FAQ: Your First Horse

Are there special things to look for in a horse?
Signs to look for a ‘kind eye’ and large ears, which generally indicate a pleasant temperament. Check how the horse reacts to you – is he happy to have walk right around him and to touch the underside of his belly? Never buy a horse without first riding it yourself, or ask a more experienced rider to ride it. You probably need to buy a horse which enjoys being ridden, so avoid horses who turn their head towards you when mounting, or those which continually swish their tail while being ridden – these are generally signs of annoyance or discomfort.

Should I have the horse examined by a vet before purchasing?
Yes, it is vital to have the horse thoroughly examined prior to the purchase.

Should I choose a horse with more experience or training than I have?
With the supervision of a qualified instructor, an older horse with more experience than you should always improve your technique.

Should the horse be a mare, a gelding or a stallion?
Geldings are less temperamental and should be your first choice, with mares a close second. Stallions would not be suitable. Even when on their best behavior, stallions can create unexpected problems when meeting other horses for example.

What size of horse is suitable for children?
You should never buy a horse that children can ‘grow into’. That is, buying a horse which is much bigger than is suitable to save having to buy another one when the children gets older. A first pony should be suitable for their size and weight.

What should I look for when choosing stables?
The establishment should be clean and tidy throughout and smell fresh. The horses already staying there should have a general look of well-being about them. Wheelbarrows and tools should all be stored neatly and the dung-heap should be well away from the stables themselves. Staff at stables should be friendly and attentive and you should have no worries approaching them for advice or just to say ‘hi’. Look for establishments approved by your national horse society.

What equipment do I need?
As a minimum you will need the following: saddle, rugs, riding hat, bandages, breeches/jodhpurs, bridle, head collar, brushing boots, riding boots and gloves.

Do I need any special insurance?
As a minimum you should have third party insurance cover, including theft of the horse and personal liability is recommended.

Do I need a building permit for a paddock and a shelter?
Regulations vary both internationally and regionally. It is always wise to check with your local building/planning department.