December 18, 2017

How To Buy A Horse

            You want a horse! Or your kid wants a horse. Or your husband/wife/partner/friend/ acquaintance wants a horse. What should you do to make sure the right one is purchased the first time? Or does it really matter what horse you get? Horses can be trained to do anything, right?  Wrong! Here’s some information to help you on your way to horse owner bliss.

1.         Decide what you want to do with your horse. This will tell you what kind of horse to buy. Pretend you were buying a car. Let’s say you want something large enough for the whole family, a 100 lb. dog and 10 bags of groceries. You certainly wouldn’t buy a 2-seater Porsche just because you liked the color!  You would probably look for a station wagon or SUV. The same principle applies to horses. If you want a Show Jumper you shouldn’t buy a 15 hand, 1200 lb quarter horse that’s lame on one leg. You would look for a 17 hand Warmblood that was already jumping at least 3-4 feet. 

            So decide what you want- Training style and level, size, gender, age, breed, color, registered or not, and what level of experience the horse requires. Then, make a checklist. Start with a list of things you must have, like must be good on trail or jump 3’6′. Then move on to things you want, like 16 hands tall or have a good flying lead change. Then lastly things that would be nice but you can live without such as color (Palomino, Black or Buckskin Overo).  

2.         Find horses- With the internet you have many, many places to look at horses before you buy them. YouTube is full of horses for sale along with web sites like DreamHorse,, and many more. You should also check with trainers, bulletin boards at stables, show arenas, feed and pet stores, equine vets and farriers. If you have friends who have horses, contact them as well. Put the word out on your Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social networks you may use. Make a list of potential horses to call about.

3.         How to make first contact with owners- Call the owner of any perspective horses on your list and ask about the items on your must have list.  If they don’t meet the minimum requirements pass and move on to the next one. If they do, ask about the want list. If they meet most of those requirements the go to the last part of your list. Rate the horse based on the information received over the phone and decide which ones you will go look at.

4.         Go Look at Horses- Make an appointment and give yourself at least 2 hours per horse. It will take that much time to properly  evaluate each horse. Bring your check list. You should  now have two lists- one that you used for the phone calls and one for the in-person evaluation. Watch the owner/trainer take the horse from the stall or pasture, lead, tie, groom, saddle and perhaps lunge or round-pen the horse. Evaluate the horses manners and conformation. If it’s all good watch the horse being ridden. Then ride the horse yourself. (If you don’t have enough experience to ride and properly evaluate your prospective horse, you aren’t ready to purchase one. Look into a good lesson program until you have the necessary skills.) It’s a good idea to take video or pictures of the horse because they will all become a blur after you have looked at a few (dozen). Video can be especially helpful because you can show it to your trainer or an experienced friend to help you make your decision.

5.         Narrow down the choices- If all went well the on the first look. Call the owner back and set up as second date to see the horse or perhaps a short-term lease if the owner is willing. Go see the horse again and bring a knowledgeable friend or trainer who has no vested interest in you buying the horse. They will be able to give you an impartial opinion about the horse. This is important because you already like this horse and will make excuses for its shortcomings. Your trainer should  discourage you from buying a horse that is clearly wrong for you. However, your trainer doesn’t have the final say, yes or no. Their job is to give you information about the horse you didn’t have. It is ultimately your decision.  

             If after the second look everyone likes the horse, confirm a price with the owner, pay a refundable deposit and sign a purchase agreement. The purchase agreement outlines the details such as description of the horse, price, etc. and gives you a set number of days/weeks to complete the agreed upon additional evaluations, vet checks and finalize the deal. It also requires the owner to maintain the current work, feed, and care program for an agreed upon length of time and effectively holds the horse for you. If the owner won’t agree to this, pass and move on to another horse.

               Now it’s time to set up a pre-purchase exam by your veterinarian. If the horse is too far away for your vet to do the exam, have them refer you to someone in the area. If possible, do not use the sellers vet. Most vets would not do a pre-purchase exam for their own client because it’s a conflict of interest. Remember, the vet check is not a pass or fail thing. Just like your trainer, the vet is there to give you information about the horse so you can make an informed decision.

6.         Finalize the deal- After the vet check is complete, contact the owner and finalize the agreement. If something came up during the vet check, you may need to change the terms, perhaps lowering your offer. Agree on the price, type of payment, who the payment should be made to, amounts paid to brokers, trainers or any third parties. Arrange a pick-up date and time. Make your transportation plans. Make sure you have a bill of sale along with all the necessary paperwork including- Copies of health certificates if the horse if being transported across state lines, registration papers, transfers, breeding certificates, complete health records, show records, Incentive Fund paperwork and copies of payments.  Make sure all the paperwork is signed by the appropriate parties. Also, pick up any tack that is being sold with the horse.

