But, if you’re looking for the essentials, check out our top 60 questions you should ask before buying a horse. If you aren’t a very experienced rider, you will have the best luck working with a trainer you trust.
Basics If you are working with a trainer, they will be a great resource for narrowing down what things are most important (e.g. horse ’s specific skills and personality) and what things are just nice-to-haves. Knowing the basics beforehand saves you from wasting your time visiting the wrong horses.
These questions will help you narrow down horses to find ones you might be interested in meeting in person. Before Initial Visit Before you buy a horse, you should schedule a time to see the horse in person and ideally you and/or your trainer will have a chance to ride him/her.
Don’t schedule a visit without asking some prerequisite questions. Make sure the person answering your questions has enough experience with the horse to give you real answers and watch for any red flags.
Asking why the horse is for sale is a critical question. You need to “click” with your new horse, which means understanding his personality.
Health While you can never guarantee that a horse will remain healthy, you’ll want to fully understand the current health and medical history of any horse you are considering purchasing. From teeth to feet, you want a complete picture of the horse ’s health history.
Will you allow them to release your horse ’s medical records to me for review? Riding/Showing Make sure that the horse you are considering has the training and experience to meet your needs.
Feeding/Care If you are serious about purchasing a particular horse, you’ll want to understand what its current lifestyle, care, and diet is like. Every horse ’s diet is different, so ask a lot of questions about the prospect’s current routine.
This will help you understand if they will be a good fit for the barn or pasture you’ll be housing them in and how much time and money you should expect to spend on their basic care. If they have show experience, be sure to ask for details and see what tack they are using.
Unless you are an advanced rider, you should not consider a young, green horse. Beginner and intermediate riders are much better off on older, well-trained horses.
If your primary use will be trail riding, consider finding a horse that has plenty of experience. You’ll want to ensure the horse has a calm temperament, is sure-footed, and does not spook easily.
Make sure you are still asking all the important questions in this article first. Once you feel confident the horse is a good fit, it’s really important to make sure the owner and lease agreement are too.
Are there any limits on your usage of the horse (travel, showing, riders)? Leasing a horse can be anything from a few dedicated riding days per week at a flat rate to full care where the owner is rarely, if ever, involved.
Make sure you fully understand what the expectations are and that you get them in writing. Finding someone who seems friendly, trustworthy, and respectful can go a long way toward making the experience more positive.
A Noggins test is simple blood test that checks for a serious disease called Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), which is caused by infected flies. Depending on where you live, you may be required to prove a horse is free of EIA in order to sell, trade, or transport it.
Currently, there are no cures or vaccines for EIA and horses that test positive must be put down or quarantined permanently. You should ensure your prospective horse has had a Noggins test prior to purchase.
A pre-purchase exam (PPE) is a standard health check performed by a vet, typically of the buyer’s choosing, before a purchase is finalized. The buyer and seller should both participate and what is included will vary based on the vet, budget, and specific needs.
A flexion test is typically performed during a PPE by your vet. It is a standard part of a lameness evaluation and involves bending the hind legs to determine if there are any joint issues that may not be noticeable otherwise.
There is no standard price for pre-purchase exams, for several reasons. There is no set standard for what a PPE includes and it often depends on the interests and budget of the buyer.
You may also consider asking your trainer or barn friends what contract they used. You may have local laws that you’ll need to take into consideration when dealing with legal documents.
Making a hasty decision, not thinking through your options, or “going with your gut,” are recipes for disappointment. With proper planning, however, the help of an experienced trainer or friend, and an open mind, your dream horse will certainly find you.
Caitlinspaulding / Twenty20 It's a common misperception that horses are entirely color-blind, seeing the world only in shades of gray. A horse sees only two or three visible wavelengths in the color spectrum.
Diane McAllister / Getty Images Horses fit the official scientific definition of a mammal: They give birth to live young that suckle milk from their mothers. Vm / Getty Images Horses are generally docile animals and are unlikely to hurt a person intentionally.
