Your First Horse……5 Tips to Make the Best Choice

Your first horse purchase is one of the most exciting times in your life as a rider. It can also be nerve-racking because the consequences of a bad decision can live with you for a long time.

Beginning riders often have the wrong impulses at this time. They think of the kind of horse they would like someday when they are accomplished riders, or they dream of having a horse just like their trainer.

The problem is that beginners can’t ride these more advanced horses. They are in danger of getting a horse with which they cannot cope: a poor choice that may result in bad experiences for both the animal and the person.

1. Be Realistic About Your Level of Ability

Analyze your current competencies as a rider as well as those you hope to have someday. Don’t get a horse that is too advanced for you today.

It’s okay to own one that has performance capabilities you haven’t reached yet. But you must be able to have some success when you ride today. If you can’t ride your horse now, there is no guarantee you will be able to in the future. This situation can become a constant source of frustration for you and give rise to a poor relationship with him.

2. Don’t Buy for Beauty Alone

It is nice to have a beautiful horse, one that is admired by friends and relatives. But an arched neck, flowing mane, and striking tail are totally different characteristics than behavior and performance.

I have had friends who had to have a horse of a certain color. Frankly, this is a little silly. If you insist on this, make sure it is a common color, so you have a choice of many horses anyway. For example, if you must have a gray Arabian, that’s probably okay since there are many of these.

However, if you must have a chestnut thoroughbred, you’ll be searching for a long time or make the mistake I fear. You’ll pick out the only match you can find, ignoring other more important factors.

3. Breed May Matter

Whether to choose according to breed is a little more complicated. Some people just want to work with a certain breed. This may be because of horses they’ve read about, have seen, or spent time with.

A major determining factor is what you plan to do with your riding. Over centuries horses have been bred to have attributes or talents that lend themselves better to certain types of performance. If you are into Western disciplines, then a quarter horse or paint may be what you want to find. If your heart is set on dressage, you may consider a warmblood.

These considerations are more important if serious competing is something you know you want to do. They are not so important to many beginners, especially if pleasure riding or just getting started riding are the main issues.

4. Behavior Is Most Important

Behavior in hand as well as under saddle is the most important factor to evaluate. You must be able to lead your horse easily. The bridle and saddle must go on when you working with him single-handedly. He must stand until you are completely mounted.

He has to be safe for you at all three gaits. (If you haven’t learned to canter or lope yet, you can have your trainer or more advanced friend check him out for this.)

5. Your Horse Can Be Your Friend

Many want to form a relationship of friendship and love that crosses the human-animal boundary. This hard to define bond has its greatest chance of developing healthily when the horse and rider-owner are well matched.

Pay attention to finding a horse that not only looks good and has the athleticism to perform well. Also be sure you can ride him adequately from the start and that he is easy to work around on the ground. With this good start, the pair of you will be in harmony and likely to sustain a great long-term relationship.

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