Purchasing a horse is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. Consideration should be given to time available to commit to horse activities each week along with finances for boarding, farrier, veterinarian bills, proper feed and equipment, before ownership is contemplated. A horse should be selected with consideration given for the skill level of the rider. Will the horse be utilized for trail riding, horseshows, rodeos, english or western? Once a decision has been made to purchase a horse, proper protocol will assure the best value and continued relationship with the seller for future transactions.
- Locating the Proper Horse: Arrange financing before approaching an owner about purchasing a horse. Instructors/trainers and veterinarians are a great source for locating a healthy horse perfect for specific riding needs. An instructor/trainer may have knowledge of the temperament of a locally owned horse. A local veterinarian might direct you to an owner with healthy horses for sale. Horse shows, internet, newspaper classifieds and riding stables are all good sources for locating a horse for sale.
- Visit the Horse Many Times: Once a horse of interest is located, visit the horse on various occasions. The horse’s temperament should be consistent on each visit. On one of the visits take an instructor/trainer to help determine the temperament of the horse. A veterinarian should examine the horse before a purchase is made. Payment should be offered for the time of the instructor/trainer and veterinarian. The future rider should take the horse for a ride.
- On-line and Classified Ads: It may be impossible to visit every horse from an on-line or classified ad due to distance. Request a video of the horse with a rider, interacting with a farrier, being saddled, tied to a post and loading onto a trailer. Always return the video to the owner within a proper time allotment. After viewing the video and speaking to the owner, visit the horse of most interest and arrange for a veterinarian to check the horse.
- Confirmation/Honest Seller: Request information on availability of registration papers, medical history, competition results and security chips. Ask the owner if the horse bites, bucks, kicks or has other bad habits. Check with horse clubs to verify the owner’s claims of wins. The veterinarian can confirm the age, health, height and breed of the horse. An instructor/trainer may assess how well the horse will travel. Do not consider purchasing a horse if the owner will not allow a visit by a professional.
- Demonstrate Proof: Owners become attached to horses and are concerned for the horse’s future welfare. Take pictures of boarding facilities for the horse and offer for the owner to visit. The instructor/trainer may serve as a witness to the rider’s abilities. Bring proof of rider’s competition history.
- Negotiate Terms: Generally horse prices are lower in December, January and February. Request to keep the horse for a one to two week trial period. If the owner agrees, legal papers should be drawn up stating the terms of the trial period. Ask the owner if tack/equipment is included with the purchase. Consider asking the owner to transport the horse, if a trailer is not readily available. Once an agreement is reached on the price for the horse, it is typical to pay a deposit of 20% to secure the horse pending a good report from a reliable veterinarian. The terms of the agreement should be in writing. An escape clause should include refund of the deposit in full should the veterinarian discover a medical issue. Secure the proof of health documentation from the veterinarian, pay the owner in full and save the bill of sale.