Buying a horse

Buying a new horse can be an exciting time, as it should be! This is not something most people do more than once or twice in their time owning horses. This adventure should be well thought out so there are no regrets shortly after.

Organization before the shopping begins.

As a buyer, there are several things that you must take care of before you start inquiring about horses.

  • Make your partner, family, and friends aware of your plans so that you have support.
  • Have your money in the proper place so you can promptly exchange money when the time comes.
  • If you will be boarding your horse, be sure to select a facility and pay the deposit so that space is available for your new horse.
  • Be sure to make arrangements with your trainer to help you.
  • Know what type of horse you want and what amount of training you want them to have.
  • Know what your budget is. Do not forget about Pre Purchase Exams, Horse Transport, Trainers’ Percentage, and Travel Expenses.

It is crucial to have all of these things organized so that you can be respectful of the seller’s time. You do not want to waste anyone’s time by not being organized.

Have Professional Help

Having a knowledgeable and trustworthy trainer help you is well worth the fee. They will keep you safe and ensure you and your prospective horse are a good fit. Most trainers charge between 10-12% of the final sale price of the horse plus travel expenses, if there are any.

Some buyers do not understand why paying the trainer’s percentage is worth it. Let me explain how things work when I help a client find a new mount. It should be similar to any other trainer who is doing their job well. I start with phone calls to people I know and have dealt with before whom I already trust and have a professional relationship with. I run ads online for In Search Of (ISO). I often filter through 20+ horses before sending a prospective horse to a client to review so I do not waste their time with horses I know will not work for them. I will talk to multiple sellers and get additional videos and information about the horse. This saves you many HOURS so that you can continue with your daily life.

A trainer is able to leave out the emotions a buyer may go through. It is vital to have an outside person see things as they really are while you “ooh” and “awe” over a horse that you think is your unicorn. In your heightened emotional state, you may not see the horse’s shortcomings or play them off as not being as bad as they are because he is so pretty, and it will be worth putting up with or dealing with. Remember, unicorns have four straight legs and good feet and do not weave like a junky on withdrawals.

Finding “The One”

It is of utmost importance that you and the person helping you are both on the same page and truly understand what you need. Be honest with what your level is, how much time you have, and what time and money you have for the continued training you want or will need with your new horse.

Once you and your trainer have found a horse that seems suitable for you, you have two options.

  • Go test-ride the horse.
  • Get more videos and buy sight unseen.

I always recommend going to ride the horse if time and money allow. This is the best way to see how safe you feel, how comfortable the horse is to ride, see how your personalities match, and you can make sure nothing is hidden from you.

I have successfully bought many horses sight unseen through videos with success. If you have the right professional helping you, they can see a lot in the videos that the amateur eye may miss, and they know what additional videos and pictures to ask for.

Pre Purchase Exams (PPE)

Protect your investment. Do NOT skip a PPE! A PPE is what helps you make sure your horse will last the time you need. A PPE can tell the hidden past of a horse, and if something is found, it can be used to negotiate the price of the horse down.

There are different levels of PPE’s. Depending on your budget, you can start with a general health exam where the vet will look at the horse’s overall health. They evaluate eyes, lungs, heart, coat, look for abnormalities on the body, and soundness issues. Depending on this evaluation, you may decide what you want to look into further. Perhaps, only doing a few X-rays on a joint that the vet felt some fluid in or the horse appeared to be sore on.

If you are buying a more expensive horse that has a bright future or has already had an extensive career, X-ray everything; legs, neck, and back!

It is also a good idea if your vet is not the vet doing the PPE, to have the PPE results sent to your personal vet to go over to get a second option that you know you can trust. Let your vet go over the X-rays and read the report.

Price Negotiation

Be Polite!

Remember that you are attached to a profession in this process, and you need to conduct yourself as one as well. Even if an agreement cannot be met, you can still be cordial about it.

By the time you get to this point in the process, you might already have a feel for the seller if they are going to be negotiable or not.

There can be some price negotiation before the PPE is done if needed, but final negotiations are always done after the PPE has been completed. I always tell my clients that if they are not willing to pay what the seller is asking, then we do not even bother moving forward. Some sellers are not willing to negotiate on price, and that is their choice. A buyer has to be ok with that if they really like the horse. Do not look at horses outside of your price range in hopes that they will negotiate down.

It is important to know where the market is so that you and your trainer can evaluate a fair price for the horse so that you do not get taken advantage of. There need to be some legitimate reasons for you to request a reduced price for the horse.

Closing Remarks

Have everything in place before starting your search.

Take your time but do not waste the time of others. Some people are lucky enough to have the first horse they look at be the one. Others may have to search for six months. In the long run, over the next 15-20+ years with that horse, it is not that long to wait for the right horse.

Be honest with yourself and the people you are dealing with.

Be prepared for your new horse to have an adjustment period when he arrives at his new home. Some horses settle quicker than others but do not be worried if it takes up to a month. Consistency is a big help in settling a new horse.

Questions? Reach out to Cody Harrison at [email protected]