The old adage of "you get what you pay for" doesn't always ring true in the horse world. It would be great if it did, however, you have to take into account the seller in this regard. Sellers are not always honest people. I mean, it's not quite the same as when you go to a store and shell out $1,000 for a new washing machine. People give reviews and people read reviews and quite a few people make their choice based on those reviews.
You can't exactly do that in the horse world. Though, word of mouth in some areas can make you or break you if you're a seller and a dishonest one at that.
I've been combing the horse sale sites for a few weeks now. I like to keep updated of the horse market throughout the seasonal changes. I read through a lot of ads and see a lot of pictures. If you allow yourself to only be observant, you can tell the real reason for the sale. Pictures don't always say a thousand words, however, they do paint a good one on how that horse has been cared for or the lack thereof.
If you've been around the horse world a while, you learn that what you see, isn't always what you get. Pictures and even videos don't tell the whole story. It's always a buyer beware when you set out to find that perfect horse.
Now, I'm not here to pick on the bad sellers. I am attempting to lend an insight to those who might be buying a horse for the first time. Always take a trained professional with you when you go look at a horse. New horse owners' eyes tend to glaze over when they see how beautiful the horse is and completely ignore the fact that it's 3 legged lame, has some kind of disease or because it wasn't trained properly it has an attitude towards humans.
There's no sure-fire way for any seller to promise you the horse you see them ride, will be the horse you'll ride when you get it home. That's not knocking anyone, that is a fact. The seller can only tell you how that horse is with them. How it acts, eats, behaves on a regular basis or even in stressful situations.
It has always been my advice to new horse owners to find a trusted person to give them solid lessons on riding, basic horsemanship, AND training. If you can't nip the little behaviors in the bud, they become BIG issues later on and the new horse owner is at their wits ends because they don't know how the horse went from dog gentle to an explosive aggressive horse.
All of the lessons with horses take time and observation. You want the person teaching you how to balance, to also show you when a horse is testing you to see how much it can get away with. I've always said, (and many disagree with my point of view) a horse is an opportunist. It will take the opportunity to see if you're going to be consistent and correct it right away, or if you're going to allow the horse to slowly but surely get in your space and crowd you by the short, tiny steps it's taking towards you.
Not all horses test their humans. Some horses, when they learn to respect the human, they do. As long as the human respects them in return. It's give and take. Having said that, humans can un-train their horse at any given time IF they don't keep up their consistent end of the bargain and pay attention to what they are doing.
When you've dropped $5K on your new steed and bring it home, do yourself and the horse a favor by starting out as if the horse doesn't know anything and you're learning what it does and doesn't know. The horse is going to have a heightened sense of awareness due to the ride, the new surroundings, and other animals you have there. Quarantining for 30 days in an area where they can see the other animals but not have direct contact can be beneficial in establishing you as the Alpha to this new horse. You have to prove yourself worthy of this position, otherwise, all of that training won't mean anything to him in the new dynamic. You might be able to step up on him and ride out on him and things will be all right for a while. At some point, that horse will test you to see if you're still worthy of top dog position to him.
It's every bit the owner's responsibility to up their training as it is for them to know what they're getting into with a new horse. The horse is just that, a horse. They only know what a horse does, until a human teaches them something else. While they may have emotions and feelings, they are not motivated by those. They are motivated by fight or flight. That is their nature and no amount of training will change that when it comes to a new person in their herd. Humans put emotional responses to horses that just don't belong.
It's exciting to get a new horse and the dreams of riding it all over the country are very appealing. As a precaution, take someone with you that will not have an emotional attachment to this horse to be sure it is a good fit for you to start out with. That way, you won't be buying a lemon for $5K and crying because the horse came at you with its teeth bared or it's so lame it can only be a pasture ornament with astronomical Vet bills.
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