Where did you buy your horse?
From Craigslist ads to breed shows, from auctions to sales barns, finding the perfect horse can feel like a hunt for a needle in a hay-stack — or several different hay-stacks! How do you know which route is best for you?
Are you an amateur or buying your first horse? In these cases, it’s best to go the tried and true route — to established sales barns, with a trusted professional at your side. Many horse enthusiasts are drawn to rescuing down-on-their-luck horses in auction rings and sales pens. Although saving a horse can be thrilling — and feel like an act of altruism — you could be saddled with problems that are a detriment to the health and safety of you and other horses. Horses without proper healthcare or vaccinations can carry infectious disease into a barn without strict quarantine measures — measures that some barns simply might not be able to keep up with.
And buying a horse without any knowledge of its previous training or handling could spell high training costs (or hospital stays!) if you’re not a practiced horse trainer. Bottom line: leave the rescue work to the professionals, and buy your first horse with an eye for quality training, disposition, and health.
Professionals and amateurs alike can benefit from the breeder or the sales barn. Although auctions for sporthorses and sporthorse prospects are still rather rare in the United States, many breeders offer started and showing horses in addition to yearlings and youngstock. One resource for sales barn listings is Exchange Hunter Jumper (http://www.exchangehunterjumper.com/sale_barn/showcase). Finding your next horse could be as simple as researching your favorite bloodlines and finding the nearest quality farm where you can buy them.
Sales barns, on the other hand, might have horses from a variety of backgrounds and breeders. A trainer who specializes in training, showing, and selling horses frequently acts as a broker for buyers and sellers. Very good trainers will be able to match up a horse and rider partnership, and they’ll come with excellent recommendation from happy clients.
If you’ve got what it takes to find a diamond in the rough, though, you might be able to find a bargain through the Internet, especially in towns with large horse breeding populations. Websites based in breeding areas like Ocala, Florida, such as Florida Horse Shows (http://floridahorseshows.org/florida-horse-breeding-farms.php), are often bursting with listings for young horses who aren’t going to cut it in their breeders’ area of expertise. Young Thoroughbreds who aren’t built to race or who aren’t registered are particularly easy to find for a bargain price, even free. Got the experience to train a youngster into a riding horse? The Internet might be your new best friend.
No matter what route you take to finding your next horse, never go it alone! Take a friend (or three) with plenty of equine experience. Everyone will take away something a little differently after looking at a sales horse, and you’ll have plenty to discuss as you drive to the next barn on your list, looking for that perfect new horse.