It's important to have an idea what to look for when buying a horse or pony to prevent issues in the future. Here are a few helpful hints to keep your buying experience and owning experience a good one.
PREPARATION: Make sure your facility is set up and you have enough space to house a horse or pony. (Basic Horse Care) It's a good idea to have a list of questions for the seller to answer before you ever go. Questions should include topics like past, health, soundness, attitude, reason for selling, etc. (101 Questions to Ask When Buying a Horse)
HONESTY: If a seller can't answer your questions or you get a bad vibe from the seller, there's a good chance they are holding something back. Make sure you feel informed and confident about your purchase before loading it in the trailer.
SOUNDNESS: Make sure the horse or pony doesn't have a limp or gimp that you weren't told about, especially in ponies. Many ponies founder, but can come out of it. You still need to know about the founder and how they're maintaining it now. Many horses are put on supplements to help maintain or prevent issues.There are a lot of unnecessary supplements in today's equine world, if the horse or pony is on something, research it, ask a vet and inform yourself of the products before spending a bunch of money just because the previous owner did.
DIET: Especially when buying ponies, its very important to know if the pony has been on grass or a dry lot. A drastic change in any animal's diet can cause health, mental and soundness issues. If you wish to change their diet, make sure it's a gradual change so they can adjust. Their feed, kind of hay and supplements are all things to consider before purchasing. (Pony and Horse Feed Tips)
TRUST: "Trust your gut" is a lesson I learned the hard way. It's so easy to fall in love with the first horse you try, especially when dealing with kids or peoples first horse. If you get a bad feeling at all, go home, sleep on it, come back and try the horse again. If you still love the horse the second time, then it's probably worth it. I always recommend people try at least three or four horses before settling on one. I often think I love the first one I try, but after I ride the second and third one, I realize the first one isn't quite as far along or as broke as I really want.
Buying and owning a horse or pony can be the most rewarding, confidence building, fun purchase of you or your child's life. One bad experience can ruin it all though. Make sure you're informed in the beginning so your horse or pony owning journey is a good one.