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Tips for the First Time Horse Owner?

Hi there,
I am looking into buying my first horse. :smiley:
Does anyone have any tips for me? They would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to absorb as much information as possible. :winkgrin:

The list of tips we could give you is absolutely endless.

Please tell us more about you as a rider - what discipline? experience level? - and about the type of horse you believe you want. It’ll help you get more accurate advice.


If you think something is amiss, call the vet before posting on COTH :wink: :lol:

Get a good trainer and work with him/her to develop a good program for the horse.

I’ve been riding for 4 years and I’m a hunter. I do have a trainer, so I’m looking for a horse who is still pretty green. I’m not looking for a horse who knows absolutely everything. Currently I am riding two fairly green geldings. They are still learning to collect themselves and not rush into things. :slight_smile:

Is your trainer on board with you buying a green horse? My philosophy is: green plus green = black and blue. If you do buy a green horse, try to get a good mind over fancy mover. Avoid spooky horses, it usually doesn’t get better, especially if you are a fairly green rider. Are you buying it or are parents? Do not be talked into more horse than you need!

When asking for advice, be selective about who you ask. The temptation will be to ask anyone and everyone. The temptation will be to ask your friends. The temptation will be to ask COTH. Observe your fellow boarders and find one who both knows what they are doing and has a horse whose behavior you admire. Odds are good this person will be one who has valuable advice and can help you when your BO and coach are unavailable.

Don’t be a pest and ask for advice on every tiny thing, but if your horse’s behavior changes for the worse and you can’t get improvement in a day or two, DO ask before it gets worse or dangerous.

The first year of ownership seems to be something of a trial by fire for many first time owners. Injuries, behavioral issues, and just the day to day responsibility of making the decisions that affect the horse will teach you more than you realize in that first year. Just knowing that you have to make the final decision because you are the one who has to pay for it and live with the results can be a bit daunting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to advice from your team of professionals (BO, coach, farrier, vet) it just means you decide when to follow advice and when to seek alternatives.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

  1. Don’t buy a green horse.
  2. If you worry you will outgrow (in size or ability) a made horse, lease one.
  3. Do not buy a green horse.

Green rider + green horse = big no no

I’ve been riding for 4 years and I’m a hunter. I do have a trainer, so I’m looking for a horse who is still pretty green. I’m not looking for a horse who knows absolutely everything. Currently I am riding two fairly green geldings. They are still learning to collect themselves and not rush into things. :)[/QUOTE]

As you’ve said - you’ve got four years under your belt, you’re working with a trainer riding two fairly green horses. I’d say that if your first horse is similar in temperament to the two you’re currently successfully riding, and if you plan to continue working with your trainer, then yes, in this case I see nothing alarming with a green horse for a first time horse owner.

I have to add something.
When I went to buy my own first horse (not one that was bred in our stud but my own choice of horse breed, height, age etc).
I greatly overestimated myself. (Just because you are doing great with a couple of greenies does not mean you are capable to take on one) Due to many factors. Won’t list them all.
All I can say is just because you have a fantastic trainer who can help so much at the end of the day you will be the one who will deal with this horse most of the time. Just because your trainer can get something out of your horse doesn’t mean you will be able to. Green horse means many things to many people.
To some very experienced people green horse could mean had a saddle on him. To some it can mean serious issues on the ground.
So make sure if you get a "green " horse you can deal with him on your own should anything happen. But once again I agree with most who commented here saying green rider +green horse = not a good idea.

IMO temperament is everything. Don’t try to talk yourself into a horse you don’t like. It’s not worth it in the long run.


Also adding - It’s easy to assume that a first time horse owner is by default also a green rider. Not necessarily true.

Also adding - It’s easy to assume that a first time horse owner is by default also a green rider. Not necessarily true.[/QUOTE]

A very good point, but in this case, the OP has only been riding for 4 years.

OP, it’s so exciting to be looking for your first horse! I, like others here, though, would warn you away from anything green. Not just because green horses are rarely a good choice for someone really just starting out, but also for a lot of other reasons. With a finished horse, already out doing their intended job, you know what you are getting. You KNOW he or she is going to be able to do what you want to do and that is HUGE.

With green horses, you just never know. They may not turn out to have the temperament, they may not turn out to have the athleticism, or…they may end up lame.

I know - I’ve been there - check out my Pity Party thread on the Eventing forum. It’s not fun to have a green horse suddenly come up with a long term injury. Yeah, it can happen with a finished horse, but at least when he heals up, he’s still a finished horse. When my horse finally heals up? I have no idea. If his antics on the ground are any indication, we’re going to be set back more than a year.

