8 Things You Should Do Before Buying Your First Horse

Buying a horse is a major decision – it requires a large budget, a lot of research and some inside experience. First-time horse buyers often make the wrong decisions and end up buying a horse that does not suit their needs or is not a great investment. 

At Streamz Global, we invent and manufacture our innovative equine product EQU StreamZ for horses, and as part of this, we are introduced to a wide variety of horse owners from people with decades of experience in caring for horses to someones very first horse. 

Before making a purchase, it is important to consider a number of factors.

To help you out, take a look at our list of 8 things we recommend you should do before you make that purchase. Use these tips to make the process run more smoothly. 

1. Take Regular Riding Lessons

Before you purchase a horse, try and lease one for at least six months and take regular riding lessons. This will allow you to see if you can handle the responsibility of having a horse and help you gain an insight into how often you will actually ride it. This will make you realise whether buying a horse is worth the investment. Purchasing a horse is a big decision and requires the same commitment as a child in many ways. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what you are letting yourself in for.

Riding lessons are an essential step in owning your first horse

2. Consider your Budget

If you are considering buying a horse for the first time, it is important to consider how much you can actually afford to spend on a horse. The answer is dependant on a number of different factors, including what you want the horse for. If you are looking for a horse to ride leisurely or compete at a low level, these animals are less expensive than horses required for high-level competition or intense riding. It is vital that you factor in other expenses that come with a horse when deciding on your budget. This is because the original purchase price does not include a number of different expenses that come with owning a horse.

Therefore, there should be some money left over after the purchase is complete. Let’s take a look at what else to consider: 

Board & Stabling

It is important to pre-organise somewhere for your horse to stay, assuming that you do not have your own private stables. Board can include full care, which is most expensive but includes feed and cleaning, half-board or self-care where you will be required to do the work yourself. The rates for boarding vary dramatically across the country, so it is essential that you investigate these in advance. Ideally, you want to keep your horse less than 30 minutes away from your home so that you can access it easily. 

Riding Lessons

Depending on your experience, you may need to factor in the costs of continued riding lessons to hone your skills further. 

Competition Fees

If you are looking to compete with your new horse, saving some money towards competition fees, transportation fees, and grooming and outfits for the horse are necessary. 

Farrier

Every six to eight weeks, your horse will need a visit from the farrier to ensure that they are healthy and not in any discomfort. Find out how much a local farrier in your area would charge for these services. Older horses may need more expensive and regular care. This is because often they have additional problems with their hooves that can impact their walking and ongoing wellbeing.

Having a good relationship with your farrier can be vital in detecting early health issues often associated with the hoof. The most common hoof problem which your farrier can support you with are abscesses, closely followed by cracks and splits. Farriers have an important role to play if your horse is diagnosed with issues such as navicular, ring bone, laminitis and arthritis. What is key, is finding a local farrier who you can trust.

Vet Fees

As with any animal that you own, it is important to budget vet fees or medical insurance for it. Horses will need worming every few months and need around two shots per year, all of which come at a cost. On top of this, there may be emergency care required or regular medication. It is recommended that you purchase horse medical insurance to cut these costs, but before purchasing a horse, it is important to research the rough price of this. Finally, your horse will need a dental check-up around once a year. 

Food and Supplements

Feeding your horse and giving them any supplements that they may need will also have a monthly cost attached to it. The older the horse, the more feed and supplements they may require. A vet will be able to advise on this for you. Some boarding facilities may include feed, but this is rare and usually still does come with an extra cost. 

Stable Bedding

It is important to cost bedding to provide for your horse to ensure that they are cared for and comfortable. Some boarding facilities include this as part of the package, meaning that you would not have to pay separately for bedding. The most common types of bedding used in horses stables are straw, chopped straw, wood shavings, wood pellets and in some cases hemp/flax or rubber matting. It is worth noting that horses do not require bedding to help them have a good nights sleep, the main purpose of equine bedding is to absorb urine and help keep their stall sanitary and safe.   

Tack & Equipment

Owning, caring and riding a horse requires a large volume of tack, equipment used on horses to allow us to ride and care for them properly. There are obvious pieces of equipment which every horse will require such as the saddle and the reins along with a plethora of other products such as advanced magnetic bands (used alongside the horses recovery) and horse rugs (used to keep them warm and toasty in the colder months). 

Emergency Fund

Although you now have all the bases covered, horses come with unexpected expenses that can arise with no notice. Therefore, having some extra money saved as an emergency fund is a benefit that you will be thankful for in a time of need. This could be to pay a medical insurance expert, or paying unexpected farrier costs. 

3. Visit the Horse Before Agreeing to Purchase

Under no circumstances should you be purchasing a horse without going to visit in person. If you are interested in the advert’s description, then arrange a meeting as soon as possible. Try not to rely on email to ask complex or lengthy questions, save this for the in-person meeting, where you are more likely to get a detailed answer. 

