Buying a Horse – Top Points to Consider

Points to Consider when Buying a New Horse

Buying a Horse – Top Points to Consider

Buying a horse is a big commitment, whether you are an experienced rider looking for your next budding superstar or are new to horse ownership and are looking buy a horse to enjoy.

Finding the right horse for you can be difficult, getting it wrong can be both costly and emotionally draining. Mismatched partnerships often lead to the new owner selling the horse, which could be for less than they originally paid and heart-breaking for a number of reasons.

Top tips to consider include;

  • Ability
  • Attitude
  • Current routines
  • Age and experience of horse and rider
  • Whether a project horse is right for you
Buying a Horse - Event Rider and trainer, Harriet Morris-Baumber is often called upon to accompany clients to_look at a potenial new horse.
Event Rider and trainer, Harriet Morris-Baumber is often called upon to accompany clients to look at a potential new horse.

In this article we are joined by event rider and trainer, Harriet Morris-Baumber to offer advice on the important things to consider when buying a horse:

  • How does the horse feel?

It can be very easy to get carried away with how the horse looks but if the feel isn’t what you were wanting, it might not be the right horse for you. Do you feel safe? This sounds like a silly question but if you don’t feel safe on a horse, it doesn’t matter how amazing it jumps or how extravagant its medium trot might be.

  • Be aware of your own ability

It’s very easy to get sucked into to thinking ‘I can learn to ride this horse’ or ‘my friend can ride it well so I must be able to’. Always go with what suits your own natural abilities. Not everyone can ride every horse and if you only have one horse, it’s important that it ticks as many boxes as possible.

  • Take someone with you

Take someone with you for a second opinion – Always take someone with you, so you can discuss your thoughts together afterwards. Record a video of both you and the vendor riding, as the camera never lies! The horse may have felt completely different to how it looks so having a video to refer back to will be very helpful.

  • Does the horse have a willing attitude?

Is the horse willing? You can train a horse to jump narrow fences, or to do a better dressage test but in order to do that the horse has to have a willing attitude. A willing attitude also applies when on the ground too. A horse that is easy to lead, and wants to walk with you rather than behind or racing in front shows respect for the handler. Respect also needs to be attuned to basic commands. A quick lunge session helps assess the horse’s ability to listen by asking to walk, halt, and trot can show you how well they have been handled and trained.

  • What routine does the horse currently have?

Daily routine and facilities – A horse’s management routine can have a vast impact on how settled it will be, so find out exactly what the horse’s routine is and if this will fit in with your routine and facilities at the yard you intend to stable them at. Does this horse require turnout every day? Does it live out? If its routine is considerably different from what you can offer, think carefully before taking the plunge.

Make sure you can offer what the horse needs
Make sure you can offer what the horse needs
  • Age and experience

The age and experience of both the horse and rider is important. If an inexperienced rider makes an error on an experienced horse, the horse will probably help the rider out, but if the horse relies on the rider for reassurance and confidence it’s more likely to progress better with a more experienced jockey. However, some young horses have such a fantastic attitude and are wise beyond their years so consider the strengths and weaknesses of each horse as an individual.

  • Help and support

Do you have a regular trainer who could guide you and help out if things don’t go to plan? Buying a younger horse with less experience combined with a less experienced jockey may be fine if there is an experienced person around to offer advice and help. Think of it like learning a language from someone who is fluent rather than someone who is only just beginning to speak it themselves.

There may be a genuine reason for a horse not being fully educated and developed but generally there is good reason why a horse has not been able to fulfil its potential and is being sold as a project. It may be because it physically cannot do what is asked of it due to weakness or discomfort, it may be bored or there may be an underlying health problem that stops it from performing to its best. Either way, ask lots of questions and have your eyes wide open and be on high alert.

Some riders like the idea of a challenge. They like the idea of turning a horse around but the true challenge should be ‘Can I get 5% more marks in the dressage?’ or ‘Can I jump a clear round time after time?’ rather than ‘Will I make it round the course at all?’ or ‘How will I survive the collecting ring with my naughty horse?’

If in doubt, always ask an experienced professional who you trust, someone that will be there to help you once you’ve bought the horse. If possible take this person with you to see the horse, as they can offer their opinion on all aspects.

Where possible get this person to ride the horse too, then you get to see the horse being ridden by someone other than the vendor, and they will be able to feel what the horse’s strengths and weaknesses are and give you feedback on its potential suitability.” advises Harriet.

Other points to ask about when buying a horse include:

  • Does the horse stand for the farrier and vet?
  • Is he/she up to date with vaccinations?
  • Ask to see the horse being groomed and tacked up/untacked to assess behaviours
  • Ask about past illness, including exemptions from insurance covers
  • What worming routine has the horse been on?
  • When was their tack last checked?
  • How do they travel?

There are so many things to cover when considering buying a horse – before and after the first viewing. Don’t be afraid to ask to come back for another trial.

Harriet is available for dressage, show-jumping and cross-country lessons at her base near York.  To find out more call Harriet on (07795) 562745 or visit harriet-morris-baumber.

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