Things to Remember When Buying A Horse

I have seen a lot of people make horse buying mistakes – even individuals who have been in the horse business for years! There is a right way to go about buying a horse, and everyone should do their research to make sure they are asking the right questions before they sign that contract or write out that check.

    1. Always go look at the horse you’re thinking of buying. The internet has become a huge marketing tool nowadays. There are more horse buying and selling websites than I can name, and Facebook even has its own groups for buying and selling horses. While sellers can post videos and photos of the horse they are advertising, these are not always accurate. Nothing beats getting your own first hand look at the horse you are thinking of buying. Seeing the horse in person will allow you to identify any flaws the horse may have that were not identified in the sales ad. You also will be able to see how the horse behaves the entire time it is being ridden. Let’s face it: It’s extremely easy for someone to take an hour’s worth of riding footage and cut it down into a 10-minute video, but the catch is that you will never know what happened in the other 50 minutes of riding. Was the horse well-behaved? Or did the rider have to take half an hour to make sure the horse got all of its yahoos out before a suitable video could be shot. There is also no way of knowing when a photo or video was taken. The footage you have could be years old, and the horse could have changed significantly by now.
    2. Bring someone experienced and trustworthy with you. If you do not have a lot of horse experience, then bringing your trainer or a knowledgeable friend with you is an absolute must. If you do have experience, it is still good to bring someone else with you when you go look at and ride the horse. Having a second opinion is always valuable, and two heads are better than one. Your buying companion may think of questions that you may not have and vice versa. For those of you who are not as horse savvy, bringing your trainer or barn manager with you can keep you from making a big mistake when committing to buying a horse. Many times the seller will allow the trainer and the purchaser to ride the horse. Your trainer can let you know if they feel the horse you are thinking of buying is the right horse for you.
    3. Get a vet check. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes a first-time horse buyer can make. If there is one thing you are going to do, you must get a vet check. It doesn’t matter if the horse is $1,000 or $50,000. A cheap horse is not always an inexpensive one. Ever heard that saying “never look a gift horse in the mouth”? If possible, use a veterinarian that you know and are comfortable with. Try not to use the veterinarian that has routinely cared for the horse you are buying. You want an unbiased opinion that will tip you off to any potential problems, not one that minimizes or downplays any issue the horse may have or has had. Although it will be expensive, obtaining a vet check will be invaluable for the future, especially if the horse has a health issue that would not be detected without a professional. Make sure you get x-rays and have the horse’s blood drawn. Lab work will show whether the horse has been treated with any medications. Imagine riding a dead quiet horse at the pre-purchase visit, buying the horse, and having it turn into a monster a month later. Drawing blood can prevent all of these potential problems.
    4. Get everything in writing. Aside from getting a vet check, this is another huge mistake that buyers and sellers make. It is very important that a written agreement is involved, whether the purchase is subject to a vet check, a trial period, or an installment sale. A bill of sale should describe the terms of the sale, as well as information specific to your situation. If you are taking the horse on trial, the agreement should state under what circumstances you can return the horse. If the purchase is pending a successful vet exam, the agreement should set out what circumstances would warrant a return of the horse. Having everything in writing is very important, and there are so many things to keep in mind, for both buyers and sellers, that a whole separate post can be dedicated to a bill of sale. Just remember to be as specific as possible to protect both yourself and the person you are dealing with.

One other tip for buyers is to ask the horse’s owner to authorize the release of the horse’s medical records to you. That way, you can check for yourself whether what the seller is saying about the horse’s history is true. Is the horse truly sound? Does the horse truly have no history of colic? If the seller is reluctant to release this information to you, it could be a red flag.

One thought on “Things to Remember When Buying A Horse

  1. Pingback: Bill of Sale: What to Include and What to Look Out For | the legal equestrian

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