Bringing a new companion into your life is an undoubtedly exciting experience. Whether you're adopting a shelter dog, feeding the neighbourhood cat, or even building a birdhouse so that you can attract wildlife to your backyard, the thought of a new creature appearing in your daily routine is an enticing thought at the least. Bringing a new horse into your life is an even larger endeavour that requires a lot of planning. Here are five of my favourite tips for buying a horse to make the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible:

5. Select a horse that fits your riding ability and style

Much like you probably wouldn't adopt a Great Dane if you lived in a high rise studio apartment, you probably wouldn't buy a horse that doesn't fit your lifestyle. Investing in a horse that you feel confident riding (and being around in general!) is one of the key parts of horse ownership. While it is possible and always a good learning opportunity to get a horse that is slightly above your riding ability, unless you are intending to challenge your ability with every single ride, it will pay off in the long run to invest in a riding companion that you can be comfortable around. Evaluate your ability and style honestly, and write down your expectations. If the horse you are considering doesn't meet your expectations, or, on the flip side, if you don't meet the skill requirements of the horse, it is probably best to move on. 

4. Take your trainer with you

Whether or not you have a trainer, it is always a good idea to have a second set of eyes to evaluate your prospective horse. Bringing along someone who knows your ability and expectations, and has a good eye for conformation faults as well as detecting lameness will always prove to be to your advantage. When in doubt, get a second opinion! Always have the seller ride the horse first, and then allow your trainer to hop on. Not only will your trainer be able to see if you and the horse are a good fit when you test-ride it, but your trainer may pick up on things that you may have missed under saddle. - Bonus tip: Sending photos and video footage to both your vet and your farrier can also prove to be beneficial!

3. Take your time

It is so tempting to fall in love with the first tall, dark, and handsome gelding you meet. However, just like finding your perfect car or home, it's important to take your time finding the right horse for you. Settling for a horse that fits most of your expectations may seem like a harmless decision, especially if the price is right, but taking your time to find a horse that fits all of your expectations will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling outcome.  Few things can keep a person up at night more than the thought of "what if?" Save yourself the sleepless nights and take your time. After all, the best things are worth waiting for!

2. Save if you need to

Tying into taking your time to find the horse that fits all of your expectations is the importance of taking time to make sure you have the proper funds. Trying to find the perfect horse on a limited budget will prove to be stressful, and you may even give up. Realize that there are options to take lessons, lease, or even volunteer for a horse rescue so that you can make certain that you have enough money to buy the horse that fits you the best. Horses are a luxury in the 21st century, and as such, they are expensive to keep. Making sure you have enough to purchase the horse that fits you best as well as ensuring that you have the funds available in case of a veterinary emergency or the like will put your mind at ease and allow you to really enjoy your new companion.

1. Buy the horse that you want

In the end, you are most likely buying a horse solely for yourself. It's important, then, to make sure that you aren't settling. You may find a horse that fits all of your expectations, your price range, and may even include a free saddle, but if you don't "click" with the horse, you may end up looking for another horse sooner than you had planned. With the opinions of your trusted equestrian companions in mind, realize that ultimately the horse is going to be your partner. Regardless of how beautiful your trainer may think the trot is on a particular horse, you should buy the horse that has galloped into your heart and has found a place to stay. 

About The Author

Ashley Banks is the Senior Trainer at Sugarbrush Farm, in the beautiful DuPont Forest of North Carolina, as well as the CEO and Founder of Banks Images Equestrian Photography and Design. Ashley has over a decade of experience in the equestrian industry, including training, management, nutrition, and sales of stock breeds, warmbloods, gaited horses, Mustangs, draft horses, and miniatures.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on May 27, 2013 at 8:59am

Very good advice!

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