1. Buy an untrained horse
There is an old saying, “Green on green makes black and blue.” When beginner riders choose untrained horses thinking they’ll “Learn together” it is a recipe for true heartache instead of true love. Don’t buy a horse that you plan to train yourself or even send to a trainer for the months or even years that may be needed to end up with that perfect horse. Beginners will be safer and happier with a horse they can enjoy the moment it gets off the trailer.
2. Turn down older horses
Another saying is “Your first horse should be old and ugly and safe.” I don’t know that they need be ugly, but they sure don’t need to be beautiful. An older horse who knows what the world is like makes a great first time beginner horse. Beginners might shy away from a horse into their late teens and twenties. But many healthy, sound horses can be ridden well into their senior years. In fact, light daily exercise, such as a quiet hack or drive is often beneficial to both horse and rider/driver.
3. Buy A Young Horse For Your Children To ‘grow up with’
Safety, people, safety! You’re putting your child or your husband or yourself on a 1200 pound animal that has a mind of his own and is hardwired to react to his environment. Horses need a leader and if you are not it, he will be. The reality is that young horses and young beginner riders are not a safe mix. Buy a horse that knows how to handle himself because a young beginner won’t know what to do when his mount blows a gasket. Green on green makes black and blue. See number 1.
4. Buy at Auction
Ethical behavior at the auctions is not the norm. Even private sellers can be and often are less than honest. Horses can appear docile at auction because they are so confused they ‘freeze’. Besides, you can't know how a horse is in a few moments. If you are an expert and you have x-ray vision, you still can't know if they're drugged, and believe me, it happens all the time. Horses can be drugged to make them look calm or healthy. And you won’t know it until you have the horse home, and your check has been long-ago cashed.
5. Buy on Impulse
Don't buy the first horse or the 15th horse you look at. Instead, go back at least twice to try the horse out, then go back and try him out again, and ask lots of questions. Ask the seller, the barn help, the kid taking lessons at the barn about the horse. Hang out for awhile if it's a public barn. Ask to lead the horse around and groom him. Pickup his feet if the owner says it's okay, and if they deny you that, thank them politely and walk away. Even if the horse is exactly the color you want and looks at you with loving adoration while resting his chin on you shoulder. Walk away. Now. Look at other horses besides the one you think you want and make comparisons, make a list and check it twice—pros and cons. Get help from a trainer as to suitability of the horse for what you want to do. Get a veterinarian to check the horse’s soundness and health.
6.Take a FREE horse.
So what if he's not perfect, he's free! Free is not the best price. Usually a free horse has some reason for not having a price tag. Sure, they exist, but look long and hard before jumping in, and remember, your largest investment is not the initial outlay of cash. Oh no, it is not. You still have tack to buy, feed to purchase, lessons to invest in, and Feed. Don't think the price of feed today will remain the same next year. It always, always, always increases; bank on it. An unsound free horse that you can't ride costs the same to keep as a sound horse that you paid for. Get the history, the reason for him being free and get a vet check and trainer's help.
7. Buy a Horse to Breed
Please. If you are a beginner, don’t even go here. Babies of any variety are cute, but if you don't know how a horse thinks, what makes him react and why, don't even think about it. There are too many horses in the US right now and breeding by someone who is not experienced is a crime in my opinion. If you want a horse, buy one, an older one to start with, so you can see what you're getting into.
8. Buy “Too Much Horse”.
Buy the horse you can ride today. Not in a year, or a month, but today. Don’t think the high-stepping, high-headed pretty one with the spots and long mane is the best one for you because he looks like he’s got ‘spirit’. Buy the horse you feel comfortable with. Even if he is old and ugly. Especially if he's old and experienced.
9. Buy a "Pretty" Horse of a Particular Color
Pretty is as pretty does. Beginners love spots, palominos, buckskins and blacks. When buying a car, “You don’t drive the paint” and with horses, you don’t ride the color. Color truly is the last thing of importance. Instead, buy a horse you can ride. Today. See number 8, above.
10. Forget to Consider the Time and Expense of Horse Care
Horse ownership is not to be taken lightly. Horses don’t stop eating and drinking on the weekend when you want to go away or in the winter when you can’t ride without freezing your toes off. The expenses don’t stop because you want new shoes for yourself, or because you've lost your job. Be honest about the time and money you are able to spend on a horse.
11. (I know, I said 10, but this is the grand daddy of all) DO NOT Buy A Horse Without Professional Guidance!!
This one is the most important because a pro will guide you toward what you need, not what you think you want. Pretty important stuff, that.
Be sure and have EXPERT (not your neighbor, not your best friend, not your dog trainer) help choose the right horse for you. This person should be a trainer and riding instructor. They should have experience and references to share proving they have the capability, knowledge and expertise to Match Horses and People. Once you both agree, be sure and get a pre-puchase exam done by a Veterinarian. Know that there are no perfect horses, but there are many who come pretty darn close. And remember, it costs the same to feed a lame, unsound, unrideable horse as it does to feed a sound, sane, riding horse.
Fall in love with the right horse that makes your horse-ownership experience a good one that is full of fun and safety!