We often have little time to try out a horse for sale before choosing the right one. Spending a day with him isn’t much, and at the same time, it’s a lot.
First of all, check his conformation. Look at his top line, then at his legs, the solidity of his joints, his hocks, his fetlocks, finally his neck and his back. You can feel his legs to see if the tendons are healthy and tight but also to see how he reacts to you. Grooming is a good way to see if the horse is receptive, if he is compliant or if he’s a bit shy.
It’s also worth having two different angles of observation. You can watch someone else ride the horse to observe him from the ground. This will show you if he has a sensitive mouth and if he has willingness.
Once you’ve seen how he works under saddle, it’s your turn to ride him! Try to feel his gaits, his balance, his responsiveness, his temperament. See if he’s afraid of certain things (large signs, dogs…). When I ride a horse for the first time, I don’t school him, I test him. So, I ride him on long reins for a while to understand his balance. Is he light or heavy on the ground? If the horse seems heavy on the ground, it will increase his risk of injury. He can also be having a bad day. So, be careful not to judge him negatively too quickly!
Finally, don’t forget to always adapt your requirements to the discipline you specialise in. A show jumping horse should not have the same qualities as a dressage or an eventing horse.
What if you can’t ride the horse because he’s not broke to ride yet?
This happens to me very often. On the one hand, I recommend that you judge him on his pedigree, and on the other hand, on his natural locomotion. Look carefully at his conformation, his balance, and also at the way he moves and jumps at liberty.
The trick to choosing your horse: whether a trained horse or one that not yet been broke to ride, it’s looking at his eye! The eye is an extension of the brain, so it allows you to get a sense of his temperament.
Would you like to buy a horse soon? Did you enjoy reading this email? Leave me a comment here.