Buying a horse can be an overwhelming experience for many. The stress and pressure of getting it right the first time can sometimes seem like too much to take on. So to help you out, we have created a simple two-part guide to buying a horse.

Of course, we are only scratching the surface here so asking experts for their advice and guidance along the way is paramount to help avoid disasters!

Step one — choosing horses to view

First of all, be prepared to travel and don’t expect to find your dream horse straight away; you have to be realistic (and patient!).

Make a list of what you are looking for. Firstly list deal breakers, the things you aren’t willing to budge on which might be price, age, height and so on. Then write another list of things you are willing to compromise on. Be strict on yourself and don’t panic if you don’t find something immediately.

Be realistic about what you are capable of handling and riding — the last thing you want is for your confidence to take a hammering.

Spread the word to your equestrian contacts about your search and log onto sale websites such as Horse & Hound and Horsequest.

Make sure you have spent time working out your budget and don’t be tempted to enquire about horses outside of your price range in the hope that you will be able to afford them somehow.

Read each advert carefully and look out for key phrases or lack thereof.

If you see an advert that you think matches your requirements, pick up the phone and ring the seller. You will get far more out of a conversation over the phone than trying to text or email the vendor.

Things worth enquiring about include:

  • The horse’s experience and capability
  • His temperament — does he have any vices and will he be naughty if you can’t ride him every day?
  • Does he have a competition record and what has he achieved so far?
  • How long he has been  with his current owners?
  • Why he is being sold?
  • Is he good to hack? Alone and in company and in traffic?
  • Can you take him out in your horsebox or trailer on your own?
  • Do the owners have his full history?

Step two — Trying prospective horses

Once you have found a horse you would like to go and try, make sure that you take your trainer or a knowledgeable equestrian with you. Have a clear plan in your head and take a video camera with you too so you can watch it all back to make an informed decision.

Upon arrival check out the horse’s stable for any signs of stable vices such as an anti-weave grill or bite marks where the horse might crib bite. Next ask for the horse to be trotted up and have a good close look at their legs and feet and check for any signs that the horse has been worked earlier in the day, such as sweat marks. Watch carefully when the horse is tacked up for any signs of bad behaviour. 

Ensure someone else rides the horse first, but not for too long. Usually a quick walk, trot, canter and jump will suffice. Also it is important that you don’t spend hours riding the horse.

If you like the horse, arrange a second viewing so that you can try him in a different environment, at a different time of day. Take every opportunity to assess his temperament too; this is often just as important, if not more so, than ability.

In part two we explain the pre-purchase vetting, payment and when you get your new horse home.

Check out the Animalife website  to see if one of our unique products could aid your new horse.