You really need to try horses out before buying. First, let the seller ride it and show it. Let them tell you all the information about the horse. See it go once or twice and then follow the instructions on how to ride that particular horse when you get on.
But, before getting on the horse, pay attention to see if the horse is high or low maintenance in the corner; how it leaves the box, does it have rate off your hand or do you have to help it start, does it follow the calf whether it goes left or right, does it get there, does it run over calves, or just can't get to the calf. Then watch the stop; is to too late stopping, does he punch back, pulls easy, is the calf easy to flank, is the rope loose or tight when flanking or does it drag the calf off. Watch for these things on the ground before riding the horse.It's hard to evaluate these things when riding the horse.
Remember, typically younger horses will have more issues. Horses between 4-7 years of age, their mental soundness depends on how much time they have gotten on them. A 10-15 year old seasoned horse should be sound and cool.
Look for the feel of the horse to see if you and the horse fit. A good feel means you get along with that horse. If you feel smooth; you feel comfortable, you feel confident. Not a good feel, not a good fit! If your
in doubt about a horse, it's better to go ask a reputable calf horse trainer that your everyday roper for advice. Remember, no horse is perfect. Consider your budget, your ability and seek advice from a professional if in doubt.