Having read Beverly Whittington’s gaited horse columns since the launch of the magazine you may well be inspired to experience the world aboard a luxury mover. This buyer’s guide will set you on your way to finding a perfect partner. If you have never owned a gaited horse before you will want to spend some time educating yourself as to the various characteristics of the many breeds prior to starting your search. To determine which breed is right for you ask yourself some questions as to how you intend to use your new mount, the style of horse you have a preference or need for and any faults that would be unacceptable. The answer to those questions will determine in large measure which breed is right for you.
See and ride as many horses as possible to give yourself a feel for the different breeds. Once one has caught your attention, you should familiarise yourself with the terminology used to refer to it and its specific gaits in order to determine which individual is best for your needs. Learn not only what the different gaits of the breed are but also be able to recognise and differentiate between these gaits when you see them performed. Have an idea of what your selected breed is all about, both in appearance and movement. Having at least a general knowledge of the breed will make conversation between you and the breeder/seller much easier. Find out when it is common for the breed to start a horse to saddle. In breeds that mature later a five year old may only be green or just started to saddle. You should take advantage of any chance at education, looking at several horses before selecting one.
Prices of horses will vary depending on the horse's age, breeding, level of training, competitive ability and overall quality as a representative of their breed. Prices will also vary slightly depending on geographic location. Once you have a clear determination of your specific needs, stick to your selected criteria and, when you find the right horse, be willing to pay just a little bit more if you can. You will not regret it. Remember you often get what you pay for!
To select the horse that is right for you, it is important that you are realistic with yourself as to your own equine skills. What is your experience level - beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, or expert? It is best to be as truthful as possible about one's goals and abilities in order to find a suitable horse. If you are already an experienced rider, most likely you have a clear idea about the level of training and ability your new horse already should have. If you do not have much horse experience, consider taking some lessons with a qualified trainer to assess your skill level. It can prove to be very frustrating to own a horse you cannot enjoy because it is too advanced for your skill level.
A horse is more than just a pretty colour or a cute face. Temperament, age, size, gender, training level, and suitability for your use are just a few of the other things to consider when selecting the right horse for you. In addition to this, make a list of the five most important attributes or characteristics the horse must have for you to purchase it. Whatever matters most to you. This list will be the basis of your search for that ‘perfect’ horse.
A young horse maybe tempting but be realistic about how much time, money and skill it will take to produce what you want. Do not overlook the teenage horse. Gaited horses generally live long and useful lives and some of the best buys are the teenagers. If you are considering an older horse, make the effort to determine what kind of mileage your prospective purchase has had, as it will help you evaluate how much stress was involved.
Gaited breeds come in all different sizes. One of the most common scenarios is American riders with John Wayne Syndrome. You know, ‘There is no such thing as a good small horse.’ Well these folks are missing out on many horses that could be the perfect match for them! Most gaited horses are strong and durable, and capable of carrying riders of larger proportions. Size should be a consideration but it should not be of high priority on your search list.
If you are going to trail ride the horse, then it is important that he has experience on the trails and not just in the show ring. The reverse is also true - do not expect to have an instant show ring star out of the trail horse of many years. If you are purchasing an older gaited horse do not underestimate the value of the training it may already have had in a discipline or two. The better and more extensive its training, the greater enjoyment and versatility that horse will have for you. Additionally, if you need to sell your horse, your opportunities for securing a good home are far better.
If you have determined that you want a ‘trained’ horse you need to know what that means to you. To most people a trained horse is one that knows all basic work which includes stop, go, turn, backup, stand for mounting, stand for saddling, tie, load, clip, turn on the fore, turn on the hind, disengage hindquarters, trailer load etc. The trained horse will give you proper responses for proper cues 99.99% of the time. If you are unsure it is a good idea to employ the services of a more experienced individual to help you ascertain these things before you buy to help avoid disappointments in the future.