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Take the Plunge, but Avoid Taking a Bath, When Purchasing a New Horse

by Cheryl Machin Price


  • Once the initial evaluation of the horse’s performance has been made, and a discussion that addresses any medical or performance deficits has occurred, the buyer can make a decision if the horse is a serious prospect for purchase.
  • The seller can determine if they believe that the horse and rider have the potential to be successful. At that time, the second phase of the evaluation can occur. The horse can be taken to a competition or simulated competition and the buyer can “make a run.” The size of the pattern needs to be identified, preferably a standard size, and an electric timer should be available. The buyer’s other option is to ask where the horse is currently competing and gain permission to attend the competition(s) and observe the horse.

The bottom line is that full disclosure on both the seller’s and the prospective buyer’s part, results in the best outcome for both everyone involved. The financial commitment required for a flawless professional caliber horse is prohibitive to most buyers. Your best course of action is to:

  • Know your abilities as a rider and a manager of your equine partner’s health.
  • Research the prospects available in terms of your financial resources and commitment to work with, and train, your horse.
  • Know your limits and the issues that, except for a miracle, are performance nightmares.

These are keys to successful horse purchases.

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For more information about Cheryl, please visit the Co-Instructors section of this website. Cheryl also writes a separate ongoing column for our In Pursuit of Excellence section, entitled Training Outcomes.


Does the horse bleed? Is he prone to tying up? Has he ever had colic? Any major surgeries or illnesses? Does he have a respiratory problem? Does he require special medications? What has been the seller's routine care?