Buying a horse is a huge investment in both time and money, and there are some things you'll want to know before you start searching for horses for sale. Buying a horse can be compared to buying a used car.
Unscrupulous horse traders will alter the appearance or behavior of their horses for sale to fool you. Even among the honest horse traders, most wouldn't purposely mislead you, but they may not tell you the whole story about their horses for sale unless you ask. Ask the seller some questions that relate to what you are looking for in a horse. Some of the following questions may help you decide if the horse you're looking at is right for you.
Why are you selling this horse and how long have you personally owned this horse?
Does the horse have any medical problems? Has the horse ever been lame?
How are the horse's teeth? Have you ever had the horse's teeth floated?
Has the horse ever foundered?
What type of worming program are you using?
What type of riding do you do? (Trail, English, Western, Three day Eventing, Barrel racing, etc.)
What do you feed the horse?
How is the horse kept? i.e. in a pasture, in a stall, in a small paddock, alone or with others.
Has the horse ever hurt anyone?
What type of training has the horse had? Does the horse have a trainer? Can I call the trainer?
How is the horse with the farrier? Can I contact the farrier?
How is the horse with the veterinarian? Can I contact the vet.?
Does the horse load into a trailer easily? How about unloading?
How is the horse with water? i.e. bathing, walking through it.
Ask the horse owner to show you what his horses for sale can do. Have the owner pick up the horse's feet. Watch to see if the owner can touch the horse anywhere on it's body, inside the ears, above the tail, on the flanks, legs, and belly. Watch the interaction between the horse and the owner to see how the horse behaves. Remember that if something bad is going to happen it's better to have it happen to the guy who's trying to sell you the animal!
Watch the horse move at liberty. Look for anything that is a sign that the horse may have medical problems, lameness, or a bad attitude. Watch the head when the horse walks, excessive bobbing of the head might signal a problem. Pinned ears or a swishing tail all of the time in horses for sale can indicate other issues.
As a rule, don't get on any horse first - have the owner ride the horse first. If the owner won't get on, there had better be a good reason. Ask the owner to bring the horse into a walk, trot, canter, change leads, etc so you can see all the paces. Watch for lameness, length of stride, range of motion, problems with the right and left lead, etc. If the horse doesn't look safe, don't ride him.
There are many other things to consider when buying a horse, such as whether you prefer a Mare or a Gelding (we never recommend buying a Stallion unless you plan on using him for breeding purposes, and have appropriate facilities to accommodate a potentially aggressive and dangerous horse).
You will also want to consider the ages, level of training, and constitutions of any horses for sale before making a purchase, and how these characteristics relate to your purpose for buying a horse in the first place. Be careful not to get carried away with a horse just because it's beautiful, and buy a horse that won't meet your needs. Remember, the most important thing is how a horse behaves and performs not how it looks in the barn.
Good luck as you search for horses for sale, if you find the right match, you will have made a very good investment to bring you satisfaction for many years.
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