So you have decided to buy a horse. The chances are that you’ve been riding for some time, perhaps had a loaned or shared horse, or simply booked lessons and out-rides with your local equestrian centre. However, buying a horse is a huge undertaking, not just in terms of cash outlay, but in your own personal commitment.
The first thing you should do is to consider, seriously, whether you really can spare that amount of time. It’s exciting to be setting out on the ownership journey, but horses are time-consuming. It’s not just a question of turning up at the yard to ride; there is so much more involved.
Before you start searching for your new horse, take a good, hard look at yourself. Be honest about your riding ability: if you end up getting “over-horsed” — having a horse that you don’t feel confident riding, perhaps because it’s a little sharp or a little green — you won’t enjoy your purchase.
Think about what you want to do with the horse, such as competing or hunting. Do you want a schoolmaster to help you to improve your riding, or do you want a younger horse that can improve with you?
Write a checklist of what you want in your prospective purchase. For example, will you be the only person to ride the horse, or will other members of your family also ride him? This is something the vendor will probably want to know, too.
Work out a budget: not just for the purchase price (and do be realistic!) but for stabling, feeding, insurance, farriers and all the other attendant expenses that come with horse ownership.
Make sure you have a suitable home for your horse — this may sound obvious, but it’s as well to check that there is the available space on the yard where you intend to keep him. You should also make sure whether there is anything the yard owner would baulk at? For example, if the horse turns out to be a weaver, would the owner still be happy to have him on the yard?
Make a list of the things that you are willing to compromise on, such as height, for example; and the things that are absolute deal-breakers for you, such as price. Then you can embark on your search.
How to buy a horse: what to do at a viewing
Read the BHS’s advice on buying and owning a horse