Looking for a new horse or pony? If you’re keen to head to a horse sales but are unsure where to start and what pitfalls you should be avoiding, follow our tips for success.

1. Stick with what you know you want. Don’t be drawn in by vendors chatting to you at the sales.

2. Buy at a reputable sale where there is a vet present.

3. It is worth remembering the saying that a good horse is never a bad colour, so don’t be led astray by colour. “If it’s a dun, for example, don’t just base your decision on the idea that it’s a lovely colour, as the pony may not have a good shape or frame,” says Serena Cookson.

4. If you are looking for a specific breed, check that the pony has a registered passport for that breed society.

5. Make sure you pull any lot numbers you are interested in out of their box before they go into the salering. This is to check for obvious problems in limb and body. Watch them trot up and check the vet’s certificate in the office.

6. Observe carefully when they are tacked up and handled, and again when they are mounted.

7. There are always transport companies readily available at the sales.

8. “Look out for professional riders on a pony that you are considering for a child — there may be a reason for this,” warns Serena.

9. Take an experienced person with you — two sets of eyes are better than one.

10. Don’t get carried away on the day. “Auctions are quite exciting places and auctioneers build up the atmosphere and push up prices where they can,” advises H&H reader Tudor Thomas. “After all, that is their job!”

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The full Ask H&H article about buying at sales was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (13 June 2013)