Buying a horse is now easier than ever. Online, you can even buy a horse from another country while sitting in your living room.
But the new equine marketplace also comes with some pitfalls. Scams are rampant online. For first-time horse buyers, it’s especially easy to part with your money and take home a horse you aren’t prepared for.
In all industries, online shopping fraud grew by 30% in 2017. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated. Purchases with large price tags, like horses, are tempting targets for fraud.
Whether you’ve been around horses your whole life or you’re just starting to ride, you need to be careful when you buy a horse. Read on to learn how to buy a horse without making any of the most common mistakes.
1. Buying Your First Horse on a Whim
If you know anyone who buys horses, consult with them first. You can even bring them with you to auctions or have them sit when while you speak to sellers.
If you’re buying your first horse, consider the decision thoroughly. You may like the idea of owning a horse, but that doesn’t mean your idea will be the same as the reality. Keep in mind that the average horse, depending on breed, size, and other factors, can live for 25 to 35 years.
2. Choosing a Horse Based on Appearance
Professional riders don’t just buy horses because they like the way they look. Naturally, you want to fall in love with your new horse. But appearance alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
Other factors you should consider are size, age, pedigree, health, experience, and personality.
3. Settling for an Untrained Horse
If you’re a new rider, you may think it makes sense to buy an untrained horse. You’ll both learn together, right?
Unfortunately, buying an untrained horse may be the worst thing you can do as a new rider. Not only must you learn how to ride the horse, but you must also learn how to train it.
Training a horse takes a set of skills. Most professional trainers have been around horses their entire lives or have taken courses to become certified.
4. Buying a Horse at Auction
Buying your horse at an auction may seem like a great way to save money, but auctions can be risky for first-time buyers. Horses may appear calm and trained while at auction. But they may not be when you take them home.
Furthermore, it takes a good eye to spot a horse worth buying in such a fast-paced environment.
5. Buying a Horse That Doesn’t Suit Your Riding Style
Most horses are adaptable. But different types of horses are still suitable for different riding styles. Much of this is based on experience.
For example, if you want to go on horseback riding trips with your family, you may want to pick your horse wisely. Any horse can do trails, but a horse with trail experience will be easier to handle than a horse that’s spent their whole life in an urban environment.
6. Buying a Horse Solely for Breeding
Sometimes, people buy a horse because they think it will produce a foal they’ll love. Unless you are an experienced horse breeder, you should not buy a horse just to breed it.
Horses are bred deliberately to pass on good traits to their offspring. Professional breeders tend to focus on specific breeds. They’re experienced in horse care and understand horse reproduction.
Many horse breeders have a degree in Animal Science, Equine Science, or Equine Reproduction.
7. Closing a Deal Too Quickly
If someone is trying to sell you a horse as quickly as possible, they may be trying to scam you. Buying a horse is a big investment. It should be treated as such by all parties involved in the sale.
There should be a period of communication before any funds change hands. Even if you’re shopping online, never buy before seeing the horse. Do your homework by checking the horse’s history before committing.
8. Ignoring the Time and Expenses It Will Take to Care for the Horse
Owning a horse isn’t like owning a dog or a cat. It’s an enormous responsibility, and it can get expensive if you don’t budget accordingly.
Consider the following costs before buying:
- Riding lessons
- Horse ferrying
- Veterinarian care
- Tack and gear
- Grooming supplies
- Feed, supplements, and medication
- Unexpected costs
Together, these costs can add up to thousands of dollars. If you can’t afford your horse, you’ll have to sell or relinquish them. According to a study performed by researchers at the University of California-Davis, 52.4% of unwanted horses are relinquished because of their owner’s financial hardship.
9. Buying Without a Vet Check
If you buy a horse without giving it an evaluation from a trustworthy vet, you won’t know if your horse is sick, lame, or deteriorating. If the seller recommends a vet, make sure they don’t have a conflict of interest. Hold on to your records for future reference.
10. Buying a Horse Without Getting it in Writing
When you buy a horse, you should get the sale in writing. A horse bill of sale is a legal form that documents the sale and transfers from the seller to you. It shows that you have ownership of the horse and enables you to find the seller if anything is amiss after your purchase.
Stay Smart When You Buy a Horse
You may be excited about buying a horse. But going slow and being deliberate about your purchase will help you avoid costly mistakes.
Overall, you should consider what’s best for the animal. When horses are unwanted and can’t be sold, they can end up being slaughtered.
If you’re unable to own and care for a horse, consider owning a horse in a partnership, leasing a horse, or simply renting a horse by the hour.
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