Tips for Test Riding a Horse for Sale

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When you’re buying a horse, the test ride is an important factor in deciding if that horse is right for you. These tips can help you to better evaluate the horse during the test ride process.

Watch the Owner Ride First

Never be the first person to get on a horse that you don’t know. Always ask the horse’s owner to ride the horse so that you can watch him go first. Not only is it important for you to see how the horse moves and responds with a rider, but this practice can also help to keep you safe. If the horse’s behaviour makes you uncomfortable, then you can decline to ride the horse yourself.

Ask for Skills You Want to See

If there are particular skills that you want the horse to have, or that the seller has advertised the horse as having, be sure to ask the horse to perform those skills during the test ride. Basic skills such as extending or collecting the stride, standing still in place, and performing a leg yield are clear indicators of a horse’s training, but it’s easy to forget to perform them during a test ride. Think about these skills ahead of time so that you have a plan for the test ride in place.

Present the Horse with New Challenges

While it’s important to see how the horse performs skills that he’s already been taught, you will also want to see how the horse reacts when presented with something entirely new. Ask the horse for a little bit more and see what his response is. Does he try to figure out the answer to the question that you’re asking? Does he tense up and get upset? Does he just quit? If you’re looking for a horse to train and develop, this should be an essential part of your test ride.

Get a Video

Have a friend or trainer video the horse as you ride. You will be able to review the video afterward, so you can get a better sense of the horse’s body language and performance as you rode. A video gives you a second chance to review the ride, and you may recall or notice issues that you weren’t aware of during the ride.

The test ride can reveal a lot about your horse. Give some thought to what you want to get out of your test ride so that you can be sure that you’re buying the horse that is right for you.

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