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Discusses barns, pastures, breeding, feeds, training, grooming, common ailments, riding, driving, races, shows, and competitions
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J. Warren Evans is Professor of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, where he directs the equine reproduction program. For over 15 years he taught horse production and management courses at the University of California, Davis. A past president of the Equine Nutrition and Physiology Society, he is also author of The Horse (from W.H. Freeman) with A. Borton, H.F. Hintz, and L.D. Van Vleck.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Part One SELECTING AND BUYING A HORSE CHAPTER 1 Considering Basic Factors SEEKING HELP AND ADVICE The novice or less experienced horseperson can get help from a variety of people in buying a suitable horse. Most novices consult a friend who is a horseperson before they talk to anyone else about buying a horse. The friend should be an accomplished horseperson, or the advice given may be based on myths and "folklore." Local 4-H Club horse leaders are an excellent source of information and help and have often previously helped new club members buy horses for projects. Most of the horses they find for their members are of the type suitable for novices. Some farriers are excellent horsepeople and sources of advice, whereas others only know how to shoe a horse. A local farrier with a good reputation may help in locating a horse because he or she is in constant contact with local horse owners. Members of local horse clubs may be willing to help a novice find a first, suitable horse. Ranchers can also help locate a horse because most keep horses. A local veterinarian who specializes in horses can be of help and should evaluate the horse for soundness and health. Professional help can be obtained from Cooperative Extension horse specialists, college animal science department faculty members who teach horse-related courses, and professional horse trainers. The novice may want a trainer to work with a horse to correct deficiencies in its training or to help improve the novice's equitation or to prevent gross mistakes in training or riding. Disappointment usually awaits beginnerswho expect to become accomplished horsepeople without experienced horses and without the aid of a professional trainer. If novices want to break and train their own horses, they need a professional to watch and direct their efforts. Failure to do so usually results in injury to the novice or in an improperly trained horse. The trainer should be carefully selected. Most trainers are specialists--they usually train horses for specific types of performance. Select a trainer who specializes in the type of horse you want. The trainer should be as reputable and well known as you can afford. One who has had years of training and riding experience is usually the most desirable. Previous clients are the best references to check the trainer's reputation. Observe the trainers in action with their current students or horses. They should be kind, considerate, and in command of the situation at all times. Financial arrangements should be discussed before you hire the trainer. If the trainer is to train the horse or help school the horse and rider, agree on a monthly rate, which should reflect the trainer's talents and ability to train horses and/or riders as well as his or her investment in facilities and equipment. There may be extra charges for grooming and for special training equipment. Some trainers require that the horse or rider be under their supervision for a minimum period. Ask how long each training session is and how regularly the sessions are given. You should be able to observe the training sessions for the horse, so that you will know the hand and leg aids used to ride the horse. It is better if the owner is trained at the same time as the horse so that the animal is not confused when the owner starts to ride it. The trainer should limit the number of horses being trained. Horses seem to learn best from short (20- to 30-minute), intense training sessions 6 days a week. An assistant trainer may do most of the riding, but the trainer should be riding and observing the horse at regular intervals. You should discuss the feeding program for the trainer's stable. The general condition and care of the horses in his or her custody should be evaluated. You should also discuss financial obligations for farriers and veterinary services as well as for expenses encountered if the trainer is to show the horse. The trainer may want to inquire about the horse owner before agreeing to train a horse, select a horse to buy, or give the owner riding lessons. LOCATING A HORSE TO BUY Horses and ponies can be purchased in a variety of ways, each with advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of the way in which a horse is bought and sold, the buyer should be aware that dishonest people can calm horses and mask lameness with drugs. Also, many horses are sold by word of mouth, and facts about the horse become distorted and inaccurate after they have been passed through several people. However, information that comes from someone who is familiar with the horse can be useful. Databases kept by breedorganizations can be accessed to get accurate information about a specific horse's performance and produce records. Friends Friends can be a source. But purchasing a horse from a friend can often strain relationships, because horses change their behavior in new