Buying first horse at 40 - way overthinking this

(62 Posts)
bandito Sun 31-Jan-16 16:10:28

I've been a lurker for a while and have bored my friends rigid about wanting to buy a horse for most of my adult life - they now mostly go glazed over as they don't think I'm ever going to take the plunge. So, I am now in a position to actually do it and need to put my money where my mouth is. Truth is, I am extremely risk averse and terrified of making a dangerous and expensive mistake.

I need to find out about local livery, and presumably you do this before you buy or will they laugh at me for not having a horse yet? I have a budget of £3000 max. for a 14-15hh that can live out, will jump a little, do a basic level dressage for local shows and most of all be kind on the ground and a friend. I have a horse similar to this in mind but the owner wants me to make an offer - she won't name a price and this has freaked me out in case my offer is stupidly low or dumbly high. I worried less about buying my house! I have horse-owning friends but I am worried they will think I am wasting their time. I have shared before, but never taken the plunge.

I need Kirsty and Phil to come and help me in a horse Location as I have no horsey family and feel alone doing this. My usual solution to problems like this is to buy a book and follow the step-by-step instructions. Any recommendations or advice? Thank you

bimandbam Sun 31-Jan-16 16:24:25

How old is the horse in question? And where abouts in the country are you? Do you know tge horse in question? Does it tick all your boxes?

With regards to livery yards for a first time owner I would always recommend a yard that does offer services by qualified staff. Even if you plan on doing everything yourself there are many aspects to horse care that can't be taught from a book and help and support will be invaluable. It doesn't have to be forever, just until you are confident.

The type of horse you mention will probably be a good doer and help with.maintaining its weight will be invaluable.

You can find kirsty and phil type people who will help you buy. Do you have a trainer who could help you with viewings etc? And always have a vetting done!

Have a google for local livery yards, give them a call and arrange a viewing. They should be more than happy to accommodate you.

You must be very excited. I have had horses since I was a teen but for the last 10 years only had ponies for the dcs. Bought myself a highland pony laat summer and couldn't sleep waiting for delivery day! Highlands would fit your criteria btw.

bandito Sun 31-Jan-16 17:02:40

Thanks bimandbam - He's 11 and is currently a working livery at the place that I ride - I ride him a lot but I appreciate this is not the same as owning him. He's not perfect, is grumpy about jumping, but I do know him and he is lovely on the ground. I'm on the South coast of England. I think it's that I've been waiting for about 35 years, now I can do it, I'm terrified it will all go wrong. I love Highlands by the way and if I wasn't looking so close to home, they'd be top of my list. I love a native.

bimandbam Sun 31-Jan-16 17:15:24

If he is grumpy about jumping he could possibly have a health condition that effects him. But if you know him pretty well and enjoy riding him then he is definitely a possibility. I would make an offer if you are happy with him. Offer 2k and start from there but have him vetted!

How.many times is he used in the school? Ex school ponies can get a bit lippy sometimes when their work load drops. Just something to bare in mind.

For your budget expect to pay right up to the 3k, more possibly! The type you are after is pretty sought after. Natives are a good buy but definitely research laminitis and be very cautious about it. Highland ponies are amazing but do come with a price tag but a nice welsh d or d cross would probably suit. And the welsh are more common so come in cheaper.

Have you been looking what's available and what sort of price they go for around you? Also if you use fb and have any horsey friends that can be a good way and a wanted ad always gets plenty of response though lots might not be what you are looking for!

Equiem89 Sun 31-Jan-16 17:21:26

Please be aware that a horse at a riding school/ working livery may change behaviour completely once owned by a sole rider

bandito Sun 31-Jan-16 18:03:24

Yes, I agree Equiem89 that's one of the reasons I'm so cautious. Would I offer £2,000 'subject to vetting', if I was going to go for it? Then presumably, i could back out if the vet came up with something I couldn't deal with. I don't want to be labelled a time waster, but it's really important to get it right. perhaps it's safer to go to a dealer.

Anotherusernamechange Sun 31-Jan-16 20:27:26

I would be very wary of buying a horse in working livery. Riding school horses are very different once they aren't worked regularly. They can be very good with their routines and working in lessons, but once in the 'real world' become very different creatures. Do you have horsey friends who can horse shop with you? Your budget sounds fine. I would be looking for a horse no younger than 7, preferably older, who has been there and done it.

nagsandovalballs Sun 31-Jan-16 20:34:45

Don't buy a horse in working livery for the reasons above plus the likelihood that they will be physically in very poor shape even by the age of 11.

Booboostwo Sun 31-Jan-16 20:50:10

You need the equivalent of Kirsty and Phil and that is usually your instructor. Do you trust the RS instructor to give you good advice? Is he/she available to come with you to view horses? You should view quite a few horses just to get an idea of what is out there even if you end up buying the RS school horse you like now.

With an RS horse you have the advantage of having been able to ride him a few times and make sure you like him. Make sure though you have tried the things you will have to do with him as a private horse, e.g. hack him alone, school him alone while other horses come and go from the school. At the same time you have the disadvantage that he will have worked hard with beginner riders on his back and he will be used to a lot of work and a strict routine - take him out of this and you may have a different horse on your hands.

