Where Do You Look For a Horse?

Image of a horse in a stall.

A good place to buy a horse is the stable where you ride or plan to keep the horse. The stable owner has an interest in keeping you satisfied, and knowing your abilities and temperament he or she can suggest a suitable animal. Riding instructors are also good agents for locating a suitable horse since it is important to them that their students do well in competition.Breeders are another good source. Generally they want to see their animals well placed and will make every effort to provide a horse you can enjoy. Most every breed has a registration association that can direct you to breeders in your area. A common source is the classified section of your local newspaper or the bulletin board of your local tack shop. Here you have little knowledge of the seller and little recourse should the horse purchase prove unsatisfactory.

Trying Out the Horse
When going to look at an animal, the first-time buyer should be accompanied by a knowledgeable horseman or horsewoman. There is so much to observe and so much to ask that the inexperienced buyer may have trouble remembering it all. Observe the horse in the stall and pasture, and how it behaves when someone is loading, hauling, and catching the horse.Temperament should be most important to you - leave health to the experts. Look at the horse's eyes and ears and general manner when it is brought out. Does it look alert? Be sure that you look at the animal in a well-lit place, preferably outdoors in the sunlight. Watch the owner saddle up the horse. Does it stand quietly? Does it kick or bite? Do not buy a horse with bad stable manners.

Do not get on the animal right away. Ask the owner to ride the horse first. Watch how the animal acts when mounted - does it stand still or does it dance around? Ask the owner to take the horse through its gaits, the walk, trot, and canter. Does it look smooth? Does it toss its head or fight the bit? If you are buying a hunter or jumper or other specially trained horse, ask the owner to demonstrate.If you and your adviser are satisfied that the horse is safe for you to ride, it is your turn to mount. Once again, observe how it reacts when you mount, and how it reacts to your commands. Try out any special skills that the horse has. This is a major investment and you should be allowed to test the animal thoroughly. You could make observations on a second visit that you did not see the first time. Many times a brief trial period (7-10 days) can be arranged for the prospective buyer. This allows the buyer to have the horse and see if the two are really compatible.

Discuss exactly what the pre-purchase examination will include so that the necessity of additional tests such as x-rays, drug tests, or endoscopy can be determined. After you have purchased your horse, your veterinarian is your best source for information about vaccinations, parasite control, and other routine health matters as well as emergency medical care. One final point that all horse owners, beginners and experienced, should remember is that a horse is a living being whose life and welfare is in your hands. As we domesticated horses, we deprived them of their natural, all-day grazing patterns. It is therefore vital to take care when choosing a feed and feeding pattern. Research various feeds, with their pros and con, including factors, such as a horse's individual temperament, age and workload, that affect the amount and type of feed appropriate for that horse. Educate yourself on the fundamentals of feeding and make sure you know the golden rules for first-time owners when deciding upon an appropriate feeding routine.

Housing your horse, whether in a stable, field or in a combination of the two, requires careful thought and planning. Issues, such as workload and type of horse must be taken into consideration. It is natural for a horse to graze freely and for as long as possible. There are instances, however, when a horse is better off indoors. Safety and warmth are of paramount importance. Topics such as stable fittings and structure are discussed, together with ideal field options and the hazards of poisonous plants.When it comes to expense, purchasing a horse is just the beginning. Equipment costs can, in many cases, exceed the initial outlay on the horse! This basic equipment you will need to invest in includes saddles, bridles, grooming kits and rider's clothing. A happy horse means a happy rider. A horse's welfare should always be of "overriding" importance to the thoughtful owner.


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Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Kath, thank you so much for being Greyson's vet, your gentle hand, compassion and great skill made all the difference for my buddy."
    --Deirdre Dekking, Portland
  • "Dr. Mertens is a very friendly, knowledgeable equine veterinarian (and a friend to the rest of the farmyard, including the chickens!). Always up to date on the latest in equine health, and even though Mertens Mammals is a small clinic giving you the personable experience, Dr. Mertens also has equipment for more advanced diagnostics and procedures!"
    —Ari Gordon, Boring
  • "I have been a client of Mertens Mammals for 10 years. Kath (Dr. Mertens) is the most kind, thoughtful and caring Vet I have ever had for my animals. I have 3 horses: my Appy "Breeze" who turns 30 this year, my Paint " Rocket " 14 and my other Paint "Fergie " 3 are all under Kath's care. I also had a dog "Cowboy" who I lost to cancer last July. Kath took care of him also. Dr.Mertens came out on Mother's Day about 7 years ago to treat Breeze for a cut above her right eye. After a few weeks of recovery we were happy to not have a huge scar. Kath also spent 2 hours with me 3 years ago when Rocket had a small case of colic. (Thank God). I couldn't ask for a better person to take care of my girls. Kath always calls to check in on the patients. When people ask who I use for my veterinary needs for my horses, I'm always proud to refer them to Mertens Mammals. I am so thankful for an honest and caring Vet. Thank you, Kath!"
    --Michelle Schatz, Portland
  • "I got looking at Sassy’s records and it will be 6 years in July when you first met Sassy—I feel so fortunate that you became her vet and have looked after her all these years. You are such a wonderful and caring doc and I know you always have Sassy’s best interests at heart. I also know I can always rely on you to help me or Sassy when needed. Thanks for all you do for both of us—will keep you posted on Sassy.”"
    —Judy Becker, Eagle Creek
  • "My horse, Pester, would have lost her eye had it not been for the great care and dedication by Mertens Mammals. They are truly there for you any time you need them. I could go on and on. Kath Mertens has been so good to us!"
    --Troy and Wendy Mohr, Estacada
  • "She has always been there for us. She is forever in my thoughts as the best vet. She saved our hours old filly from certain death. She knew exactly what to do in an instant after just seconds in seeing her. We are forever in your debt...thank you!"
    Barbara T.
  • "Thank you Dr Mertens for such a thoughtful and careful job with our sweet Daisy the Donkey this morning! She is well on her way to health again after that abscess!"
    Suzi C.