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How to Choose the Right Horse 
 
by Katherine Shaw June 14, 2005

How big should your horse be?

If you're six feet tall and weigh 250 pounds, you want to make sure you get a horse strong enough to carry you and tall enough that your feet don't drag the ground. Then again, if you're four feet tall and petite, you might feel nervous on a seventeen-hand horse. Your breed choice will make a big difference on the size of your horse. If you have your heart set on a Shetland pony but you're a fully grown adult, you won't be able to ride your pet. In general, it's better to buy a horse that's a little large for you rather than a little small.

What kind of personality should your horse have?

After all the preliminary work is done, how you and the horse get along is the big factor. You may find a horse who is perfect in every way, but who has a personality that clashes with yours. You may be easy-going while he's high-strung; you may be athletic while she's lazy. If possible, visit a prospective horse a number of times before making a decision. Get to know the horse. Remember, you're going to be spending many years with your horse; you want to enjoy each other's company.

Should you consider looks when buying a horse?

That's up to you, ultimately. If your choice comes down between two otherwise perfect horses, you'll probably end up with the one whose color or markings you prefer. But don't let a pretty color blind you to conformation faults, and don't get a horse just because he's flashy-looking. Even if you plan to show in breed classes, color is one of the last things a judge will look at.

Conformation, condition, training, temperament, and personality are the important issues. Remember the old horse trader's adage: "Fat is the best color."

Searching for a new horse can be exciting, but the real excitement comes when your new friend is in your stall or pasture, ready to get to know you. At last the work is over and you can enjoy having your very own horse, knowing that you've done everything you could to pick the right companion for you.

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