At some point in your horse journey, you will want to transition from a riding school
horse to a horse to call our own. Where to start ? Whom to trust? What to look for?
Anne-Sophie Milette walks us through four considerations as you start to think about a horse of your own!
My name is Anne-Sophie Milette, I am a Canadian professional horseback rider, owner of Europa Horse Agency based in Belgium and I started this journey probably where you are right now. Summer camps, riding school, this is where my passion ignited. I was not born in a “horse” family at all. On the contrary, my dad was a self-made businessman with a fear for those animals. Thankfully, my mom was always fascinated by them and decided to take classical riding lessons with my sister and I. My dad described horses as a dangerous bad investment. He was not far from the truth.
Being born into a family with an equine tradition is of course a great advantage. You have this enormous body of established knowledge to draw from, and to inspire and guide you. I remember being a little envious of some people, sometimes! Although, the journey where you get to learn everything by yourself, with all the thrills and spills that comes with it, is countlessly more rewarding.
At some point in this journey, we all want to transition from a riding school horse to a horse to call our own. Where to start? Whom to trust? What to look for? This quickly becomes a complicated and expensive puzzle. To ease- up your potential horse buying journey, here are my top 4 tips that I wish I had known before buying my first horse.
1. Listen to your experts
Buying a first horse, trying it for the first time, brings a ton of new feelings inside yourself. Those feelings are pretty similar to the one of falling in love. The thing we should remain aware of is that love can be tricky. It is most important to put those goosebumps feelings aside and think like an investor when it comes to buying a horse. This way we shall not be blinded by those unfamiliar feelings of excitement who can influence our decision-making process.
Before writing this check for your new loved one, the first step is finding a pool of horses to try, based on your criteria: budget, age, discipline, level of experience, health, etc. Whether you are looking for a competition horse or just a teacher, it’s really important that you dress up a plan while trying to be emotionally disciplined. Let your trainer help you and guide you through the process, experience conquers it all when it comes to horse buying. Trainers or other horse experts have gone through this process several times and learned the dos and don’ts. If you want to go solo into finding your horse, the chances are really high that you will be presented with overpriced, not healthy, or naughty horses.
2. Plan your budget
There are horses for all budgets out there. If you are picky about your ticking all your needs, the price will go accordingly. Everyone wants a young forever affordable horse with tons of experience, braveness, and impeccable vet check… Set yourself a realistic limit and be ready to make compromises on your needs based on your set budget. The trick is really to look at your savings and establish first the money you are ready to spend. This number will give you the price range of the horses you will select.
3. Don’t buy if you are not ready to lose money
As a first time buyer, you are probably a novice or intermediate rider. It is almost certain that you will not add value to your horse. Ian Millar shared that insight in one of his clinics that I attended many years ago and I can confirm his insight after working for more than 10 years in the industry. Horses are a high-risk investment and making money on horses takes a whole bucket of experience and luck.
Furthermore, too many people want to buy young horses for it to last “longer”. In my opinion, this is the number one mistake. Many times, I have seen young riders even lose passion for their sport as their young new mount has proven to be more difficult to develop than expected. When you don’t have the tools to train a horse that has not learned life yet, you should go for an experienced horse. That way you can focus on you as a rider every time you sit on it and grow faster.
4. Fun and safety overall
To reinforce the last point of choosing experienced horses over youngsters, you want to remember that owning your horse should be fun and safe! We are undeniably doing a very dangerous sport. Those beautiful animals can quickly become feared if they are not understood. When it comes to trying horses, it does not mean you should overlook 5 or 6 years old prospects as some of them are brave by nature. Maybe, it would be a good idea to share with the breeder/owner that you need a horse to develop yourself first. Taking the time to explain well the goals you want to achieve with your future partner. The more information you share, the better chance you will find a horse who suits your needs. Make sure to talk to your trainer to identify and clarify those goals/needs.
On a last note, stay open-minded and enjoy the journey of finding your next superstar. Sometimes the process is longer than anticipated. See every horse you try as an added experience.
Stay safe and enjoy the ride!