By Raquel Lynn
Searching for a new horse is an emotional journey filled with hope and apprehension. All of your plans and visions of success will be determined by your next mount—a perfect Paint Horse. The key to finding “The One” requires understanding exactly what makes up your definition of perfect.
“A lot of people jump right into shopping because they just want a horse; they look at anything,” said AHPA Professional Horseman Annie Trice of Hurlock, Maryland.
As owner of Windy Way Horses and a thriving nonprofit, Courageous Hearts Horsemanship, Annie is no stranger to horse shopping. She’s well-versed in evaluating horses for her therapy program and guiding clients through their search process.
“Create a paper list and use a copy to evaluate every horse,” Annie said. “This way everything is documented from Day One. When I go and look at a horse, I have a paper that I’ll fill out, giving my customer an honest evaluation. This includes riding the horse, going over the horse on the ground, general health and behavioral issues.”
Safety is of utmost importance when entering a new relationship, especially for novice and non-professional riders. Brianna Sloan Anthony of Monahans, Texas, has sold horses at all levels, including at the annual Cowgirl Cadillacs sale, an auction of talented mounts all trained and commissioned by expert horsewomen that takes place annually in Wickenburg, Arizona.
“It’s always really important to me for [the buyer] to feel safe,” Brianna said. “I don’t want to help someone spend money on a horse that they are going to bring home and not feel safe with it.”
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you can train, ride or handle. Be realistic about your time commitment and what you will put into training a new horse. Weanlings and yearlings might have initial price appeal, but they require an abundance of patience and training in the end. Adults balancing a career or family with horses must consider two different budgets: time and money.
“There are some horses that are absolutely great, but they require a time commitment to keep their education going,” Annie said. “Some horses don’t require the time commitment, but their price is high.”
The best horse you also fits your lifestyle. A seasoned show horse that takes care of its rider is ideal if your schedule only allows a few days a week to ride. Purchasing a green horse is not often recommended unless you are an experienced rider with at least five days a week to dedicate to that animal or have a trainer to assist you, Annie suggests. Be a responsible buyer and don’t set yourself up for failure by taking on too much.
“Everybody has a budget, everybody has goals. You have to make those two things make sense together,” APHA member Brandy Brown of Toledo, Ohio, said.
Ask yourself how you want to spend your valuable horse time. If you enjoy training and the challenge of a youngster, go for it. Remember you might need to get a trainer involved at some point and factor in that cost. If you simply want a horse that will take care of you, Brandy says a well-broke ranch or family horse might be the right option.
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Fall 2020 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.