When first purchasing a horse it is important that you decide exactly what type of riding you want to do – trail riding, arena riding, barrel racing, etc. The type of riding that you are interested in will determine what type of horse will best suit your needs. How big YOU are will determine how tall your horse should be. Gaited horses, such as Fox Trotter, Tennessee Walker, etc, are wonderful for trail riding or just general pleasure riding, the non-gaited breeds are excellent for events such as barrel racing, team penning, etc. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, and crossovers, but in either case the style of riding you want to do is very important to consider on your quest for the perfect horse.
Be sure that you look at horses for sale by a reputable person or facility. Horses are wonderful creatures, but can come with issues that a novice rider should not attempt. A good rule of thumb is to ask for a pre-purchase examination by a veterinarian…this will eliminate purchasing a horse that might have leg or hoof problems, bowed tendons, weak back, or other physical problems, etc. If the seller does not want this done, it is best to move on and continue your search elsewhere. Also, ask someone to go with you on your search that is experienced with horses that can help guide you to purchasing the right horse. Also the horse’s personality should mesh with yours…..if you are a very calm and quiet person – you would not want a high-spirited thoroughbred, for example…..match your personality to your horse and the type of riding that you want to do.
A horse is a very serious commitment – be sure that you are financially able and willing to care for the horse in the manner that it deserves. Horses eat a LOT…..and the type of food that is fed them determines how healthy and happy they will be. Good quality hay is important, when grass is not available. Horses are grazing animals and are most content when they are free to graze, walk around, breathe fresh air, have access at all times to clean, cool water. Junk hay may be eaten….however it will not allow your horse to thrive and stay healthy and in good weight and condition. Moldy hay is a big NO-NO. Mold can make your horse sick….and can be fatal. Please inspect the hay to make sure that it is clean and fresh, is free from debris, foxtail, thorns, etc. Hay older than one year old has very little nutritional value – no matter how much is eaten.
Some horses during the winter need a little extra boost – a good quality grain fed once or twice daily, in addition to free access hay. Your local feed store can advise you on the type of grain that best suits the needs of the horse you have – and will depend on its age, physical condition and how often it is ridden.
Horses are NOT a cheap animal to own…..if you do it right! Be sure that you are willing to provide excellent food and care for your horse…and you will be rewarded MANY, MANY times over by one of the most beautiful and awesome animals that exist on our planet. They have a big heart and will be your partner on many exciting and wonderful rides. A special connection between a horse owner and his horse is one that will fill your heart and soul for many years.
These are thoughts concerning your first purchase of a horse…and are over simplified, however do your homework as there are many, many other detailed do’s and don’t concerning horses. Information can be obtained from several sources geared for the horse owner. Use your common sense…as well as learned knowledge…and you will be one of the many people that will enjoy their horses and form a partnership that will last for many years to come.
Books... There are thousands of great horse books. These are some general books, but go to any online bookseller for books to meet your needs. There are many horse training books but we recommend that you contact a reputable trainer in your area & check their references, if you are not experienced with horses. Go to clinics, join online training clubs like Monty Roberts, Parelli, etc. These provide great resources as well as a network of other horse lovers.
First Aid for Horse and Rider: Emergency Care for the Stable and Trail by Nancy S. Loving DVM and Gilbert Preston (Jun 17, 2008)
The Ultimate Horse Behavior and Training Book: Enlightened and Revolutionary Solutions for the 21st Centuryby Linda Tellington-Jones, Bobbie Lieberman, Gabriele Boiselle and John Lyons(Sep 1, 2006)