The First Step: Find a Mentor!
Before you do anything else in your horse hunt, find someone knowledgeable to work with you!
First-time horse buyers are naïve. They don’t know the questions to ask or how to evaluate a horse. Even when dealing with an up-front, honest seller, they might miss a critical point that could make that dream horse buy a nightmare. Unscrupulous sellers recognize your ignorance and take advantage of that.
Even seasoned professionals tell stories of being ‘taken’.’ So, go shopping only if you are working with someone who’s done this before.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some window shopping. Your instructor, mentor, or barn owner may know of horses that are available. The local tack and feed stores usually have a bulletin board where sellers post flyers of horses for sale. Ditto the free magazines found at the feed stores.
The internet has many online sales pages that frequently include videos of horses. Copy the information of those that interest you and share it with your mentor. Don’t be surprised if she rejects all of them, and pay attention to the reasons why. You’ll soon learn the jargon of horse-trading.
Understanding Sales Advertisements
Sales advertisements for horses contain certain words which tell you about the horse without necessarily telling you about the horse. Besides narrowing down your search by location and horse type, you can narrow down your options by reading all the details of the ads.
Words to look for in ads include:
- Good with Kids/Kids Horse/Good with Youth
- Husband Horse
Keywords that tell you to walk away include the following:
- In-Foal (unless you are looking for a pregnant mare, you should avoid this)
- Has A Lot of Go
- Needs a Quiet Rider
- Barrel Prospect
- Big Mover
- Lots of Potential (not a bad thing, but generally means more training is required)
Unfortunately, some sellers tend to exaggerate their listings. If a horse has minimal training, they may say, “trained under saddle.”
Once you have a feel for these things, it’s time to consider where to look and what breed is best. That’s the next post!