Deadline for Feb. 2021 issue: Jan. 22
Deadline for 2021 Field Trial Review: Feb. 3
Set Up For Success
By Ashley Fant
New year, new you. Or maybe, new horse. You are already initiated into the wonderful world of horses and horse ownership, and now it is time to step up your game. Whether you are buying a horse for the second time, or for the 22nd time, many of the same considerations apply. Here are some things to think about before you welcome your next mount into your barn and into your heart.
1.) What are your goals?
Your new horse will be your partner in reaching your goals. Set up for a successful partnership by making sure you have an appropriate horse who is as game as you are. The things we look for in a second horse are often much different than those we look for in a first horse. For example, a horse with a big stride and a beautiful jump is not necessarily the one you needed to get your child confident cantering crossrails, but it might be the one your child needs now to move up to the next level. Your goals should be well within the scope, movement, experience, and/or potential of your horse.
2.) How long do you want to ride this horse?
Whether you plan to compete or are looking for a new friend to ride on trails, you should have an idea of how long you hope to stay partnered with your new horse. If the horse is for a growing child, the one that fits them now will be outgrown eventually. If you need a horse to move up to the next level, but your long-term goals extend beyond that level, you will need to progress past this one to a horse with different abilities to get you there. If you are looking for a horse that you can pass on to other family members, you might plan to keep this one in the family for a long period of time. Whatever the reason, you should have a realistic idea of how many years of use you expect from your mount. This timeline will help you determine the desired age, size, ability, and temperament of the horse you are seeking.
3.) What is your budget?
As with your first horse, budget is a consideration with your second. It is likely you will need a horse with more athleticism than your first mount, and your budget should be higher accordingly. Your goals and timeline will help guide what your budget should be to get you mounted appropriately for success. If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase the horse you will need to move up, you might consider shopping for a horse to lease. A lease with an option to buy can leave ownership open to you at the end of the lease should your budget, goals, and timeline make that a viable option. Keep in mind that not every horse for sale is available to lease, and that in a lease you are investing in the time and experience for you, not in the horse itself. Horse ownership allows you the possibility of resale or a forever partnership. Setting a budget that is realistic for the athleticism you are seeking in your new horse will make shopping a rewarding experience.
Thinking about these considerations on your own is helpful and necessary, but your trainer will be your most important resource in this process. Setting goals, discussing a realistic timeline, and setting a budget that considers these factors is part of your trainer’s expertise. Your trainer can help you through the process, and has spent their career forming relationships with other trainers and horse dealers so they can offer you the best horses to try.
Once you have found a horse that fits your goals, timeline, and budget, you will need to have it examined by your veterinarian. It is important for your vet to understand the goals and timeline you have in mind. They will consider those things in their evaluation and can help you understand from a medical standpoint if the horse you are trying is capable of being the partner you are seeking.
Buying a new horse is an exciting step into the future. Setting realistic expectations guided by a balance of goals, timeline, and budget will help make the process of horse shopping enjoyable. Discussing and weighing those variables with your trainer when evaluating potential partners will help you decide which is the right match for you. Having your prospect examined by your veterinarian with its intended use in mind will verify that you have the potential to reach your goals. Taking these steps and setting up for success with your new partner can make your investment rewarding and your experience fulfilling.
Ashley Fant is trainer and owner of Ashley Fant Show Stables in Collierville, Tennessee.
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