Seeking Professional Help
This is a must for the amateur horse buyer. There is simply too much to consider when buying a horse, and many pitfalls lie along the way. There is no substitute for experience and expertise when you enter into the process of buying a horse. A professional's trained eye will notice faults and potential in a horse that are too subtle for the novice to see. A general rule is that the horse you are seeing for the first time is not the horse you will be taking home. A horse's true personality might not come out until he is comfortable in his new surroundings. It might be a few days or a few months until he shows his true colors. Vices and lameness might also not be apparent for days or weeks after purchase. There are too many factors that determine a horse's behavior in a given situation to adequately judge him in just a few hours, no matter how many times you go back to see him. However, an experienced horse person will have a pretty good idea and will ask the right questions to scope out the horse's true nature.
Should I avoid horses that have “pig eye”?It is a popular belief among people in the horse profession that a horse with a small eye, or “pig eye,” is undesirable. This is more or less a superstition, with no scientific basis. However, if there is a strong historical bias against a horse with this feature, then that is worth considering. That said, a horse should be judged on her merits first, and her character determined by her quality, and not by the size or shape of her eye.
Your trainer might be a good person to bring with you to see and try a horse that you are thinking about buying. She knows your riding style and capability and will have a vested interest in finding you the right horse. After all, she will have to live with the decision also. However, it is not uncommon that a trainer will purposely find the wrong horse for a client. An over-mounted client can increase his dependency on a trainer. Such a horse will create business in the form of extra training and lessons. Both horse and rider will be under the trainer's control. Likewise, an under-mounted client will soon be looking for another horse, which will be another commission or two for the trainer. Keep ulterior motives and agendas in mind, and always try to have a second or third opinion from a knowledgeable friend.