70 Issue 3 · 2013
upon us. The snow
has melted and
every horse and rider is eagerly headed outdoors to begin enjoying the sun
and warming temperatures. This is definitely the time when people begin to
buy and sell horses. Equine shopping can be a wonderful and rewarding
experience, but to the novice or uneducated horse enthusiast the process
can be devastating.
Recently, I had two clients come to my facility to try out a horse that
was for sale. Their story is one that I would like to share with you as I feel we
can all relate to it in some way or another.
This couple had previously purchased an 11 year old gelding from a
horse broker who was referred to them by a friend. After acquiring the horse
they discovered that this horse refused to load in the trailer. However, the
horse seemed nice so they eventually brought him home. Once home, they
turned their new gelding out with their other horse. The gelding flipped his
behavior like a switch, established dominance and was acting in a manner
that was most unusual. The gelding's actions on their other horse was
detrimental, and the gelding ended up driving the horse to a point where
her whole demeanor changed. The horse behavior specialist they contacted
determined that the behavior was not normal. Ultimately stuck with the
horse, the couple underwent a high level of stress which compromised their
This story is one example of countless others, and as you are reading
you may be aligning some similar experiences of your own. When you are
shopping for a new equine partner, keep in mind that there are people out
there waiting to burn you. These people are not looking out for your safety or
the animal's welfare, but rather for their own financial gain. It's unfortunate
,but it's a grave reality we must all face. Just because someone has grey
hair or 40 years of experience with horses does not mean that they have
been educated properly.
As you begin searching for a horse, I suggest that you have a plan of
action when you go to try the horse for the first time. Make a list of questions
and know what you specifically want to see when you arrive at the location.
Keep in mind that the seller may not be able to answer every question in a
definitive manner. For example, one question could relate to how well the
horse will get along with other horses. The seller may not know, especially
if the horse has always been stalled and kept in an individual paddock. If
the horse has been turned out with others the answer may still be unclear.
There are no guarantees when it comes to certain horse behavior, and
just because the horse gets along with his current pasture mates does not
outline the way he may behave with new ones.
When clients visit my facility to try out a horse that is for sale, I tend
to take a step back versus sticking with them the entire time. I will ask the
client what their wishes are do they want to see me do ground work, have
me ride the horse, or do they want to ride the horse right away. I have found
that this creates a no pressure environment. Once the dust settles, if the
purchase is meant to be it will happen. I want my clients to connect with
the horse and I allow this to happen at its own individual pace. When I walk
away, I know the horse will sell itself rather than me having to justify what
the horse is capable of.
When you're out on your equine shopping trip, don't bypass the older
horse. If you are lacking in experience, older horses can do you a world
of good. They will give you the confidence you need and can teach you
valuable lessons. Of course, there will always be an exception to the rule.
There are few younger horses out there that I would match with novice
riders, but in my entire career I have only worked with a handful of horses
that fit into this category.
In conclusion, if you want to find the right horse for yourself, simply do
your homework. Make sure you know who you are dealing with. From the
story I shared earlier, the horse broker this couple dealt with was referred to
by a friend. However, it's still important to research the seller and find more
than one opinion. Ultimately, and I cannot stress this enough, stick with your
gut. If it just doesn't feel right, then listen to that instinct. You should never
feel rushed or pressured to purchase a horse. Remember to prepare a list of
questions and have a plan. Good luck and happy shopping!
bout Dennis Auslam: Dennis has been a trainer for over 30 years,
working with many different breeds and disciplines. He grew up
with horses and has worked with some of the best trainers in the industry.
His passion is horses and people and he loves helping people learn how
to work with their horses, progress in their riding abilities and make that
connection with their horse. You will find Dennis at various horse related
events in 2013. He also does numerous clinics and demos, both at his
stable Redwood Stables in Morton, MN and at other venues. His main focus
is on confidence building for the horse and the rider.
For information regarding his clinics and demonstrations please visit
Do YOU have an idea for an article? If you have a topic you wish to
read about or any question you want answered, please e-mail Addie O'Neil
by Dennis Auslam with Addie O'Neil