What to Look for When Buying a Horse

Faizal Khan
Faizal KhanAugust 28, 2023
Updated 2023/09/11 at 10:19 AM
A while beautiful horse standing on the grass
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Whether you are a newbie, a first-time horse owner, or an inexperienced rider, knowing what to look for when buying a horse is an important thing for you. You should know what to want from the horse you are going to buy or for what kind of work you are buying it.

Whether you have an interest in trail riding, seeking a suitable horse for your needs, or taking your first steps into the horse world for the very first time. Your horse shopping can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience.

Today, in this article, we are going to have a comprehensive overview of the key factors you should keep in mind while buying a horse. Whether it is a young horse, an older horse, or a green horse, we will talk about everything about every kind of horse. So why waste any further time? Read this article, understand the important factors and a few tips, and go to buy a horse that suits your needs.

1. What to Look for When Buying a Horse

A women petting a horse
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There are numerous considerations you must make before starting the process of buying a new horse.

Ask yourself, are you a seasoned equestrian with years of experience under your belt, or are you a newcomer to the world of horseback riding? Understanding your skill level and experience is the key to finding the best horse for you.

If you are someone who just came into this world of horsing, a horse that is well-trained, patient, and forgiving will be the best option for you. However, if you are an Experienced advanced rider, a horse with more energy will be a better option for you.

1.1. Consider Your Riding Goals

Your goal and dream in the horse world should play a main role in your horse-buying decision. Decide what kind of riding envision you want.

If you are the one who wants leisurely trail riding then a reliable trail horse, comfortable with long rides and different terrains will be the perfect match.

On the other side, if you have some competitive ambitions, you might consider a horse with the right skills and attitude for the specific discipline you are interested in. It could be anything from jumping to dressage and rodeo events.

1.2. Seeking Professional Advice

We agree you have a huge passion for horses, still, you need to tap into the expertise of professionals who have spent years in the horse world.

If you consult with a professional trainer or an experienced horse owner it will let you have invaluable insight.

These experts will help you to navigate the right horse shopping process, and assess potential horses, and also they will provide you with the perfect guidance according to your unique and current situation.

2. Finding the Right Horse for Trail Riding

Let’s have a look at how you can find the perfect horse for trail riding.

2.1. Assessing the Horse Temperament

As you are looking for your first horse for trail riding, you need to choose a horse with a fine temperament. Your ability to ride your horse will improve as it becomes more relaxed and obedient.

When you are choosing the horse observe how the horse reacts to different situations and how it interacts with other horses.

Yes, this will help you understand if the horse is calm and friendly or not. Steadiness, confidence, and not being easily poked by new sights and sounds are some key factors a trail horse should have.

2.2. Evaluating Trail Riding Experience

Consider choosing a horse that has done trail riding before. A horse that has been on trails before and has the trail experience will be more likely to be more accustomed to the sights, sounds, and challenges of the outdoors.

As the person who is selling the horse about the horse’s history of trail riding. Also include types of terrain and environment it has been lived in. Buying a horse with previous trail experience will be the best option for a first-time horse owner.

2.3. Ensuring Compatibility with Your Riding Style

One of the most important things to keep in mind is your riding style. As we all know every rider has their riding style and it is very important to find a horse that complements it. Buying horses is an exciting yet important decision.

Just take your time and don’t attempt to rush anything. As you have ensured a horse that will suit your riding style you can check one of the main boxes in the list of what to consider when buying a horse.

3. Navigating the Horse Shopping Successfully

a woman in Black sweater with a horse
Image by: Mikkel Bendix/Pexels

As the journey of finding the right horse for you can be an incredibly rewarding experience, there are many aspects you will have to consider before jumping in. Such as budget, criteria, and a list of potential horses for you. Let’s examine each of these crucial elements.

3.1. Setting Up a Realistic Budget

Before you plan to go and buy a horse, you need to establish a budget that aligns with your financial situation. Also, if you are thinking you just have to pay the initial prices and that’s it, wait wait. Owning a horse is more than that.

It comes with so many ongoing expenses such as feed, vet check bills, grooming supplies, and potential medical treatments. Try to have surety that you have the budget to do all these things and not just cover the purchase price of the horse.

3.2. Making a List of Potential Horses

Now you have the criteria and budget in your mind, it is time for you to start your research. Make sure the research you do is proper and you get detailed information about all the horses. You can engage with horse owners and the wider horse community to gather the recommendations and right information.

Try to be in online groups of horse owners to have wider options for you. As you find the horses that seem to match your preferences, make a list of all of them and choose the potential candidates.

Take your time doing it, don’t ever try to rush because each horse has its personality, and finding the one that’s a good match for you is very important.

