Choosing a Horse
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   16th Aug 2010   •   6,781 views   •   10 comments
It is always very exciting to get out there and buy a new horse, but the question that always faces every rider is this: Which one do I choose? Perhaps you want to get the first one you see, just so you don’t have to wait any longer. Perhaps you want a pretty gray horse, or a skewbald. Maybe you want a horse that has been around the world and won lots of ribbons. We all have our ideals, so now let’s have a look at our steps.

Step 1:
Forget those ideals. What would be the point of having that lovely skewbald if it is trained in barrel racing and you want to be dressage? Why get that first horse you see if you want to do showing and it has cow hocks and an ewe-neck? Would you thank yourself for getting that champion horse when you find that it’s just too fizzy for you, and throws you off on every second stride? No, you would not. As such, you need to forget about what you want or what you’ve always dreamed of, and focus on what you need.

Step 2:
Decide what kind of horse you want. Do you want a polo pony, a barrel racer, a jumper, a pet or a clotheshorse? The possibilities are endless. What you need to do is to decide what would be most suitable on every tiny little detail. For example:

Training Level:
Etc. Etc.

Remember to be realistic when selecting these things. You’re hardly going to get a 1,50m jumper for $100, are you now? As such, you will need to compromise and decide what realistic choice would suit you best.

Step 3:
Research. Tackle the Internet, scratch through posters at tack stores, ask the milkman’s brother’s girlfriend’s cousin. Do whatever it takes to find advertisements for horses for sale. Once you’ve found them, write down all the details of the ones you think would suit you.

Step 4:
Arrange a date to try out the horses. If in doubt about a horse, try it out anyway. The more you try, the easier it will be to decide which is the right horse. I find it often helps to try one or two horses a little out of your price range as well, just so you have something to compare to.

Step 5:
Try out the horse. Don’t be afraid to ride it how you want to. The owner may have other ideas about how you should ride the horse, and you ought to be respectful and understanding of that, but just remember that in the end, if you buy the horse, YOU will be riding it, and NOT the owner. Try everything you want to do with it. Experiment with different riding styles, give it little tests. If you see a puddle on the ground, walk through it. Does the horse like water? Do you need a horse that likes water? You see a towel flapping on a washing line – walk towards it. Does the horse spook? Will a spooky horse be suitable for you?
When riding it be sure to work through every gait, and on each rein. Feel the horse’s movement and make sure that it is easy for you to synchronize yourself to. If you feel like you are sitting on the horse and it is taking you for a ride, then it isn’t the horse for you.

Feel. Feel. Feel. You have to feel the horse out, and think for yourself. When riding the horse, you must absolutely ignore everybody else. You have to decide if this is going to be the best riding horse for YOU.

Choosing a Horse
Riding the horse

Step 6:
Spend some time with the horse. Groom it, talk to it etc, Does it have a good temperament and a nice personality? You can never trust the words of a dealer, so you need to assess everything for yourself. Watch that horse like a hawk. Does it have vices? Does it bite, kick or crib? Does it like you? Is it friendly? How good are its manners? Does it pick up its feet on command? Test everything. Decide what is important, and what can and can’t be fixed.

Step 7:
Check the horse’s eyes, teeth, conformation, movement, hooves and everything else. Make sure it is in good health. If there are any little scars, ask about them. For all you know the horse was attacked by a mad goose or something of the sort. It would be dangerous if the horse suddenly freaked out at the sight of a goose and you weren’t expecting it. Find out all you can about the history of the horse. If it has old owners, call them. If you can google it, then google it! What are its bloodlines? How have its relatives done in the discipline you want to use it for? Find out EVERYTHING. This is where you become what I proudly define myself as: A crazy, obsessed horse-stalker.

Choosing a Horse
Check the horse’s eyes

Step 8:
Get a second opinion. Call somebody whom you trust, who knows how you ride and preferably who has more experience than you to look at the horse. Let them examine every aspect of it, let them ride it, and discuss everything with them. In the end it is still your decision, so if they simply don’t like the horse and you do, that doesn’t matter. However, if they find a problem with the horse, that does matter. A lot.

Choosing a Horse
Have somebody else assess the horse

Step 9:
Make sure you try the horse out at least twice more if you can. You need to know that it will be the same every time you ride it, and that the first time wasn’t just a fluke. If you are still happy with the horse, it is time to speak to the owner and negotiate on the price if necessary. It is often a good idea to ask if you can have the horse on trial for a week, especially if you are paying a lot for it. Also be sure to get a vet-check and to make sure the horse loads well into a box before taking it away.

