None of this article applies to top of the line performance horses. That is a different world and anyone able to move in it will not likely be interested in the market this article is aimed at.
Things to know before you buy a horse: It is pretty safe to say that in most cases you will spend roughly two to four times the cost of the horse during the first year when you get your first horse. Free horses may cost a lot more.
Lately I’ve had at least one phone call a week and one personal visit a month from people wanting to know if I’d like another horse. Some wanted to sell their horse, but others were offering to give me the horse. There was a time in my life I dreamed of such bounty. Now, I have more horses than I need. Indeed, I have more horses than I want.
Right now is not a good time to be trying to sell a horse. It is a buyers market all the way. So, if you are urrently in the market for a horse, don’t get in a rush and certainly don’t let anyone snow you with a good sales job.
One example I can offer is that just last fall a mare I would have gladly purchased had I known she was available was given away. She is a Tennessee Walking horse trained to ride and drive. She has a wonderful running walk as well as good flat walk and rocking chair canter. She goes English, western, sidesaddle and in harness. Anyone can ride her anywhere.
This mare is a perfect first horse or family horse. She is also the dam of my personal horse and my daughter has been in love with her for years. When a horse like this is given away you know the market is bad.
These facts mean that there are some real bargains out there if you are willing to take your time and shop carefully before making your decision. The most important thing to do is have someone who is knowledgeable about horses and know you and your needs to help you select your new horse.
If you’ve never owned a horse before I strongly recommend you immediately eleminate any horses under fifteen years of age from your consideration. A horse of this age will still have ten to twenty years of life left. When you consider that this is as long as you are likely to keep a dog at best then you can understand why so many knowledgeable horsemen recommend an older horse as a first horse.
You also have something that will be trained and settled. This will reduce your vet bill because an older horse is less likely to get in the sort of trouble that will require extra medical care. The older horse is usually good to go if it is wormed, has good dental care and basic shots.
I say basic shots because the important thing to know about older horses is that there is a high probablility of founder if you hit them with too many vaccines. I’d say at least a one in four chance for the thirty year old horse if not higher. So find out exactly which vacination are absolutely necessary in your area and give only those to your older horse. No matter what sort of arguments the vet may have for any other vaccines resist. To help you understand why I say you should go against the vet’s advice I’ll offer the following cautionary tale.
When a friend told me she was having the vet out to worm and vaccinate her 33 year old Quarter Horse mare I warned her against giving the mare anything beyond her rabies and tetnus vaccines. Well, you know the bit about a prophet in his own world… the vet managed to put a real guilt trip on my friend about how bad she’d feel if she didn’t give the vaccine and the mare caught the disease.
My friend caved and the mare got half-a-dozen or more vaccines that day. The next day she was in agony from founder. Eventually she had to be put down. When my friend questioned the vet she admitted quite easily that founder was a real problem in older horses when vaccinated. My friend was most unhappy with this becasue she had asked about the probability before agreeing to let her give the mare the vaccinations.
Ah, yes an important piece of information; the older horse that has recieved the proper vaccines will be resistent to many diseases for up to ten years anyway. Rabies and tetnus are the critical ones for all horses in the US.