Buying Your First Horse

Getting your first horse is an exciting time for new horse owners. Here are some tips to help you through the buying process.

| December 2014

  • Ride the Horse Before Buying
    Before buying a horse, make sure you ride the horse in the way that you're planning to use him.
    Photo by Daniel Johnson
  • How to Raise Horses
    “How to Raise Horses,” by Samantha Johnson and Daniel Johnson, is a great resource for all things horses, from buying your first horse to breeding and showing.
    Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

  • Ride the Horse Before Buying
  • How to Raise Horses

Want to raise a healthy, happy horse, but don’t know where to begin? Samantha Johnson and Daniel Johnson provide an essential primer of horse ownership in How to Raise Horses (Voyageur Press, 2011), explaining things for beginner and veteran horse owners. This excerpt, which provides information on  the best approaches to buying a new horse, is from Chapter 2, “Choosing Your Horse.”

Buying Your First Horse from a Breeder

If you’re in the market for a Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, or Arabian, you should have no trouble locating a reputable breeder within a reasonable distance of your location. However, if you’re in the market for something a little less common you may have to do a bit of detective work to find the breeder you’re looking for.

The best place to start is with the breed’s association. Many association websites have breeder listings compiled by state so you can quickly locate those closest to you. Otherwise, a quick phone call to the association office can put you in touch with breeders in your area who may have something to offer. An Internet search can also uncover information on local breeders. Simply type in the breed of your choice, followed by the state where you live.

In the case of a rare or unusual breed, it’s very possible that you won’t be able to locate a breeder in your backyard. Obviously, it’s easier if you can go directly to the breeder’s farm and look over his or her stock in person, but if the breeder is across the country, you will have to either shop by video or arrange a visit. This may seem more complicated than necessary, but it is a viable option for people who are interested in particular breeds, specific bloodlines, or something they are unable to find in their area.

By buying from a breeder, you will have access to information about the horse’s sire, dam, siblings, previous history, as well as specific information about the individual you are purchasing, such as “horses from this line tend to mature quickly” or “this mare’s foals are the sweetest.” This type of valuable information is typically unavailable when you are purchasing from a backyard owner, from a sale barn, or through an auction.

Going to Buy Your First Horse

If at all possible, you will want to see the horse in person before you make a decision to purchase. It’s a courtesy to the seller to be certain that you are seriously interested before making an appointment to see the horse. If you really think that you want a registered Quarter Horse mare and the horse you saw an ad for is an Arabian gelding, think carefully before you bother the seller with setting up an appointment. However, if you’re reasonably sure that you are interested in the horse, proceed with the appointment. It goes without saying that you will want to be on time. You’re taking time out of someone’s busy day and you’ll be starting your appointment on the wrong foot if you arrive late.

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