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Horse-shopping on a budget

From: Aldrich family

Dear Jessica, I have owned horses for quite a few years now. I sadly out grew my perfect little pony Shasta. And by perfect I mean perfect. Got her when I was about seven and she was green. But we learned together. She does everything from swimming with kids in ditches to pulling sleds. But we sold her since she wasn't going to any use. We sold her for $500 which I thought was qiute cheap. So I rode a old Appy gelding for a while. But as a teen I needed more challenge. I am on a somewhat tight budget and am trying to find a horse for spring. Where do you think is a good place to find one for a experienced rider for a okay price?

Hi -- and you're not alone, almost everyone who goes horse-shopping is working within a budget.

There are a lot of different places to look for horses; you can buy a horse privately, or through an agent, or from a breeding farm or production sale, or from an auction. If you are experienced in training and re-training horses, you can recycle a horse off the track -- everyone knows that Thoroughbreds ex-racehorses can be purchased and turned into riding horses, but not everyone realizes that Standardbreds are also frequently sold at the end of their racing career, and that these make lovely riding horses too (and are often more sound than the retiring Thoroughbreds).

I would begin by talking with your riding instructor, who probably has a very good idea of what sort of horse would be best for you at this stage of your riding. Riding instructors usually know of suitable horses that come up for sale, and riding instructors tend to know other riding instructors, who know of suitable horses for sale in THEIR areas. So your own instructor can be quite a good source of information for you.

If you know how much it will cost you to keep a horse, and you have an idea of how much you can afford to pay for the horse itself, that's a good start. You also need to know what sort of riding you want to do, at what level, and whether you want to compete (and at what level), so that the horse you find will be appropriate for your needs. If you want something that you can ride immediately, you won't want a young horse in need of training or an older horse that needs turnout and retraining before it will be suitable for you.

Watch the bulletin boards at local tack shops, farm service stores, and feed mills. Look at advertisements in your local newspapers, and in the little regional horse newsletters and newspapers. If nothing suitable appears, have your instructor help you design a HORSE WANTED sign of your own (with a full description of what you want), and post that in all those same places. Call the local Pony Club D.C. and the local 4-H leader, and ask whether you can place an ad in their newsletters -- and ask about horses that their members may have for sale. If there are riding clubs in your area, you can do the same thing with them -- most clubs have a newsletter.

There's a book all about buying (and selling) horses: HORSE FOR SALE, by Cherry Hill. It would be a good idea for you to read this before you buy your new horse.

In the meantime, and especially if you need a horse SOON, don't rush into a purchase -- the right horse doesn't always come along on YOUR schedule, and you do NOT want to buy the wrong horse! Instead of being in a hurry to BUY a horse, why not lease or part-lease a horse? You can still go on looking for a horse to purchase, but leasing will take the pressure off, and give you more time to find the best horse for your needs. Your instructor will be able to help you find a suitable horse for lease.

Good luck, and take your time!


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