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Buying a Horse that is Perfect for You

Updated on February 13, 2010

Buying a Horse – Narrowing Down Your Choices

Choosing a horse that’s right for you can be a long process.  It is important that you do not buy the first horse offered to you but take the time to make informed choices.

Before you start searching through the horse classified ads and horse for sale notices at your equestrian store, be sure you know what type of horse you want and what you will be using him for. 

The first consideration is whether to buy a horse or pony.  The size is important because how you sit and feel affects both yours and the horses’ ability to ride effectively.  If you are buying a horse or pony for a child generally you will want something a bit bigger than ideal to take into account their growth, but don’t “over horse” them too much.

When you have decided on a size range you want to buy between, then you need to know what you will be using your horse for.  Different types of horses are suited to different uses and living arrangements.  When you are looking to buy a horse there is little point in viewing one that’s trained as a show jumper if you are going to drive him, or buying a heavy draft type horse if you want to compete in dressage. 

The next thing to consider when choosing a horse is his experience.  Do you want a green youngster or an experienced schoolmaster or may be something in between?   Your decision should be led by your experience with horses and what you plan to do with him. 

A novice rider will get more enjoyment and confidence from a horse who knows his job, while a more experienced rider may want the challenge and satisfaction of schooling their horse.  If you are looking to buy a horse to compete with, then choosing a horse that is already training and competing in your chosen field would be best.

So now you have an outline of the type of horse you want and it is time to hit the horse for sale notices and classified ads in search of a horse that suits you.

Perfect Friendship

Searching for a Horse For Sale

Searching for the perfect horse for sale can be frustrating. Don’t be tempted to give up and buy a horse that is not suitable for you though. That extra waiting time will pay off in the long run.

So you know the size, type and experience of the horse you want to buy, it’s now time to find him. There are many ways you can go about it.

If you are buying a horse to use in competitions speak first with your trainer or riding instructor. They may be able to put you in touch with the owner of a horse for sale. Because they train you, your instructor will know you capabilities and whether a certain horse would be suitable.

Visit the local shows or competitions, there are regularly horse for sale notices in the show schedule or prize sheet for the day. This has the added bonus that you get to see the horse in action outside his normal environment.

Your local riding school or barn may advertise a horse for sale on their bulletin or notice boards; they are also good places to put up a “wanted” advertisement letting local equestrians know you are in the market for buying a horse.

Another place to look for a horse for sale in your area is your local equestrian store. Check out your local area first and call back regularly, but be prepared to travel a bit to find your perfect horse.

If you are not having much luck buying a horse using local ads then it’s time to broaden your search. There are hundreds of horse classified ads online and in national and regional equestrian magazines. Because you may have to travel further be ruthless using your check list to narrow down prospective new horses. Calling the owner to arrange meetings is a waste of your time and theirs if you know beforehand the horse is not quite what you are looking for.

Don’t get disheartened if the search takes longer than you expected, your patience will be worth it when you finally buy the perfect horse for you.

What to Look for When Viewing a Horse for Sale

You finally have a shortlist of potential new horses.  You phone the owners and arrange times to view their horse for sale.  It is exciting; your dream of buying a horse is finally becoming a reality.

Try not to let the excitement of the day cloud your judgement, buying a horse is a long term commitment and you want a horse that’s just right for you.  Take someone with you who has some equestrian experience and knows your needs.  Your trainer or riding instructor is a good choice.  Their job is to keep your feet on the ground and look at buying a horse objectively.

If you are buying a horse through horse classified ads, cut out or print the ads to take with you for reference if you need it.  Horse classified ads are short descriptions of the main selling points for the horse and they are a useful reminder for any points you want clarifying.  Of course when you arrive and the horse for sale is nothing like the description in the horse classified ads it’s time to get back in the car and drive away!

When you arrive at the yard you need to be alert to how people are acting around the horse you are buying.  Is the horse already tacked and tied up waiting for you?  Do they seem nervous or edgy when handling the horse? Is the owner overly guiding you to certain points or features?

All of these and more should be ringing alarm bells that there is a potential problem with the horse for sale. 

When you arrive the horse should be untied in a stall waiting.  You will want to see how the horse reacts in his stall and being harnessed and led out and put through a few paces.
You should ask the owner to do the following things with the horse for sale

•    Lead the horse out of his stable. 
•    Walk and trot on the yard so you can look for any obvious signs of ill health or lameness
•    Groom the horse including picking up his feet.  Is the horse happy to be groomed?  Does he flinch away?  Does he pick up his feet easily?
•    Tack up the horse ready to ride.  How does he act?  Is he happy to accept the bit and have his girth strap tightened?
•    Ride the horse.  Warm up and then put him through his paces.

You may at this point want to test ride the horse for sale and see how he reacts to you.  This should be a short ride just to see if you are comfortable with him.  The owner riding first will have got any stubbornness or fizziness out of his system and he should be ready to work, so this first ride will not be totally objective.

When the horse has cooled down help the owner untack him and take the opportunity to look and feel for any heat or swellings.

Make sure you have asked the owner questions to clarify any uncertain points.  You should be asking throughout viewing the horse for sale:
•    What disciplines he is currently used for
•    Does he have a passport
•    Does he box and travel well
•    What are his current living arrangements?  Is he turned out daily or maybe even live out through the summer or year round
•    Who is his current farrier, how often does he visit, how does the horse react
•    Has he had any previous injuries

Don’t be afraid to ask any question, the more info you have the better!

By the end of viewing the horse for sale you should have a pretty good idea if you like him.  Horses are living animals and have moods and temperaments just like we do.  You should be looking to connect with the horse on an emotional level, there is little point in buying a horse if you have any fear of him or simply do not like him, even if he is a champion and rides perfectly!

At the end of viewing the horse for sale ask the owner if they will let you arrange for your vet to check him over.  Have an independent vet check done even if the owner has a recent vet certificate.  It is an additional expense but well worth it.

Also arrange for a second visit so you can tack up and ride the horse.  Do not be pressured into buying immediately.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Horses r my life I would even die for them and I love the information you posted really usable.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think horses are amazing aspecely when you put it like that and could you show me some horses for sale at cheap prices ?


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