surroundings and when they are ridden and cared for by new people. Advertisements Classified ads in newspapers or horse magazines can be an aid in locating a horse. These horses usually have some type of problem that makes the horse difficult to sell to people who are familiar with it. Problems are indicated by phrases such as "gentle but spirited" or "for experienced rider." Several Internet sites are used to advertise horses that are being sold privately or through auctions. It is a common business practice to advertise more expensive horses, those that have achieved a high level of performance, or those with performance potential. Thus, potential racing horses are highly advertised before an auction sale. Dealers and Trainers Local horse dealers keep a variety of horses. Most of these animals have some fault that the dealer can hide or has corrected so that he or she can sell the horse. Some horse dealers have the reputation of not being very honest. Honest horse dealers try to match a horse to the purchaser's needs and experience. A major problem horse dealers encounter is dishonesty by the person buying a horse. They try to impress the dealer or trainer by pretending to be much more advanced horsepeople than they really are. The end result is usually disappointment because the rider is overmounted. Many professional trainers keep horses that are for sale. They may belong to the trainer or to the trainer's clients. Horses should be purchased only from trainers who have a reputation for honesty. Trainers will make an effort to find an appropriate horse for someone who will take riding lessons from them and who will want the trainer to school the horse. They do expect to be compensated for their time and effort. A favorite mount being ridden by you and belonging to the stable where you are receiving instruction can be a safe purchase because you are familiar with the horse. Farms Breeding farms are good places to look for horses. A breeding farm offers the opportunity to look at horses that are typical of the breed you want. Breeding farms must sell horses that meet clients' needs, or they will have difficultystaying in business. Most breeders are interested in promoting their breeds and want to be sure that a client is satisfied with the horse. Satisfied clients are their best means of advertisement. Auction Sales Auction sales can result in bargains or headaches. There are several kinds of auctions, including local weekly, breed association, breeder, and specialty performance. Generally speaking, it takes an experienced horseperson to evaluate a horse being sold at auction because there is something wrong with most horses there, particularly the local weekly or monthly auction for all kinds of horses. Breed association auctions tend to be more reputable, and at some auctions only select horses for a given breed are sold. An auction where a breeder sells horses once a year can be a good source if the breeder has a reputation for quality. Some auctions specialize in specific types, such as race, cutting, roping, or polo horses. Quality Thoroughbred yearlings are sold at international markets such as those held at Keeneland, Saratoga, Del Mar, Hialeah, Deauville (France), Ballsbridge (Ireland), and Newmarket (England). International markets are also held for other breeds, such as the Arabian, Standardbred, and Quarter Horse. Buying and selling horses at auction is discussed in detail in Chapter 18. EVALUATING THE HORSE AFTER ONE IS LOCATED During the initial contact with the horse's owner or agent selling the horse, there are a number of questions one should ask. These questions allow you to determine if you want to take the next step and visit the horse. One should inquire about registered or grade, age, sex, health, personality, size, training, vices, loading and hauling, whether the horse has been kept in stall or in pasture, compatibility with other horses, period of time owned by the current owner, and approval for vet check. During the visit to inspect the horse, evaluate weight, soundness, conformation, and personality, observe how it performs for the owner/handler, and watch how it performs for you. Have the owner/handler ride the horse and observe it during catching, leading, grooming, saddling, and while being ridden. If the horse is being bought for a specific purpose, be sure its ability is demonstrated. If you are still interested in the horse, the next step is to ride it and assess how the horse performs for you. Finally, check the registration papers and health certificates and arrange for a vet check. Prior to the vet check, one should negotiate the sales price. A sales contractshould be prepared and signed by both parties to avoid future conflicts. Before taking the horse to where it will be stabled, obtain information about what it is accustomed to eating. Most major breed associations maintain a database so that one can check the performance record, pedigree, and other information about specific horses. Some performance-based organizations such as the National Cutting Horse Association also keep performance records. COST FACTORS Many factors affect a horse's price. Before the selection process starts, potential buyers must decide how much money they can afford to pay for a horse and then try to find a suitable animal for that price. Be realistic in setting standards for a certain amount of money. The following discussion on selection details many of these factors. It is usually advisable to buy the best horse one can afford, because the costs of keeping a horse are the same