            Welcome to the world of horse ownership! It’s a crazy journey that will keep you on your toes, but it is well worth the time, energy and patience it took to get the right one. Have a great ride!

What do you do when you go looking for a new horse? Help us all be better owners by adding your tips and comments below!

We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to


Dream a Lofty Dream

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall at last unveil.”

John Ruskin

Many years ago I had a client who was looking for a new horse for her daughter, Caren. Caren had been riding the family horse for a few years. She had gone from a complete beginner to an accomplished show rider. It was time for her move-up horse. We were looking for an all-around horse that would be competitive on the PtHA and APHA circuits. We had looked at several horses so far, to no avail. They were either too English, too halter or too western.

After several months of looking they called me to check out yet another prospect. Her name was Mel. Mel was 5 years old and had not been shown. She had been well started and ridden extensively on trails. She had the breeding and look we wanted, but could she perform in all the events we needed her to do? Upon arrival at the barn, we were given free rein to try her out. I went through my usual pre-purchase checklist. I checked her stall manners, ground manners, conformation and way of going. So far so good. She was kind hearted and willing. She had a halter horse conformation and good legs.  We then saddled Mel up and the owner showed us what she knew. After that, I rode her and finally I put my student up. All went well during the evaluation. Things were looking good.

During the ride home we discussed Mel at length. She was somewhat green and would need some time and work to get her ready to show. Caren was certainly up for the task and willing to put in the needed time and effort.  My only concern was that Mel would be a much better Western horse than an English horse. She wasn’t very tall and was very stocky. If Caren was ok with possibly having limited success in English events, Mel would be a good choice. During the pre-purchase consultation it is my job to give the buyers information, not make the decision for them, and that is what I did here. We had passed on other horses for this same reason so I just gave them as much information about Mel as I could and then left the decision up to Caren and her family.

The next day Caren told me they had decided to purchase Mel. She flew through the vet check without a hitch and was very soon parked in Caren’s barn. I designed a training program for Mel that would get them to the show pen as quickly as possible. I made sure the plan worked to Mel’s strengths and weaknesses. By really pushing this mare to work as an English horse, I did my best to make her the all-around horse her owners wanted her to be. I didn’t just work her western because I knew that is where she would excel. I worked her on both disciplines because that is what the owners wanted. They knew Mel’s limitations before they bought her and accepted them. It was my job to make Mel the best she could be at everything her owners wanted.

We started Mel off at some local shows. She needed to get in the show pen and figure out how things worked. She had great success at this level in both the western and English events. Hmmm, guess our training program is working so far. It was time to head to the big time! We entered Mel and Caren in their first PtHA show. She showed in all the youth events, both English and western. At the end of the day, Caren came home with many first’s, seconds and thirds. Looks like we found a winner. As time went on Caren and Mel continued to improve. Finally the day had come; we were off to the PtHA World show!

By the time the show was over, Caren and Mel had 6 World Champion titles and 4 Reserve World Champion titles. The classes were English and Western, youth and open. I was so proud of them, I could bust! But the most important thing was that we didn’t give up on Mel going English. In fact, we worked extra hard on her English skills and she overcame her physical limitations and excelled! Had I given into my initial thought that Mel wouldn’t do well English, she wouldn’t have. Because I listened to my client’s wishes for Mel and did what they wanted, despite my concerns for success, Mel turned out to be a great All-Around Horse. I made sure I did what my client was paying me to do, not just trying to prove that I was right. In so doing all our dreams for Caren and Mel came true. We dreamed a lofty dream and unveiled our vision.

Let Cheryl help you unveil your riding dream! Call or email today and start on the path to your vision!

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.



A Horse For Christmas

A Horse for Christmas

(Or How Not to Give Your Kid A Horse)

By: Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg

            When I was a child, like so many young girls, I wanted a horse. I had read loads of books, rented a horse nearly every Saturday, and watched every horse movie I could find. I was ready for my first horse! Of course I lived in the city. We couldn’t keep a horse at home, but there were horse properties and stables nearby. So the begging began.

            One year when I was about 11 years old, my parent’s business had a good year. Money was no longer tight. My older brothers were getting huge Christmas gifts that year and I knew it. The oldest one got a car and the middle child got a real, professional drum set. It was Christmas Eve (when we always opened our gifts) and we had opened all the presents that were wrapped and under the tree. The time was upon us. I knew my brothers gifts were in the front driveway. So we all traipsed outside and standing there next to the car and drums was a HORSE! MY HORSE! I screamed and ran toward the poor animal so fast that she nearly bolted. After much conversation about her name (Belle), age (about 12), breed (Quarter Horse-ish), etc I was ushered back into the house while my Dad walked Belle back to the stable. Yep, at night, in the dark, on city streets. My Dad had been raised on a Midwest farm during the depression. He had worked with horses plowing the fields. He had even gotten to ride his horse to school! What a luxury! He knew horses and had picked Belle out himself.

