Hey everyone! Long time no see! And I mean it’s been a realllly long time as my last post was in November (ooops!) I could blame my prolonged absence on my PhD thesis which is taking up the majority of my time, but to be honest, I struggled to find my inspiration to write this year as I experienced frustration after frustration in the saddle. The University Equestrian Club turned very quiet early on in the year so I couldn’t go out with them and from January on wards my friend, Annie and I have been encompassed in a never-ending struggle to find horse owners who would let us ride. After three different horses, two different livery yards and no happy endings we both found ourselves without a horse, frustrated and fed-up. We both lead busy lives and riding has always been our outlet, a place where we can truly relax. Without it we were both completely lost and it was during this time that Annie decided she had had enough and the time was right to find a horse of her own. This decision was made at the end of July and let’s just say life hasn’t slowed down since! In the last month we have experienced some fabulous highs and some testing lows and so many emotions in between that I feel it would be a shame if I didn’t share. Therefore, I can now happily introduce to you my mini-blog series explaining how we finally found Annie’s ‘Dream Horse’. Due to the sheer number of events I can cover, the series will be split into three parts; ‘The Search’, ‘The Test Rides’ and ‘Finding Splosh’ with each section posted every subsequent Sunday. Okay- let’s begin!

‘The Search’- Making Your List

As every horse owner is aware, the decision to buy a horse is never one made lightly.There are certainly many things to think about before the search begins. As there are thousands of horses for sale in the UK at any given time it is always best to narrow your search beforehand in order to save yourself 100’s of hours on the phone and 100s of miles in the car. Here are the factors that influenced Annie’s list:

Firstly, it is always helpful to have a livery yard already in mind so you know what is going to be expected of you beforehand. For instance, in the UK, one has the choice of ‘Full Livery’ where the yard will do everything for you, and ‘DIY Livery’ where you are responsible for all the daily chores of owning a horse. Furthermore, you have the option of your horse living outside 24 hours a day or  paying for a space in the stable. As Annie works long hours within the week, she decided she needed a DIY Livery that would allow her the option of keeping her horse outside throughout the year. This decision then narrowed down the type of horse she was willing to buy as she needed a hardy breed that was able to live outside throughout the winter. The livery yard’s rules are also very important before beginning the search. For example, the place Annie wanted to keep her new horse had too many geldings and thus, the livery owner told us they were only willing to accept a mare.

It is also important to think about what you want to do with your horse and what your price range is before you begin phoning owners. Annie wanted a horse she could hack out on easily, she wanted something safe to handle and something that already had show experience and was safe on the roads. As Annie’s first horse was 17.2hh, size was never much of a factor. However, as Annie had no desire to enter the competitive side of the horse world she wasn’t willing to spend thousands of her hard earned pounds either. Age is another significant factor as Annie wanted a horse she could enjoy for many years but didn’t want anything too green either.

The final factor that affected our search was the location of the horse and how far we were willing to drive. Annie was lucky enough to have a very understanding boyfriend who was willing and ready to drive around Britain but seeing as we live in Cardiff, horses way up north in Yorkshire and Scotland were just too far away so we made the West Midlands our cut off point.

Our List

  1. Mare
  2. able to live outside
  3. happy hacker
  4. safe to handle
  5. road and show experience
  6. anything from 14.2- 18hh
  7. aged 8- 19 but needs to have experience
  8. not too expensive
  9. anywhere from Coventry to Cornwall

The Search Begins!

Once we had Annie’s criteria established it was time to turn on our laptops and begin the search. We used a variety of online websites such as Gumtree and Horse&Hound but by far the easiest to use was Preloved.co.uk as it allowed us to define our search to exactly what we wanted. Also, a £5 membership subscription allowed us to access the owner’s contact information immediately so we could contact them on the spot.

We both stuck to the criteria exactly and created a list of all the potential horses we had found. Later on in the week, Annie and I got together and spent a very long evening contacting the owners. It was here that we came to a few important conclusions;

  1. Horse owners rarely answer their phones or get back to you- Out of a list of 30 potential horses we only had 9 owners actually answer our emails and telephone calls!
  2. Have a list of questions ready for each horse. This tip I cannot stress enough, especially if you are willing to make a long drive to see the horse. Unfortunately, many owners want to make a quick sale and it is very easy to write a few positive words about a horse in an advertisement. It is therefore imperative that you speak with the owner beforehand, explain exactly what you are looking for and request to see a recent video of the horse being ridden. This is where Annie and I made our biggest mistake as a simple video could have saved us from two disastrous test rides (they’ll be explained next Sunday). Let’s just say that out of the 9 owners, only one lady was completely honest and said her horse wouldn’t suit what Annie needed. Learn from our mistake, it’s okay to be careful and ask loads of questions, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the test ride!

After a very long week of searching online and talking to owners Annie and I finally had our list ready-7 potential horses she was willing to try in a test ride. Tune in next Sunday to find out what happened!

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