Tips for Buying Your Next Trail Horse


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When you’re looking for your next trail horse, you need to approach the process of buying a horse a little bit differently. A good trail horse will have a different set of skills and experience than your average competition horse will. These tips can help as you evaluate trail horses for sale.

Consider the Skills Your Trail Horse Needs

Before you start looking at horses for sale, put some thought into the specific skills that your new trail horse should have. Not only should your horse have trail riding experience, but you’ll need a horse with good riding foundation skills, such as the ability to move off of your leg, to shorten and extend his stride, and to jump or climb obstacles that you encounter. Consider whether you need a horse who can travel out alone, or who is willing to travel in the front, middle, or rear of a group of horses and riders.

Don’t forget to consider the little skills, too. Do you want a horse who you can easily load onto your horse float while traveling alone? How about a horse who will tie patiently to a tree or to the side of your float? You’ll probably want a horse who will stand patiently if you have to mount out on the trail, and who is confident enough to take new obstacles and events in stride.

Ask Specific Questions About Experience

When inquiring about a horse, ask specific questions about the horse’s experience. Find out about the type and length of trail rides that the horse has done. If you need a horse who can trail ride solo, then make sure that the horse has plenty of experience doing that. Many horses lack the confidence to go out alone comfortably.

You’ll also want to get an idea of the horse’s fitness level, training background, and temperament out on the trail. Ask about any quirks and anything that the horse may dislike, like bridges or water. If you know you’ll encounter a particular type of obstacle on the trail, ask if the horse has ever seen it before.

Consider a Physical Evaluation

Some trail riders opt to forego a pre-purchase exam, since trail riding can be a less-intensive activity than other forms of riding. However, remember that trail horses are athletes, too; they just happen to deal with different physical challenges. It’s always a good idea to invest in a pre-purchase exam.

There are some great trail horses for sale out there, and with a little patience you’ll likely find your new trail partner.

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