Trying a Horse

Trying a Horse


Among the many rules of buying a horse, there is one very important one: Never buy a horse before you have
ridden it! If you do, you could be making the biggest mistake of your life. Horses can be different under
saddle and on foot. You need a horse that is good with both. Read up on this page about trying a horse.

Talk to the Vendor:
Now that you have made an appointment to see the horse you are interested in, make a few plans. You will need
to bring your riding kit with you, as well as an expert (a former riding instructor or coach will do). Once
your plans are in place, head right over there and talk to the horse’s vendor.
When you speak to the horse’s vendor, tell him/her exactly what you want to use the horse for and ask very
specific questions like: Is the horse good to trailer? Does it have any health problems? Is it fine around
traffic? Does it buck, rear, kick or bite? Has it ever gone to shows? Once done, you can move onto the next
part of trying a horse.

Handle the Horse:
With the vendor’s permission, put a halter and lead rein on the horse and lead it around the yard at both a walk
and trot. Your expert you brought with you can watch the horse’s gaits while you do so. After this, stop the
horse and take a look at his conformation with your expert. See my Horse Conformation
page to see what a horse should look like.
Then, if the vendor permits, give the horse a light grooming. Make sure you handle the horse’s hooves and brush
underneath its girth area. This is very important when trying a horse because these are two places on the horse’s
body that they are very sensitive to touch. If you are grooming the horse in its box, take a look around the
stall. Crib bites on the door and kick marks on the wall are both signs of a horse with behavioral problems.

Look at the Horse’s Things:
If you have permission, go through the horse’s tack. Note what bit, bridle, numnah or saddle cloth, blanket,
saddle, etc, are being used. It would be best if you stuck to the same tack that the horse is used to. So vendors
even sell the horse along with its tack.
Also look at what feed the horse is eating. It would not be good to suddenly change its diet. Different breeds of
horses tend to need different things. If you owned a Shetland Pony who you fed pony nuts, you could not buy a
Thoroughbred stallion and expect him to live on the same feed as the Shetland.

Tack Up the Horse:
If the vendor is okay with it, tack up the horse you are looking at. The horse should be easy to tack up: Willing
to open its mouth for the bit, not blowing up his stomach when you tighten its girth, etc.

Ride the Horse:
Now comes the interesting bit of trying a horse – riding it! Of course, you can’t just hop onto the horse and ride
off into the sunset. First, let the vendor of the horse take it through its paces while you and your expert watch. Then,
after the vendor has ridden, let your expert have a go. After listening to their advice, have a go at riding the horse
After you have mounted up, make sure you pay close attention to how the horse feels beneath you. This is very important
when trying a horse. Does the horse feel too wide or too narrow? Does it feel too bunched up or too relaxed? Is there
enough play in the horse’s reins? Does the horse pull too much or too little? All these questions are important.
Put the horse through its paces. After warming up with twenty minutes of walking and trotting (make sure you use both
leads when trotting!), have a little canter. Then, if you’re feeling confident, take the horse over a few jumps or do
some novice Dressage moves. Also, if you are planning on riding near traffic, take the horse for a short ride along the
road to see how it is around cars.

Other Important Things:
It can be pretty hard to get the feel of a horse in only a few hours. If the vendor permits, you can take the horse home
or to the stables you are planning on stabling it at for a week or so. This will help you get a better feel for the horse
and aid you in deciding whether you want it. Just note that if you do take the horse on trial, the vendor must give you
written permission to do so. Also, you will have to pay for the horse’s feed, vet bills and everything else while you
have it. And, if the horse gets injured or neglected, you will be held responsible.
You may also want to get a warrant from the vendor for the horse if you decide to buy it. Basically, a warrant is a statement
made buy the vendor of the horse. The warrant states that the horse is sound and that it now belongs to you. If the vendor
refuses to give you a warrant, you have right to be suspicious of the horse’s soundness.
The final thing you might want to do is insure your horse, especially if it is an expensive one. Horses are known to get into
all sots of trouble without any human help at all, and often injure themselves, sometimes fatally. Insuring your horse is a
good idea, because, if your horse dies in an accident, you will have some money to replace it when you feel ready.

To see more pages to do with buying horses, click on these links: Buying a Horse,
You and Your Horse
and Where to Buy a Horse

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