Horse Shopping? Better Ask Some Questions


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Fact Sheet to guide the prospective horse owner through the process of effectively selecting and purchasing a fitting horse. Complement to slide set by the same title.

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  • Frequently people’s horse goals may be rather divergent; i.e., they may want a LOT from their horse. Quote from Joe Lovelace, auctioneer, “ . . . Ride, drive, and do it all.” Is it realistic that a single horse will be able to “do it all?” Not always.
  • What is supply of horses that you want? How strong is demand for horses that you want? Where are the horses located that interest you? How does the location of the horses that interest you affect the TRUE COST of acquiring that horse? If the horse is located a long distance away, MUST include shipping, hauling, etc. in your budget.
  • Local vs. state-wide vs. nation-wide vs. international purchases. MANY considerations for each!! Example: if your budget is $2000, don’t expect to be able to import a horse.
  • Where it’s possible to properly assess. How it’s possible to purchase (local vs. distance shipping). Where you can consider, from a budgetary standpoint. Gives a “starting point” and sets parameters.
  • These questions must be asked BEFORE you determine how much you’ll spend on training or lessons. These are fundamental questions to ask prior to the search. Remember: if you purchase a youngster, you’ll need to invest $ (either in the form of your time or a professional trainer) to get the horse to where they can work for you.
  • Know when to push the horse, know when to back off. Too much “push” to get horse working just as bad as too little. Facing off horses on jumps, e.g., or overworking horses. (Knowledge: tell story about overworking pony at full speed in heat of day during summer, then just “putting her away”_ Knowledge: recognize normal vs. abnormal, how to handle situations (tell story of horse eating a whole bale of hay and owner forbidding it to drink water)
  • Some events do not allow stallions (kid-oriented, especially). Facilities for stallions tend to need to be more secure (mares in heat, etc.) and some boarding businesses do NOT board stallions. Of sufficient heights to “take up the rider’s leg” for maximal rider stability/match of partners
  • Match ability of horse with ability of rider, in REVERSE. A VERY advanced/trained horse will do well with a green rider and vice versa. Don’t just take the word of seller that animal is a good “prospect” for jumping . . . SEE WHY they are a good prospect.
  • Some ads will state no minors should inquire. Others insist on “serious inquiries only.” Don’t waste people’s time! If price not listed, assume it’s not an inexpensive animal.
  • Conformation not important unless lameness issues or breeding animals. Drugs can mask lameness or attitude issues.
  • Weird handling techniques, odd equipment, strange reactions of horse—sore back, nippy, other odd behaviors . . . BEWARE the comment that somebody is coming to look at the horse later today . . . RESIST high-pressure sales techniques!!
  • IMPARTIAL Vet: No interest in the horse. Represents the buyer. BEWARE!! The 5D’s (American Association of Equine Practitioners, 12/09—Soule). No standard for tests to do for a PPE in America. Britain did set that list. PPE results may lower price (e.g., arthritis) or may call for consideration of a lease, rather than buy situation.
  • Horse Shopping? Better Ask Some Questions