4. The Importance of Pre-Purchase Exams

When buying a horse, one of the very important steps is the pre-purchase exam. The meaning of that may be unclear to some of you. Well, this examination is like a health checkup for a horse before you decide to bring that horse home. Let’s look at why this stage of the horse shopping process is so crucial.

4.1. Engaging a Trusted Veterinarian

For horse lovers, bringing a new good horse means bringing a new family member into your home. Horses require our love and care just as much as we do for our own family members.

We could also say just as you would want the best care and provide everything for your children, you want the best care and will provide everything for your horse.

You will require an experienced veterinarian here. Who is a trusted veterinarian? They are like the horse’s doctor and their experts. Their expert eyes catch the things that even some experienced horses wouldn’t.

4.2. Examining the Horse’s Health and Soundness

When buying the first horse, many people think if the horse is picture-perfect it is the right horse for them. Is it? I will not consider that. You will have to do a pre-purchase exam to find that out.

The veterinarian will examine and look at the horse’s health and will make sure there are no hidden issues that will cause problems in the future. Checking the Soundness is also a very important thing so a veterinarian will also do that.

It will help them to be sure about whether the horse can move comfortably and without pain or not. Whether it is trail riding or more advanced riding, this process is very important for any type of riding.

4.3. Interpreting X-Rays and Medical History

Just like to get the information of the inside and medical history of our body, doctors ask for x-rays from us, and the veterinarian will do the same for the horse.

Why? X-rays show the things that are not seen from the outside. So the medical history gives an insight into the horse’s past such as what environment they loved or if they had any medical issues.

Getting very checks evaluate the confirmation and overall physical condition of the horse. Remember, even though the initial purchase price might seem reasonable to your ongoing vet costs vet bills can add up a lot in the ongoing process.

Still, this process becomes more crucial when you are buying a younger horse or a horse that has had previous owners.

5. Understanding the Horse’s Background

A black horse on the green grass
Image by: Magda Ehlers/Pexels

When you are horse shopping, it doesn’t matter if it is your first horse or you are just looking for another addition to your group of other horses, understanding the horse’s background is a crucial part. Let’s look at the factors to take into account while assessing a Horse’s history.

5.1. Uncovering the Horse’s History and Age

Horse ownership comes with a lot of challenges, you might be ready with your trail horse riding but understanding the horse’s history and determining its age is an important aspect.

It gives you a better and more valuable insight into the horse’s past experiences and many other things. Young horses are just blank slates, you will have to train them. On the other hand, older horses will come with some of the experiences and training.

However, as said earlier, an inexperienced horse might not be the perfect choice if you are an inexperienced rider yourself.

5.2. Verifying Pedigree and Bloodlines

As you will take your steps in the horse world you will discover many Horses of certain breeds. Each will have its unique qualities and will be different from others.

Verifying the horse’s pedigree and understanding its bloodlines will help you to have an idea about what traits and characteristics the horse might have.

This becomes the priority when you are looking for specific attributes, such as a shown horse or some other special events.

Take quarter horses for example, they are known for their versatility and agility, which can make them a great option in many equestrian activities.

6. Assessing Horse Conformation and Soundness

Finding a perfect horse is like you are finding a perfect friend – you want them to be comfortable and dependable. This is where assessing the horse’s conformation and soundness takes place. Let’s simplify this for you by more effectively outlining everything.

6.1. Learning the Basics of Conformation

Conformation is the horse’s body blueprint. The same is true of horses; they come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes just like people do. But you need to search for the proper balance.

Stand behind the horse and look at it (don’t get too close, it might kick you). Are its legs steady and straight? Also have a look at the hooves if they are in line or not, and the legs don’t seem wonky.

Now, move on the neck — is it nicely arched and in the harmony of the body? If you ask what a good conformation horse looks like, it generally has an easier time moving smoothly and comfortably.

6.2. Identifying Potential Soundness Issues

If the horse’s soundness is good it means the horse is good. While buying a horse keep your eye out for any signs of lameness. You don’t want a horse that is dealing with any kind of discomfort.

Look for if the horse moves unevenly. It is not only about watching a horse walk but also watching its trot and canter.

The moment you notice any kind of slight off-ness, it is time for you to dig deeper. Also, try to run your hands over the horse’s legs and body. To know if you are feeling any heat, swelling, or bumps. These issues will need more of your attention.

6.3. Watching for Signs of Discomfort

Horses express themselves through their actions. To understand them, pay close attention. Question yourself while paying attention. Such as is the horse shifting its weight a lot, as if trying to find a comfy spot? Does it seem hesitant to move, in any specific directions or at certain speeds? Also, notice their behavioural cues. These might be the hints that can bother you in the future if you don’t notice.

