Selecting a horse can be very difficult. My first suggestion is to decide what you want to use your horse for. If you want a horse to just ride on trail rides, you may not want to go out and buy a horse that has only ran barrels its entire life. Likewise if you want to buy a barrel horse you probably don’t want to buy a horse with no get up and go. You need to match you horse with your needs and ability. There are thousands of horses on the market, just be patient and do some looking around.
There are many places to look for a horse to buy. The Internet offers numerous websites dedicated to selling horses. Craigslist has horses for sale. Bulletin boards at local tack stores often have horses for sale posted on them. And of coarse you can always go to horse auctions my only warning here is that some sellers may dope up the horse before the sell or might not give you the full story on the horse. No matter where you shop for your horse you need to try it out and make sure it can do what it is suppose to do. If the seller says that the horse is a fantastic trail horse, he shouldn’t mind if you take the horse for a nice ride through the pasture. If they say that the horse is a finished barrel horse, you should be able to run the horse through a barrel pattern.
If you are a first time horse owner, I recommend that you take an experienced horse person with you to try out the horse. I’ve been with several friends to try out horses. Typically within five minutes of riding I can tell if it will fit that friends riding level and can give them my opinion on whether or not to buy the horse.
What gender of horse should you get? I typically buy geldings. They are more even tempered than a mare or stud. Unless you plan on breeding, don’t get a stud. I have had great mares, but I have also had mares that horsed (that time of the month) so badly that you couldn’t stand to be around them, and they would kick at any horse that went near them.
I’ve had friends just starting out ask me whether or not it matters if the horse they are buying is registered. My question to them is “what do you intend to do with your horse?” Honestly I’ve had great horses that were not registered and bad horses that where. If you plan on showing your horse in breed shows or plan on breeding your horse, then yes it should be papered. However, if you find a great horse that fits your needs that isn’t registered don’t rule it out. After all you ride the horse not the papers.
Breed of horse is something to consider when purchasing a horse. This is mostly a personal preference. All breeds have their pluses and minuses. I don’t really want to go very deep into the subject of breed here for fear that I’ll anger someone. Personally I prefer quarter horses because they best fit my personality, but there are many breeds out there to choose from so do some research and find one that you like.
Pictured is a gelding I recently purchased, Louie. He is a grade (not registered) quarter horse. He is a two year old that has been started. I bought him because in the sale ring he remained very calm, he licked a lot (means he’s thinking), and he is going to end up being a nice sized horse (not too big, not too small). Oh yeah, and the price was right. I actually had someone offer me $100 more for him after the sale.
The horse market is pretty weak right now, and I’ve seen yearling foals sell for $15. I’ve also seen people that don’t know anything about horses buy those $15 foals and not know what to do with them. Then end up spending more in getting the horse trained than what it would have cost them to buy a broke horse to start with. I’ll say it again Shop around.
One last thing to do when buying a horse ask the seller what type of bit they were using so that you can use a similar bit with the horse. And what cues they used to make their horse do different maneuvers. Some people train their horses differently than others, and sometimes just placing your legs or hands a little differently makes a huge difference.