The Do’s and Don’ts of Buying a Horse
By Triple Crown Intern Rachel Voelker
Searching and finding the right horse can be a difficult task. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to make it a little easier.
- DO ask questions! You can never ask too many questions. It is in your best interest to know everything about the horse before you consider purchasing.
- DO ask for pictures and videos before you travel a great distance!
- DO listen to what the buyer has to say about the horse. You may be experienced, but the buyer knows the horse and their tips can be useful to you.
- DO groundwork with the horse and see how the horse responds to you before you ride.
- DO ride the horse. Whether you bring a trusted horse friend or trainer, ride the horse at least once before you buy it. If possible, ride the horse a few times on different days to see if the horse is consistent.
- DO look out for signs that indicate the seller might be trying to hide something – like having the horse caught and tied, the horse is already saddled and has already been worked, the horse does not have access to water (will make the horse quieter), etc. Not everyone is worried about finding the right home for the horse.
- DO look over health records and registration papers if provided.
- DO think hard about your own skill level and experience. Make sure you have the ability to work with the horse. Consider your own training and the horse’s training.
- DO say you’re not interested if at any time you know this horse will not work out for you. The seller will appreciate your honesty and saving them the time.
- DO get a vet check if you don’t feel confident in your abilities to spot lameness or medical issues.
- DO take your time to make a decision, but don’t take too much time! The horse might sell!
- DO make a contract with the seller so expectations from both parties are clear and concise.
- DO give the horse time to settle in when you get home. Don’t expect the horse to be perfect for you right away. Some horses take time to gain trust with their new riding partners.
- DO go back to the seller if you have issues with the horse right away. Get their insight on possible solutions.
- DON’T fall in love based on a picture. Have in your mind exactly what you need in a horse. Don’t end up buying something that isn’t going to work out for you just because you like how the horse looks.
- DON’T buy a horse sight unseen. If at all possible, go see the horse in person or send someone to go look at it for you. If that’s not possible, ask for lots of pictures and videos. However, keep in mind, the pictures and videos will be the horse’s best angles and the horse’s best behavior.
- DON’T buy the first horse you look at. Give yourself a chance to see what else is out there and what the market is like.
- DON’T ride the horse if the owner isn’t willing to ride unless you are a professional trainer.
- DON’T lie about your riding ability.
- DON’T buy a horse that makes you feel nervous.
- DON’T sell the horse at an auction if it isn’t working out for you. If it’s still within a reasonable time since you purchased the horse, go back to the seller. See if they would buy the horse back or help you find the horse a new home. Chances are they still know the horse better than you and will want to help.
- DON’T expect the horse to be perfect for you. You are a new person and a new rider. You most likely will ride differently than the owner and you need to give the horse a chance to get use to you.
- DON’T look at horses significantly out of your price range.