Horses for Sale: How to Choose the One That's Best for You

The right horse will carry you through the events you enjoy most

You’ve made all the necessary arrangements for keeping a horse, and you’re ready to start looking at horses for sale. How to choose the one that’s best for you depends on several factors. Are you into competition or showing? Do you care about impressive bloodlines? Or do you simply want a safe, friendly horse that’s fun to ride on trails?

Factors to Consider Before Looking at Horses for Sale

Run a search for “horses for sale” or attend an auction, and you’ll be overwhelmed with the number of equines looking for a suitable home. Owners work hard to put the horse’s best foot forward, but even the most beautiful horse with the best breeding can turn out to be one that’s not quite right for you. Keeping that in mind, here’s what to look for.

  • Price: Set a budget, keeping in mind that you often get exactly what you pay for. In some areas, good saddle horses cost more than $2,500 apiece, while in others they can be had for a few hundred due to personal situations that force owners to sell their horses for much less than they are worth.
  • Know what type of horse is best for your activities. If you’re into jumping, you’ll want a Thoroughbred, warmblood, or other horse that’s known for its athletic prowess. For Western pleasure, a Quarter horse or Appaloosa might be just right. Want to ride trails? Consider a Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse, Arabian, or mustang. These are just a few suggestions, and keep in mind that many horses have the ability to do more than one thing well.
  • Be honest with yourself about the amount of experience you have. If you’re a total beginner, it’s best to look for a gentle horse that will help you grow. If you’ve got some experience and plan to take lessons, it’s a good idea to look for a horse that’s well-trained, one that you can grow into and learn from.

Shopping Around: What to Look for In Horses for Sale

If you are new to horses, be sure to take someone with experience along with you to look at horses. And never agree to buy a horse sight unseen, no matter what you find on the internet! Unfortunately, there are quite a few scammers. Whether you go to a sales barn, an auction, a horse rescue facility, or a private residence, be sure to learn the following about the horses you’re considering:

  • Does the horse have good ground manners? Does he lead, tie, stand for the farrier, allow bathing and clipping, and interact well with humans without being pushy?
  • Does the horse have any vices, i.e. kicking, biting, cribbing, food aggression?
  • What kind of training does the horse have? What does he seem to enjoy, and what is he good at?
  • How often is the horse ridden? What kind of tack is he ridden in, and what works best for him?
  • What does the horse’s health record look like? Is he up to date on worming, vaccines and dental work?

These are just basics. Once you’ve narrowed down your choice be sure that you ride the horse before you commit to buying him, and be sure to have him vet-checked before you make payment. An honest seller with nothing to hide will be thrilled to answer your questions, show you everything about the horse and be open to answering any questions or addressing any concerns you have after the sale of the horse has been completed. It takes some legwork to make your way through all the horses for sale but by following a careful, well-planned process you’ll find the one that suits you best.