Before committing to buy a horse, it’s important to know a much as possible about the horse you’re considering buying. Not only do you want to make sure that the horse will meet your needs, but you also want to know about any surprises that may come up or behavior that may be triggered by specific factors. In many situations, horse buyers just don’t ask enough questions or the right questions. To save you from headaches down the road, use the questions below when talking to the horse seller.
Why Ask Horse Seller Questions
There are a number of reasons why you should ask horse seller questions, but here are the top 3:
- The right questions will help you gauge what kind of horse you’re about to buy and more importantly if it is indeed what you’re looking for,
- Asking the right questions will help you weed out scam and help you avoid being defrauded,
- The right questions will help you understand what may come down the road which could include medical conditions, and behaviors changes
Question #1: The basics
The horse for sale ad should cover all the basics but just to be clear, you should ask about these basic details about the horse:
- Age of horse,
- Horse attributes
Question #2: What is the horse’s temperament?
Although temperament should be part of the basics, many horse sellers don’t usually include it in their ads. Simply put, horse temperament is a measure between 1 – 10 for the calmness (1 = bomb-proof) or hotness (10 = easily spooked) of the horse. New horse owners need a horse with a temperament of less than 5 because they can handle better while experienced riders can handle a 5 or more.
Questions #3: How long have you had the horse?
Knowing how long the current horse owner has had the horse gives you important insight into the relationship they’ve had. If the current owner has had the horse for only a short period of time, it’d be good to know why. Given the investment that goes into acquiring a horse, one would not be too quick to sell it again unless they have a pressing reason.
Question #4: Why are you selling the horse?
While the horse owner is within his/her right to sell the horse, it’s important to understand why. Is the horse owner selling because of a life event such an illness or does it have to do with the horse?
Question #5: What are the horse’s vices?
You need to know about any bad tendencies that the horse has so you can be prepared to deal with. For beginner horse owners this may be too much to take on so it’s important to know the vises so you can determine if you’ll be able to deal with it.
Question #6: What’s the health history of the horse?
When considering buying a new horse, health is an important aspect. At the very minimum, you need to know of any health issues the horse has had. Are there major surgeries of conditions you need to know about? Can you get in touch with the horse’s vet and verify the health of the horse? Horse owners tend to downplay health issues but if you listen carefully at how they answer, you may be able to read between the line.
Question #7: What training has the horse received?
The amount and type of training that the horse has received is important to know because it gives you a sense of what the horse is capable of doing, especially if you’re looking for specific disciplines. Lack of training should not necessarily disqualify a horse. It just means that you’ll be putting in more work to train the horse. If the horse has been trained, ask to speak to the trainer so you can learn more about how well the horse did.
Question #8: Is the horse tacked?
Ask what tack the horse is used to and if they come with the horse. If tack is being sold separately, you may be able to negotiate a lower price for both. Ask how well the horse tacks or if it takes a lot of effort to tack him. When you go to ride the horse, you need to watch the horse being tacked to confirm what the horse owner told you.
Question #9: Is the horse kept indoors or out?
Knowing where the horse spends most of his time will give you an idea of how to adjust him to the new environment. A horse that is used to being in the pasture may take some time to adjust to being in the stalls all day long.
Question #10: What is the horse diet like?
Just like humans, horses get affected by sudden changes in diet and so it’s important to know what feeds the horse was given and how much so you can plan accordingly. Horse feed is going to be one of your largest expenses so try to determine if the amount of food needed will break your bank.
Question #11: How is the horse around other horses or animals?
You want a horse that is not easily spooked by the presence of other horses or animals. This question may not be important to you because you may not have other animals on your farm but consider the fact that you may meet other horses while on the trail. Alternatively, a submissive/timid horse may not be best suited among other commanding horses as he may be hurt.
Question #12: Is the horse registered?
Horse registration is important, especially if you plan on taking part in showing events. Registration also gives you a history/lineage of the horse so you can learn more about where the horse has come from. If registered, is the owner’s name on the certificate of registration the same as the person selling you the horse?
These questions are by no means the complete list but are some of the most important. Be sure to ask and verify the information you receive from the horse seller. An honest horse seller will answer these questions to the best of their ability and you can tell that he/she is not just painting a rosy picture of the horse.
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