7. Exploring Different Horse Breeds

what to look for when buying a horse
Image by: Gantas Vaičiulėnas/Pexels

Now come to the part when you will have to choose from the world of different horse breeds. Each breed has its uniqueness and characteristics that directly affect your experience in the horse world. Certain breeds are more suited for specific riding disciplines. So let’s have a look at different breeds of the horses.

7.1. Quarter Horses

If you are buying a horse for the very first time, quarter horses are your way. They are versatile and calm which will be easy to control.

7.1.1. Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbreds are usually advertised as potential show horses everywhere. Their athleticism and speed are something that impresses everyone. Hence they are chosen by the experienced rider who can handle them easily.

7.1.2. Arabians

Arabian horses have a good connection with their owners. Many horse lovers Consider buying at least one Arabian horse whether they are experienced or inexperienced riders.

7.1.3. Warmbloods

Warmblood horses are often chosen for competitions as their pedigree and riding ability contribute to their value as potential show horses. Warmbloods can be your best option if you’re seeking a competitive horse.

7.1.4. Paint Horses

Paint horses are for those who are looking for a horse with distinctive markings. They can be a perfect blend for both trail riding and show competitions.

7.1.5. Appaloosas

When you see an Appaloosas horse you will see a horse with perfect and unique coat patterns. So if you are someone looking for a beautiful horse, Appaloosas horse might be the perfect choice for you.

7.1.6. Draft Horses

If you are looking for strong and enjoyable rides, draft horses are here for you. Remember, Their larger size and strength required proper training and handling, often handled only by a professional trainer.

7.1.7. Mustang Horses

Mustang Horses are one of the famous breeds in the horse world. Many horse owners appreciate the history and hardness of Mustang Horses. They are adaptable, which makes them an excellent option for various riders.

8. Matching Riding Abilities and Horse’s Level

Last but not least, find a horse that matches your riding abilities. It is very essential for you when buying a horse.

8.1. Be Realistic about Your Riding Skills

If you are new to the horse world, you need to be honest with your riding abilities. If you buy a horse considering its beauty and skill level, and you don’t have any experience in how to handle them.

You might regret buying that horse. To prevent that buy a horse that aligns with your riding Abilities and experience. It will help you to find the right horse that you will feel confident and comfortable with.

As you will learn and gain experience then you can buy any horse no matter how hard the breed is to handle.

8.2. Gather Information on Grooming and Maintenance

The person who is selling horses gathers proper information on the horse’s grooming and maintenance for them. Ask them how you will have to groom them and maintain their health etc.

Get advice on grooming supplies and techniques that suit your horse’s breed and coat type. Once you have clear information about all these things then consider buying a horse.

This will help you to understand what you are bringing and how much time and care you will have to give to the horse. One of the most important qualities to consider when buying a horse is thought to be this.

8.3. Choose a Horse with the Right Level of Training

While horse shopping, look out for horses advertised as suitable for beginners, trail riding, or lesson horses. These types of horses are the way to go for those who are still learning the ropes.

An older and well-trained horse can be a great match for inexperienced riders like you.

Or if you are an advanced experienced rider you should look for a horse with more experience or potential for advanced riding. It is all about choosing the perfect match according to your abilities.

Take Away

Summing it all up, It’s an amazing journey to buy a horse. The feeling of buying a first horse is just something else for horse lovers. However, there are a number of things to take into account while purchasing a horse. Find a horse that suits your needs, whether it is for trail riding, a young horse, or even a lesson horse.

The right horse is not about only the right presence and appearance, it is about its health and wellness too. A horse’s age, history, and soundness matter a lot when buying a horse. Don’t hesitate to ask about the horse’s medical history, take it for a test ride inquire about the horse’s reaction to various situations, and many more.

Additionally, think about your budget and be prepared for on-the-go expenses. Invest in a horse based on your knowledge and experience. Just keep all of these things in mind and have fun exploring the world of horses!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the red flags when buying a horse?

What out for a horse that doesn’t show inconsistent behaviour such as sudden mood changes, health concerns, and unwillingness to be handled? However, there are many red flags other than these also but these are some important ones.

Q2. What is the best age to buy a horse?

The best age for buying a horse can vary depending on your preferences. Such as if you want a good balance between youthful energy and maturity look for a horse from age 5 to 10 years. On the other hand, if you consider having an experienced horse then consider buying a horse aged between 10 to 15 years.

Q3. What is the most friendly horse breed?

Buying a friendly horse can be the best option for a person who is buying their first horse. Horse breeds such as Welsh pony, Shetland pony, and American quarter horses are considered the most friendly among all the horse breeds.

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