Guidelines on buying horses for the uninitiated are being produced by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

The move is hoped to help not only newcomers to the sport in developing countries around the world, but also to assist first-time buyers in developed countries.

John Roche, director of the FEI’s jumping department, is driving the plans.

“We heard a number of cases where people bought horses in a developing country for a lot of money and it hadn’t worked out to their satisfaction, so they have been turned off horse sport,” he explained.

“We want to avoid that, and to encourage more people into horse sport.”

Mr Roche is targeting the guidelines on how to purchase a horse at would-be owners and riders.

They will be available from early next year, on the FEI’s website and via national federations around the world.

Chief executive of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) Andrew Finding said: “Anything that can help developing nations at the same time as those new to the sport in the developed nations has to be good, particularly if we can have consistency across the world.”

He said the BEF would gladly play a part in disseminating the information in the UK.

“People new to equestrianism can find it difficult to understand dealing and buying horses,” said Mr Finding, who particularly supports guidelines — rather than placing requirements on dealers and other sellers.

World Horse Welfare is also “wholeheartedly supportive” of a cohesive approach to advising first-time buyers.

Chief executive Roly Owers said: “It’s a step forward, having basic guidelines across the board. There is a very bitty approach [to advice] in the UK.

“People are buying horses every day here who don’t know where to go for advice — and that’s perhaps a failing on all of our behalves.”

But while British Horse Society chief Graham Cory said he was happy with the concept of the guidelines, he believes UK organisations shouldn’t spend too much time synchronising their advice.

“Even if what is available in the UK seems bitty, I doubt there would be any conflict in the advice [we give out, to what the FEI might produce],” he said.

“As long as first-time buyers get the advice and information they need, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s from us, the BEF or the Pony Club.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 December, ’08)