Saddle up there, pardner; Easy steps for buying a horse

Buying a horse should be well planned and carefully thought out. Don't settle for less than you expect or more than you can handle. There are always other horses and other days.

The safest way to buy a horse is to locate an honest seller and take along an experienced person to help you. Take the horse on a week's trial basis if possible, and buy subject to its passing a veterinarian's examination.

There are many happy horse owners. Satisfaction comes from knowing what you want and searching until you find it. Insist on quality, even at a higher price. Remember that a horse is not essential; therefore, the market favors the buyer. Reject a horse if it isn't what you want or doesn't meet your needs.

Don't let a fancy pedigree hide poor quality. A poor horse usually means extra expense and dissatisfaction.

General considerations
Horses are expensive, to buy or to keep. Also, a lot of time is required for daily care. Unless you are willing to devote time on a regular, daily basis and to pass up other activities, you probably should not become a horse owner. Horses can become a life-long hobby, and owning a horse may also encourage development of responsibility in young people.

Prices may vary from nothing to many thousands of dollars. The cost of a mature, non-registered horse with some training and reasonable conformation ranges from about $1,000 to $2,000. Registered horses with show potential and some additional training often sell for many times this amount.

A horse is a long-term investment. Buy the best horse possible -- a good one eats no more than a poor one.

Feed and bedding (together called board), shoeing and veterinary expenses range of $5 to $12 per day. The cost of tack and equipment normally ranges from $500 to $3,000, depending largely on the type of saddle.

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