12 Steps to Happy Horse Ownership
I recommend to all inexperienced riders that you join our Riding Academy for a few lessons before you attempt to purchase a horse. It will help you decide which type of riding you prefer (and thus which type of horse will give you that ride). It also provides an opportunity for our riding instructor to match the horse to your level of riding. If you have prior experience in riding, you no doubt already know what discipline you want to ride.
2. TAKE A TEST-RIDE
We want you to take a “test-ride” on a horse or two that appear to be a good match. You will find that you are more comfortable on a particular horse, or you may quickly bond with one and not the other one. This helps you to decide what you are looking for.
3. VISIT WITH LAVESTA
I can give you specifics on each horses’ breeding, and information re: the parents, the siblings, or the show record of the horse in question. Some of the horses bred here at El Camino are 4 th generation El Camino horses, and I have photos of their “next-of-kin”.
I also can give you price information, and the guidelines re: sales tax on a horse purchase. Most horses are sold for cash. Some can be purchased on a contract, over one or two years time, and I will calculate for you the monthly payments. Contracts are offered as a courtesy to our EC Customers who have good credit.
4. WRITTEN SALE AGREEMENT
A sales agreement is always written up between EC and the buyer. It specifies the specific horse, registration number, age, breed, and any guarantees given. It will outline risk responsibilities of seller and buyer, and usually is subject to a pre-purchase exam, at the purchaser’s choice.
5. PRE-PURCHASE EXAM
The buyer always has the option of a pre-purchase exam by a veterinarian of their choice (not an EC vet). I always recommend this exam for any horse I sell. I may not be aware of some defect that would not be advisable for the use you intend for the horse. Only a vet can guide you in this area. A few extra dollars spent here will insure you get a sound and healthy mount. No horse is 100% perfect, but you need to assure yourself of a horse sound for the purpose intended. Any conditions found after the purchase are at the buyer’s risk, so before purchasing, check out the horse.
6. EQUINE INSURANCE
Once the horse has passed the exam, you should consider insuring the purchase. Any horse purchase over $5000 may be best insured in the event of a major injury or illness. You insure for mortality, and then have the option of surgical and/or medical insurance. You may also wish to insure for “use”. I can give you information on equine insurance companies, and how to contact them. Cost of equine insurance is approximately 3% of the value of the horse.
7. EQUINE TRANSPORTATION OR SERVICES AGREEMENT
If you will be moving your horse from El Camino, you either need a horse trailer (your own or a rental) or a horse transporter. I will guide you in this area. You will have the transportation to pay as well as the new ranch where the horse will be going (unless you have your own facility.)
If the horse will be remaining at EC, you will need to complete an El Camino Services Agreement for boarding or training. This outlines EC’s responsibilities to you and your horse as well as your responsibilities to your horse and to El Camino. It keeps us both out of future misunderstandings.
8. CORRECT SADDLE AND BRIDLE
Ask your riding instructor/trainer of the horse for assistance in purchasing a saddle and bridle, and any other tack they recommend for your horse. The top side of the saddle must fit you, and the bottom side must fit the horse. Most retailers of saddles will allow a trial fitting on the horse.. A bridle purchase is extremely important, as the incorrect bridle may create a disaster when you begin riding. If the horse is not accustomed to a certain bit or bridle, or you are not able to ride with a different bridle, you are asking for trouble. Only the trainer of the horse can guide you in this regard.
9. A VETERINARIAN and A FARRIER
Locate an equine veterinarian to call for routine health maintenance (immunizations and wormers). He should also be available to you in the event of an emergency. You should also locate a farrier to call when your horse needs a trim or a new set of shoes (approximately every 6 to 8 weeks). Keep these numbers handy, as you will need their expertise.
10. LEADLINE, HALTER, AND LUNGE LINE
Purchase a lead line from your local tack store. You may also wish to buy a new halter, although every horse sold in California is required to be sold with his halter. I always advise getting a lunge line, as most horses need lunged prior to riding. Even if they don’t, there may be times when you do not want to ride, but the horse still needs exercised. Ask your instructor to teach you how to lunge your horse.
11. USE EQUINE GUIDELINES
Consider buying an equine book that will guide you in managing your new animal. A good, all-around manual for Health Care is “How to be Your Own Veterinarian, Sometimes” by Ruth B. James, D.V.M. If your purchase is a broodmare, with or without a foal, the 2 books by M. Phyllis Lose, D.V.M., “Blessed are the Broodmares” and “Blessed are the Foals”, are excellent guides. You may also wish to buy or locate a book in the library or on the Internet that will give you generalizations re: handling your new horse, or preventative maintenance.
12. ENJOY YOUR HORSE
You have now acquired a new companion. It is similar to getting married, or having a new baby. You have a new dependent, which unlike a baby, will always need you to feed him/her, and will always be dependent on you for care. You and your horse will become a team. When you meet your horses’ needs, then your horse will meet your needs for a wonderful mount. Enjoy!!
by: LaVesta Locklin