          The next morning I was forced to wait until after breakfast to see my horse again. Finally, my Dad took me to the barn where she was living. It was a neighbor’s backyard within bike riding distance. The neighbors would feed my horse along with theirs and I would clean the stalls. There was no arena, round pen or anything. Just a stall in the backyard, a turn-out area on the side of a hill and a shed that doubled as both a tack and feed room. The neighbor’s horse lived in the stall and Belle lived in the turn-out pen. The shed had an extended roof that gave Belle some shelter from the rain and my dad had built a feed manger on the outside wall for her feed. My Dad had also purchased a bridle to go along with the halter and lead that came with Belle. He showed me how to put on the halter and how to put on the bridle. I was the happiest little girl in the world as I trotted bareback around the turn-out pen.

          After that Christmas Day, I was free to ride whenever I wasn’t in school. I would ride my bike to the barn and off Belle and I would go, blissfully riding the trails. Well, that’s what I wanted to happen, but the reality was somewhat different. Since I had only one lesson on bridling it was often very difficult for me to get Belle’s bridle on. My Dad knew horses but he worked all day and didn’t have time to spend teaching me to ride. Mom worked also and was basically afraid of horses. I had no saddle so mounting was a problem also. I had never been the gymnast type so I would lead Belle up to a fence and hope she would stand still long enough for me to climb on. We lived in the city, so there weren’t any trails nearby. We did have some fields so I sometimes rode there. Of course, the fields were quite a distance away so most of the time I just rode around the small pen that Belle lived in. The neighbor’s horse stabled with Belle was retired and not ridden anymore. I had no one to ride with or learn from.

          Almost immediately, I began having lots of problems getting my new horse to do my bidding. For some strange reason she was completely incapable of reading my mind! Since I had no clue about proper cueing, we were at an impasse. Well, it was not so much an impasse as a complete take-over on Belle’s part. Belle did pretty much whatever Belle wanted to do. For some strange reason she didn’t seem to want to trot up and down the hill of the small pen she lived in for hours on end. She did become very proficient at getting me off her back whenever she was tired of me. Bumps, bruises,  sprains and torn jeans soon became the order of the day.

          It wasn’t long before I got tired of falling off my horse and having to ride my bike home with a sprained ankle or scraped knees. I began to complain that Belle was stupid and wouldn’t do what I wanted. I wanted a different horse. I wanted a horse that would do what I wanted. I wanted a horse that wouldn’t hurt me all the time. My parents said that if I didn’t want Belle anymore they would sell her, but no other horse would replace her. It was Belle or nothing.  Reluctantly, I agreed to keep Belle. But I needed some help! My Dad looked around and decided to move Belle to a nearby stable.

          So Bell went to live in a huge pasture with 20 or 30 other horses. Every day I would go catch her, bring her in and feed her in the tie stalls set up for that purpose. Yep, she got fed once each and every day. I wasn’t allowed to ride until she finished eating all her hay. During the times of the year that grass was plentiful, she wouldn’t usually let me catch her at all. No reason for her to want to work, right? She was quite happy hanging out with all her friends. But despite these things I did finally improve my riding skills. I had horse people around to teach me the right things. I had friends to ride with. I had a proper arena to work in and I was no longer trying to muddle through on my own. Dad also bought me a riding crop and taught me how to use it.  Finally I was in charge of Belle!

          I owned Belle for 4 years before I moved on to a new horse. I trained her (or she trained me) and together we learned about things like cues and leads.  We worked hard and had some success at the local playdays and shows. Belle also presented me with a beautiful chestnut colt one year. Apparently a long-yearling stud colt broke out of his stall one night. The stable owner failed to mention that he found them together until we started asking questions 10 months later!  I named the colt  Galveston and he was the first horse I ever trained from beginning to end.

          Belle turned out to be a great first horse. I not only survived but thrived because of her. It was a school of hard knocks at first, but all’s well that ends well. I was lucky. I never got badly hurt. This was long before the days of helmets, videos and lessons on youtube. I learned by watching, reading books and doing. I worked to earn money for luxuries like fly spray, grain and a saddle. All my birthday and Christmas gifts were for my horse. I became a horse trainer and riding instructor despite my dubious beginnings. Or maybe it was because of them…

          We always remember our first loves be they animal or human. Tell us the story of your first horse.

          Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.