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Horse Buying Checklist

Print out our shopping checklist and take it with you.

23-Sep-02

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Shopping Checklist

  • Have a vet evaluate your prospect for soundness before purchasing, but be realistic: The age of the horse is a big factor.
  • Pay attention to the horse's attitude and disposition. If your horse has an attitude problem, it will be extremely difficult to ride.
  • Choose your discipline and objective, and stick with it.
  • Choose a breed you prefer, but be willing to look at other breeds for comparison.
  • Set a price range, but be willing to go above the range by about $1,000.
  • Set an age limit, but be open to a span of five years around that age.
  • Figure out ahead of time what questions you want to ask the seller.
  • Choose a horse with good, quiet ground manners.
  • Choose a horse you can develop a relationship with.
  • Decide what perfect-horse aspects you can sacrifice in order to meet your budget.

No-Nos for the Novice Shopper

  • Auctions: Horses that are auctioned off usually wind up there for a reason, rather than being sold through the general market. You don't need to find out why. For the most part, these are mystery horses and not much is known about them. You often won't have much chance to ride them or talk to their owners. Unless it's a reputable breeding farm where its reputation is at stake, stay away from auctions.
  • Buying a horse that has "potential": Buy a horse that has potential only if you are the gambling type. That is what equine potential is - a gamble. You may have to fork out a great deal of training money to get that potential out. Weigh this against the asking price of the horse, your goals and your abilities before you jump at a horse with "potential."
  • Buying a horse that is green: The old saying "green horse, green rider" is very true. A novice with an untrained horse can be a terrible combination. You may end up spending a lot more money for training your young horse than you ever dreamed possible.

Further Reading
Be Smart When Horse Shopping

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Reader Comments

Darcy    Harrogate, TN

2/29/2012 2:36:17 PM

I agree with staying away from auctions where possible, but I went to a work horse auction and found my dream horse. She is a Spotted Draft, and I didn't buy her at the auction because nothing was known about her. However, I couldn't get her out of my mind so I contacted her buyer (a horse trader) and asked to come look at her. I ended up paying more for her by not bidding at the auction, but she's an excellent horse, and the only reason for her sale was that her mate had died (struck by lightning) and the man that owned her didn't want to work a single horse. So auctions, if you look with an experienced eye and take the time to go out and look at the horse before bidding can sometimes pay off. It's still a gamble, but I can say that if care is taken, these gambles can pay off big time. I got a horse worth $5000 for a fraction of the cost.

Anonymous    Orlando, FL

3/20/2011 8:55:11 PM

I sure will look for these. But I am not a Novice, so I am going to get a young horse so that I can train it on my own but very good information for novice riders wanting to get a horse, And must be willing to go over $1000 if necessary, but I have a beautiful new filly halter-broke and not working under-saddle until she gets her withers. I know I'm going on and on but what's not to say? Haha. Well also make sure you can pay boarding or your instructor or friend or someone could share-board with you, after all that's what I'm doing. :D Good Luck to all of you horse buyers! Also make sure your horse fits YOU properly don't want a 16hh when you're short (no offence:)) Ask First if you can test ride your (possibly) horse before you buy, once again Good Luck, hope you find your right match and love your new horse!

christine    st augustine, FL

3/14/2010 4:54:36 AM

Thanks for the info...I'll have to take this along when I get ready to make my first purchase.

Anna    Lexington, KY

9/5/2009 3:27:58 PM

Thanks so much this check list was so great i haven't gotten my horse yet but there were some horses that were not so good

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