Any horse you buy should be subject to a vetting, don't even let anyone fob you off that you don't need one, provide you with their certificate of vetting or get their vet to do the vetting - a genuine seller should always be open to a vetting by a vet of your choice. I'd be concerned about back problems with a horse that is reluctant to jump and would worry that some RS are not quite on top of physio check ups and saddle fitting as they should be. Find out when he was last wormed, when he saw the dentist and if he's up to date with vaccinations; answers to these questions will give you an idea of how well looked after he is.

Does he have any kind of competition experience? If you want to do local dressage and show jumping make sure he loads and travels well and that he is chilled working away from home.

Depending on his temperament and ability I would say he is worth 1-2k.

You should definitely talk to local yards about livery now. They may have a waiting list and they will give you an idea of services offered and price. In general yards that offer all year round turn out expect you to look after your horse yourself and may have limited facilities. Yard owners make money from charging for mucking out, turn out, etc. so a lot of yards offer part or full livery with the horse out during the day and in at night. Look at the yard and see if you like what you see, e.g. is it clean and tidy, do horses have water and hay, is it suitable (type of fencing, amount of acreage for number of horses, size of stables), does the YO seem friendly, knowledgeable and competent, are they clear about the services the offer and how much they charge for them and what you have to do instead?

EssexMummy1234 Sun 31-Jan-16 21:31:48

I'm in a similar age / boat in that I'm finally able to buy / keep my own horse and am struggling with the responsibility, because i'm inexperienced having never had my own before. I have one that i really want to go and see tomorrow but my friend hmm who was meant to be coming with me has had a change of heart and keeps asking me if i'm confident enough to get a horse. My instructor is fine as long as i don't over-horse myself and i have a stable space arranged from the end of march.

Going to a dealer on my own seems a bit lion's den but getting someone else at short notice.. hhmm

bandito Sun 31-Jan-16 22:10:14

Thanks for all the advice - god, it's a nightmare if you're not born into this kind of thing. EssexMummy1234 - you seem to be in the same boat - let us know how it goes tomorrow?

I feel really vulnerable, with my hard-earned cash feeling like I know nothing. I hate this feeling - I'm pretty competent at life generally, honest.

I'm going to ring my friend who has a pony locally on livery and have a think, rather than going just for the horse I know.

lastqueenofscotland Sun 31-Jan-16 22:51:50

Do you have any reputable dealers near you? There are lots of terrible ones out there but the good ones are often very good and may source a horse for you. I've bought some lovely horses unseen from Ireland - all super duper quiet/ safe but often very green (our hacking went over motor way bridges and they'd not bat an eyelid but they were very unbalanced etc in the school which might not be what you want! But they were cheap)
Safe horses always sell well, so I think expect to be looking at something old if you don't want to be putting in work on a green horse or aren't willing to take on something with a quirk? Ie I will happily have something that has the odd excited buck in it or might nap, I wouldn't ever have a rearer. Is there anything you could deal with?

3k... IMO isn't that much for what you want unless it's well into a it's teens or a full TB. Is loaning a possibility?

Anotherusernamechange Mon 01-Feb-16 07:23:59

Can I suggest that before visiting dealers, you put the names of the dealers/seller into the Internet. There is a particularly awful dealer in Essex, who advertises the most marvellous 'safe first horse, bombproof' etc. There are some good dealers, but it's important to do your homework and take someone knowledgeable with you.

bimandbam Mon 01-Feb-16 08:35:40

Is there any chance you would consider part loaning for a few months just to make sure a horse will fit into your life? There is a world of difference between riding once a week and doing one twice a day, 7 days a week. Quite often people are happy with someone to share costs aand yard duties a few days a week.

You will also get a feel for what type of yard you would like to be on. I have full livery atm for mine because I have a toddler and it would just be stressful. But the yard I am on is a mates yard and she does them for me. It's a very quiet yard which suits me.

However for some they prefer a buzzy yard with lots of coming and going and others to hack out with. Some people (me!) can't cope with the political undercurrents of that type of yard and the rules that come with such a busy place.

With regards to a dealer there are some reputable places. But you pay for that reputation.

For a novice first time buyer I would definitely get some professional help. You can also ask that you have on a loan with a view to buy. The other option for you is something older who the owner doesn't want to sell and have it on full loan. That would again give you the opportunity to try out horse loaning for size without the financial commitment. Does the riding school do any loan schemes? I know ours does.

EssexMummy1234 Mon 01-Feb-16 12:51:07

Anotherusernamechange - I wonder if I'm thinking of the dealer that you've got in mind, sort of Basildon area? if so I've heard both bad and good things.

Anotherusernamechange Mon 01-Feb-16 12:52:36

Yes, that's the one. They name change regularly

Puppymouse Mon 01-Feb-16 13:32:29

OP I am facing being in your shoes soon. I am mid 30's and I started riding again last year after a break. I have wanted my own since I was 4 or 5!

