When someone tells me they got a good deal on a horse I want to be happy for them; but really I just cringe and hope the best for all parties involved.
I suppose the metaphor; “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies here. Even if you were given the horse for free; good deal or no good deal that horse is not free.
My mother always told me, ‘you get what you pay for.’ Yes there are always exceptions, but if you paid nothing most likely that is what you will end up with; or even worse countless veterinarian bills and training fees.
I am not talking about taking on a horse that needs rescued for whatever reason. In this case your eyes are open to what you may be getting in to.
I am talking about your kid has been begging and bugging you for a horse. Or you decide you are going to finally take the plunge for yourself. In doing a bit a research you are finding that the upfront costs for a trained horse and a sound horse can be like buying a good used car. Then a friend of a friend knows about a horse you can pick up for a song. The price may be reasonable but is it really the “type” of horse you want? Is it of an age that you will be able to enjoy actually riding for a number of years? Does it have a medical record that you will be willing to maintain? Does it have any bad habits or vices you can live with?
A veterinary pre-purchase exam is money well spent before you agree to add another mouth to feed in to your family. Things that should be looked for are signs of cribbing, weaving, laminitis, ulcers and arthritis. All of these are treatable but best to know before your heart is involved. A couple of other good suggestions is to ride the horse if possible on at least three different occasions before you make your decision. Another, is to compare this horse to one or two other horses you may be interested in purchasing.
My dad once told me “there not much worse than paying for a car you don’t want.” If you take on a horse that doesn't fit your level of ability and enthusiasm will you still be willing to pay the board bill, the farrier bill, the veterinarian fees? If not, remember, the horse isn't a car that can be parked and not checked on. The horse is still a living breathing animal that will need to be cared for until you can re-home it.
So how much is a horse really worth? It is worth whatever you are will to pay for it. If you find the horse you really want but can’t come up with the funds for the asking price. Now is the time to bring out the horse-trader in you. You might be surprised at what you get when you make an offer.
In a later blog I will discuss the costs of raising a foal compared to purchasing.