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Horse Shopping – 11 Tips For Success

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EC Blog by: Laurie Kuchler of Little Shadow Farm in Sunbury, Ohio

Shopping for a horse is such an exciting time. There are so many beautiful ones out there that make us dream that they could be OURS! When you’re shopping for a new horse, think things through. Not every horse is a perfect fit (and sellers understand that), but save time and be as considerate as possible so that the horse finds a good home and YOU find the horse of your dreams. I have personally been blessed with wonderful buyers. As breeders, we all put a lot into our prospects, and we want to maximize their potential and see them thrive.

1. BUDGET – Know your budget and shop in that range. It’s pretty safe to try and get a bit off the price, but OUCH if you offer half of the horse’s sale price or even less. If you think the horse is priced too high, keep shopping for a different one. If you have to sell another horse or take a loan out, you need to tell the seller. If you want to do a lease, mention that ahead of time. If you want to trade, mention that ahead of time too. If that’s not agreeable to a seller, they’ll tell you. Simply be honest.

2. OUTSIDE INPUT – If your trainer, or anyone who will need to give input of any kind, needs to see the horse, give him/her videos, invite them to go with you, or schedule a different time so that all parties can see the horse at the same time.

3. SHOPPING LIST – Know what age, skill set, discipline, rider ability, color, breed, etc. you are looking for and shop with that in mind. Sellers understand that their horse might not be the right horse, but it’s a real waste of time if you visit a 10-year-old horse and then say you’re looking for a 3-year-old horse, or you say you want a gelding and then change your mind. Ask questions, lots of relevant questions. I want a buyer to think things all the way through.

4. CASUALLY LOOKING – If you’re casually looking, say that. If I’m seriously selling my horse and you say you’re casually looking, I will tell you that I’m entertaining serious inquiries only. If you won’t be ready to buy for months, can’t afford horse-related costs, or find a place to board… you’re not ready.

5. SUITABILITY – If a seller tells you that the horse isn’t suitable for a small fry, inexperienced rider, or senior rider… believe them! That doesn’t make the horse unsellable, but it does let you put the rider’s skill set against the horse for sale. Don’t try to pound a square peg into a round hole.

6. NOT A GOOD FIT – If you don’t like the horse or feel it’s a bad fit, tell the seller, if possible. It can be a sticky situation, but it could save some time. I would rather know you didn’t want my horse so that I can open a slot for someone else. I don’t want to work a “dead” sale.

7. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE – Very few sellers will “hold” a horse while you decide if the horse is right for you. From experience, I have made this mistake early on with a buyer that was SURE she wanted my horse. Almost three weeks later, she changed her mind. In the meantime, several other potential buyers had found their horses. Offer a deposit to hold, otherwise, expect that the seller will take a good offer and not delay.

8. APPOINTMENTS – When you make an appointment, be reasonable and cancel with some notice. Other potential buyers may want to see the horse, and not showing up is not very polite. Along those lines, be considerate about the hours you’re texting and messaging for information.

9. HORSES ARE INDIVIDUALS – Horses all have individual issues. If you’re looking for a “perfect” horse, plan on spending some money. Some issues are deal breakers for buyers, and sellers understand that. Sellers typically don’t want you to get stuck in a bad situation with one of our animals. We have invested a lot in them.

10. GEOGRAPHY – It usually makes more sense to shop for a regional horse unless you really want the “right” horse. If you’re calling me from California, and I’m in Ohio, you’re going to have a lot of extra expenses, which should be obvious. Sellers may offer a shipping credit, but when you step outside of your time zone, expect to pay more.

11. CONSIDERATION – When you visit the farm to shop for a horse, please be considerate about barn hours, bringing pets, and unattended minors. Barns can be dangerous places and these are business transactions.

Good luck to both sellers and buyers out there!

If you have an opinion on a topic in the horse industry, and would like to have your blog post featured on EquineChronicle.com, email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com for consideration. 

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