Karen’s Column - Tips for Buying Horses


Posted: Fri, 1st Feb 2013

Hi everyone. Well we are off and running in another year of P.C. With rallies and competitions underway now, I know many of us are still trying to source the next mount. So this month I’d put together the best tips I've found on buying horses.

  1. Develop a clear and accurate idea of exactly what you need before you start looking. For example; say you needed to replace a car. You may wander down to the car yard and fall in love with a bright, shiny sports car and bring it home. It’s a bit late after this to realise that you actually needed something to pull a horse float and cart hay. If you have a clear check list of what’s important in your next mount, you are less likely to fall for the wrong horse, no matter how stunning it may be on the day.
  2. Ask as many detailed questions as you can think of before you travel to see it. None of us like wasting our time and effort, so the more you can find out beforehand the better. As well as many other questions I always ask “What does it do wrong?” and “If you could change something about the horse what would you change?” There is no perfect horse and these questions may reveal something the seller was not forthcoming with.
    Remember to run the answers off against your list of requirements. For example if you ask, “What are the things you like best about the pony?” and they answer “He’s a really clean, show jumper and never refuses.” That is not an asset to you if your main requirement is a confidence-building, unflappable first pony. Stay focused on what you need.
  3. When buying for kids, the more experience the better. A friend told me a piece of advise I have found to be invaluable. She said that the best combinations always added up to at least twenty. What she meant was, you want about twenty years of experience going around the arena. So if you have a three year old rider, don’t stick her on a three year old horse. Instead, put her on a seventeen year old pony; however a seventeen year old rider who has been riding from a young age will probably handle a three year old horse beautifully. Likewise, a ten year old will do great on a ten year old. By having about twenty years of experience between horse and rider, everyone is happy, everyone is progressing and lot of tears, spills and frustrations can be avoided. Remember riding should be FUN.
  4. There is no such thing as a bad colour in a good horse. This famous saying is not mine, but I love the sentiment. If you find a great horse that is everything on your list, don’t knock it back on looks. It may have an ugly head, a sway back, be a boring colour or may even be a bit pigeon toed. But if it is a horse that ticks all your boxes, and fulfils what you need, then don’t be put off by less than perfect appearances. We have owned some colossal horses that have had a flaw or two.
  5. The only thing worse than not finding the right horse, is buying the wrong horse… because when you buy the wrong horse, you have 2 problems. You still haven’t found the right horse and now you have an unsuitable one to sell on as well. How do we avoid buying the wrong horse? Although these ideas aren’t fool proof, make sure you:
    • Ask lots of questions
    • Watch the current owner ride it – this will raise more questions.
    • Put it through some challenges when you try it out (E.g. ride it away from home and the otherhorses). How does it behave when it gets a little stressed?
    • Ask other people who know the horse about it (be confidential with this information)
    • Ask for a trial - many people still agree to a short trial -be ready with some photocopied ID
    • If you can’t trial it, go and see the horse more than once. The more you go back to try it, the less bothered they’ll be to work it down or drug it and the more you will discover.

The old saying “Let the buyer beware” is still good advice true. If the story doesn’t add up orif something seems fishy then walk away. There are plenty of brilliant horses out there, be patient and the right one will turn up!

I hope some of this may be helpful to you. I would love to hear any of your tips on buying and selling horses too. You can email me at

Karen Moreton

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