regardless of its quality and value. Breed The breed and breeding of the horse influence its value. Grade horses are suitable for many purposes and are usually sold for less money than horses registered with a breed association. This is not always the situation, however, because some performance contests do not require a horse to be registered. Some grade horses are better performers and command the most money for that particular type of horse. Horses of fashionable, popular, or proven families within a breed registry usually command higher prices. Some may be of lower quality than other horses selling for the same price. The value of certain breeds varies depending on the locality. This is particularly true for breeds such as the Tennessee Walking Horse, Thoroughbred, and Quarter Horse. (Breeds are discussed more fully in Chapter 3.) Sex Sex of the horse influences the cost. A gelding, the most popular horse for riding and most performance contests, is generally more dependable and costs less than a mare or stallion. The better bred the horse is, the greater the price spread between the sexes. Well-bred stallions suitable for stud duty are quite expensive. Mares that will eventually be bred are worth more than geldings and are selected based on breeding potential as well as current value as a pleasure riding horse. Training Some of the most significant influences on price are the level and type of training and the horse's accomplishments. The horse's athletic ability increases its value. Many horses command very high prices because of their past, current, or potential performances or training for certain types of performance. Age The horse's age is a prime factor. Young, untrained horses sell for less because of the future investment in training and time that the owner must bear. There is always the possibility of injury or failure to reach the desired level of training. Horses that are 5 to 10 years old are usually higher priced than those younger or older. At this age, the horse is at its peak in training and performance. The younger horse requires more delicate and skillful handling than the older, more experienced horse. Therefore, the less experienced the horse, the more experienced the rider needs to be. An inexperienced rider can gain much experience by working with an older, well-trained horse. Size Size influences price. Ponies usually are cheaper because their utility will be limited to a few years before the child (or children) becomes too large. Small horses are priced about the same as average-size horses unless they are smaller than the minimal acceptable standards for the breed. Horses are measured in hands. A hand is equivalent to 4 inches (10.2 cm). The point of measurement is the distance from the highest point of the withers to the ground. Therefore, a 15-hand horse is 60 inches high (152.4 cm) at the withers. Color Some horsepeople are interested in certain colors and will pay a premium for them. These horses are used for show, parade, or breeding. If you will accept only a certain color for a specific purpose, the number of horses available for sale that meet your criteria will usually be very limited. Conformation Conformation of the horse and its soundness affect its value. Well-conformed horses almost always sell for more money compared with equivalently trained horses of poor conformation. Horses that are unsound for specific uses have alower utility value. Blemishes detract from a horse's appearance and may decrease the value of horses used for show purposes. (Conformation and soundness are discussed fully in Chapter 2.) Market Value To help buyers form an opinion on value or costs for horses sold at auction, some breed associations and magazines publish the selling prices of the horses sold at various auctions. Some breed associations and sales companies also publish annual analyses of all horses of a certain type or breed sold at auction during the year. Analyses such as those published by The Bloodhorse for Thoroughbreds is given by sire, by type of horse, and by specific auction. For a sire analysis (Table 1-1), data will often include the number of crops, foals, runners, winners, 2-year-old winners, stakes winners, average-earning index, comparable index, number of sales yearlings, minimum and maximum sales price, average sales price, and stud fee. For older stallions, their performance as a sire of broodmares may be given. This analysis may include the number of dams he sired and their produce records, including the number of foals they produced and the number of runners, 2-year-old winners, and stakes winners, and the percentage of runners, winners, and 2-year-old winners. The average-earnings index (AEI) and comparable index (CI) are also given. The average-earnings index of a stallion is a measure of how a stallion's progeny or his broodmares' progeny compare to the average of the breed during the years he had winners or his dams had runners. An average earnings index of 1.00 indicates progeny earning the average of all winners. The comparable index is a comparison of how a sire's progeny compares with progeny from the same mares when those mares were bred to other stallions. About 30 percent of all Thoroughbred stallions have a lifetime AEI higher than the applicable CI, which means they imp...
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Book Description W H Freeman & Co, 1989. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0716719711
Book Description W H Freeman & Co, 1989. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110716719711