First considerations: Read this first

Searching for the perfect horse can be time consuming, but the following tips should help you streamline the process and avoid wasted journeys to view unsuitable equines — but it won’t guarantee it!

Be realistic about what you are capable of handling and riding. Don’t start looking for a horse to bring on if really you need one that’s more established. ‘Overhorsing‘ is a common, and often costly, mistake, no matter what your level of riding is. It doesn’t take much to give your confidence a knock, so don’t be tempted to take on too much.

Tell your friends and equestrian contacts that you are looking to buy. They may know of a suitable horse which hasn’t been advertised yet. Otherwise get the latest equestrian magazines, such as Horse & Hound, and check out the equestrian websites, such as the horses for sale section on You could also look on the noticeboard of your tackshop or feed merchant.

It sounds simple, but read the advert thoroughly and make sure you don’t miss anything. Look out for phrases like ‘not a novice ride‘ and don’t waste time ringing owners about horses that aren’t suitable or are priced over your budget.

Work out what you should be paying for the kind of horse you’re looking for so you don’t start searching for horses really over or under-priced.

While reading the advert look out for what’s missing from it. Ask yourself, why does the ad not say ‘no vices‘ or ‘100% catch, box, shoe‘? Note these down to ask the owner about if you decide to ring them.

If you’ve seen a horse advertised that you’re interested in, ring the seller and ask plenty of questions before hopping in your car to view it. It might well be ‘the one’ but by asking the right questions you can avoid a wasted journey and get a feel for whether the seller is genuine.

When you ring it’s worth trying to find out more about:

  • The horse’s experience
  • His capability
  • His temperament
  • Does he have a competition record?
  • How long he has been his current owners?
  • Why he is being sold?
  • What they think his potential is?
  • What he has done and achieved with these owners?
  • Is he good to hack? Alone and in company?
  • Is he good in traffic?
  • Can you take him out in your horsebox or trailer on your own?
  • Do the owners have his full history?
  • Is he good with the farrier, clippers, with other horses in the field?
  • How often does he need riding? Will he be naughty if you can’t ride him every day?

Search horses for sale

Once you have selected the horses that you want to view in the flesh, you need to prepare yourself for the viewings.

Next step: Viewing horses for sale

Ultimate guide to buying a horse