Whether you are buying your first horse or you are an experienced owner there are a number of basic issues to consider when making a purchase. Horses are a big commitment in terms of time and money, so first make sure that you really are prepared for this.

Do not be tempted to buy the first horse you see. Expert advice is always useful, and should certainly be sought if you are inexperienced. If you have a regular riding instructor he or she will often be willing to help you and similarly if you have an experienced friend do call upon their help.

  • Make a list of criteria for your desired horse - age, sex, level of schooling, etc.
  • Do not let yourself be persuaded by a vendor to buy a horse which is not really what you had in mind.
  • Make sure that the horse you buy suits your intended uses.

How much are you prepared to spend?

Set a price bracket and stick to it - going to look at and try horses which you really cannot afford only wastes your time and that of the vendor.

Where will you make your purchase?

A suitable horse at your local riding school might be available at a reasonable price. Alternatively a wide selection of horses are usually available from dealers, but do make sure that the dealer is reputable and do take along an advisor. You should be able to obtain a warranty for the horse which allows it to be returned if it is unsuitable. Auctions can be the place to pick up a bargain, however they are no place for the inexperienced - many horses of dubious background are sold at auction. If you do choose to buy at an auction, select a reputable sale and try to purchase a warranted horse. Horses for private sale are advertised in the equine press and local papers. This method is often appropriate for the less experienced buyer as there is time to try the horse and go away and think carefully before making a decision.

Should you have the horse vetted?

The vet will be able to point out those aspects which are only evident to the trained eye, and his expert opinion should be considered carefully. Even at auction sales there is usually the opportunity to get a vet to inspect a potential purchase. A vet's certificate may, in any event, be a requirement of your insurers, and possibly x-rays too - check with your insurer before you make your purchase.

Should you have the horse for a trial period?

If it is a private sale or a purchase from a dealer, the vendor may be willing to agree to a trial period. This is usually for a maximum of a week, and gives you the opportunity to take the horse to your premises and spend some time together to see whether he or she really is suitable.

What about insurance?

Consider insuring the horse before you transport it home. Insurance will give you peace of mind and will protect your investment.

Lastly, remember that going to a new home is unsettling for a horse and they are unlikely to be on best behaviour for the first few days. Allow them time to adjust and to settle. It will help if you continue to feed the same food the horse was used to and to keep to a similar routine, so do check whether the horse has been stabled previously, how much turn out time they are used to and so on. Keep to a similar pattern for the first few days, making any changes gradually.