Buying a new horse can be a minefield, especially for the inexperienced.
I must have looked at hundreds of horses for sale since I set up the trekking centre here on Cannock Chase and over the years I have developed my own checklist that I go through when I’m viewing a potential new candidate.
When I need to find a new recruit I listen to recommendations from people I know and I study horses for sale adverts on the internet. Then I go to view.
I like a particular type of horse for the centre, but the basics are the same even if you are buying a little pony for your children.
I always get them trotted up so I can see their action and check that they are straight behind. Check the legs for lumps and bumps and pick the feet up.
Always find out the horse’s history and have a look inside the mouth to check age. Also ask to see the passport and any other paperwork and make sure that everything matches up.
Temperament is vitally important. If you are a beginner or a happy hacker you really don’t want something feisty and fiery! If you can only ride at weekends, don’t buy something that needs schooling every day. You will soon find you have a problem on your hands.
I ask the owner to tack them up in front of me. I like to see them being tacked up – or even ask if I can do it myself – and I normally ask the owner to ride the horse for me. I always insist the owner gets on first – if it’s going to buck they can be the one who hits the ground!
Always find out what type of diet the horse is on – that can have an effect on behaviour. I also ask about the worming programme and any health problems.
If you think it is the horse for you it is worth asking your vet to check it out.
People so often buy the wrong horse, so never be afraid to look at one that is older and more experienced. We have the expertise here at the centre to break in and bring on a youngster, but some owners end up with problems that they simply can’t deal with.
Active pensioners can lead full and fun-filled lives and can prove to be the perfect best friend. Our lovely Thomas and Megan, who have recently retired, have both gone to great homes where they will be kept busy.
The important thing is to find the horse that is right for you.