Things To Consider Before You Buy a Horse

by John Wren
Chestnut horse with a white blaze on its forehead wearing a bridle and walking in a green field with a white fence

Whether you rodeo or love recreational riding, there are things to consider before you buy a horse that can make a significant difference to your success as a horse owner.

Reasons To Buy a Horse

Why do you want to buy a horse? It’s one thing if you’re buying a horse for barrel racing, roping, or reining competitions, and it’s another if you’re looking to keep a horse for recreational riding. If you’re buying a horse for competitions, you’ll need to thoroughly check out its pedigree, competitive history, and training, along with its current fitness and health. Recreational riders should be no less conscientious in examining a horse’s fitness, health history, and test results.

Ongoing Costs

Prospective horse owners should be aware of the ongoing costs associated with keeping a horse, including vet services, boarding, feed, and waste removal. Additionally, they should not overlook expenses for tack and supplies, transportation, and regular maintenance.


Ensure all necessary documentation is in order before finalizing the purchase. Review the health records, proof of ownership transfer, and, if you’re buying a purebred, registration papers. Proper documentation is essential for verifying the horse’s history and health status.

Horse Temperament, Gender, and Age

Consider the temperament, gender, and age of the horse. These factors significantly affect the horse’s behavior and compatibility with the owner. A calm, well-trained horse is preferable for beginners, while more experienced riders may seek a horse with specific traits for competitions or breeding.

Vet Services

Regular vet check-ups are crucial for maintaining the horse’s health. Familiarize yourself with nearby veterinary services that specialize in equine care. Make sure you’ll have veterinary services available near where you’ll keep your horse. Ensure you are prepared for both routine medical care and emergency situations.

Boarding, Feed, and Waste Removal

If you cannot accommodate a horse on your property, research local boarding options. Understand the costs and services provided, including feed and waste management, to ensure they meet your standards and budget.

Tack and Supplies

Acquiring the right tack and supplies, such as saddles, bridles, grooming tools, and protective gear, is vital for both the horse’s comfort and the rider’s safety. Prioritize quality and suitability over price.


Transportation is an aspect of horse ownership many overlook. Whether for moving the horse to different locations or attending competitions, having access to or arranging suitable transport is essential.

If you love trail rides, be sure to check whether your destination allows you to bring your horse in and park your trailer and what the rules are for trail riding where you’re going. For example, Big Bend National Park in south Texas is great for camping as a horse owner because it allows horses on its gravel roads and in limited areas in the Chisos mountains. However, you could not bring your horse on pavement in that park.

Taking a “Test Ride”

Taking a “test ride” can provide valuable insight into the horse’s behavior, gait, and compatibility with the rider. It’s an opportunity to assess firsthand whether the horse meets your expectations and requirements.

Thoroughly examining these considerations before you buy a horse ensures that you are well-prepared for the responsibilities and joys of horse ownership. Doing so will help establish a rewarding relationship between you and your horse, grounded in mutual respect and understanding.

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