If you are looking for a new horse this year, remember that the most important thing about buying a new horse is that you have to find one that really suits you. You should be COMPLETELY sold on a horse before you buy it. If you have any doubts, take a closer look. If there’s something you dislike about a horse, chances are you will like him less later on.
The biggest problem we see is that people get in too big a hurry and buy the first horse they see. Another problem is they try several horses and none of them suit them, but lack of patience causes them to go ahead settle for a horse because they are tired of looking. Either way, the same thing happens: they end up with something not quite what they wanted.
Remember back to when you were in high school. Aren’t you glad you didn’t marry the first guy or girl you fell in love with? Buying a barrel horse is similar. Don’t fall in love with the first horse you try. Spend some time and shop around.
When you decide to buy a horse, the first thing you need to decide is exactly what you are looking for. Ask yourself, “What kind of competitions will I be entering? AQHA? Open rodeos? WPRA? IPRA?” Also ask, “What kind of arenas do I ride in most?” Think of as many questions as you can about what your needs are, then WRITE DOWN the qualities in a horse you are looking for.
Next, make up your mind how much you can pay, and don’t be pressured to pay too much. As sellers, R.E. and I have sold a lot of horses. It’s hard when you know that the buyer is spending every penny they can possibly scrape together. That situation puts too much pressure on the deal, the horse, the seller, and the buyer! Don’t spend more than you can afford. It’s just too much stress.
There are several kinds of horses you can buy. There’s the young prospect that is not started, the horse that is just started and ready to start competing, the proven winner that’s ready to go right now, and the older horse that still has some good years left. A lot of times a person who cannot afford to go out and buy a horse that’s right in his prime and wining right now might pay a little less for a teenage horse that has a couple of years left. And don’t think teenagers can’t get the job done. At any given time a good percentage of the top 15 in the standings of the NBHA, WPRA, or Josey Jr. World will be teenagers. An older horse can save you money and help you win!
If you’re inexperienced or a beginner, do not buy a horse that is below your skill level. You definitely don’t need the horse that isn’t even started on barrels. You cannot train a horse when you are just learning yourself. Likewise, if you are ready to win in open competition, you will want a horse that is ready to win.
Before I look at a horse, I will first write down everything I’m looking for so I will have an idea of what I want. I’ll know the age, price, sex, mare or gelding. I’ll also make a list of people to buy from who have won on different horses over the years, and have sold horses that have gone on to win. These are people who know how to train and will have quality horses for sell.
Remember, when you finally find a prospect you like. Check them THOROUGHLY, in as much detail as possible. If you don’t know enough to make an experienced judgment on your own, take someone with you who can, or have a vet check the animal. A horse can be a huge investment. Don’t let it be a gamble.
Once you find the physical aspects of a horse satisfying to your needs, make sure you find out if he has any bad habits, and his temperament needs to complement your own.
Take your time. Patience, along with smart decisions and thorough inspection are a must when looking for a prospect. Just like with a marriage, your horse will be your partner through good and the bad times. Make sure you choose right one!
Good luck with your search and I’ll look for you at the pay window.
More great training articles by Martha Josey at: www.barrelracers.com