However, because of their size and tendency to react quickly, a horse can easily hurt you by accident. Some of the most common ways to be injured by a horse are having your toes stepped on, being bitten, or falling off while riding.
Paul Felix / Getty Images Traditionally, animal hides and hooves were used to make glue, since collagen rendered from the skin and hooves made a sturdy adhesive. However, some craftspeople prefer traditional glue, which is still available but no longer manufactured in large quantities.
Presently, many types of dead animal stock, including cattle, goats, pigs, and horses are rendered for pet and livestock food, fertilizer, and some of these rendered materials are used in materials such as cosmetics, soaps, and in industrial fluids, including glues. If it is not rendered, a dead horse may be buried or cremated, depending on local regulations.
Dogs, on the other hand, have similar social needs and respond to negative and positive reinforcement in the same way that humans do, which results in a reputation for being smart. In reality, a horse's brain is roughly 25 times the size and weight of a walnut and has a considerable number of convolutions (creases and furrows) that add to the surface area.
Research has shown we can train horses to do many of the things dogs do, but that it takes much more effort. There is no definitive way to rank animal intelligence, but when viewed by some common criteria for establishing human intelligence, such as memory and problem-solving, horses tend to rank below some other common mammals such as apes and monkeys, dolphins and whales, dogs, and elephants.
The term carnivore means meat-eater, a category that includes members of the cat family and animals such as crocodiles and badgers. Humans, skunks, pigs, bears, and mice are examples of omnivores.
In addition to horses, this category includes most of the grazing animals, such as cows, bison, zebras, elephants, and antelope. Marcus Rudolph.NL / Getty Images Horses are classified as livestock along with animals like sheep, goats, cattle, and swine, although many people consider them to be pets or companion animals.
This is a more complicated distinction than you might think since legal designation as a companion animal can change many of the regulations regarding issues such as raising and keeping horses, medical treatment, and certain agricultural tax benefits enjoyed by livestock owners. Ralf NAU / Getty Images The modern horse is a domestic animal, defined as a species bred, born, raised, and used by humans.
There are also some herds of original native horse breeds still in existence in the wild, but most so-called wild horses are domestic breeds that have escaped domestication and become naturalized. Art Marie / Getty Images Many people consider their horses to be pets and keep them only for companionship and enjoyment.
In other parts of the world, horses are still raised as meat animals for consumption. Martonaphoto / Getty Images Horses can and do lie down if they feel comfortable in their stalls or pastures.
Horses will nap for short times when they lie down, but if a horse lays prone for too long, blood flow can be restricted, causing a reperfusion injury that occurs when muscles and organs become damaged from lack of blood. Blood can also pool in the lungs if a horse lays down for too long.
Because it is an unnatural position, it is uncomfortable for the horse to sit for a long time. Best to not stick fingers or faces over fences where unknown horses live.
Horses can leave nasty bite marks on faces and other body parts and have been known to rip noses and ears off. Antonio Marcos aka fotonstudio photography / Getty Images Horses can give birth to twin foals.
Responsible breeders will have mares checked for twin pregnancies early on, and if it's found the mare is carrying twin embryos, one can be “pinched,” allowing the other to thrive and be successfully born. Daniel Valley FRS / Getty Images Yes, horses can sleep while standing up.
A mechanism in the joints of the front and hind leg locks when the horse drops one hip as it dozes off into REM sleep. As a genetic adaptation, horses sleep standing up to allow them a quick get-away should a predator approach.
Yuri_Ar curs / Getty Images Many people think their horses like to be ridden. But like any animal, a horse needs exercise to maintain health and enjoys some measure of interaction and companionship.
However, your horse will not mind, nor will he be harmed, if you miss a weekly riding session. There are instances in which horses were fed meat diets, such as during the early expeditions to Antarctica, when pack horses were fed high-calorie fish meal as part of the diet.
Horses have the digestive system of a herbivore and are the healthiest eating good grass or hay. The positions of ears and tail are other obvious indicators of what a horse may be thinking and feeling.
They can feel the tactile sensation of tiny flies landing on their coats and can shiver away pests with very precise movements of their muscles and skin.