When you are considering transferring ownership of a horse, whether you are buying or selling, there are few rules that every horseman (or horsewoman) should follow to make sure that everybody knows what they are getting into.
1. Be honest!
First and foremost, be honest about what you are looking for, or what you are selling. There is nothing worse than getting that “certified bomb-proof kids horse” home only to watch it lose its mind when a tractor drives by, or that horse that has no problem loading, battle you to the end because it can’t back out of a trailer. Be sure to disclose any issues that you know of with the horse if you are on the selling end. And if you are on the buying end, remember that you are taking home a horse that was part of someone’s family. They want to know what and how the horse will be used and the lifestyle it will live.
2. Know which questions to ask/answer.
Not all horse people are made the same. Sometimes you might be selling to a first time horse owner that really does not know what to ask.
3. Unsaddle the horse. Always look at the confirmation of a horse. If you are a seller, let the buyer saddle the horse. If you are a buyer, be sure to see what the horse’s confirmation looks like without a saddle. Is he swayback or maybe has kissing spine? These are not deal breakers for many, but you don’t want to be surprised after you have already reached an agreement.
4. To ride or not to ride?
If you are buying a horse, ask the seller to ride the horse, or have someone else ride the horse. This is a good habit because it does two things: First, it potentially can save you from injury if that horse is not at all what they say it is. Second, it allows the seller to demonstrate the horses abilities. If you decide to ride the horse, ask that the owne give you a short lesson on the horse so that you can give proper cues for more advanced maneuvers, without confusing the horse. Of course, if you are the seller, be prepared to give a demo of what the horse can do.
There are situations in which the horse is not rideable, or the owner can’t ride the horse, then it is completely at your own risk when you buy or hop on that horse.
5. Some tests that you can do on the ground to help you determine if the horse is a good fit for you:
1. Ask the horse to lunge on a lead rope
2. Have the horse pick up his feet- focus on his behavior with his hind legs.
3. Rub the horses belly, does he/she pin his ears in discomfort at all? This could indicate ulcers, or identify a behavior issue
4. Mess with his ears. Does he allow you to touch his ears? A lot of horses are head shy and this makes it difficult to halter/bridle them.
5. Check his teeth. Does he let you stick your fingers in his mouth?
6. Respond to pressure. Does he respond to pressure when applied between the ears (on the poll)? Does he move away from you when you apply pressure to his chest to ask him to back, or his shoulder and hip?
7. Swing a lead rope in circles to see how he responds. Is he extremely jumpy? What if you gently toss the lead rope at his feet? Does that bother him?
8. Flex his head. Does he allow you to bring his head around to each side and not struggle when you get it there?