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Horse Buying Tips for Phoenix Program

Don't let good looks distract you from noticing soundness issues with your horse.

• Stay focused on what you want to do with your horse. If it's for riding then focus on the horses current condition, not on what you think you can train him to be or what you think you can fix.

• Always remember that a good horse may not always be the right horse. Match your current riding skills to the horse you are looking at. Don't buy a horse that you think you can grow into or train, unless you know how to train. Seldom are these riders successful. And by the time they are, the horse will have been ruined by their inability to control, cue and mentor him.


• Are you looking at a mare or a gelding. There is a difference. Mares can sometimes experience changes in temperament during estrous that can make them challenging to ride. Also estrous can present challenges in herd management and at times may require separate penning to avoid injury. However there are many great mares.

• Good Feet: Can the seller safely pick up the horses feet .... then can you. If not then you, a farrier or a vet will not be able to either.


• Do you see any old injuries that could limit the horses performance. Do they need to be checked out, by some one more knowledgeable.


• Is the horse comfortable with you touching its ears. Any difficulties putting on a bridle. Beware of a horse wearing a hackamore or bozelle. (although these are acceptable and widely used forms of control, they are unconventional and could be a result, or an indication of not being able to put a bit in a horses mouth) using these devices requires a slightly different skill then using a bit.


• How is the horses temperament:  calm, skittish, hot, relaxed, lazy, does he appear to spook easily.


• Vision, does the horse seem to lack peripheral vision and seems surprised by sudden movements from the side.


• Does the horse's stride appear to be normal at all three gaits.


• Do you have any proof of age other than what the owner says.


• Training .... always make sure the owner rides the horse first ... if for whatever reason they won't .... then you shouldn't either. As the owner rides the horse note how well the horse appears to respond to his commands. Is there any resistance, is he using spurs. Does he seem to be covering up any issues. Does it look like the horse might be on the verge of a crow hop or a buck..


• Only get on the horse if you feel that the owner is not covering anything up and everything appears to be normal. Otherwise do not get on the horse, look for another one..


• Be aware that you are probably seeing the horse at his best and that once you buy him old bad habits may again resurface ...frequently sellers will have just completed some intensive training to prepare their horses for sale... the most common is for them to take the horse on a mountain trip and tell you they are great.. Remember open trail riding (like we mostly do) is probably twice as challenging as mountain riding and requires a lot more rider skill and horse control than most mountain riding.. Your greenest or poorest trained could still be a good trail horse.


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