Buying the Right Horse

Guest post by Kelsey McLaughlin
There are a lot of factors to consider when buying a horse, such as price range, what will you use the horse for, the horse’s skill level, your skill level, etc., the most important being what is the right kind of horse for you. If you’re a skilled and confident rider, you can handle a younger, inexperienced horses or a problem horse, whereas an inexperienced rider or a rider who has lost his/her confidence would be better suited to an older, more experienced horse that has been there done that and knows it all.
During my freshman year of high school, I had a really bad experience on a walking horse I was leasing from a neighbor. He was accustomed to living in the pasture eating hay and grass. He was only in a stall getting grain when being being conditioned for a large trail ride or being ridden regularly. At the place we were boarding, he was in a stall 24/7 and getting 2 scoops of high sugar/high starch grain. One day I decided to ride him in the arena while my mother was out on a trail with her horse. Oreo had had a day off, so he was full of extra energy. He was fine at first, but he eventually reared straight up in the air and took off at a full gallop around the arena until someone came down and stopped him. My confidence fell off a cliff, and Oreo went back home.

My mother and I went on a search for horse to build my confidence. We looked at two different horses that seemed like they would be good choices. The first one we looked at was an Appaloosa gelding named Charlie. He had been on trails and was a western pleasure 4-H champ. He was about 9 or 10 at the time we went to look at him. When we went to check him out, I rode him, and he ended up being too much horse for me. We went to see horse number two, a little 5 year old appaloosa gelding named Comanche that had been trained to be a kid’s trail horse. We ended up buying Comanche and my mother’s friend bought Charlie. Comanche was amazing for my confidence as a rider. Before I moved onto another horse, I was galloping him through trails with nothing but a halter and lead rope. After my mother had a bad fall, Comanche ended up being a confidence builder for her too.
So… Before you begin considering a new horse ask yourself the following:

  • Do you the money not just for the purchase price but the upkeep?
  • Do you have the time for a new horse?
  • Do you have the space for a new horse?

If you answer yes to these questions, as yourself what you plan to do with your new horse. If you plan to ride hunters, you’ll want to look for a hunter type horse, like a Thoroughbred or Appendix. If you plan to do barrel racing, trail, or any other western type competitions, you’ll want something stockier like a Quarter Horse, Paint, or Appaloosa. If you just want to hit the trails anything that is quiet, not spooky, and comfortable to ride will do.

Now ask yourself, what size horse do you need? With this question you will want to refer to your answer for the previous question. In any English discipline, your size will determine what size horse you’ll be expected to ride. In most western disciplines, the discipline will determine what size you want. With trail riding, this question really doesn’t matter too much; size is mostly a preference.
What is your experience level? If you’ve ridden all your life, ride six or seven days a week, and have ridden just about every kind of horse there is, then maybe you want a project horse or something that’s green broke. If your still fairly new to riding or you don’t ride very often, you might want to go with an older horse that’s been there and done that, something that is going to be fairly well behaved.
How is your confidence? Maybe you’ve been riding most of your life and you’ve been there and done that on horseback, but you’ve had a really bad fall recently or a few bad falls. You’re not going to want to get a green broke anything. You’re going need something quiet. Maybe an older horse that’s been there and done that. You need a horse that’s going to build your confidence back up and build up your strength again.
What is your budget? If you only have a few hundred dollars, you’ll be ok if you’re looking for a project horse. If you’re looking for something kid broke, you might want to save some more money. Broke horses just aren’t that cheap.
Remember… Buying a horse is a big decision. Know what you want before you start looking, and take your time!

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