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The tack room

Buying a horse - what to look for

39 replies

frenchfancy · 28/09/2011 06:50

We have finally decided to take the plunge and buy our own horse. I have livery organised for the winter and a paddock for next spring.

We are visiting the first possibility this weekend, so what should I be looking for?

I only started riding 2 years ago, and always ride the same 2 horses (well one poney and one big cart horse) so I'm quite nervous about trying something else. DD2 has been riding for 5 years and has much more experience, but I think she will just fall in love with the first thing with 4 legs that goes neigh.

OP posts:

Mirage · 30/09/2011 20:50

I agree with stoprainingplease.We bought our dds a 1st pony after dd1 had been riding for 3.5 years and to be quite truthful we had to go back to basics.It is completely different riding a non riding school pony,they are like little robots and know when to stop,start ect. We hire an instructor to come out every week to give them a lesson on their own pony and it has really paid off in terms of confidence and ability.A teenage friend rides dpony occasionally which does her good as she is pushed more and doesn't get away with stuff that the dds,with the best will in the world,might let her get away with.

We have a 13h pony,which I [5ft8 10st] could ride if need be,she is ideal for my 8 year old dd1 who gets the best from her,but dd2 who is 6 really needs something smaller.

Health wise,things to look out for are ridges on hooves -could be a sign of past laminitis,droopy lower lip or penis hanging down-could be sedated to appear calm,bald ,sore or rubbed patches-sweet itch? Check when you view the horse that it has access to water,horses can be denied water to dehydrate them and make them appear calmer,run your hand down it's legs to check for lumps,bumps or heat.Is it shod? Does it require corrective shoes? Are it's vaccinations and wormers up to date? What is it fed,does it require a particular feed? Will it stable happily or prefer to live out? Is it ok around dogs,livestock,farm vehicles,lorries,motorbikes ect? Will it hack happily in company and alone.Has it ever napped,bucked or reared? Any vices like cribbing,weaving,winsucking or boxwalking? Is it well mannered on thne ground?

Get the owner to ride it first,then your instuctor or whoever you take to advise you.You don't want it springing any nasty surprises on you or your dd.Personally I wouldn't make a decision there and then,but would discuss it with my instructor first and get back to the vendor later.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.


Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 30/09/2011 23:21

You get what I call the crap to fun ratio.
In a riding school, ponies are used two or three times a day, are well trained, and are in a routine, often bored. You get somewhere around 70% fun. Things rarely go wrong, you get there, get on and ride, then you go home. When you own your own horse, its more like 70% crap. There is mucking out, poo picking, tack cleaning, keeping up a routine, your horse wont get as much work, may often be fresh, and most importantly, will test every boundary that it can. We have had ex riding school ponies, and even they have acted completely differently when we got them home.
When your new horse is testing those boundaries, and it is 15hh with a child rider, and its napping, charging off, refusing to stop, slamming on the breaks etc, its very possible that your child, however advanced, could have their confidence knocked badly.
There may well be a different attitude in France, over here, there is absolutely no reason at all why you could ride a 13h, at 5'7 and 10st. Its quite common. We have all our native types, which were bred for just that.
As for kids, there are basic guidelines regarding competing, that cotrol age/height of pony. An under 16 wouldnt be able to do anything on a 'horse'.


olderyetwider · 01/10/2011 15:01

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Do bear in mind though that riding school ponies are very very different to privately owned ones.


frenchfancy · 01/10/2011 17:05

Well we went to see the horse today.

Good points were that he was easy to catch, very friendly, happy to be touched all over, checked feet with no problems. The owner lunged him, then we had a quick ride. He was easy to mount, walked and trotted easily, seemed to be pretty bomb proof. He has been with the owner since 6 months old - so 12 years, and she is selling him basically because she wants a bit more of a challenge. He is essentially too easy.

