You may have searched far and wide to find what looks like the perfect horse. But it is important to ensure that you are making the right decision. When you travel to see the horse in person it is crucial that you learn as much as you can about the animal during your visit. Set out with a clear idea of what you really want and the questions that you should ask. It is always a good idea to take someone with you and preferably someone with equestrian knowledge. Use your phone or a video camera to film the horse and the owner. The footage can then be shown to an expert for further advice. Refer to your checklist throughout the meeting in case you forget to ask some of the questions that you need to. A checklist will also prevent you from getting carried away and buying a horse which does not meet your needs.
When you arrive at the owner's yard inspect the horse's stall / stable for signs of vices such as a chewed stable door. Ask to see the horse trotted up so that you can assess his conformation and soundness. It is also a good idea to look at his feet to see how he is shod and whether he has good, strong feet. Ask if you can prepare him for a ride yourself as you can then experience his manners as you tack him up. Remain vigilante and assess whether he has been worked before you arrive. Sweat marks or a lack of water in the stall are alarm bells that you should heed. Ask about the horse's diet, any supplements that he may be on and any medical treatment that he has undergone. It could also be useful to get the contact details of any previous owners so you can make further enquiries.
Riding the Horse
Someone else should ride the horse first so you can take a good look at him. This ride must include walking, trotting, cantering and a few small jumps. It really isn't a good idea to ride an unknown horse yourself so insist that the owner finds someone to ride him for you. Video the ride for future reference. You should only ride the horse yourself after you have satisfied yourself that it is safe to do so. Ride the horse as you would want to ride him at home. If you want to jump him, ask to jump him during the visit. Then ask to turn him out so you can see what his behaviour is like when you try to catch him. Finally test his reaction to being loaded in a horse box. Throughout the visit, remind yourself that temperament is more important that looks. What matters most is that you can form a bond with the horse and that he meets your needs in terms of skills. Don't get seduced by any other factors!Remember that the owner should also be asking you plenty of questions. If the seller is genuine then they will want to make sure that you are the perfect new owner for their horse. Disinterest is a very bad sign.
It is always best to see the horse at least twice before making a decision. Try to visit at different times of day so you can learn more about the horse and their behaviour throughout the day. If you decide that the horse could be the perfect choice, get him checked thoroughly by a vet and examine any paperwork in detail. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, walk away.