Remember that selling this horse contribute towards a person’s livelihood, so ensure that you are on time and polite during the appointment. If you are running late, call the seller to give them a heads up or to ask for directions if you are lost. Communication is key, and this will help build up a respectful relationship between the parties. 

When you arrive, take a look at your surroundings to gain an insight into how well the horse is being looked after. Is the location clean and tidy? Are there tubes of calming paste visible that can be red flags? Are the stables where the horse is kept in good condition? All these can give you insights into the wellbeing of the horse. 

4. Take Notes 

During your visit, it is important to take notes on the condition of the horse and any other details given by the seller. This is especially important if you are viewing more than one horse to avoid any confusion. Additionally, bring a camera to take both photos and videos of the animal to look back on before you make any decision.

5. Inspect the Horse

As well as simply viewing the horse or riding it, it is important to inspect the condition of the animal. Even though you may not be an expert, you can still get a general feel for the horse by using your instincts. 

Look at the way the horse is walking – this will allow you to get an idea of the horse’s behaviour. Is the horse walking calmly and patiently, or is it trying to go faster? Does it respond well to grooming or become restless during the process? Is the horse calm if an obstacle is put in the way, or does it easily startle? These are tell tale signs about the temperament of the animal.

Have a look at the horses foot (hoof area) and check that there is no signs of swelling/inflammation (often called Windgalls) above or below the fetlock joint. 

It is vital that you understand what the history of the animal is to avoid any unforeseen health conditions which may lie ahead. It is worth asking if they have they had any previous injuries, operations, treatments or conditions in the past which may be relevant moving forward? It is also advisable to ask if there are any known hereditary conditions?  

Understanding the 'health-history' of the horse is key. A sports horse or any horse who has led an active lifestyle can be prone to issues such as joint issues which could be early signs of equine arthritis and result in complications ahead.

It would be worth asking whether there is any history of commonly found conditions such as arthritis, laminitis, ring bone, sesamoid injuries, navicular and any other form of equine lameness. 

6. Negotiate the Price

It is important to negotiate the price when buying a horse so that you get a good deal. Many sellers will try and push the price up or persuade you to act quickly with the tale of another prospective seller who is interested. Whether you like the horse or not, do not discuss this in front of the seller, instead take some time to consider your options before presenting them with an offer. If, however, you are not interested, be sure to pass this message on to the owner so that you are not wasting their time. They will appreciate your direct communication.

Sellers are likely to negotiate slightly on the asking price of the horse. The price should be based on the condition of the horse and the market conditions. If there is a high demand for horses in the area, the price is likely to be higher. There is more room for negotiation if there is less demand, and the horse is likely to take longer to sell. The seller may also be more likely to budge on price if they think you will look after the horse well and give it a good home. 

When considering how much money to offer, ask your instructor and any other experts that you know for some guidance. If the price the seller is asking for seems fair, you may want to pay it. Otherwise, you may wish to offer a price slightly lower than the asking price. Bear in mind that this should not be insulting (do not go more than 20% under the asking price). The seller may reject this, in which case you can put forward a higher offer if it is still within your budget.

7. Complete a Vet Check

Once you have agreed on the price of a horse and are happy with the cost, it is important to arrange a health check so that you can ensure that the horse is in good condition. When selecting which vet to choose, do not go for one suggested by the seller, instead choose one who has not seen the horse before. You may already have a contact, or your riding instructor will be able to help with this. 

When completing the health check, a vet will look at the horse’s general levels of health. If they want to investigate anything further, they may ask for x-rays or tests to be completed. One good idea is to ask the vet to complete a blood test during the health check. This is because some sellers have been known to sedate horses or give them painkillers in order to hide health issues or make them perform better.

Generally, when vets perform a health check, they will not pass or fail the horse. They instead stick to medical facts, relaying their observations about their health, allowing you to make your own decision on whether to continue with the purchase. The cost of an average vet test is between £200 and £500; however, this is worth the money if it means that the horse you wish to buy is healthy. 

EQU Streamz image for blog. It is important to arrange a vet health check so that you  can ensure that the horse is in a healthy condition.

8. And Finally…Get the Offer in Writing

Once you and the seller have agreed on a purchase price, it is important to get this agreement onto paper in the form of a horse purchase contract. The contract should include all terms of the sale, including the cost and any warranties or representations that the seller has promised. If you are unsure of how to write this contract, there are many forms online that can be used as a starting point to get the ball rolling. 

To Summarise

Buying a horse is not a decision that should be taken likely. It involves a major cost and a huge commitment. But, the benefits of owning one are extremely rewarding. As long as you ensure the health and condition of the horse, you are off to a great start. Check that the price you are paying is fair, ask expert opinions and ensure your budget is large enough to take on such as responsibility. Most importantly, once you purchase the horse, enjoy every minute of them and love and care for them as if they were your own child.  (Oh, and don't forget that our EQU StreamZ bands are the best piece of tack you could ever wish for!) 

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