Buying a horse or pony

Buying a horse is both an exciting prospect and a huge long term commitment. There are four main points to consider when purchasing a horse or pony:

  1. What you are using it for.
  2. The facilities you have available.
  3. The amount of time you have to exercise and look after it.
  4. The cost of both buying and keeping it.

Once you have located a horse, take a knowledgeable friend with you when viewing prospective purchases. Not only will they be able to give you a second opinion on suitability, but they may also be able to spot any potential problems. Make sure you observe any horse in its natural environment for a while; you want to know how it interacts with people and other horses. You will also want to check the horse’s background, find out how long the present owner has had the horse and ask if the horse has any vices or ever had any health problems. You also want to find out why the present owner has decided to sell the horse.

Another major criterion in assessing a horse is the potential for a partnership. You may wish to ride the horse once or twice before making any purchase judging both temperament and potential. You can ask the owner about a trial period and most private owners will be happy to accommodate. They want their horses to go to good homes and want to make sure you can handle the horse properly. Before you buy, think carefully about what type of horse or pony you are looking for. When you acquire a horse it becomes your responsibility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, depending on you for its health, comfort and safety.

Pre-purchase veterinary examination

When you’ve found your ideal horse or pony it is advisable to have a pre-purchase veterinary examination carried out (or vet’s certificate as it is commonly known). The Five Stage Veterinary Examination for Purchase is carried out following guidelines laid down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).

The examination should be carried out by an experienced veterinary surgeon who will report on whether it is advisable to go ahead with the purchase. Try to use your own veterinary surgeon, who will advise you further. Having a horse examined prior to purchase is not cheap, but it may well save you money in the long run. If the horse passes the examination, then a certificate will be completed by the veterinary surgeon, which may be used for insuring the horse or pony when the sale is completed.

Horse passports

Since 30th June 2004, all horses, ponies and donkeys in England are required to have a passport. They can be obtained from a large number of Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs) for a small fee. A full list of PIOs can be found on the DEFRA website. Vendors of horses are required to possess an up-to-date passport at the time the horse is offered for sale and a prospective purchaser should ask to view it before purchasing the horse.

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