Buying A Horse- Where To Begin

Infographic 8 steps to buying your first horse
Steps to buying a horse

This is the third and final part in the series of how to go from absolute beginner to buying a horse. This part in the series has so much information that I will divide it into steps. If you would like to visit part one (how to find a good lesson barn) or part two (taking lessons and leasing a horse) you can find those by clicking on them. In this part will go through purchasing your first horse.

Woman with a horse in a shopping cart.
Horse shopping!!

So now that you have been taking lessons for at least a year or more and have been leasing at least 6 months or more you might be ready for a horse of your own. Some people never buy their own horse and to you I say, “smart!” Just kidding (not really), but in all reality leasing is generally less expensive than owning your own and is totally fine! However, if you have decided that you want a horse of your own then keep reading!

I have outlined 8 steps to buying your first horse:

1).Finding someone you trust to help (ideally this is the person you have been working with for lessons)

2).Care of horse (where will it be boarded, vet, farrier, transport, insurance)

3). What are you looking for in a horse? (budget, age, height, experience, breed travel)

4). Searching for the horse? Who will be doing the searching?  (you or your trainer)

5).Talking with sellers to determine suitability/availability

6a). Making an appointment to see the horse and Trying the horse/determining suitability

6b). Trial

7). Pre-purchase exam

8). Negotiation/Buying

Well dressed woman in riding clothes holding a horse.
Find a trainer

1).Finding someone you trust to help (ideally this is the person you have been working with for lessons)

Finding a good instructor and trainer to help you find that horse is going to be ideal, it’s very hard as a new horse person to negotiate all the hurdles that come with buying a horse and to make sure you aren’t getting taken advantage of in the process. Hopefully this is the same person you have been taking lessons with for the past year so you have a relationship with them or are going through someone recommended by those you trust in the industry.

I find that a lot of people want more horse than what they can actually handle and I try to pair their expectations with some reality and find some middle ground so they can get a horse that they will enjoy and fit the bill for what they want to do. 

hand with a dollar sign above it
How much will they charge?

Even the best trainers can have some bias- make sure to find out what they charge to help you buy a horse and how they get paid to know how much to budget for their services and also to know where the incentives are. This will help keep the process more transparent. Most people work off commission (generally 10% of purchase price) so just keep in mind that the more expensive horse you buy the more of a payday that trainer gets. Maybe the more expensive horse is better, but maybe not. Keep this in mind when comparing horses if your trainer is pushing you harder towards the more expensive one. Ask yourself is the horse worth that much to you? However, I do find a lot of trainers at the grassroots level aren’t in it for the money and want you to buy the horse that is right for you.

woman in a meditation pose in front of a clock.
Have patience

Be patient when horse shopping (easier said than done I know), this can take months depending on the time of year, your budget, your location, and your expectations. If you want a high level horse at a low price (which is what everyone wants!) you might have to be looking for a while until you find the perfect deal, but if your budget is good for what you want (your instructor can help you with this) then you should be able to find something within 3 to 6 months or even sooner. Some people find the perfect horse the first try!

Click here for more tips on buying a horse and stay tuned for Step 2 Care of horse (where will it be boarded, vet, farrier, transport, insurance) coming soon!