Never Buy a Horse for Color

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Buying a horse is a huge commitment. Understanding that you are ultimately responsible for an animal’s well being for the rest of his/her life is a big deal. Sure, you can sell them when you have grown out of the horse’s ability, decided their temperament doesn’t work for you, or quit riding. But really, selling a horse is easier than it sounds. You should never count on the ability to sell the equine you buy. At any given turn, you may be “stuck” with them forever. Are you ready for that?

Realistically, the horse you choose to purchase could succumb to a major injury resulting in a pasture sound horse. This can happen, and it does happen. The horse you purchase could end up with a multitude of different health issues out of your control that could make selling a difficult option. “Well, then I’ll give ‘em away”. Good luck, do you know how many free horses are available at any given minute in this Country? No matter how sweet your unsound horse is, there is a good chance that YOU are stuck with that unsound horse.

You have to make big decisions; either you are able to “retire” that horse and continue to pay for board, farrier, veterinary, and other expenses related to that horse’s care, or, there is euthanasia. Although people scoff at the mention of euthanasia when it comes to a pasture sound horse, but if more people took this route there would be less neglect cases (both reported and unreported). Even well intentioned horse people who are trying to do the right thing can end up pinching pennies or turning their back on a skinny, emaciated horse that was once their prized possession.

Additionally, veterinary hospitals also need horses for research, (yes, like a bunny getting shampoo in the eyes, but different), and as much as I know medical research testing is necessary for the future of equine veterinary medical advances, it’s hard to think that my horse could end up having a severe medical condition forced up on him.

So, worst case scenario, you buy a horse, it hurts itself permanently rendering him/her unsound or pasture sound, you’re stuck with either an expensive dog that most likely doesn’t live at home, you have to choose to euthanize the horse, or you turn it into a lab rat. If you’re ready to make these difficult decisions, you’ve completed step one the horse buying process.

Step two of buying a horse, and also just a difficult as step one, is figuring out what horse to buy. What kind of horse you are looking for depends on what kind of equestrian enthusiast you are. Your pocket book plays an important role in your decision as well.

Here are thing you need to consider about yourself before you purchase a horse:

  1. Riding Ability – Skill Level
  2. Short Term Goals
  3. Long-Term Goals
  4. Initial Monetary Investment
  5. Long-term Monetary Investment
  6. Free Time

Once you have answered these six primary questions, the horse hunt can begin. Based on your answers, you’re faced with new questions that also factor in your purchase concerning details such as:

  1. Temperament
  2. Breed
  3. Size
  4. Age
  5. Sex
  6. Level of training & competition
  7. Color & Markings

With the above preferences, some will also have an impact on the necessities. The temperament rarely influences the price unless the horse is totally psychotic. But riding goals and ability greatly influence the temperament, and the breed will be influenced by the financial investment. Often, equestrians’ abilities and goals may influence the price, the horse size might be influenced by both the financial investment and the riders’ ability depending on the horse, and the age will be influenced by the financial investment, the riders ability depending on the horse, and the long and short-term goals.

Want some more?

The horse’s sex can be influenced by the financial investment, the riders ability, and possibly long term goals, the level of training and competition will be greatly influenced by all six original necessities, with color and markings possibly making a small influence on the price, depending on the horse.

It’s a pretty simple, straightforward way to narrow down the horse market.

I’m not kidding. Yet, here’s the rub.

So many people forget the first six questions and head straight for the last seven. Then they wonder why they ended up buying a dud of a registered Warmblood when they only had $4,500 to spend, they bought for breed, for size, and for age, and somehow got an unsound maniac. What then?

Ah, our three options for placement of an un-sellable horse. Pasture? Euthanasia? Lab rat? See why we talked about that first?

Too good to be true is an absolute guarantee when buying a horse.

The one that kills me is when someone is absolutely looking for a particular color horse. This, of course, happens more in the paint breed show world, where color, sadly, does matter. But, buying for color also happens with Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, and Eventing riders too.

A rider will say, “I just really wanted a black horse with some chrome”, and then they wonder why they can’t seem to get where they want to be; riding a horse they had no business buying in the first place.

But boy, that horse is pretty, and the owner is happy looking at it and grooming it. When it come time to ride…not so pretty anymore.

Then again, I’m a little guilty. Although I have never bought a horse for color, I have always wanted a liver chestnut horse with a flaxen mane. There is something about that color horse that just does it for me.

There was a Thoroughbred mare at the barn I started riding at that came in off the track. She had only raced for a few weeks. I was about 9 years old, and the trainer tacked her up and pointed at me saying, “You’re up!” and I climbed on the imposing, 16.3 HH, beefy mare with a grin from ear to ear. She was gorgeous; large bone, tall, uphill build, liver chestnut with a flaxen mane, a blaze, and four white socks.

Her name was Tracy. I got on her and she was perfect. She walked, trotted, halted, steered (pretty okay), and after a few weeks of being the only one to ride her (I think they were trying to get my parents to buy her), I got to jump her. A few months later, she sold out of state, but I wanted that horse! Ever since, Tracy’s color was one I could be clouded by.

I have not yet owned a liver chestnut horse and probably never will. Although, those first six questions about purchasing a horse are engrained in my head, if I was in the market to buy a horse and a liver chestnut horse crossed my path, I would have a hard time making a logical decision about the purchase!

But unless there’s disposable income to pick up a pretty lawn ornament, don’t ever buy a horse for color.