Looking for the Dream Horse?

Last Updated: 3:39 PM on Aug 11, 2008
Looking For That Dream Horse?
by: Carolyn Bauhr

Wow! It’s beautiful up here in the foothills. Spring is here. The wild flowers are blooming and the grass is green. Simply beautiful! I think I’ll get my Dream Horse and go for a dream ride. Wait!!! Here are a few things to think about:

We really want to share some practical knowledge that we and others have learned the Hard Way for Riders New and Returning to Horses: How to find the right horse the first time. Will it be a dream horse or a nightmare? Well first of all when shopping for a horse keep a few of these tips in mind:

Mismatches are common--be sure you take the time to find the right horse. Some people selling horses are honest but some are not. Ask lots of good questions and get the information you need. Many people have showed up at our ranch for training their horse because they bought one because it “looked like their dream horse.” We‘ve had horses that were so friendly when you first meet them and they loved to be petted, groomed and had some fairly nice ground manners then wow!!! You saddle and get on and it’s a fast ride through a fence or some other really dangerous vice. We have a set of pre-check flight lists we try to check out on the ground before we even get ready to get on a horse. Steve actually calls them the "no-flight tests", because we don’t want to go flying off the horse.

That is why we do evaluations for first time horse shoppers. There are some good things to look for and of course no horse is perfect and but look for some honest answers to specific questions. Look for good disposition, soundness and conformation suitable for you and your desired riding style. Whether you are trail riding or competing, the right horse can make all the difference between picking a partner or a poison. Breed and bloodlines can be important and there a lot of various differenced between horses even of the same breed. Don’t assume all horses of a certain breed are always the same but you can start with studying the breeds that usually are most suitable for what you want to do. Picking a breed that’s known for a lot of go when you really want more Whoa can be a big problem.

Pretty is as pretty does in the horse world. It isn’t much fun to have a horse that whenever you go to ride it you have a big knot in your stomach because you're afraid it’s going to hurt you. Horses are strong and a young child or inexperienced or anxious rider needs a confidence-building, reliable horse not a young green horse. There are some kids that have grown up around horses riding and competing at an early age and just because someone puts one of the young experience riders on a horse to sell it doesn’t mean a kid that is just starting can do the same. Kind of like the kids that learn to ski about the time they are born and are better than most adults.

Green on green means black and blue in the horse world.

We have some suggestions to ask a seller. First why are you selling this horse? Does he have any vices (bucking, biting, kicking, charging, bolting, and aggression toward people or other horse, hard to catch)? Does he have any health problems? Does he need special health supplements, special shoeing or feed? What type of training does he have? What is his most outstanding trait? The trait that needs to be improved? How is he in unfamiliar situations like a new arena, a new trail (Nervous? Confident? Spooky) Does he trailer load calmly? How is he for the vet/farrier equine dentist? How does he move? Is he smooth and balanced or rushed and choppy? Has he been ridden recently on a regular basis? Or has he been not been ridden for years? Has he experienced any traumas such as sever colic/founder, a trailer accident, bad lameness, etc.? Is he ridden in a snaffle bit or a shank bit or both? Is he registered and do you have the papers on him?

Then always visit and assess the horse. Always get a vet check! Ask the owner to ride the horse and show what the horse can do.

The amount of money spent on a horse will be up to the buyer but beware a well mannered horse is worth its weight in gold. If he is safe and healthy and you can have fun with your new horse, he‘ll be worth every penny. If he isn’t you’ll be wishing you’d taken more time to find a good match. There are a lot of horses out there. Look around and don’t be in a hurry to get one. Many people tell us that a certain horse picked them. The horse had a certain look they liked or it may have even looked at them a certain way or something like that.

Make sure you pick the one that is right for you!

If you do make a mistake, don’t think you're married to the horse and have to keep him forever. Sometimes it is not a good match for you but may be for someone else. Look for another one and enjoy the fun of horses and horseback riding. It is a wonderful sport and you never get too old for enjoying horses. That is so wonderful too!

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