A Complete Guide: Buying a Horse For The First Time

There are a lot of considerations that go into buying a horse which can make it seem like a daunting task. There are many factors that go into the decision making process. To ensure the best outcome for both the owner and the horse, it’s important to do all of your research upfront and leave no stone unturned. This blog series will walk you through the key things to look into when buying and searching for a horse for sale. Whether you are planning to look for hunter/jumper horses for sale or eventing horses for sale, this first post will help you determine what to look for in your first horse. 

Determine Your Budget

First things first, you must determine your budget and how much you want to spend on this horse. It’s important to keep in mind that horses are an expensive hobby – not just to buy but to upkeep them as well. Make sure you are prepared to pay to board the horse at a barn, vet bills, supplements, shoeing, annual vaccinations, insurance, and any other miscellaneous things that come up along the way (and trust us, they will!). 

After you decide on your budget to purchase the horse, you must then decide what kind of horse you are looking for that suits your needs and budget. 

Here are some key considerations:

Riding and Experience Level

What is your riding level? If you are a beginner, a beginner safe horse may be best for you. Or if you are more advanced, then you could potentially look for a green horse to then bring up the ranks. If you aren’t sure, talk with your trainer to determine what kind of horse you should be looking for. 

Riding Goals

It’s important to consider what your goals as a rider are and what you want to accomplish with this horse. Are you just looking to do some trail rides a few times a week or do you want to compete at AA rated hunter/jumper horse shows? This will help you determine what level and and type of horse you want to buy. 


The discipline you ride will help you know what kind of horse to look for. For instance, is you are a hunter/jumper you may want to look for a Warmblood. We’ll cover more on this below.

Breed of the Horse

Breed is an important factor when looking for your next horse. The breed that is best fit for you may depend on your riding goals and discipline mentioned above. If you are looking to trail ride, then a Quarter Horse may be a good option. If you are looking to train a horse and don’t have a big budget, then getting an off the track Thoroughbred (OTTB) may be the best option for you. If you are looking to show competitively at Hunter/Jumper horse shows, then you may want to consider a more athletic and fancier breed like a Warmblood. There are several different types of Warmbloods, such as Hanoverians, KWPNs, Holsteiners and more. Most of the top show jumping horses in the world are Warmbloods.

Age of the Horse

Are you looking for a younger or older horse? This also depends on your experience level, sometimes younger horses (4-8 years old) can be more green and unpredictable. Older horses can be safer and more trained. Age is also an important consideration if you are looking to buy a horse as an investment, which brings us to our next point. 


Do you want to buy a horse as an investment or do you plan to keep the horse long-term? As you may know, buying and selling horses is a business. When buying a horse as an investment, people tend to purchase a younger, well-bred horse that is green and then train and show them to build up their show record in hopes to sell them to make a profit. If you want to buy a horse as an investment, it’s important to consider their age, breed, temperament and if they have any history with lameness. It’s best to communicate with your trainer to make sure that you are all on the same page with what you are looking for. 

Personal Preferences

Do you have any personal preferences about your next horse? Some people prefer geldings to mares and bays to greys. If you are a tall rider, a tall horse may be a better fit for you. Ask yourself if there are any things that your future horse must be or have. 

To Own or To Lease

Perhaps you want a horse of your own but don’t want to commit to buying one yet or paying all of the fees associated with owning a horse. That’s where leasing comes in. There are pros and cons with both buying and leasing a horse. Before we get into that, let’s break down the different kinds of leasing options available:

In-barn or on-farm lease: An in barn lease is leasing a horse that is to remain at their current stable. 

Off-farm Lease: Off-farm lease is when the horse can be leased out to any farm. The lessor usually covers all of the fees associated with the lease, including a lease fee and board for the horse. The horse owner typically does not cover the board or other costs when a horse is being leased out.

Full Lease: A full lease is when the lessor gets the horse for the entire duration of the lease and does not share the horse with anyone.

Half Lease: A half lease is when the lessor shares the horse with another lessor. Usually, each lessor each spends three days a week with the horse. 

Lease to Own: Lease to own is leasing the horse and paying for the horse with monthly payments. You do not fully own the horse until all the payments are paid off. 

Leasing a horse is typically cheaper than buying a horse. Leasing is a common option when someone is looking for a fancy horse or pony to show but doesn’t have the financial means up front to buy that caliber of horse. Instead, they may lease the horse for a year for a lot less than it would cost to buy the horse. Of course the downside to this is that it’s similar to renting a home, you don’t have any money in the horse. It is also common for people to only lease horses for the duration of the show season. 

Next Steps

Once you have considered these things and talked with your trainer about what you are looking for in your first horse, you can then begin searching for horses for sale. Stay tuned for our next post in the series which will cover what to look for in the search process. 


Looking for hunter/jumper horses for sale? View horses for sale here.


  • No comments yet.
  • chat
    Add a comment