So, you want to buy a horse. But not just any horse, you want to buy a horse that you will own and love forever–a “forever horse.”
Many new owners hope to find a horse they can keep for the longterm, and owning a “forever horse” is a noble endeavor. It’s a kindness when a horse finds a good person who will care for them until “death do us part.”
If you’re searching for a forever horse (or if a forever horse has set out to find you), here are ten factors to consider when determining whether or not you have found your forever horse:
- Your first impression of the horse was a positive one. Gut instinct won’t be your only factor for making a major life decision, but you should absolutely consider your intuitive first impression of a new horse. Some studies indicate that first impressions can prove to be accurate, and others show it can be difficult to change your first impression later on, even if you want to.
- Experienced horse people in your life agree that the horse is a good fit for you. Before you take advice from just anyone though, be sure the person:
- is someone who has your best interests in mind,
- has a credible opinion, and
- understands where you are at in your horsemanship and where you hope to go.
- You can afford the horse–both the purchase price and any cost required for his or her regular maintenance and (if needed) training. If you want to be able to keep a horse forever, you have to be able to afford it. This means choosing a horse inside your budget from the get-go. Do your best to set a realistic budget and to evaluate the costs associated with a potential horse to make sure it adds up.
- You feel safe working with/riding the horse. There is always risk when it comes to being around horses, but do yourself a favor, and make your own safety a priority. This means avoiding horses that are clearly not safe for you to handle, no matter how badly you want to help or “fix” them. Evaluate the horse “as is” (not as you want or think they can be) against your own skillset “as is.” If you can’t handle the horse safely, then move on. There are no guarantees in horse training.
- The horse is sound. If they are not sound, then you need to be okay with their limitations and the management practices needed to keep them comfortable enough to maintain quality of life.
- The horse has the health, soundness, conformation, and athletic talent or look needed for your chosen riding discipline. There is no such thing as a perfect horse, and training and care can compensate for many limitations. But out of fairness to you and your horse, choose an animal that actually has the potential to succeed in the career you’ve chosen for them. The loftier your goals are (ie: “I want to ride in the Olympics!”), the more important it will be that you find a horse suited for those particular goals.
- You can list more reasons why you should buy the horse than reasons why you shouldn’t. It might sound simple, but a pros and cons list is a good way to assess whether or not you’ve found a good fit. I recommend also making a “dealbreaker” list of things you absolutely cannot tolerate in a potential equine partner, and then rule out horses accordingly. Dealbreakers are characteristics that negativity impact your safety, happiness, or values in a significant way.
- The horse stands out after you’ve looked at more than one horse. For many folks, looking at a variety of horses before choosing a final horse is an important part of the buying process. Informed consumers look at the what’s available on the market and find the best fit–they don’t settle for whatever comes along first. It may be that the horse you choose is the first one you look at; but allow yourself the privilege of comparison during this big decision.
- The horse makes you smile. When you think about the horse, you feel happy. When you’re around the horse, it’s positive. You really look forward to spending time with them. And hopefully, you can imagine the horse growing old in your care.
How did you know you had found your forever horse? Share your comments below!