The downside was, I admit, his size. Not his height mind you, that definately isn't a problem, but as he is crossed with a cart type horse he had alot of bulk about him. A good plodding type horse - would be good for me - but not really suitable for DD. (She of course fell in love with him as predicted:)). One other downside, from my point of view at least, is that he has been riden without a bit. The owner only uses him for hacks and thinks it is kinder and easier. Whilst I could see that wasn't a problem for what she did, I could also see that it reduced the control I had of the horse which I wasn't overly comfortable with.

Thank you for all your input, which made me look at him in a more questioning way. If you are interested I will keep you posted of any other possibles we go to see.

OP posts:

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 01/10/2011 17:52

Please do keep us posted. Smile
Out of interest, when you say without a bit, do you mean in a headcollar, or a bitless bridle? We often go bitless, and dont often have any bother.


frenchfancy · 02/10/2011 07:56

OK this is probably the next one we will see.

Pony - 14 years old, good for beginners up to "galop 7" which is the french exam level 7 - which is the level required for national competitions.

Looks very similar to the pony we both ride at the club.

OP posts:

olderyetwider · 02/10/2011 21:06

Doesn't it look a bit tucked up?


ToxicMoxie · 03/10/2011 01:02

Hi Fancy! I think the size sounds fine, I rode plenty of horses that size when I was younger. What you want to look for is a calm, polite horse. How to see this is:

the handler asks the horse to move away, the horse does. Make sure the horse doesn't crowd, nip at or try to bother the handler. I absolutely agree with the earlier advice, watch the owner (or regular handler) get the horse, groom, tack and ride. This will give you a chance to watch how that horse gets on without the stress of riding it.
Does the horse accept the bridle and saddle?
can they clean all hooves? can the touch the horse anywhere?
Will horse stand quietly or dance around? is the horse a pocket seeker?
Also, when the rider mounts, does the horse stand, walk off during mounting, put his ears back, swing away from the mounting block? These last can be back issues, or a poor fitting saddle.

While riding, does the horse submit to the rider, does he swish the tail a lot? does he respond,or does the rider need to urge him forward, or haul back on him? Does he wear a mild or harsh bit? do they use any other equipment than a saddle and bridle? Why?
do they use a whip? Does he turn, stop, speed up and slow down? Will he stand quietly? (very important for having the Instructor talk to you, or gossiping with friends!)

Can the horse do what your DS wants to do? Ask the owner to show what the horse can do. Ask how much food, any special feed/meds/ect. Has he been to any shows, events, or off the property?

If the horse seems dull, or bored, not interested in anything and plodding around, beware of sedatives. If the horse is particularly thin, beware that once it has weight on, it may act up more.

That's my advice!


ToxicMoxie · 03/10/2011 01:07

Sorry, at cross posts there, it sounds like you have a lot of sense about how to judge a horse!


rogersmellyonthetelly · 03/10/2011 08:53

Wow, not being funny, but that's not a lot of horse for 2500 euros! You could pick up something like that for around 1k in the uk! Must be a lot more horses for sale over here keeping prices down. Seriously though, I would be a little concerned about it's wasted musculature in the hind quarters, it doesn't look in bad condition other than that, but I would be checking it's back and looking at it's way of going very carefully under saddle.


frenchfancy · 03/10/2011 10:04

I did get the impression that horses are more expensive here. It gets even worse near Paris, I think the same pony would be nearer 4k.

One thing that keeps the prices higher is the meat market. Many older ponies here are sold for their meat price ie ?/kg. which then puts up the price for the better ponies, especially those that can jump.

OP posts:

bumbleymummy · 04/10/2011 09:43

Have you thought about buying the UK and bringing him over? A weekend of viewing over here and the cost of transport might still work out better for you! Just a thought in case you don't find something you love over there.... :)


careergirl · 05/10/2011 23:19

about the photo - agree tucked up and def muscle wastage around the quarters, generally looks poor - underlying issues maybe?


frenchfancy · 06/10/2011 06:33

We were supposed to go yesterday to see the pnoy, but it has been sold.

OP posts:
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