When purchasing your first horse, it’s important to consider a few things. You need to decide what you want to do with a horse. Do you want to enter it into horse shows or races, or do you just want to be able to go riding occasionally? Determine your level of riding experience before purchasing a horse. If you don’t already have a safe place to stable your horse, you will have to build an area. Figure out who will be feeding and caring for the horse, as there is no reason to purchase one that will be neglected and live an unhappy life. After establishing a basis for why you want to own a horse, follow this quick guide below on how to buy your first horse.

Where to Buy

There are three options to choose from when purchasing a new horse. Breeders are an advantageous option because they usually have an assortment of horses available that are different ages, skill levels, and dispositions. With a breeder, you’ll be able to make an in-depth evaluation of a horse. You can see other horses that have been bred by the owner, look at the environment the horses have been raised in, and be able to discuss pedigrees with the breeder. You can also purchase a horse directly through an owner, which will give you a history of the horse and information on training techniques. Many owners allow you try out a horse before you buy. Lastly, you can purchase a horse through horse sales. Equine sales are located all over the country and allow you to look at a variety of horses. There are several different kinds of equine sales you will encounter. Production sales feature horses produced by breeders, whereas a consignment sale allows owners to consign their horses to be sold. Racing sales feature horses specific bred for racing.

Behavioral Traits

You should first look at the horse’s stall for any signs of behavioral problems. Indicators include cracked walls, chewing, bars with scraped paint, and diarrhea. Next, examine the horse’s outdoor living space. If the horse is isolated from the others, there is usually a reason. Check for signs of chewed or pushed fences. Consider the horse’s general appearance and whether or not he is relaxed. A horse should be alert and responsive, and not easily agitated by movement or sound. Horses shouldn’t appear tense, or kick and bite. Observe how the horse reacts under the saddle. Head tossing is a sure sign of mouth problems or resistance. Look for a steady rhythm and be sure the horse takes the right lead in both directions. Spend 10 minutes cantering or roping, and then examine the horse’s breathing pattern, which should be relaxed.

Veterinary Opinion

Enlist the professional help and opinion of a certified veterinarian when choosing a horse. A seemingly healthy horse can fail a heart rate test from the beginning due to a heart murmur. If you want something a little more advanced than a general checkup, a veterinarian can perform a comprehensive exam that performs x-rays on all of the bones and joints in the legs. A general examination should include evaluations of the eyes and head, back and neck, nose, legs, mouth and teeth, ankles and hooves, ears, heat and lungs, and more. Whether you’re going to be showing your horse or using it for trail rides on the weekends, it’s always a good idea to get a professional opinion from a veterinarian with equine experience.