Horse shopping – where to look and what to ask?

Horse shopping is an exciting experience but can also be a little overwhelming. So where do you start? I’ve put together the places I head to when looking for a horse and the questions I like to ask when I’ve narrowed it down to the ones I potentially want to view.

There are lots of different websites that are fab to search through when horse hunting. My 3 go to websites are:

They all have a great selection of horses for sale and fab search sections which can help you narrow down you search and save you a lot of time trawling through adverts that don’t interest you (or in my case, horses that are way over budget). My other go to place when on the search for a horse is Facebook. There are so many horse related groups where adverts pop up all the time, there are also groups specific to your chosen discipline too which helps narrow down the search even further.

Of course the other great place to find a new horse is word of mouth. It’s always great if someone you know is selling a horse or a friend of a friend is. For some reason I find this the best way to find a horse, I feel like I have a little comfort blanket. Probably because the horse is genuinely what the owner is telling you it is as you already have a connection with the owner, so whats the point in lying? The amount of fibs people tell when selling horses is incredible!!

So you’ve seen a couple of horses that catch your eye, now what? The next thing you need to ask yourself is what is the intended use for the horse and what qualities are most important to you? This can quickly eliminate horses that may look the part but if they are not right for you then they just won’t work. For example, are you going to be doing a lot of hacking? If so, it needs to be safe on the roads. However if you spend most of your time in arenas and schooling then a safe hack isn’t top of your priorities.

The next thing I do is compile a message and ask them the questions that aren’t answered in the advert and ask for more photos or videos of the horse. Some adverts are very informative and have lots of photos/videos where as others are a little more vague! Below is a complete a list of general questions I send when wanting more information on a horse. Some may have already been answered in the horses advert.

  1. Why are you selling the horse?
  2. How long have you had the horse?
  3. How tall is the horse?
  4. How old is the horse?
  5. Is it a mare or gelding?
  6. Are they good to deal with i.e. catch, clip, load, travel, stable manners, farrier, vet, dentist etc
  7. Do they hack out alone/in company?
  8. What are they like in traffic?
  9. What tack is it ridden in? Does it have different tack/bits for different work?
  10. Has it got or ever been seen to have any stable vices? Crib/weave/box walk etc
  11. Any health issues, past and present? Sweet itch/laminitis/head shaking/past injuries.
  12. Do they have any insurance exclusions? If so, what are they?
  13. Are they up to date with vaccinations, worming and dentist?
  14. What have they done in the past? Competition history/hunted/pleasure rides etc and what are they like at these events? Do they hot up, get strong etc.
  15. Is it in work at the moment and if not, why not and how long have they been out of work?
  16. What are they like to bring back into work?
  17. Do they need to be ridden regularly?
  18. Who is currently riding it and what age and level of rider are they?
  19. What sort of stabling/turnout routine are they in? Mixed herd? Individual turnout?
  20. What feed regime are they on at the moment?
  21. Are they on any supplements? if so, what for?
  22. What sort of home do they think the horse is best suited to?
  23. What trial facilities do they have?
  24. Does the price include any tack/rugs? If not, are they available to buy separately?
  25. Would the seller be prepared to let the horse go on a trial period?

Once you have all the answers sit down and really read through them all, take time to digest them, maybe even show a horsey friend to help decide whether the horse is worth going to see in person. If so it’s time to arrange a viewing  and that’s when the real fun starts!

I hope you have enjoyed reading and it has been informative to you if you are also on the search for a new horse/pony. Next in this series will be what to do, look for  and ask when viewing a potential new horse.

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