What To Look for When Buying a Horse

So You want to Buy a Horse?

Part of the vision for The UK Horse Directory is to help people find a good horse, as such we thought we would give our opinion about what to look for when buying a horse.

Some say that the least expensive part about owning a horse is the purchase.

Could be true.

After the purchase you have to think about board, feed, tack, vet bills, supplements, horse shoes, truck and trailer, so we think that its best if you get that initial purchase right.

This post will list out a number of things that you want to consider before you make your purchase. This is by no means the exhaustive list, but we have been through the process a number of times and we have some wisdom to share.

What is Your Riding level?

The first thing you need to consider is your riding level. This is important even before you consider discipline and style of riding. Horses are all different, and they are all at different levels of experience and training. They have also all been trained and ridden by different people. What this means is that you really need to know your level and what you can handle.

Are you a beginner?

Are you competing?

Are you able to take on a more green horse?

These are all great questions at the beginning of the journey because it rules out certain options if you know what you are looking for.

You horse needs to match or exceed your level. That means if you are a 5 out of ten rider your horse needs to be at that level or even more trained than you. Unless you are a trainer or working hand in hand with a trainer getting a horse that needs work is always a recipe for disaster.

What is Your Discipline?

Yes it is true that hunters and jumpers can take race horses and turn them into winning competition horses and get them for 500$. I’ve seen it a number of times, but I have also seen that backfire way too many times.

Our recommendation is to stick to your discipline and buy a horse that has some experience at that task. If you are wondering what to look for when buying a horse, you need to look for competence, zero injuries and personality match. But these things don’t really matter if you purchase a warmblood jumper and expect to ride it in a barrel racing course.

You need to know your discipline and what you’re using the horse for. Match this up with what you are looking for.

Do you Know Where the Horse Will Live?

This may be a moot point if you are already boarding a horse somewhere, but you would be surprised how many people would show up at the boarding facility and say I bought a new horse and want to bring it here Friday. Only to find out that the boarding facility doesn’t take foals, or isn’t set up for stallions or doesn’t have stalls big enough for your 18 hands shire.

Make sure that the home for your horse is established. That is has been there for a while and has good food, even for easy keepers.

Make sure the barn or facility owner knows what you are looking for and is ready for you to board that type of horse at their facility.

Would be awful if you bought a $20,000 barrel horse and the facility is setup for jumpers, and the footing would blow a tendon or suspensory ligament on your horse.

Two Things you MUST Do

  1. Get a Vet Check.
    • Listen I know they are expensive and a pain, but the bottom line is the cost of fixing an issue on your horse will be more expensive down the road, and be a lot more frustrating when you can’t ride because your horse is lame. Get a vet check.
  2. Get a Trial.
    • This is definitely dependant on the price, but if I ever buy a horse again I would not do it without at least a two-week trial, but preferably a one month trial. There are two reasons why.
      • You want to see the horse outside of its normal environment and see how it responds to where you are and who you are. See if there is a fit, and make sure it wasn’t drugged up for the showing. Yes, it happens. All. The. Time.
      • Secondly and for me a deal-breaker, you want to see how easy the horse is to catch in the paddock or field. Does it come to you, or does it run away? I would NEVER EVER buy a horse if it ran away or was difficult to catch. After running a boarding facility for years, the most frustrating and telltale sign of a bad horse person is when their horses is an asshole on the ground, and won’t let you catch it in the field. I would want the trial just for this.

Get The Horses History

It is really important, especially if you are ever thinking of resale to get your horses papers and history. If its a small cash deal for a kids lesson horse this might not be an issue, but if you are investing in a competition horse and want the value it is extremely important. It is also really important if you ever intend on breeding the horse if it is a mare.

Touch its ears, Pick up its feet and bring Clippers

So your asking what to look for when buying a horse, the best thing is to do the things with the horse that you would normally do.

Touch its ears. Make sure you can get a halter and bridle on and off without much trouble. Some horses are funny about their ears and unless you know how to fix that walk away.

Pick up its feet. You will literally do this every time you ride, you better find out how he/she is with this.

Same goes for clippers. Chances are you will clip your horse so bring a pare of clippers, and even if you don’t actually clip them run the clippers next to them in the stall to see how they respond. Do they jump or are they calm.

Sources – Horse Illustrated