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A thorough vet check is one of the most important steps when buying a finished barrel horse. Barrel Horse News photo courtesy DePaolo Equine Concepts.

Buying a Finished Horse

Professional barrel horse trainer Kenna Squires offers insight on shopping for your next barrel horse.

Define Your Parameters

“If you’re wanting to buy a finished horse, that’s what he is. If it’s a fix-it project that has some problems, you don’t need to pay for them like they’re fixed already. If you’re looking for an upper echelon horse that is NFR-quality, he’s going to have a record, but he’s going to have some things that need tending to, and that’s okay if he needs his hocks injected. I can’t imagine a horse that goes a million miles that wouldn’t need a little help to keep his joints right and needs to be taken care of a certain way.”

If you’re searching for a finished horse running at a high level, be prepared for the horse to need regular maintenance, such as injections. Discuss this with the seller and the veterinarian during the vet check. Photo by Kenneth Springer. Kenna Squires is pictured winning the LG Pro Classic Slot Race aboard The Red Dasher.

Always Deal With Reputable People

“Always look for somebody you can trust on honesty. There’s a lot of people in this world who will tell you what that horse needs, and if they love him enough and sell him to you, they want to see him do well. Know that you’re dealing with that type of person.”

Make Sure It’s the Right Fit

“That horse needs to fit you. It can’t just be a horse with a nice record and a good set of papers and a real good hand trains him or owns him and has won on him. You’ve got to get on him and ride him, and there are some things that you can forgive—if the horse jigs a little, but he’s solid, has a good mind, listens to you, then he’s worth the money. If you’re waiting for something to come around and there’s something you really don’t like, for example if you don’t want to ride a stud or a mare, then don’t go buy a stud or a mare and think everything is going to be good. You won’t love them as much as if you’d just bought one you really wanted.”

Ask Questions and Do Your Homework

“Always when you buy a horse, find out what they do to keep that horse working—what his background is, how you slow work him, how he likes to warm up, how often you need to ride him, if he’s been laid off how many runs until he’s sharp again? The younger the horse, the more they need a comfort zone to go back to. You don’t have to do everything exactly the same, but if you feel like the horse is flustering or confused, call someone who’s got a background with that horse. If you buy a horse from someone like that, they should be able to tell you how to take that horse back to where he’s comfortable.”

A thorough vet check is one of the most important steps when buying a finished barrel horse. Barrel Horse News photo courtesy DePaolo Equine Concepts.

Vet Check, Vet Check, Vet Check

“Vet check your horses. There is nothing worse than the feeling of knowing you got out there, bought this horse, you love him, it’s the great thing to do, and then you go and find out at the vet a few months later that something cropped up. That owner who sold it to you may not have even known about it, but if you’ve done a good thorough vet check, you’ve covered all your bases. That’s a must. It doesn’t mean you to have to nitpick a horse to death, but it’ll show you if you have some longevity. Sometimes there’s something that needs a little fixing if you want that horse bad enough, and I’ve wanted them bad enough. Try to do everything as sensible as you can when buying one.”

Be Prepared for the Transition Period

“Sometimes if you give a lot of money for a horse, you think that horse is going to be everything you thought, but there is a transitional time. He doesn’t know how much you paid. He doesn’t get frustrated because you gave a lot of money for him and things aren’t working out. Be patient and ride it out.”

For more training, horsemanship and horse health, visit TrainingBarrelHorses.com.