I know for so many people it is a big mystery to find the best horse. It is really hard though, because one horse can change the whole point of view for a rider. The horse can give you the confidence and improve you or the horse can make you loose all your confidence. Even though it is true that a good rider can be able to ride any kind of horse, it is not true that a good rider Must ride any kind of horse. A bad horse can give you the worst experience and makes you feel blue and make you stop enjoying the sport and also the horsemanship. A bad horse doesn't mean your horse is bad but it means that this horse is not For YOU or suitable for your purpose. If you are a jumper and buy the best dressage horse that horse can be the worst horse for you. On the other hand it will be the best horse for a dressage rider. So it is okey if you can not be able to ride a horse nicely but someone else makes miracles with it. It doesn't mean you are a bad rider, it means that horse is not for you.
So what do you need to check when you are buying a new horse?
- Health : You should always ask for a vet check. To me, it doesn't mean your horse should be perfect but it means you need to know the negative and positive issues about the horse you are buying. Of course there shouldn't be a major disability, horse should be healthy enough to work with you but sometimes we have limited budget for a certain target. Let's say you have limited money but you want to do a grandprix. A horse without any problem and jumps perfectly of course will be expensive but the vet can say there is a small complication but it is safe to compete as long as you treat it. So you will know your horse a minor problem but you will know how to keep him healthy and safe. Honest vet check is very important.
-Purpose : Your horse should be suitable for your purpose. There is a big mistake that riders doesn't want horses for their real level but they always like to buy advanced horses. I swear to you Grandprix horses are not as easy as they seen on the arena with professional riders. You may think that they jump everything, they always have clear rounds etc but if you are barely doing 1 meter and if you buy a winner 1.40mt horse, probably you may not be able to ride that horse! So it is important to know your level, targets and go for that horse even if the horse is not a winner. If you are beginner, you should find an experienced, middle age, easy and clear minded horse to build your confidence and improve your riding. Even if he may have 4 faults, 8 faults, it willl prepare you to have a better future and riding.
-Reality : Unfortunately many dealer can try to sell you whatever they have that moment. Sometimes sadly theymay try to trick you. I saw seller who gives relaxing injections to the spooky horses before the buyer comes and shows the horse so calm. Then when you buy and bring the horse to your home,character of your horse changes completely and most probably you will blame yourself about that. So chacek the horse really well, check the history of the horse, speak with old riders, if you have chance watch the horse in several places, watch his acts.. Take your time to decide.
-Experience: If you are not looking for a young horse, check the horse with some experience in different show grounds, different arenas with different riders. Sometimes horses can get used to their own stables and riders so much that when something changes, it will too much time and effort for the horse to get used it and that will cause trouble for a beginner buyer. So check if your horse is good with different jumps, water jumps, different venues etc. Ask the rider to compete if you can before you buy, ask the rider to jump different fences before you get on it.
-Try : You have to feel your horse! Try it, don not buy a horse through video or just by seeing with someone else. Everyone is different, every horse different so it can match with someone else but that doesn't mean it will match with you. Get on the saddle and try the horse.
- Know yourself: Know your weaknesses, strong sides, difficulties etc. For example, even if I like strong and hot horses, I don't like spooky horses so when I try a horse, I always check if it is too spooky or tolerable for me. I tell my dealer that "I am okey to try a hot horse but I don't want a spooky horse." Such as, I bought a 4 years old 5 years ago, it was young, it wasn't experienced etc but when I got on him I felt he is jumping nice and he was so calm so I thougt I can deal with him. As a matter of fact we grew together and it was one of the best eperiences. How did I decide? They told me he never went to the beach before so I said I want to try, I thought that would show me the true colors of my horse to be. And it was true, even though it was the first time he was there, he was so calm and easy that after I bought him he never changed. So these things can help you to understand the true colors of your horse.