Sugar and Cookie; Sugar was also forward and was placed in a dressage home, perfect for her. And Cookie was not as confident and was a little more looky.
The one we kept was Asha; however, initially, she wasn’t what we had hoped for, but quickly she came around and figured out learning is fun and gained so much confidence. If you or your horse struggles with confidence issues, Harmony Horsemanship offers some excellent confidence-building courses that will help you and your horse tremendously. https://harmonyhorsemanshipacademy.org/p/buildingconfidence So, the lesson here is I purchased four horses, hoping to find one that would make a great lesson horse candidate. And we found one. But it took four to find the one, and you don’t know if they will be well suited until you start training them.
Another tip, it is always better to buy a horse that’s naturally inclined to do the things that you want to do, rather than try to force them to be something they’re not. You can always work on the skills that horses are good at to help them develop. Finding a horse that is suitable for your level and discipline is significant. I was training a couple of horses for someone to jump. And unfortunately, both of these horses lack natural ability when it comes to jumping; they tend to knock the rails, not be straight; they don’t tend to have a lot of desire to go over the jump. So training these horses to be jumpers might be possible. Still, it’s going to be a lot more challenging than if you take a horse that already has that little bit of natural talent, but it takes time to teach those horses the skills. You don’t want to make assumptions; you want to see it through and give them a chance.
Like I mentioned before, there is no guarantee, especially when it comes to soundness or health. I sold a lovely, sweet horse to some folks, and in less than a year, they messaged me to tell me the horse had dropped dead in the field. They had an autopsy performed and found out that she had had a brain aneurysm. There’s no way that we could have predicted.
A lot of times, a horse will be sold and become lame unannounced to the previous owner or the new owners at the time. Yet the new owners now expect a refund or vet bills paid etc. Horses aren’t like Walmart, where if you purchase them, and if something breaks, you can take them back or get a refund; it doesn’t work that way. You cannot put a guarantee on an animal with a mind of its own. But if you are truly worried about it, do your due diligence, and have a full vet check done ahead of time.
When buying horses off the internet or buying sight unseen, it is best to know the person or know someone who has bought from them before. If that is not the case, you can always have a vet in the area look at the horse for you to verify height, age, condition, etc.
To recap, use the triangle method price, trainability, and health. There are no guarantees. Pick what is most important to you and stick to it. Equine insurance and vet checks are not a bad idea. Pick a horse that is best suited for what you will be asking it to do.
I hope you guys enjoyed all of these tips related to buying horses, remember you can always check out more great free resources and other information at https://harmonyhorsemanship.com/ or check me out on my website https://www.lindseypartridge.com/.
Thanks so much, bye for now.