There’s no doubt that you and your family will fall in love with what will prove to be an exceptional partner.
However, to ensure your buying experience goes smoothly, here are 10 general and specific tips to guide you on this journey.
1. Define your expectations and criteria
What disciplines is the horse intended for? Pleasure or competition? English or Western riding, or pulling? This will determine the criteria you’re looking for (temperament, size, athletic abilities, etc.).
Age of the prospect: Be aware that if you buy a recently weaned foal, you will have to wait three long years before breaking it in and being able to saddle or harness it. Do you have that kind of time? If not, maybe an adult horse would be more suitable.
What’s your experience with horses? They often say, “the old horses make the young riders,” which means that inexperienced riders should choose an older, more experienced horse that they can depend on. Conversely, experienced riders will be better able to handle a young horse and manage its education, energy, frights and misbehaviours. Buying a foal so that you can both “learn together” rarely leads to a good outcome, as foals need knowledgeable, experienced handlers that can teach them good habits with just the right balance of firmness, softness and FAIRNESS. This delicate balance comes only with experience.
2. Take your time and be patient!
It’s easy to fall in love with a horse from its picture. And yet finding the perfect horse can take a certain amount of time and energy.
Take the time to gather information and ask questions to the community on social media. When you see an ad, don’t be afraid to ask questions and request more information. Visit breeders so that you can make comparisons and confirm your opinions.
Go in person to see the horses that match your criteria. If they’re broken in, ask to take them for a ride, with a saddle and/or with a harness. Visit them several times before making a decision. Ideally, you should have an experienced horseperson with you to give you advice and guide you through the sales process.
3. Pre-purchase vet check
Regardless of the horse’s price, you should always get it checked by a vet first. That way, you’ll be aware of any significant abnormalities that could end up in costly bills down the road.
This protects both the buyer and seller. The latter may be selling the horse in good faith, without knowing about an invisible detail that could cause an issue (heart murmur, vision loss, etc.). The price of a vet check varies based on the number of tests you order. It’s up to you, depending on what your intentions are for the horse!
Unless agreed otherwise, the vet check is usually covered by the buyer, who also chooses which vet to hire.
4. Plan your budget
People often talk about the price of a horse as though that’s the end cost of buying a horse, and the related maintenance costs often get underestimated. Horses cost much more than just their purchase price. There are monthly boarding fees, bi-monthly farrier fees, vet bills a few times a year (routine worming and shots, dentistry, small injuries), etc.
Those who are lucky enough to have an acreage still have to factor in the cost of hay (better to get more than not enough!), feed, fencing, etc.
Once you get into it, the actual price of the horse practically becomes an afterthought. If you can’t come up with an extra $500 or $1,000 to buy a horse, you probably won’t be able to afford the price of hay (or board) when it increases!
5. Caution: horse auctions and merchants
Generally speaking, you should be even more cautious when buying horses at an auction or from horse merchants. The prices may seem good, but they may be hiding health or behavioural issues. Ask to handle and ride the horse to make sure it suits your needs.
What’s more, these horses often don’t come with registration papers, so be aware that it may be difficult to transfer them to your name.
At any rate, make sure you get a receipt that includes the horse’s name, its breed and a proof of payment.
6. Registration papers
Purebred Canadian Horses MUST BE SOLD with their REGISTRATION PAPERS (registration certificate). Without papers, there is NO way of knowing if the horse is purebred. Even if the seller tells you it’s registered, or can be registered, you can’t take their word for fact. If in doubt, please contact us before finalizing the sale. We’ll help you make the necessary verifications.
The only acceptable exception is for foals under 6 months, as their registration may not have been finalized yet. HOWEVER, even recently weaned foals SHOULD NOT be sold before the last steps of the registration have been completed, namely:
- The final registration request form MUST have been sent to the registrar;
- The DNA parentage test MUST have been sent to the lab;
- An electronic chip MUST have been implanted BEFORE its departure.
If you want to make sure that a horse’s registration is in order, you can look it up for free in the Canadian Horse pedigree registry.
If the horse’s registration number starts with a Z, that means that the registration fees were paid, but the registration was never completed. To get more information about such a case, contact us.
7. Sales contract
Whether it’s an adult horse or a foal, it’s important to fill out a sales contract that includes the following, at the very least:
- The breed (sold as a purebred Canadian Horse?)
- The name of the horse or foal
- Its registration number (if it’s registered)
- The name of the sire or dam (if known)
- The date of birth (if known)
- The sale price
- The mention “paid”
8. Acclimation period
The Canadian Horse is a breed that is loyal and faithful, and knows “its people.” It will need some time to get used to a new environment and build a bond of trust with its new owner.
Be patient and don’t try saddling it on its first day. Lead it by hand and give it a chance to discover and get acclimated to its new environment. Take your time and pay attention to its body language!
9. Tips for buying foals
If you’re looking to purchase a newly weaned foal, browse our breeders’ directory. We try to keep it up to date with active breeders that meet certain criteria we consider important. If the breeder you’re dealing with isn’t listed, contact us and we’ll confirm their status.
10. After the purchase, keep the contract!
You just purchased the Canadian Horse of your dreams? Congratulations! But the journey isn’t over; in fact, it’s just starting!
Keep in touch with your community and stay informed to make sure you and your horse become the best team possible.
Become a member of the breed association, sign up for trainings and get all the latest the news.
And more importantly, have fun!