Gloria has been riding horses and working in the horse industry for most of her life. She has owned her own horse and helped friends too.
What You Need Before Searching
Before you begin searching for the right horse to buy, you need to make sure you have several things in line.
- Time: Don’t be in a rush or have a time limit on finding a horse. If you are or do, you could end up settling for or not being happy with the horse you buy. You must allow yourself to try multiple horses and make sure you know what you are looking for in your perfect match.
- Money and a stable income: The cheapest part of owning a horse is buying it. After you buy a horse, you will have monthly payments you need to be able to make. Expect to spend $200–500 a month on a horse and an additional $300–500 in farrier and vet bills annually.
- Reliable place to keep your horse: Have somewhere lined up to keep your horse at after you purchase them. You should have a barn or pasture picked out and ensure that they have a spot for your horse if you were to purchase one.
- Vet and farrier: Pick out a vet and farrier that you would like to initially use for your horse. After you purchase the horse and get a copy of the horse's recent vetting past (vaccines, deworming, etc.), you should talk about vaccines and what else you may need to do with your new horse.
1. Online Sites
Using websites such a Dream Horse, Equinenow, Equine, and Horsesales are all good ways to find horses for sale. They, however, can easily scam you or the horse may be listed in an area but it actually is in a different state. To avoid getting scammed, make sure you and another person (don't go alone) go to actually physically look at where the horse has been living (don't agree to meet them elsewhere).
Tell them you want to see them catch the horse, groom, and saddle. That way you can see if the horse is good at being caught and can tie and can do other basic things like stand while being tacked up. Then have the owner or trainer ride the horse first, then you ride.
Horses being drugged while potential buyers look at a horse is a possibility. So it's important to visit the horse a few times and to also bring a vet to do a pre-purchase exam that will reveal if the horse has had any drugs in its system.
My Top Horse-Selling Websites
- Equine Now is a popular site to search for horses by state, city, breed, ages, price, and other important filters. Start with a wide search by state then narrow down your search. If you start with too narrow of a search with tons of filters you may not get any results.
- Horse Clicks is similar to equine now. Use it the same way.
- Dream Horse
- Ranch World Ads is more for western and ranch horses, but still good
- Craigslist is probably the more sketchy of all platforms because it is free to post animals for sale. It's still worth checking out, just follow the 'how to avoid getting scammed' tips I provided earlier.
2. Facebook Groups
Facebook has become a great tool to sell things in the past year or so with the emergence of Facebook Marketplace. People have started selling animals on Facebook as well. However, it is illegal to do so on the Marketplace. So instead people usually will post to a group page with photos and a description of the horse for sale under the photo.
To find a Facebook group with horses for sale in your area, use the FB search bar and type in “horses for sale in _____." If there are no results, try broadening the location in your search.
A really popular way that a lot of large horse operations such as dude ranches buy horses for on the cheaper side is from auctions. However, auctions have a high risk of potential fraud. Horses could be drugged at the auction showing to make them appear calmer. Sometimes horses could also have an injury or a permanent lameness that you won't see at the auction because the owner drugs the horse to hide it. So being wary and making sure you research who is attending the auction to sell the horse is important.
4. Word of Mouth
Start talking to different horse trainers and instructors around the area you live to put the word out that you are looking to buy a horse. People who have personal horses for sale would prefer to sell the horse to someone by referral because they know that whomever they sell the horse to will take care of the horse. Having trainers and instructors recommend you as a horse buyer to people who have their horses for sale is huge.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liz Westwood from UK on January 31, 2020:
I have a friend, who has owned several horses, so some of your comments remind me of the processes she has gone through when looking for a horse to buy. This is a well-organised and nicely illustrated article.