Are you a grandparent looking for a pony for the grand kids? Do you want a companion for your older horse? What are you looking for specifically? This is the most important thing on your list. It will help to narrow your search if you know what you want. If you want to compete, breed and show, it's a whole different list of what to look for! In this article I will stick to the general items for a pet.
First and foremost, please have money before you start to look for a horse! When I say “money” I mean more than $ 200.00. If you go to an auction, please go with a horse savvy person to help you. Buying them cheap is a good way to get a fine pet, just be cautious if you have other outside pets that could get sick from the germs. The horse you buy may be fine but have germs on their feet.
Next important item is to make sure you have a proper place to keep your pet. Check with the Zoning Office before building any structure, you may not be allowed to own a grazing animal no matter how small. If you are planning to board your pet, get everything set up with the owner first and sign your contract when the animal arrives at the sight.
When buying your pet ask the owner what it normally eats and how it acts with people and other animals. Get a general feel for the character of the horse and see if a bond is possible with you and your family. Keeping the diet it's used to is very important and switching it to another type of feed is done slowly by mixing them together over time. They can get colic and if left without vet care can die. Horses are more elaborate than most people imagine. You can not take them out like a tomato plant and expect them to be fine. Each one is different and has needs to stay healthy.
If purchasing a pony for a child the age of 7 or 8 years old, of about 60 pounds, look for an older more experienced larger miniature. If they want to be lead around on it, get one that is at least 9hh or 36 “from the end of the mane to the ground or even larger. knee cap and also hurt their spines.
Do NOT buy online without seeing it in person. Unless you have a vet check that is not their vet, a good contract, and there are videos with a recent date on them. If it's a weaned foal, which means it is from 4 to 6 months old, then most of your worries are small. At a young age it can be trained to be tame, and can be kept alone without problems. YOU MUST SPEND TIME WITH IT TO TRAIN IT! If left to its own devices it will turn wild and then you will be selling it. It must be at least two years old before you get on its back or it could blow out a knee cap. This is because it is growing at a fast pace and needs time to grow bone structure.
If you will be riding it, it's best to actually see it in person. Some people shoot a video of it being tacked, handled and ridden by a child, as an example. Or you can ask for this before you drive 100 or more miles. Some sellers will do this for you and some will not, it never hurts to ask!
Try to buy close to home to avoid health problems and large hauling fees. Some horses can get sick from a long hauling trip, strange germs, or different food, etc.
One thing to check is to see if the horse looks to be in normal shape. This means that the legs are the same size and shape, not swollen, have open wounds, missing hair, etc. Run your hands all over the horses legs and body, do they twitch or jerk away? Some have pain from arthritis, bruised from kicks or being ridden hard, in an accident, etc. Some horses are afraid and do not like to be touched!
Does their bottom lip sag or hang as if they are tired, but they have not been driven and it is not very hot out? Does the penis hang out for a long period of time as if they are tired? This means they have most likely been given some type of calming drug or they are very tired. Also look for loose stool near or in its stall. This is done if it is a stallion or a head mare that is dominant over people. Do not purchase them if there is any doubt. You can also make an appointment to come back and go early by two hours or go back unannounced and see what the horse is doing. Do not trespass or touch any animals, just watch them in pasture if possible. Are they alone? Are they lying down? Are they chasing the others or herding them? Watching behavior is the best way to know what's going on and why they are for sale.
One of your questions should be “why is this horse for sale and not the others?” In this economy they could be going out of business or selling the old and young stock to cut down the herd. Somebody could have lost their job and they can not board it anymore, and the list goes on. However, some lie to sell the hard to sell, so beware! If the price is too low there is a reason.
While you talk to the owner, check their ears for cleanliness, bugs, etc. Especially check their tail area to see if they have bad poop. There will be marks from it falling on them. If they were just washed, wait for about an hour and it will “go” again! In that time you can see the barn and the other horses, possibly get to know the barn owner. Does the seller talk fast? Are they in a hurry? Tell them you have to think about it and they will say somebody else is looking at it. Walk away. Do not fall for the old hurry up routine! Trust me, there's another horse out there!
Even after going over the horse before you buy it, be aware that there are some horses out there that will change their entire character. When they are moved to another location, have different food and people around them they act accordingly. If they are used to being worked and do nothing but stand in a pasture, do not be surprised when they do not listen to you! You must work with them at least every 2 -3 days or they will turn sour, no matter what your friends say! Spend time with your animals or hire help to do it for you. You will have a much better horse and pet experience.