Many home-bred horses have been given too many titbits and become thoroughly spoiled and pushy, with no manners or discipline and no respect for people. On the other hand, they are often completely unafraid and trusting with people so that they will accept being ridden quite happily. A well-disciplined, confident, calm, home-bred horse would be ideal. To find one, read the advertisements in your local paper with care or ask the advice of other horse owners whom you respect.
Horse sales have the advantage that you can see a young horse in a strange, noisy, frightening environment and get a really good insight as to its temperament.
Look for a horse that is standing quietly watching everything, ears moving slowly backwards and forwards, with a relaxed, normal head carriage and a calm eye.
You do not want the type that is whizzing round the box or pen, digging at the floor with its forelegs, kicking at its neighbours or fighting the halter rope and lifting its forelegs off the ground.
Nearly all sales have warranties (guarantees). The wording of these varies from sale to sale, but when buying an unbroken horse you should look for the word ‘sound’ in its description. This means it must not be lame or suffering from any defect. Note when the warranty expires it may be any time from 24 to 48 hours from the time of sale. This is all the time you will have to make sure the horse is sound and apply for redress if it is not.
If you buy from a local horse dealer they will wish the horse to be a success because of their reputation in the area, so most local dealers are unlikely to try to sell you a bad horse. (Of course, they may sell you an unsuitable one if you do not make your requirements and own level of experience clear but this is your responsibility, not theirs.)
At a dealer’s yard you may find more animals to choose from and compare in one place. Some dealers will give you a written guarantee that they will exchange the horse if you cannot get on with it. This could prove very useful to you.
Remember that dealers’ horses come and go and may have been through sales, therefore they might carry coughs, colds and other infections into your yard, so any new horse bought from this source should be isolated for at least two weeks to protect your other horses.
Never go alone to look at a horse. Take someone with you who has broken and schooled lots of horses and whom you have seen riding them calmly and successfully. Someone very knowledgeable but who has never dealt with young horses cannot give sufficient guidance.
Ideally, take the person who is going to help and supervise you throughout the time you will be breaking and schooling your young horse. This person will be motivated to find something you can make a success of together. Finally, never buy a horse you do not really like even if you cannot put your finger on the reason for this. On a bad day, when everything is going wrong and you think you own the worst equine juvenile delinquent in the world, only the fact that you really like the horse will make you keep your temper and try again.