Buying a horse: choosing horses to view

Welcome to part two of H&H’s ultimate guide to buying a horse, which is packed with useful advice for both first-timers and experienced horse owners

Part one: first considerations

Searching for the perfect horse can be time consuming, but the following tips should help you streamline the process and reduce the likelihood of wasted journeys to view unsuitable equiness.

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 a new horse. They may know of a suitable equine that hasn’t been advertised yet. Also check out equestrian websites that specialise in horses for sale such as Horseandhound.co.uk, and look in the back of the latest issue of Horse & Hound magazine. You could also look on social media and the notice board of your tack shop 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.

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 making arrangements 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.

Ask the seller if they have got any additional video of the horse that wasn’t included on the advert. Videos can give a much better idea of how a horse moves and jumps that a static video does.

When you ring the seller 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 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 know his full history?
  • Is he good with the farrier, clippers, with other horses in the field?
  • How often is he currently being ridden? Does he need riding every day to ensure he behaves at his best?

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

Make sure you set aside plenty of time enjoy the journey of finding your perfect equine partner, as it could easily last a few months, but it will be worth it in the end.