Five Common Mistakes Buyers Make

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceThursday 19 January 2012

When buying a horse for the first time, it is not uncommon to make some mistakes.  These are some of the most common pitfalls first-time buyers encounter when buying their first horse.

1.    Buying the First Horse you Look At

Sometimes a buyer is in such a rush to find a horse that the first horse seems like a perfect match.  Perhaps the price is right, or the horse just seems to be “right”.  While this may be the right horse for you, it is important to take the time to make sure.  This means going out and looking at a few more horses, so that you have something to compare the first horse to.  Try the horse out a few times so that you know that you are a good match.  If a seller pressures you, avoid caving in just because there might be another buyer.  If you are desperate not to lose the horse ask if you can make a deposit, but be aware that if you do not buy the horse you will not get the deposit back.

2.    Buying a First Horse Alone

A surprising number of buyers go out looking for a horse without anyone to help.  Unless you are very experienced, this is a mistake.  Even experienced horse people often shop with experienced friends.  The first time you see a horse, you can go on your own, but make sure to arrange to return with someone you know and trust.  If possible have your coach come out and evaluate the horse with you.  An experienced person can point out many things that you might not notice on your own.

3.    Letting your Coach Pick for You

While your coach is a valuable resource when selecting a horse, be aware that not all coaches are honest about the process.  Many coaches get paid extra fees such as finder fees when they find a buyer for a horse.  They may also choose to charge you for the service of finding you a horse, thus taking fees from both ends.  Some dishonest coaches will not only sell you a horse that they are getting fees for, but will also tell you an elevated price and pocket the extra cash.  If your coach suggests a horse, go ahead and try it out.  It may well be the perfect horse for your needs.  On the other hand, insist on meeting and talking to the owner and not just the sales representatives.  If this is denied, be wary of extra fees and costs.

4.    Letting the Almighty Dollar Decide

While it is smart to have a budget when horse shopping, you need to be careful not to cut out perfectly good prospects purely by cost.  Many sellers who have horses priced somewhat over your price range may be willing to negotiate.  Think of it like buying a car – you can pay full price, but if you negotiate on extras and other things you can usually get the seller to drop the price somewhat.  Another thing to be careful of is ruling out a horse because it is priced too low.  There are many reasons horses are priced low.  It could be because there is something wrong with them, but equally well it could be because the buyer is desperate to sell.

5.    Buying a “Cheap” Horse

Unless you have the experience to work with a young or green horse, it is a bad idea to buy one.  While it can be cheaper to buy something untrained, you will need to invest a great deal of training into it before you can ride it.  Auctions are a nice cheap place to buy a horse, but be aware that most horses at auction are there for a reason – often because of training problems or other issues.  It is always better to buy your first horse privately, and to make sure that it is well trained and handled before your purchase.  There is no point buying and paying for a horse that you can’t use.  

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