How to Buy a Horse
We have put together your step by step guide on how to buy a horse for the first time (in Australia).
PART 1 - SEARCH
1) HORSE SALE WEBSITES
The most obvious place to start looking for your next star is on online; the major horses for sales websites are:
General Tip: Don't be afraid to look further away than from your city, sometimes sellers are open to discussing to meet you half way, or to pay part of the transport cost. Its usually in the remote areas that the hidden pearls are hiding. And let's face it, if you are looking for a forever friend, the extra drive is worth it.
2) FACEBOOK GROUPS
- Searching in 'Horses for Sale' facebook groups is a great source because: If the horse was posted during an odd hour when people are less active online, the post might have been missed by a lot of people.
- People that post in groups are generally more rushed to sell their horse, hence you can pickup a good price
- You can see other people comments on the adverts, which can sometimes show you if the ad is not honest, or some of the comments might answer some of your own queries
- Added Security when the ad is linked to someone's personal facebook account, it is more difficult to fake their identity.
- You can also search facebook groups for old ads with the owner's or horse name, to see if the horse has been for sale before.
- You can add a notification into a group for a certain word, for example 'clydesdale gelding'.
- Every time someone posts something about a Clydesdale gelding you will be notified, and a greater chance of being the first of contacting the seller for your preferred ad.
3) HORSE MAGAZINES
Even though print media is on its way out, the traditional way of finding horses for sale still exists. The major horse magazines in Australia are:
- Australian Performance Horse Magazine
- Horse Deals
Sidenote: You don't need internet and can bring the magazine to wherever you like, there is something magical about a print out copy that you can hold in your hand and browse through while having your morning copy. Make sure you get your hands on the latest issue if you do want to browse through the ads in the magazines.
Even though gumtree is not a solely equestrian website, it is still used frequently by horse people when advertising tack and horses. This is usually the place to go for any cheaper horses or quick sales. The main advantage here (same as the facebook groups) is that you can save a search a receive a notification when your preferred horse is listed.
5) PRIVATE SALE THROUGH CONTACTS
Put the word out where, post on your social media accounts that you are looking for a horse, with your specific requirements Sometimes rather sell a horse to a friend of a friend rather than to a stranger, hence your dream horse may not be advertised yet Tell your instructor, agistment friends, and other horsey people that you are actively looking as they will have a sense of what type of horse will match with you It can be comforting to know the full background of a horse's past when buying from a friend of a friend, making sure you are not being ripped off.
PART 2 - EVALUATION
6) VET CHECK
A vet check, also referred to as pre-purchase exam, is recommended and a standard procedure for most vets. A full check-up of a horse is usually anything between $200-$500, and even more if you require x-rays etc. Hidden issues can be revealed and saved a lot of heartache. The vet check will often include, but not limited to:
- the horses teeth’s (age)
- General condition (shine of coat, weight etc)
- Condition of eyes, mouth, feet, heart and conformation
- Flexion test of the legs
- Observation of movement in the different paces It is up to the buyer depending on how detailed vet check you want, and which vet to use. Generally more expensive horses go through more thorough examinations.
If a horse was bread at a stud they tend to be branded, especially racehorses. The horse’s brand stays there for life and will tell you where it was born, age and what number foal was born at that stud in that year. Branding of stock horses, thoroughbreds and standardbreds are all a bit different, but you can generally also which stud they are from. If the horse is an exrace horse you can search the Australian studbook (studbook. org.au) which will tell you the pedigree, dob, breeders names, current owners, last raced etc. Knowing the horse’s background may allow you to speak to the breeder and find out more about the horse’s past.
As mentioned above you can search the Australian studbook from information about the breeding of your horse. However if you want to find out previous competition results you can go to http://www.equestrian.org.au/members/search/results and go to your preferred discipline and add the owners or the horse’s show name. They show results from official events in dressage, eventing, Showjumping and show horse. You can also find general information about the horse at: http://www.equestrian.org.au/members/search/horse
9) MUTUAL FRIENDS
Having mutual friends that knows the current owner of the horse can be comforting as they might have more information about the horse that you are not aware of. What is their impression of the horse, and would they recommend it. Friends can usually also tell whether you and the horse is a good match. It is also a benefit for the sellers peace of mind as they can make sure that the horse is going to a good home.
You should always ask for a trial and not stress into the decision, as only time will tell if you and your new horse are suitable. Ask the sellers for a trial off property, to make sure the horse doesn’t act different in other environments. If there is something ‘dodgy’ about the sale, such as the horse was drugged at the time of viewing, or it is low on energy as it is not fed enough, or it got hidden nasties etc – these issues will usually come out during a trial. Warning lights go on if the seller is trying to stress you into a sale.
11) BRING YOUR COACH
Having eyes on the ground is of immense importance when trialling a horse as you can quite easily see any unsoundness etc. And an experienced coach can give you advise on whether the horse is what you are after and if it suits your level of riding. If you are for example looking for a scopey showjumper, an experienced eye can much more easily see whether the horse has got natural talent and the boldness that a great showjumper needs.
PART 3 - DECISION
A well written contract is recommended for ALL horse sales, it protects both yourself and the seller. You can print out a decent contract from a few different sources without it costing you an arm and a leg: - http://www.horseforce.com.au/product/sale-purchase/ ($42.95 per document) Horseforce offers solid agreements and contracts in all types of horse dealings including, sales, joint ownership, lease, agistment, trial, training and breeding. - https://www.netlawman.com.au/dl/horse-sale-agreements ($29 per document) might be worth it for a more expensive sale as it is written by a lawfirm - http://www.pcansw.org.au/docs/general/72/sale-purchase_agreement-2.pdf (FREE) created by Pony Club NSW -http://www.eqequestrian.com/uploads/ (FREE) Standard agreement for both Buyer and Seller created by Eq Equestrian.
Covering your horse from day 1 can give you a lot of peace of mind. People tend to form emotional bonds with their horses pretty quick, and you don't want to stand between the option of either putting your best friend down or paying off a vet bill for the next 3 years. One of Australia's most popular Equine insurance providers is PetPlan (www.petplan.com.au). You can tailor your plan after your requirements; up to what value you wish to ensure etc. Please note the premium will go up if you engage in a more injury prone sport (eventing) and your horse is valued more. Other insurers providing horse insurance is www.logan.com.au and www.horse-insurance.com.au
14) STAY IN TOUCH
Buying AND selling a horse can be very emotional and a tough decision. Sometime you are forced to sell a horse due to financial, time or health reasons. Sending regular updates to the previous owners with progress pictures can minimise the pain by assuring the previous owner the horse is in good hands. Many owners also like visiting their previous horse if they ever visit the area you live or agist in. We encourage to stay friendly and in touch with previous owners as you share the same love for the horse and passion for the sport.
15) USE YOUR GUT FEEL
General tips The most important is Honesty and gut feel. Stay within your budget Don’t fall in love with a cute horse, make sure its what your after Try not to buy a horse that doesn't pas the vet check or has got a long history of illness/lameness issues.
REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN
After a successful sale and your horse arrives at your stables is the best feeling in the world. Enjoy every minute of it. Horses are a beautiful creation and a gift to mankind. Congratulations on your new horse! We hope you get many years together of learning, laughter and joy!