Buying a Horse

Spring is here and everyone is out looking for the perfect horse for themselves or their children. Every day I receive numerous calls from people desperate to find a horse for the beginning of the show season. First, I tell them to have a plan. Evaluate exactly how much they can afford and what the actual job of the horse will be. Once this is determined check the web sites of, or search google for the type of horse desired. Ask friends where they found their horses and network as much as possible.

When you make an appointment to try a horse, be on time, or if you are running late call the barn to let them know. Groom the horse and tack him up if possible. It is important to handle the horse and get to know him in normal situations.

Ask questions, why is he for sale? any vices such as cribbing, pawing, bad behaviour, rearing, bolting, or anything else unusual you should know about? Knowledge is power, and do not panic if your horse has a problem. Some situations are easy to work with, others you want to walk away from.

Watch the horse move under saddle warming up and then performing the desired task. Then hop on and feel him for yourself. Always start slow, take your time to feel how much it takes to make the horse move forward and how easy it is to halt. Ask the trainer/owner to help you if they see you struggling with something. Every horse is different and this one may be trained to different aids than you are used to. Have a friend video the horse so you can watch it at home and see how you and the horse look.

Finally, come another day and try the horse a second time to confirm your feel and confidence in the horse. Walk the horse out of the ring and around a field if possible.

Sometimes you are lucky and the first horse you sit on is the right match. This is rare, but do not walk away if it is the case. In some cases you will look at many horses but do not become frustrated. If you are being realistic about your goals and budget, the right horse will find you. One customer came to me and was exhausted from the search, she said this was the 30th and possibly the final horse they would look at. It was love at first sight and her daughter went on to show and win every championship they entered. So keep the faith, do not quit before the miracle!