The stress, frustration and concerns of becoming a first time horse owner.
Richards love for the horse and his riding experiences had grown with intensity over the 2 years since he started riding and although he was having fun and his riding confidence and ability was growing with every ride, it was being achieved by riding school horses' or blagging free rides from friends.
Rich and_beauty

Richards desire to own a horse had gone from a distant dream to a burning desire, the maths had been done and he had fine tuned his budget for becoming a horse owner. He had sat for hours counting the cost of purchase, monthly and annual out goings including Livery, Feed, Bedding, Shoeing, Vaccinations, Insurance, Tack, Instruction and Transport- The list was ever growing and so were the £ signs.

This didn't put Richard off and only fired his desire to the point of no return. His budgeting exercise gave him a better understanding of what he would have to give up and where he could tighten his belt to achieve his ultimate dream - He knew it would be worth every sacrifice. 

Once the decision had been set in stone Richard called in the help of dear friend Heather Walton to use her experience and knowledge in equine health and welfare and her skill as a riding instructor to assist in the search for the right horse for him.
Beauty head_and_shoulders
Richards's list of qualities for his ideal horse
  • Calm and good natured
  • Approximately 16hh
  • Full or part native
  • Had to know the basics
  • Safe to hack out on
  • Sound and in excellent health
  • Preferably dark colour so the mud wouldn't show
Buying a horse isn't easy at the best of times but entering the buyers market for the first time with all the unknowns can be stressful, so be prepared. 

Over a period of 4 months Richard searches for his idael horse

Richard shares his buying journey with Horse Answers Today

My first port of call was a dealer's yard; I had seen two horses advertised in an advert within an established horse for sale publication. Disappointment was an under statement.

Beauty in_field 
HORSE 1 AND 2 - Horse one was a sports horse which looked and sounded ideal in the advert, but when she was brought out, not only was she very toe in, her condition was poor. I immediately rejected her. The dealer then showed me a thoroughbred which he said was very safe, polite and jumped well. I spent some time with him in his stable and yes he was relaxed and seemed happy to have me around. I asked to ride him and he went well in walk and trot, however when I tried to canter he decided he didn't want me on his back, a huge buck and I was on the floor. Both horses were turned down

HORSE 3 Advertised at a dealer's yard in Yorkshire, my friend Heather, (who worked at the riding school I went to and was manager at the small yard I wanted to keep my first horse at) went to see and try this horse by herself to check he was ok. She agreed I should go and try him and he was great, very calm and polite, I even jumped and hacked him out on a busy main road and cantered through woods. My instinct was to buy him but only after I had him vetted did my heart sink as the feedback wasn't as I had expected and again the decision was made that he wasn't the horse for me.

HORSE 4 Was a private sale and was a 2 hour drive away and lived in the part of Lincolnshire that Stephen Fry described as "Flat, boring and where people were always late for meetings". He was a 5year Belgian Draft. Heather and I arrived late and couldn't believe our eyes, we were confronted by a really sad sight, the horse was in a real state, living alone in a back garden, his condition was poor, mites and very unfit. It was a really difficult situation, this was definitely not a horse I wanted, but I also knew he needed a better life so that night heart strings pulling, I decided I would buy him, I picked up the phone only to discover that a dealer had turned up that afternoon with a pile of cash and a horse box, and taken him away. 

HORSE 5 Another private sale and described in the Horse for sale AdMag as a safe hack, jumps well, Irish bread, 16hh, 8 years, quick sale, on further investigation he turned out to be an ex-race horse from Doncaster sales.(something not mentioned in the advertisement) I had heard too many stories about ex racehorses and that they need a lot of work and patience so I passed on that one. 
HORSE 6 Heather was informed by a colleague at her university that they knew of a nice horse that was being sold by her cousin, It was younger, smaller and had done less than I had originally been looking for, but on viewing I fell immediately for her, she was the most amazing grey colour (and called Beauty for very obvious reasons!) We took her out to the field and the owner lunged her - she moved really well, good steady even paces, but for me the viewing raised more questions than it answered. She was a really nice horse, but I was left wondering… was she really the one for me?
I decided to quiz my instructor about buying a young and inexperienced horse and ended up feeling a lot happier. If I was going to get this horse I was going to have quite a steep learning curve, but as my instructor pointed out, I was going to have this with any horse and sometimes it is better to have a polite but under trained young horse than an older horse with history and potentially ingrained issues or had bad training.
Beauty at_stable_door
After serious consideration and reality checks I arranged for a second viewing with Heather, when we arrived Beauty was out in the field, the owner called her and she immediately trotted straight to me ignoring the owner- Beauty and I said hello - I felt like Harry Potter when 'Olivander' says 'it's the wand that chooses the wizard and not the other way round' Not the best grounds for choosing a horse, but I felt our relationship had been cemented with a kiss which just seemed to add to the list of things I liked about her.
Then came the scary bit, I made an offer and it was accepted - I was now the proud owner of my first horse called Beauty an un-backed four year old Connemara.