Buying a young horse. Part I.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Friday, January 22, 2010 09:01 AM
I'm back from my trip and I am excited to let everyone know I bought a horse. Finally! This was a long journey. It took me a year with two unsuccessful attempts. It looks like third time was truly the charm. This experience was very educational, however, not without frustration. I would like to share with you what I have learned and what mistakes I did to safe you time, money and nerves if you decide to shop for a horse.
At first I was looking to safe money and buy a decent registered young horse. I was looking into Canadian warmbloods bred right here in Alberta. One way to safe money is to find a small, sort of "backyard" breeder who has a few mares and treats breeding like a fun way to have horses and to make a little bit of money on a side. You can find a nice young horse this way. However, this path has a lot of traps.
    Here are few things to be aware of if you decide to go for it:
  • Even though the sire of a young horse can be a well-known locally, nationally or internationally he is only half of the equation. A lot of time small breeders have mares they bought very cheap. Either they are Thoroughbreds after racing or they couldn't be riding horses because of injury or other reason. Even though approved for breeding these mares very often received low scores on their conformation and/or movement. This is important to know because mares pass a lot of their traits to their babies.
  • Many times small breeders do not realize or do not have enough education on importance of good care for a young horse. Two common negligences are feet and a lot of small injuries due to the low quality of fencing (barb wire, rotten posts, etc). The longer the young horse stays with such breeder the more chances it has to be unsound. The price does not change much from weanling to 3-year old and it will look like a good idea to buy a youngster when it is ready to start some work. However, you run the risk of getting an unsound horse. If you go for a 2- or 3-year-old make sure to get a very good pre-purchase examination from an equine vet who works with performance horses.
  • Many times these young horses do not receive enough or proper handling. Which again brings us to the question of buying a 3-year-old. Many of these 2- and 3-year-olds are big enough to look like a grown horse but have no idea how to behave around humans. They are pushy and spooky at the same time, they do not like their feet handled. Well, no surprise here, these horses are trimmed may be twice a year or even less than that. This makes vet examination very difficult if impossible.
  • A lot of time these breeders are not fully aware what a performance horse is. This is softly said. Some of them have absolutely no idea. They do not know a common pre-purchase examination standards. They overlook importance of efficient and quick treatment of injuries. They may unintentionally mislead a buyer with the comments and so on.
As I said before you can still buy a young horse from a small breeder and be very happy with it. Just remember not to expect these breeders to help you. Do your home work, check the mares, their papers, facility, bring a knowledgeable friend or your instructor to help you look past cute face and beautiful color. If you have your own place for horses rather buy a weanling so you can take care of it yourself. If you decide to buy a 3-year-old arrange a vet check with a good equine vet. They are usually more expensive than just all animals vet. You are looking at $200-250 for a standard pre-purchase vet exam compare to $90 for same service from a regular vet. And be prepared that the youngster may not let a vet to check it's teeth, feet, do flexion tests, etc. Vets are not going to risk their lives and you may end up with incomplete check. If you have doubts the horse is sound rather walk away from the purchase. Losing $200 to vet exam is way better than spending several thousand dollars and deal with a lame horse later on. There are many horses on the market, especially, young ones. Take your time. The longer you are looking the more experienced you become.
Happy riding...
 
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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