A Guide to Shopping for and Trying Horses

Updated on July 8, 2019
Ellison Hartley profile image

Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.

Tips for Shopping for a Horse
Tips for Shopping for a Horse | Source

How to Find the Perfect Horse

I know it probably sounds weird to use the term "shop around" when talking about horses, and I certainly do not mean that I'm looking for the best deal that I can find. Obviously, we are almost all on a budget, and finding prospective horses within your budget is, of course, a priority. So, here are my tips for finding the perfect horse for your needs.

Tips for Trying Horses

  • Where to Look for Horses for Sale
  • Deciding How Far You Are Willing to Travel to Try Horses
  • Why You Should Compare Multiple Horses
  • How to Make a List of Non-Negotiables and Prospective Horses
  • How to Enjoy the Adventure and Learning Experience

Where to Look for Horses for Sale

When you are looking for a horse, always keep your budget in mind. This will determine how hard or easy it is to find prospective horses to try. It is actually very easy to find horses for sale, and here is where you should look for your potential horse if you are on a budget:

  • Horse-selling sites (on the internet)
  • Within your social circle (by word of mouth)
  • Craigslist or similar

Make a list of non-negotiables and distances you are willing to travel.
Make a list of non-negotiables and distances you are willing to travel. | Source

Decide How Far You Are Willing to Travel to Try Horses

Besides your list of non-negotiables (what traits you want in a horse), you should also consider the distance you are willing to travel to look at horses. Since we can now send pictures and videos so easily, you can get a good idea of what a horse is like before you actually meet it in person. If a horse looks really great in the video, you still might choose to drive that extra distance to meet it.

Expert Tip

Don't buy the first one you try (until you see others).

Why You Should Compare Multiple Horses Before Deciding

You should try a bunch of horses before you buy one. Before you make a commitment to a horse and spend the money, you want to make sure this really is the horse for you. We hope to give our horses forever homes, right? Impulsive buying does not lead to this!

Take your time to make your decision.
Take your time to make your decision. | Source

Make a List of Non-Negotiables and Prospective Horses

I tell all customers to make a list of non-negotiables and then make a decision on the distance they are willing to travel. After these steps, come up with a list of prospective horses you want to go meet in person.

Remember to Be Patient

It is so very easy to convince yourself that the very first horse you see is perfect for you just because you are so excited to be a horse owner. Remember though, you don't want to just own a horse, you want to own one you can actually enjoy and be successful with.

Take Note of Desireable and Undesirable Traits

By trying a bunch of horses, you find out what type of horse is available in your price range. You also can meet a variety of horses. Work with the horses on the ground and under saddle, then compare what you like and don't like about them. You might not know you even like a certain trait in a horse if you have never met a horse that has that trait.

Video: A Detailed Commentary on Trying Horses

Enjoy the Adventure and the Learning Experience

Horse-shopping is an adventure and a learning experience. Remember, even if you try a whole bunch and think you have found your dream horse, have your trainer or instructor come and check them out. Keep in mind that you pay your trainers for assistance because they are experts in the field, so take advantage of their knowledge.

Don't Rush the Decision

When it comings to making that final decision, don't be in a rush. There are so many horses out there, and it is worth taking the time to find the right one—both for your sake and the horse's!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Another one still holding a place on our list, River.Another mare that is still on our list, Truckstop Vicki, otherwise known as "Beauty."Horse #5: Noah—didn't get to stay on the prospect list, not sound enough!The sixth horse we have seen so far, Magic.This is Shay, a prospect still on our list for consideration.
Another one still holding a place on our list, River.
Another one still holding a place on our list, River. | Source
Another mare that is still on our list, Truckstop Vicki, otherwise known as "Beauty."
Another mare that is still on our list, Truckstop Vicki, otherwise known as "Beauty."
Horse #5: Noah—didn't get to stay on the prospect list, not sound enough!
Horse #5: Noah—didn't get to stay on the prospect list, not sound enough!
The sixth horse we have seen so far, Magic.
The sixth horse we have seen so far, Magic.
This is Shay, a prospect still on our list for consideration.
This is Shay, a prospect still on our list for consideration.

Do You Think You Are Ready to Own Your First Horse?

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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.

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    © 2019 Ellison Hartley

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