I started having lessons, then volunteered my time at that stables, then got paid to do one afternoon a week. At around this time one of the girls at the yard was about to go abroad and her pony was returned from its current loan. I am now six months down the line of taking this pony on full loan.

You don't say if you have kids. I have a toddler and it's pretty exhausting trying to keep her happy, horse happy, husband happy. I would strongly suggest you loan or part loan first as I think if I hadn't had the option of returning my mare I might have felt quite suffocated at times.

I chose a yard near where I had my lessons which was great for hacking but lonely so I moved just before Xmas. I've gone from 24/7 turnout to in at night and it means I have to be at the yard at specific times both ends of the day so they all come in and go out together. And muck out. I barely have time to ride. But I have a lot of support and am just taking it slowly and waiting for summer!

Facebook is very useful for finding local yards. There are groups for buying horses and ponies and ones dedicated to livery yards. That's how I found my yard. As for buying - I'm terrified and definitely don't want to do it alone but I now have a bit of a network - yard owner, loan pony owner when she's back, riding school etc. I have one in mind I want but she's very green so probably not suitable as a first horse. I will have same budget as you so would love to hear how you get on if you decide to go ahead.

Sorry for the essay. I find talking about horses tends to give me verbal diarrhea blush

ExConstance Mon 01-Feb-16 16:08:56

I used to have "horses" ( a Welsh Cob and two Highland Ponies) when I was younger and I'm keeping fit in the run up to retirement because I want to get another when I stop working.
My first was an ex riding centre horse. She was used to hard work and usually being with other horses. She was a nightmare when she had too little work and needed to hack out on her own. The third, my second Highland was a dream, she had always been privately owned and exercised mainly alone, she was also, for a pony, not possessed of much character, we got on just fine and she enhanced my confidence considerably.

bandito Mon 01-Feb-16 17:48:17

It's really interesting and useful to hear from all of you - it's nice to know I'm not alone in this either. I do have DCs, but they are teenagers - one is interested in helping out - another not at all,which is fine as they are of an age where they can choose to be home alone.

Ideally I would like to keep the horse a walk/cycle ride away so I can go to see it as the evenings draw in before it gets dark. I work full-time but only term-time. My riding school is about 25mins drive away and only does full working livery, so I can see pros and cons in this - expert care for the horse, but not much opportunity for me to learn - I would turn up at my agreed time and ride in the school or hack out for the allocated time before he went back into the school or the field.

I do see the point about a full loan though and this might be a good idea- I shared a welsh cob a couple of years ago for a year, and it was fine but I found the way that the owner managed her horse was not how I would have liked to do it to the extent where I did not want to be part of it and we amicably parted.

So lots to think about - are there good loan websites?

Puppymouse Mon 01-Feb-16 17:59:46

If I was you and on FB I would join as many local horse groups as possible. You can post as well as read ads and there's lots of wanted ads for loans/shares. You can outline where you are and what kind of horse you'd like. If not on FB it might be worth putting ads in saddlery/tack/feed shops locally as well as asking at your riding school. That's what I'd do anyway smile

EssexMummy1234 Mon 01-Feb-16 20:26:19

I'd be interested to know how many hours of work a week a full working livery would have and how much say over how much work they did would you as the owner have? Because if the riding school has total control it doesn't seem right. I don't know if the riding school i currently go to does working livery as i've arranged a stable closer to home but i do know that they will just support and give as much help as needed to clients that buy their own horses.

Equiem89 Mon 01-Feb-16 21:43:56

Bandito that doesn't sound like working livery to me, more like on loan from a riding school. Yards I know who do working livery have the horse stabled on the private livery side rather than the riding school side, the horse has set hours I.e does a lesson on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and a Saturday but other than that you can do what you want with your horse

PoshPenny Mon 01-Feb-16 21:54:35

When deciding what to offer you need to take account of what is included in the price - tack, rugs etc. If it's all worn out and horrible then it'll cost a bomb to replace. For what you've described, I would offer £2k and go from there. Kitting out a horse/pony with stuff is over £2k these days if you have have to buy everything including mucking out tools buckets etc and saddles will take up the bulk of that if you have to buy new!

Biggles398 Mon 01-Feb-16 23:22:15

I wouldn't turn him down purely because he's on working livery. For some people, this is just the best way of keeping their horse! Plus, two yards I know that offer it, the horses are only worked for about 5 hours a week!
Would definitely get someone more knowledgeable than you to have a look (either at this one, or any others you view). Also agree with considering what the horse will come with when factoring in price
There are an awful lot for sale at the moment, so there's no need to buy the first you see.
Think about how you want to keep him/her - grass livery / DIY / Part livery etc and then ask around for livery yards. Your local FB horsey sites are a good source of information
Good luck!

Booboostwo Tue 02-Feb-16 06:22:20

I agree with the others, weird working livery arrangement. Working livery needs a detailed written down contract specifying the days/hours the horse will be used, the types of riders to ride him and the kinds of activities they are allowed to do with him, aside from these few hours he is yours to do with as you please when you please.

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