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There are some very important preliminary questions you should always ask when buying a horse. These screening questions should be asked right up front. If at all possible, you should ask these questions initially on the phone prior to seeing the horse. If you have an agent/trainer helping you locate a horse, have them ask these questions of the seller. These questions can save all involved a lot of time and you do not want to be known as a "tire kicker".

  • Ask the age of the horse and if papers are available that will indicate date of the birth.
  • Though you are going to do your "due diligence" with a pre-purchase exam, make sure you ask about the history of the horse's health. Depending on what you are told and what you can live with, you may choose to stop there. Most horses have had some issues in the past, but by asking what issues there have been, the seller has an obligation to tell you. Additionally, you can have your vet address that issue when he is performing the pre-purchase exam.
  • How long has the seller had the horse?
  • Why is the horse being sold?
  • What has the horse been used for?
  • Ask about its experience and training, including how long it has been under saddle and in training.
  • What vices does it have? (weaving, cribbing, biting, kicking, barn sour, herd sour, etc...)
  • Does it trailer, clip and tie, and does it have good ground manners?
  • What level of discipline is the horse experienced at?
  • What history does the seller know about the horse?
  • Is the horse registered with a breed or discipline association?
  • Does the horse have a show record and is it available for you to see?

Remember something! It is always easy to buy a horse and much more difficult to sell one. It is your money and your investment. There is always another horse out there, so do not get pushed into buying something that is not right for you. Do not be afraid to ask these questions so you can make an educated decision.

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Bridget Brandon is a Senior Certified Equine Appraiser with the American Society of Equine Appraisers and is USPAP Certified. Bridget has been a certified equine appraiser since 2001 and has worked on numerous equine related lawsuits as an appraiser, consultant and expert witness.

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