The following is an excerpt from The Big Book of Miniature Horses.
Buying a horse is always exciting, but especially so when it’s your first foray into Miniature Horses. Too often, though, you hear how people’s first horse just wasn’t what they needed. Almost immediately they have to buy a different horse, or a second horse, or even sometimes get so discouraged by starting with the wrong horse that they give up on the idea all together.
Before you even start looking for your new horse, really take some time to think about your goals. What are you hoping to do with the horse? What is your budget? Do you have experience with horses? Every question you ask will help you determine what exactly you are looking for in a Miniature Horse.
Taking the time to find the right horse, rather than the first horse you see, will save you time, money, and heartbreak.
First, Make A List
It is easy to fall in love with a Miniature Horse, and when you’re horse shopping, falling in love can easily get you into trouble. Making yourself an actual, physical list of requirements will clarify exactly what you are looking for and help prevent you from jumping into the wrong situation. Are you new to horses? Chances are you don’t want to start with a youngster without any handling, or a broodmare due to foal soon. Want to show your horse at sanctioned shows? Then registration is a requirement, and you’ll need to do a little research and find out which registries have the most sanctioned shows in your area.
Once you know what your goals are, you can figure out what your most concrete requirements are. These will vary depending on your goals. Want a show horse? Registration is going to be non-negotiable. Looking for your first driving horse? Lots of good experience in harness should be first on your list. Want to do therapy work? Temperament and handling experience will be most important.
Figure out your non-negotiable requirements and stick to it. The good news is that you should be able to get an idea of whether or not the horse is the right age, experience, temperament and registration by asking the right questions before you ever meet the horse, thus minimizing the chances of falling in love with a horse that isn’t the right fit for you.
It Would Be Nice If …
Once your primary requirements are looked after, you can start looking at other things you’d like to complete the picture of your ideal horse. Think you might like to learn to drive one day, but it’s not a priority right now? Then broke to drive would be a big bonus, even if it isn’t on your list of “must haves”. Always had a fondness for a certain color or pattern? This is where that consideration belongs – a good horse is never a bad color, so unless you can find every one of your primary requirements, the color shouldn’t be a consideration. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get everything you want, just that you need to prioritize so that you don’t end of compromising on the wrong thing.
Don’t Fall In Love – Yet
It’s so easy to fall in love once you’ve met a horse you’re looking at. And sure, you want a horse that you’re crazy about. But falling in love with a horse that isn’t going to work for what you want to do with them isn’t going to help you achieve your goals. If your budget is unlimited, and you can offer that horse a great home for the foreseeable future, then I take it back – go ahead and fall! But for most of us, that’s not feasible, so keeping our heart out of the picture as long as possible could save us quite a bit of money and heartbreak.
The first thing you can do is run all your primary requirements and secondary wishes past the seller before you ever meet the horse. Then even if the smoking deal is hard to resist, you’ll know immediately that they’re not what you’re looking for before you go any further.
Once you meet the horse, not falling in love is going to be a lot tougher. Remember to be true to your goals. Sometimes it helps to bring a friend along, especially one with horse experience, but failing that, one with a healthy voice of reason. Not only can they weigh in on the decision, they also don’t have a vested interest and are able to be a little more objective.
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