Well, that’s about it. I’ve taken you through all the more important logical points. Now it is time for our tenth and final step:

Step 10:
Remember everything we’ve just been through? Good. Now forget it all. The worst thing you can do is to overthink everything and try to choose the horse that seems best on paper. At the end of the day, you just need to wait until you get onto that one perfect horse, and feel the magic of unity that will always occur when you’ve found the perfect horse for you. Even if the horse is far from perfect, if the bond is there, the rest will almost always fall into place.

Well, it seems that I am rather a hypocrite on this subject, since I have seldom followed my own steps. At the end of the day, I know that I’ll be able to feel if a horse is going to be good for me or not. When it comes down to it, I still think that ‘feel’ is the most important thing. I’ve seen a million brilliant, detailed articles about finding ‘the perfect horse’. If a perfect horse is what you want, you’d best hit google and look up all of those. Though speaking from experience, I am 110% certain that the ‘perfect’ horse is nothing, NOTHING compared to the RIGHT horse.

Choosing a Horse
When you find the right horse, you will feel the bond
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Polo the Weirdo
Ruffians Stable  
Great article. Your really explained a lot.
  Aug 16, 2010  •  5,954 views
nice article :)
  Aug 17, 2010  •  5,828 views
Mystic Magic  
Wow well written, you basically said everything everyone needs to know. I have brought quite a few horses and I done all of those things pretty much, come across a few horses that seemed perfect but just didn't feel right and didn't feel any connection or bond so I didn't buy them. I own a lovely thoroughbred gelding called Mate and I trust him with my life, I have owned him for about 6 years now and never come off him, he is the only horse I have ever owned that I have not come off. He has never tested me or took advantage of me, he is so easy to bond with and he respects his owners and loves them. He was at my nanas for a few months and bonded with her and saved her form a kangaroo which tried attacking her and now he is at my aunties for a while and he has bonded with her as well. He can get a bit exited when out in groups and at shows but even though he gets a bit fast and pulley I know he is never going to buck or hurt me purposely. Worst thing he has ever done was a few pigroots
  Aug 17, 2010  •  5,814 views
Inactive Member  
Wow awesome article, your right, you cant take the dealers word for it, my friend bought a horse and she didn't bother to see how he was in the stable, she just asked the dealer who said he was one of his calmist horses. When she took him home and tried to groom him, he kicked, bit and reared. She kept him for 3 months and he would never calm down. In the end she had to re-sale him
  Aug 17, 2010  •  5,820 views
  Aug 17, 2010  •  5,816 views
happy day  
thanks this helped me i needed this sooner so i did not buy this crazy pony i have now but i sold him to the barn
  Aug 17, 2010  •  5,822 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thanks everyone! I am really glad you all enjoyed it! :D Mystic Magic, that sounds just like how I am with Polo (The bottom pic) only she was a complete and utter monster at the start. She threw me off countless times and gave me more trouble than any horse I've ridden since - yet look where we are now. We mighthave been mortal enemies at the start, but the bond was still there, and neither of us were willing to stop trying. So after years of fighting, we are now so in synch that I'd do just about anything on her. Though I suppose she's pretty irrelevant to this article, since I didn't choose her... She just sort of 'happened' I guess. It was meant to be. :P
  Aug 18, 2010  •  5,794 views
Awesome Article :]

I was lucky enough to find my Mickey after free leasing just one other horse, and since he was being worked and kept at the barn where I was riding, I had lots of trusted opinions and I could ride him a lot. Not to mention, the fact that I immediately fell in love with him. However, since he passed, I've started to venture gently and slowly back into the world of looking for another horse. So, thanks for the great tips!
  Aug 18, 2010  •  5,894 views
Great article

Hey, Mystic, do you live in Australia? All I know is that where I live, Kangaroo attacks aren't something a horse really needs to get used to. lol
  Aug 19, 2010  •  5,817 views
Brilliant article!
When my cousin went to try the horse I ride now, as soon as she was in the saddle she fell in love with him. He's a brilliant horse, but he would have never passed the vetting. It's a good idea to have the horse vetted though, especially if you're a first time buyer, or still rather new to buying horses.
  May 3, 2013  •  5,642 views
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