Tips & Tricks

What to Look for When Buying a Horse: Key Characteristics

buying a horse

Buying a horse should not be taken lightly. Not only are horses expensive, but it is also important to consider the care and commitment involved in owning one. Before taking on this responsibility, it is important to understand what to look for when shopping for a horse.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Horse

When looking to buy a horse, there are many important questions to ask. These include the horse’s age, breed, and training level. It is also important to inquire about its medical history and any potential health issues it may have had in the past or present. You should also find out if the horse has ever been ridden competitively, and what type of discipline it is best suited for. Finally, be sure to ask who currently owns the horse and how long they have had it. This may help you better understand its background and care history. 

What Type of Horse are You Looking For?

There are many different breeds of horses, each with unique characteristics. To make sure you find the horse that is right for you and your needs, thoroughly consider all the options and decide which breed best fits what you’re looking for. Be sure to research the breed extensively before making a commitment to any horse.

What to Know Before Buying a Horse?

Horse age

When buying a horse, it is important to consider the age of the horse. If you are looking for a long-term investment or companion, an adult horse is likely your best bet. However, if you are interested in training and molding a horse to your specifications or desire to compete in various equestrian events with your horse, then a foal may be the better choice. 

Younger horses can be more difficult to handle and may lack experience, while older horses may have underlying health issues. A horse aged 5-16 should give you the best chance of a successful purchase that will require minimal additional training or vet bills. Be sure to get an up-to-date veterinary exam prior to buying any horse, regardless of age.

Conformation in horses

When looking for a horse, it is also important to consider its conformation. Conformation refers to the physical structure of a horse, including the overall build and proportions of its body. A horse with poor conformation may have difficulty excelling in certain disciplines due to the physical limitations of its body. Therefore, it is important to ensure that a horse’s conformation is suitable for the type of riding you plan to do. Additionally, a horse with good conformation will be less prone to injuries and may require fewer costly vet visits in the long run.## Temperament

Horse soundness

When buying a horse, it’s important to assess the animal’s soundness. This involves looking at the horse’s legs, back, and neck for any signs of previous injury. It is also wise to listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, as well as examine the teeth and check the eyes for signs of disease. Any of these can indicate a horse’s suitability as a riding partner.

It is also important to observe the horse’s general behavior, noting any signs of pain or discomfort. A good idea is to get an experienced person to watch your ride so they can point out any gait irregularities or poor posture that could be symptomatic of an underlying issue. You should also check the horse’s vaccination and worming records to ensure they are up to date.

In addition, it is a good idea to have a vet conduct a pre-purchase examination of the horse prior to purchase. This will help you determine if the animal is suitable for its intended purpose, as well as provide an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the horse’s health.

Personality of horse

When looking to buy a horse, it is important to pay attention to the personality of the animal. Look for signs of intelligence and responsiveness in order to ensure you have chosen an obedient animal that will be easy to communicate with. Observe how the horse behaves around other horses, people, and objects. Horses should respond positively both when they’re around people and when alone. Additionally, look for signs of curiosity and friendliness in the animal since a reliable horse should not be timid or aggressive. Pay attention to how the horse responds to commands and activities such as leading, mounting, and being saddled. This will help you determine if it is an obedient horse that can learn quickly and follow instructions. 


When looking for a horse, it is important to consider the animal’s pedigree. A horse with a strong pedigree can cost more than an ordinary animal, but it may be worth its price if you are looking for a champion mount. Knowing the lineage of your horse will also give you insight into his future performance as well as any hereditary issues he may be susceptible to. Be sure to ask the seller for the horse’s pedigree and ask any questions you may have about it. This is a key factor in ensuring that you get a healthy, quality animal.


The cost of buying a horse can vary greatly, depending on the breed and other factors. A basic rule of thumb is that the rare or unique a horse is, the higher its price tag will be. Before making a purchase, it is important to understand what potential costs may accompany owning a horse. These include vet bills, farrier services, tack and equipment, feed costs, and more. Knowing the value of a horse upfront can help you plan for its care later on.


What are the red flags when buying a horse?

Be aware of any potential red flags when buying a horse, such as excessive sweating, trembling, or lethargy. These can be signs of an underlying medical condition that may require attention in the near future. It is also important to check for visible injuries or wounds that could indicate mistreatment prior to purchase.

What horse is best for a beginner?

When selecting a horse for a beginner, consider an animal that is well-trained with a calm temperament. An experienced instructor or professional can help you determine which breed of horse would be best suited to your riding ability and level of experience.

What not to do when buying a horse?

It is strongly recommended to avoid purchasing a horse unseen, as there may be significant differences between the advertised condition and the horse’s actual physical health or temperament. It is also important to never purchase a horse based solely on breed alone; any breed of horse can have tendencies for certain types of behavior and exercise demands, so it is essential to do your research and decide on a horse that is right for you.

How do you tell if a horse trusts you?

Trust between you and your horse is earned over time, but there are some key indicators to look for that may indicate a mutual level of trust. These include a decrease in anxiety or movement when you approach the horse, allowing you to touch them without resistance, and following simple commands. Additionally, if the horse willingly takes treats from your hands or allows you to lead them, these are all signs of trust. In order for your horse to build a trusting relationship with you, it is important for you to take the time to get to know their individual needs and personality.

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