Monday, 30 March 2015

Top Tips - are you thinking of buying a horse?

Owning your own horse can be a real pleasure.  I have been lucky enough to have my own for many years now.  However, they take a lot of time and a lot of money....

 .....but, in my opinion they are worth it!

If you have been taking riding lessons for some time then you may think the next step is your own horse.  However, riding school horses and ponies are very different to other horses and once you take them out of the riding school they can change too!  

Before you think about buying your own horse you really need to be safe and balanced at all paces, although, jumping is not necessary (unless you will want to do lots).  You also should be used to hacking out as this will give you experience of riding in new surroundings and tackling unusual sights eg: lawnmowers, plastic bags etc.  You will also need to know about horse care and management ... even if you will have your horse at full livery this is important for you to understand your horse and his needs! 

Other things to think about:

  • Have you got the time … unless you will keep the horse on full livery, you will need to visit once or twice a day depending if the horse is stabled or grass kept.  This is EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Can you fit this around work/school and other commitments? 
  • What will happen when you go on holiday? 
  • Who will look after the horse if you are ill or injured? 
  • What will happen if you lose your job? 
  • Where will you keep it? 
  • If at home you will need considerably more knowledge than if you will be keeping your  pony/horse at livery. 
  • If at livery you will need to do some research to find a suitable place with space before you buy! 
  • Will you be keeping your new addition at grass or will you be able to stable them if the weather demands it?  This may be winter from the cold or summer from the heat and flies.  This will influence the type of horse as some are not suited to living out all winter! 
  • Do you want a horse that jumps, does dressage, gymkhana games or to hack out? 
  • How will you keep it fit if you want to compete, they will need exercising at least 5 times a week to maintain adequate fitness. This is often difficult with the dark nights in winter.

 You will need to be able to .....
  • Catch, lead and tie up
  • Groom and pick out feet
  • Tack up and un-tack and clean tack
  • Put on and take off a rug
  • Muck out
  • Make feeds, fill haynets
  • etc ....

 You will need to know about …..
  • Feeding; types and amounts
  • Worm counts and worming
  •  Vaccinations eg: Tetanus & Influenza, Strangles etc.  Some are mandatory for competitions, riding club and other events.
  • Shoeing and trimming
  •  Basic equine first aid
  • Signs of a healthy horse and signs of an unhealthy horse so that you can decide if you should call the vet
  • Grassland care; poisonous plants, paddock maintenance
  • etc ....

You will need to find (in your area):
  • Farrier
  • Vet
  •  Horse Dentist

Costs will include:
  • Farrier (every 6 weeks usually) approx. £70 a time for shoeing.
  • Worm counts (every 3 months) with targeted worming approx. 4 times a year.  At least £60 a year.
  • Hay £5 – £7 a bale – approx. 2/3 a week when in stable for the night, depending on type and size of horse/pony.
  • Straw £3.50/Shavings £7/Other bedding £8  -  probably a bale a week when stabled.
  •  Food (likely in winter) – depending on what type you choose and the type and size of horse/pony this can cost between £30 and £40 a month.
  • Vaccinations once a year, with the vet visit to you this can cost around £80.
  • Any additional, unexpected vet visits!

You will need:
  • Headcollar and lead rope
  • Grooming kit
  • Mucking out kit
  • Saddle & bridle (if not included in sale)
  • Numnahs/saddle cloths
  • Rugs
  • Haynets
  • Food bowls
  • Water buckets
  • Feed bins
  • Equine first aid kit
  • This is not an exhaustive list

Also, when working out what type of horse you’d like to buy, ask yourself:
  • Be realistic about your skill level.  If this is your first horse then buying a young horse (under 8yrs), a warmblood or a thoroughbred would be inappropriate.  Buy something appropriate to your current skill, if you can't cope with your new horse you will lose confidence and may give up ... you want something to build your confidence, skill and enjoyment!
  • What are you hoping to do with your horse?
  •  Is the horse likely to be ridden by other members of your family? Think, it’s got to be suitable.
  • Do you have the time, patience and skill to bring on an inexperienced horse?
  • Is it important you see regular improvements in you and your horse? If so, make sure you look for a horse with potential to improve.
  • Are you looking for a horse that knows the ropes? If so, make sure the horses you’re looking at viewing are a little bit older and have the relevant experience.
  • Do you want to compete and if so, right away? Choose your horse accordingly.
  • What are the deal breakers for you? These could be anything from price or build, to age; write a list of things you aren’t willing to budge on – and stick to them!
  • What are you willing to compromise on? Again, write a list and don’t be tempted to add things on.
Examples of things to think about for your list:
Good to catch, box, shoe, clip, no vices, good in traffic, hack out alone, live alone, quiet to jump, hunts, good first pony, good second pony etc… etc.

This is again not an exhaustive list, you may think of more.  Beware it is things not listed in advertisements that you need to be careful of. 

Be careful, if you have not bought a horse or pony before take a more knowledgeable person with you.  Ensure that the seller rides the horse before you get on so that you can see how it behaves and be sure that you feel confident and safe enough to get on! 

Try to see the horse tacked up, groomed and in as many different situations as possible to see how it behaves. It is always a good idea to go away after your first try and then organise a further try if you are still keen.  Also ride it out on a hack to see how it behaves on the road and in traffic.

It really is essential to have the horse/pony vetted as this will help reduce the possibility of buying a horse with soundness problems.  Some vets will also ride the horse and this will give you another opinion.  The vet will not tell you whether or not to buy, they will give you a report and you will need to make a decision based on this and what you hope to do with the horse.  A knowledgeable person will again be able to help you with this.

Did you see last weeks video 'My Spring Favourites'
Horse Life and Love.  Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

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Until next time!

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