Buying a horse is actually the simple procedure of exchanging dollars and cents for an animal of your choice. But buying an animal suited to your abilities is a difficult task. Before looking for a horse decide what use and purpose the horse will serve, for pleasure, for breeding, or for showing. Each of these is in a different category and requires a different kind of animal. However, you may be fortunate enough to find a combination of all three attributes.
Consider these tests before you buy a horse:
1. Look at him from a distance and examine his build as a whole. This is called conformation, and each breed of horse has certain characteristics that identify him by form. The animal should carry his head well and be neatly put together.
2. Check for soundness. Run your hands up and down his legs. Look for an unexplained lump or sign of soreness.
3. Test his vision. A horse should blink when you wave your hand in back of his eye.
4. See whether or not he leads in or out of the stable easily.
5. Watch saddling and bridling. See if he is uneasy when cinched. Some horses are afraid of a girth, caused by too tight a cinch. Notice whether or not he is bridle shy, touchy about the ears; whether he opens his mouth to receive the bit.
6. Have the owner ride the animal so you can see how he handles. Watch whether he stops easily, reins well, backs, and has an easy gait. Have the owner work the horse to a gallop. Try to determine if he is speed crazy. The owner should guarantee the safety of the animal as to training. Also, note whether or not there is excessive breathing, noise with the breathing, and flanks that heave spasmodically.
7. Most important! Ride the horse yourself. Is he smooth in the walk, trot, and canter? Does he shy? Is he spooky? Can you start and stop him? Is he too spirited for you to handle? Does he switch his tail constantly? Can you ride him away from the stable? A tail-switcher means that the animal has been pushed too fast in training and indicates nervousness. Usually a horse that has been trained by a woman will not like a man rider, or will be uneasy with a man on his back. Sometimes this works in the reverse. Many times it is because of the handling of the reins. A man is normally heavier handed than a woman. However, this depends on the horse and the rider in the main, but it is something to consider in buying a horse that has been privately owned by one person for some time.
8. Don’t buy a stallion. He may look good in the movies but is not practicable in real life. He is likely to be unpredictable and should be managed only by an expert horseman. He belongs, mainly, on the breeding farm. You’ll find just as much spirit and animation in a good mare or gelding and far less trouble.
No horse is perfect, but whatever faults are present you must decide whether or not they may be eliminated with some training. Many times all a horse needs is work. Horses also respond to owners. They have their likes and dislikes. Personalities clash just as between people. Whole personalities have changed with ownership.
Be sure the animal is suited to your own capabilities. And, once again, don’t buy the first horse you see. Somewhere there is a horse suited to you. Two things are important: the age of the rider and of the horse, and the experience or lack of it in both rider and animal.
One must equal the other, rider and animal, because no matter how well trained the horse, if the rider does not understand this training, then the horse will not work well. And a good horse can soon be ruined by a poor rider.
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