Expert Author Val Heart

Horses have long lives, and most folks intend to give them a forever home.

After all, our equine companions are often a large part of our lives and we spend a great deal of time, energy, money and effort on their behalf!

But the fact is that millions of animals are purchased or trade hands every year, and more than 40% of these amazing beings wind up moving on from one owner to the next, until they are at the end of their lives which often comes a lot sooner than expected.

Through no fault of their own, they either weren't the right animal for the job, they were outgrown, abused, or injured, or were simply misunderstood and mishandled so they became sad or frightening equine nightmares!

People don't mean for things to go wrong with their horses, but they do, all the time. Don't let that happen to you or your equine friend.

Whether you're looking for a dressage horse, a hunter jumper, a reining or a cow horse, taking the time to go through these 6 steps will greatly enrich your relationship by ensuring you get off on the right lead to start with.

"Dear Val, I want to buy a horse. Not just any horse, of course! I want to learn how to compete in show jumping and since I'm just a novice beginner, I need a hunter jumper that will take care of me, teach me how, and then go on to compete with. My trainer has sent me to look at a lot of horses now but none of them seem right and they're all very expensive. I'm getting discouraged. How can I know which if any of these horses is the right one? Thanks, Linda"

Linda was right to worry! You wouldn't get married without knowing someone pretty well, and you wouldn't take a job without interviewing, right?

Getting the wrong horse - or any animal - can be a frustrating, expensive and even dangerous situation.

1. Vet Check! Before purchasing (or leasing) any horse, be sure and have your veterinarian do a complete workup on them. This will hopefully reveal many potential or current health problems that you need to know about before signing that check.

2. Ride! You also need to ride them not just once, but several times. Handle them yourself. Check their manners. Be sure you are communicating well with each other. See them at different times of the day and go visit at least once with no advance warning.

Okay so far? Good! You've got a potential winner at hand. But don't sign that check yet... that's only the beginning of your due diligence process.

3. Horse Whispering Time to Interview Them!One of the most important consultations I do with my clients is the pre-purchase evaluation. Taking the time to interview each of the potential candidates (through animal communication) which will let us know things like:

Do they have any real interest in teaching you about jumping? Many horses don't enjoy their jobs, and when it comes to jumping, this can be especially dangerous (remember Christopher Reeves).

In my experience, few horses truly enjoy jumping or are considered natural jumpers. If they don't love the sport, then they won't last in it and eventually, someone will get hurt.

Have they had injuries or other body problems that we need to know about?

Not all vet records disclose these things, and often the current owner doesn't know their full history. Only the animal really knows how they feel, if they're in pain, feel sick, or have other types of problems, chronic, traumatic or acute.

Communicating with them first invites them to tell us who they are, and also shows them that we are interested in listening to them. This goes a long way toward building a great partnership with a horse!

4. The "I Like You" Factor! If they take a dislike to you there isn't much point in continuing. Some beings are just oil and water - they don't mix well without a lot of shaking up.

5. Training Preferences! What kind of training or handling do they prefer; how do they learn most easily; how much training have they actually had; and, are they physically/mentally/emotionally capable of doing what you want them to do?

6. Negotiate - With the Horse! Find out if they will negotiate an agreement with you to always do their best, and to keep you safe as you learn and grow together.

Final Answer? If their answers are all good, then by all means, invite them into your life. I often hear from clients who have gone through this process and they give me glowing reports of great relationships with treasured animal companions.

If their answers aren't all good? Do yourself and them a favor and take a pass. Thank them for their time, wish them well, and move on to the next candidate. Rinse and repeat.

If you are ready for personal coaching and to experience the difference animal communication can make with your animal friends, and to get the help you need to work through training and behavior problems, performance issues, and even health challenges, then schedule a private session so we can resolve the problems now. It doesn't help you or your animal to keep putting up with problems because neither of you are happy and are just causing yourselves more stress. I work with animals but I help you regain your sanity, balance and well-being!

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