    1. 1. Horse Shopping? Better Ask Some Questions Elaine Long Bailey Calvert County 4-H Educator University of Maryland Extension
    2. 2. What are your horse goals? <ul><ul><li>Pleasure or trail horse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Breeding stock </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dressage horse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hunter/jumper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cattle horse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ride and show </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>VERY individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BE SAFE!! </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Priorities <ul><li>What is important to YOU? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you achieve ALL of your goals with a single horse? </li></ul><ul><li>What trade-offs are you willing to make? </li></ul><ul><li>Which priorities are non-negotiable? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Survey the Market <ul><li>SUPPLY </li></ul><ul><li>DEMAND </li></ul><ul><li>LOCATION </li></ul><ul><li>DETERMINE BUDGET </li></ul>
    5. 5. Where is your functional market? <ul><li>Publications </li></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Auctions </li></ul><ul><li>Equine industry professionals </li></ul><ul><li>Breed associations </li></ul><ul><li>Other related horse groups </li></ul>
    6. 6. Why define functional market? <ul><li>What is a functional market? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affordable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gives a “starting point” and sets parameters. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Basic Questions <ul><ul><li>Where will my horse live? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is my budget? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For keeping my horse </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For purchasing or leasing my horse </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For training or lessons* </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. BEFORE you start . . . <ul><li>Be HONEST with YOURSELF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Horses require TIME </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you have the resources that you need? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trainer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is your riding ability? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is your knowledge level? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who will you consult for help? </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Finding the Right Equine Partner <ul><li>Let’s Begin . . . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Define what you’re looking for BEFORE beginning the search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Breed or gaits </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Height </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Abilities (relates to YOUR goals) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Temperament </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. The Specs <ul><li>Breed or gaits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes relates to goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beware limiting yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stallions can bring complications* </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mares can be mares </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select the INDIVIDUAL </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Height </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ponies may be rapidly outgrown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too far to the ground </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Age & Abilities <ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Youngsters don’t “grow up well” together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some advocate 5 yr old minimum; others 10+ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NOTE: Aged horse is NOT same as EASY horse </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SEE horse do whatever you aspire to do with it </li></ul><ul><li>Beware “prospects” </li></ul>
    12. 12. UNWISE MOVE!!
    13. 13. What is Temperament? <ul><li>How they “go with the flow” </li></ul><ul><li>Tendency to tolerate a variety of situations with ease </li></ul><ul><li>Important if take horse taken into high-energy situations with lots of external stimulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gymkhana </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fairs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parades </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Pre-visit Evaluations: READ, READ, READ! <ul><li>What can you learn from the ads? </li></ul><ul><li>Key Words . . . What’s important to you! </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t inquire if </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not what you’re looking for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Out of your price range* </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. The Message in the Wording of Ads <ul><li>Age, Height, Breed . . . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Prospect. . . ” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Well-suited for . . .” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Experienced . . . “ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Green . . . “ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bombproof . . . “ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Half Paint. . .” (almost PUREBRED)? </li></ul>
    16. 16. Ready… Set… GO! <ul><li>Refer to Fact Sheet #819, “Horse Shopping? Better Ask Some Questions” </li></ul><ul><li>Guide through process </li></ul><ul><li>Remember: some questions can be answered from OBSERVATION. </li></ul><ul><li>KEEP NOTES!! </li></ul>
    17. 17. What is important? <ul><li>BEWARE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drugged animals* </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Filed teeth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dyed hair </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fraudulent registration papers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Color? YES/NO* </li></ul><ul><li>Manners? YES </li></ul><ul><li>Disposition? YES </li></ul><ul><li>Conformation? YES/NO* </li></ul>
    18. 18. When you arrive . . . <ul><li>First impression of farm </li></ul><ul><li>Are animals well tended? </li></ul><ul><li>How does horse act when approached? </li></ul><ul><li>Who handles the horse? </li></ul><ul><li>Casual conversation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why selling? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How long have you owned the horse? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trust your instincts!! </li></ul>
    19. 19. Some cardinal rules <ul><li>Owner ride the horse FIRST! </li></ul><ul><li>SAFETY!! </li></ul><ul><li>Observe* </li></ul><ul><li>If something is curious, ASK about it! </li></ul><ul><li>Visit and try the horse multiple times before you buy! </li></ul>
    20. 20. The First Ride—Be Equipped! <ul><li>Helmet </li></ul><ul><li>Boots </li></ul><ul><li>?Your own saddle? </li></ul><ul><li>Ride in a SAFE area </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No obstacles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enclosed area, if possible </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Pre-purchase Exam or Not? <ul><li>Wide range of costs </li></ul><ul><li>$200-$2000+ (how detailed process is) </li></ul><ul><li>D iscover major problems </li></ul><ul><li>D isclose problems </li></ul><ul><li>D ocument findings </li></ul><ul><li>D iscuss impact on goals </li></ul><ul><li>D ecide </li></ul><ul><li>Results of PPE may impact negotiations </li></ul><ul><li>Depends on value of animal </li></ul><ul><li>Your budget </li></ul><ul><li>Risk management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Asset </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No promises from PPE </li></ul><ul><li>No pass or fail . . . Just “serviceable” or not </li></ul>
    22. 22. The Paperwork <ul><li>Sales agreement or contract </li></ul><ul><li>Define expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Get registration papers at purchase </li></ul><ul><li>Transfer registration papers ASAP after purchase </li></ul>
    23. 23. Additional Concerns <ul><li>Find help if needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trainer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Veterinarian </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Equine professional </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fear factor </li></ul><ul><li>Find a “good fit” in your equine partner </li></ul><ul><li>ENJOY!! </li></ul>
    24. 24. My contact info: Elaine Long Bailey [email_address] Good luck!!