If there is one thing I have learned in my life with horses, it is that you never stop learning about them. Horse trainers and owners who have been working with horses all their lives will be the first people to tell you it is not possible to know everything about horses. Every horse is an individual with its own unique life experiences and there is no-one who can claim to have known every horse, or dealt with every problem that can arise.
The most experienced horse people can still make errors of judgement when purchasing a new horse and for those who are new to the world of horses, the path can be a dangerous one for both the purchaser and the horse.
I have seen many disastrous results when inexperienced people go looking to buy a horse, from the purchasing of a totally unsuitable animal because it looks pretty, to seeing previous owners accused of doping their horse because the animal has become confused or anxious in the hands of its new owners. Actually that latter accusation is all too common, and not usually the case at all.
Here are some tips for first time buyers to consider:
- Always seek reliable professional advice before purchasing a horse.
- Before purchasing a horse make sure you have a safe paddock with secure fencing.
- Have lessons with a qualified instructor before buying a horse, so you know your capabilities.
- Always give a new horse a few days to settle in so you gain his confidence before asking too much of him.
- When riding a new horse for the first time at his new home, ride in a safe enclosure and have a qualified person with you.
- Ride out with a sensible friend who stays with you, not one who gallops off which might make your horse a nervous wreck.
- Always walk your horse for the last part of your ride to cool him down; this also teaches your horse not to rush on the way home.
- Be aware when riding in a group, not to ride up too close behind other horses, as some horses may kick out without any warning.
- Always wear a hard hat and suitable boots when riding.
- Lead your new horse in traffic, to observe his reaction, before riding out.
- When loading your new horse onto a float, secure your tailgate before tying the horse up.
- When unloading remember to untie your horse before lowering the tailgate.
- Always check that your new horse knows how to come forward off pressure before attempting to tie him up as some horses have had incorrect training and may pull back.
- When leading your horse don't hold him tight under the jaw as this might teach him to barge his shoulder into you, tread on your toes and may even encourage biting.