It’s slow going with a greenie, and it’s hard to learn new things on a horse that doesn’t know what you’re asking for. I, like others here, think that at this stage in your riding career, you would have more fun with something finished.

My $.02

I’m green, my OTTB has only been off the track since February. Why did I go this route? Simple … I rode a bunch of horses and found the one that fit me. I had my trainer (who specializes in horses with behavior issues) go with me and look at each of them. Once I found the one that I felt fit me I found that everyone agreed we were a prefect fit. I had him vetted by a vet specializing in eventing horses because that’s where his career is going to take him. I have him to the point that he’s learning leg and seat commands, is comfortable walking the road and has been on a few trail rides where he’s encountered dogs, kids, bicycles and lawn mowers. I started him jumping crossrails last week.

Why do I write this? To give you my 2 cents

Follow your head
Feel your heart
Make sure the horse physically fits you
Make sure you have your trainer in full agreement that the horse fits your temperament
Vet the horse for the career he/she will be doing
Make sure you can emotionally/financially handle any issues the horse has
Once you get your horse take it slow and easy
Play in to their curiosity, even create it for them
Be patient, be firm, be rewarding of good behavior

Personal advice; when you make your decision don’t let anyone shake your confidence. If you’re dealing with a green horse you need to keep your confidence, especially when first establishing your relationship. Mine had scared the crap out of me a couple of times but he never knew it. Now when he tests me if I’m on the ground I simply look him in the eye and he relents. When on him I increase pressure and drive him forward using my seat or whatever else I need to. Asking him to jump the first time I wanted to see what he’d do so I sent him over a low vertical. I drove him headlong to the jump, never waivered in my position and he went right over no questions asked. Confidence and trust are everything so never let anyone shake you after you make your decision.

Whatever horse you end up with get it insured! With Major Medical and Mortality Insurance, right away before the horse even travels to your barn. Green or Made horses something always seems to happen and having coverage and being reimbursed for medical expenses is not only piece of mind, but will save you $$ in the long run. Ask others in your barn who they go though for their insurance in your local area.

My tip would be don’t buy a green horse :lol: Buy something suitable for you-which may or may not be what you are envisioning.

Honestly 4 years doesn’t sound like much but if you’re riding multiple horses every day it might work out with a greenie. I just wouldn’t limit myself to green only (unless your budget dictates that, which in that case I might opt for a lease instead)

As for other tips-don’t buy the first one you try. Even if you love it, try a few more. I did this and while I love the horse I bought, it didn’t exactly turn out as planned and if I could have told myself back then to pass, I probably would have.

Always get a vet check. I’ve done a couple vet checks in the last few months and they’ve turned up some stuff that I never would have known about if I hadn’t done the check.

Also, while horse ownership is great, I also really appreciate being able to ride different horses and learn different things. At the early stages of riding I think it makes you a more well rounded rider. Just something to think about.

Good luck :slight_smile:

On a more practical note, whatever horse you buy, I offer this: It is tempting to go to your local tack shop and buy the place out, in your enthusiasm to outfit your latest acquisition. Step back. You do not need everything in the catalogue. I see new owners come home looking like the tack shop puked on them and then find that half of it was not so necessary; at least they did not need to buy “top of the line” everything. Or maybe the barn already has some “communal” things that you can use. In my barn there are 4,392 polo wraps in the tack room and 796 fly masks in a trunk, that have gathered over the years. See what is already on site for your use first. Then before you buy, go through the catalogue and make a list of what you think you need and go over that with your trainer; she may add or delete a few things. But once you do buy the equipment you need, if you are in a boarding facility, put your name on every bit of it somewhere, somehow, with a sharpie or some kind of name tag.

And I always told my clients (before reverting to amateur status years ago): Do buy the best horse you can afford. Once it’s yours, it does not cost any more to feed a good horse than it does to feed a bad horse. Buying it is the least of your expenses. Tossing another $5,000 at the purchase price is nothing compared to what you will spend on board, feed, shoes, vet, training, transport, showing and tack shop extravagances over the next few years. So spend all that on something that you selected wisely and paid the correct price for, to begin with. It’s worth it. Best of luck to you.

Tio #1: Keep scrupulous records of every cent spent on horse ownership. If you are still in the black after 1 year, CONGRATUALTIONS to the ranks of people who live permanently just over the edge of the porverty line.

If you still have a substantial amount of $$ left over after a year, it is time for you to buy a second horse.

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