Yet loping is so critical, not just to see how he lopes, but also as a measure of his overall training, willingness, and temperament. You see, most horses feel some obligation to at least walk and trot, and will do so without much backtalk. It's when you ask them to lope that chinks in their training or any latent naughtiness issues are likely to come out. Obviously, start by having the owner lope the horse. If he or she won't, it should be a deal-breaker, regardless of the excuse.
Then, if for any reason you don't feel comfortable loping the horse yourself because you want to get to know the horse more first , bring along someone who will. Ideally, the horse should lope willingly and quietly, on the correct lead. If he can do it on a loose rein, even better. Especially if you're a timid rider, remember this: A lack of confidence almost always stems from a feeling of lack of control. When you feel you have control, you feel confident. And if you have a horse that lopes willingly and quietly from the get-go, you'll feel in control of him. A pre-purchase exam or vet check is important regardless of the horse's asking price?
Bear in mind, though, that every horse will have some negatives? The key is to talk to the examining veterinarian about what you can and can't live with, based on your intended use for the horse. And you may be able to negotiate a reduced price based on what the vet check turns up. On the other hand, if a serious, can't-live-with-it problem turns up, don't hesitate to reject the horse. Remember, there's always another horse out there. This won't be your only chance, so don't buy yourself into a heartache. Ready to look for the right horse for you? Go to Equine. Where-to-Ride Guide.
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Mistakes People Make When Buying a First Horse
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People who buy pleasure riding horses have various notions of the kind of horse they would like to own.
Read This Before You Buy Your First Horse – The Horse
Some have a preference as to color. Many object to and would not own a horse of a certain color even though the animal was percent satisfactory as to type, conformation, and the use they expected to make of it. Others want a horse of a certain size. Often, small persons like big horses. Just why is difficult to understand.
They are not easy to handle: they are difficult to mount, and the rider does not nor can he truly feel at home in the saddle of an oversized horse.
For Confidence, Do This *Before* You Buy That Horse
The experienced horseman will hardly ever decide against a horse on color alone. While everyone may have a preference as to color, the horseman with wide experience and knowledge will consider it secondary. The size of the horse is not always proof that this horse will be most satisfactory, even for the heavy rider. Some horses that are very large, especially a tall horse, may not be a satisfactory weight carrier at all.
A shorter horse and a short-backed horse, one more on the chunky order, will usually carry a lot more weight, even though the former is two or three inches taller and a couple of hundred pounds heavier. To give the greatest enjoyment and most pleasure, a horse should be balanced as to height and length. The most satisfactory pleasure horse is that one that shows some evidence of breeding. This is generally shown by legs that are free from long tufts of hair and by a small head and neat, trim body conformation. Such horses usually carry considerable blood from saddle horses, standardized horses, Morgan horses, or any of hundreds of light horse breeds.
They are trim and neat in appearance and look good under saddle. One type of horse that often does not make a satisfactory riding horse, although many of them are recommended for this purpose, are the small, undersized draft or workhorses.
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Many of these horses are short and chubby and have typical draft-horse legs with a lot of hair on them, their feet are large and they usually have a heavy, disproportionately large head. The only recommendation for these horses is the size. Most of them are not very tall—about 15 hands or slightly more, and they are usually not too heavy, but they do not have the right body conformation. This type of horse is hard riding and is not fast and handy as one would expect.
They are small for a satisfactory draft or work horse and the dealers often pass them off as a riding horse. Actually, they are not of riding quality at all—just a small, undersized draft or work horse. In general, I would advise the person about to buy a private pleasure mount to pass up the ordinary livery horse or one that has been used in a riding academy or riding stable. Some good horses have been purchased out of these places, but most often they have seen their best days and are not very satisfactory.
Livery horses in most stables develop a lot of tricks; many of them are barn sour, and with the amateur or beginner are likely to cause a lot of trouble.
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They get in the habit of doing whatever they want to do regardless of their rider, and when once they have developed this habit they are not easy to cure. Livery horses are also undesirable because they have had such hard use that they are pretty well worn out. Some of the better stables watch their horses very closely and sell them off after they have had the best use out of them. It is not good business nor profitable to buy a crippled or injured horse regardless of how fine he might be if normal.
Cripples may recover and make very fine horses, but there is always the danger that a crippled or injured horse will remain so. The most common mistakes made by the amateur horseman in selecting a personal mount is that of buying a young, inexperienced horse, perhaps an unbroken colt or one that has been used very little. This is the most unsuitable mount for an inexperienced person to buy. The chances are very great that with an inexperienced horseman and amateur rider such, a horse becomes so badly spoiled as to be utterly useless. For best results I recommend buying a mature horse, one five to ten years of age that is well broken and trained and that has had the kind of use that you expect to give it Until you have had a lot of experience with horses and know how to handle them under all conditions, you should not buy a horse that has been spoiled.
Under proper handling and management, some spoiled horses can be made into first-class animals. A spoiled horse is usually the result of improper handling by an inexperienced horseman. They are often sold at bargain prices, but the time required to get these horses working satisfactorily is entirely too great, and it is unlikely that the amateur horseman will ever get any satisfaction or pleasure from them. Nor would I advise you to buy a very old horse for a personal pleasure mount. Some are very pleasant to ride and use and in their day have been rated among the best.
However, if you get one of these old horses, enjoy the horse and get along well with it, its age begins to make the horse undesirable, and soon you may find it necessary to retire the veteran. In buying a riding horse, you should keep in mind that horse dealers usually never offer a horse for sale that is more than twelve years old. Many of these so-called twelve-year-olds are actually seventeen or eighteen, maybe even twenty.
For this reason I advise the buyer to try to get a horse of good age—and by that I mean somewhere between five and ten years old.
You should ride this horse just as you would expect to ride it if you had purchased it. Many horses will ride fine for a few minutes, or when taken around where they are accustomed to the locality, but away from their home surroundings they prove worthless. It would be better to have the seller or someone else ride along with you on another horse and then ride at some distance from where this horse is stabled.
Ride on the highways if possible, or at least ride under the conditions you expect to encounter after you have purchased it. I mean by this that if you are interested in purchasing this horse and find the horse under saddle and being ridden by someone, do not mount this horse or give it a trial under such conditions. Make a future date with the seller or owner, go to the stable or barn where this horse is kept, and start out from there. It is a common practice wherever it can be worked with horses that are barn sour or stale to saddle them up, have someone ride them on the trail or along the highway or elsewhere, and when a prospective purchaser wants to try them, drive out in a car to where the horse is being used and try it out from there.
Not So Fast! Before You Buy a Horse…