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Take the Plunge, but Avoid Taking a Bath, When Purchasing a New Horse

by Cheryl Machin Price

If the seller chooses to represent their own horse, the following are suggestions that might be found to be helpful:

  • Allow the buyer to observe the entire process of retrieving the horse from the field or stall, and the grooming and saddling process. Discuss any “quirks” that the horse may have.
  • If the horse needs to be lunged before riding, tell them so.
  • Review any individual shoeing issues during the grooming process.
  • The seller should ride the horse first. This allows the buyer to see what the horse is capable of doing.
  • The seller should remain in the arena when the buyer mounts the horse to ride. It’s in the best interest of all to remain present during riding, in the event the level of expertise of the potential buyer was not correctly identified. The most solid “bomb proof” horse can become a danger if the rider does not have the skills required. The seller should intervene and ask the buyer to step down if there is potential for injury.
  • The buyer should obtain from the seller the riding methods used in training the horse. The rider should identify if the horse’s foundation is correct. Circles, direction changes, stops, leads and lateral work should be attempted.
  • If the buyer and seller are satisfied that the skill level of both the horse and rider are acceptable, the horse can be taken to a barrel pattern. The horse should not be expected to repeatedly run through the pattern. The buyer should evaluate the elements of the pattern in terms of the Approach, Rate and Turn, and determine if the horse’s strengths and weaknesses are acceptable to them. The buyer must honestly assess if they have the resources to address any of the weaknesses the horse may have.
  • The buyer needs to ask specific questions but not be argumentative. Does the horse bleed? Is the horse prone to tying up? Has he ever had colic? Any major surgeries or illnesses? Does he have a respiratory problem? Does he require special medications? Does the seller have any competitive records? Medical records? Has the horse been x–rayed? What is the seller’s routine care in terms of working, etc.?

CONTINUED

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MEET CHERYL MACHIN PRICE

For more information about Cheryl, please visit the Co-Instructors section of this website. Cheryl also writes a separate ongoing column for our In Pursuit of Excellence section, entitled Training Outcomes.

BE SURE TO ASK THE SELLER QUESTIONS AND
GET RECORDS!

Does the horse bleed? Is he prone to tying up? Has he ever had colic? Any major surgeries or illnesses? Does he have a respiratory problem? Does he require special medications? What has been the seller's routine care?