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

by Cheryl Machin Price

Your mind is made up. The search for the new horse begins. For many, the thought of buying a new horse brings on a sudden bout of nausea and others view the process as an adventure and opportunity. This article is devoted to assisting readers with obtaining positive outcomes in the arena of buying and selling horses.

In a perfect world, both the buyer and the seller would have the horse’s best interest at heart and this generally would provide a win/win situation for all concerned. Let me explain. This requires an honest representation on the part of the buyer to identify their riding ability and their capabilities in managing issues related to the horses’ individual needs. The buyer needs to realistically identify their competitive goals and the limit of their financial resources before making inquiries. The seller has the responsibility to know the horse’s strengths and weaknesses. The horse’s current level of competition should be shared with the prospective buyer. The owner should ride the horse and the prospective buyer should also ride, both at the horse’s home and at a competition or simulated competition. If the horse and the prospective buyer’s level of expertise do not match, a responsible seller would prohibit the sale. The horse is then prevented from being purchased by someone who would prevent the horse from performing at his level of training.

This is not a perfect world and sales that create inappropriate rider and horse combinations occur every day. If the buyer or seller is inexperienced in the sales process, consideration should be given to obtaining the services of an agent.  The benefits of reputable agent are many. The professional agent is trained to assess the skill level of the horse and the rider. Although the agent will obtain a commission from the sale of the horse, the reputation they obtain from finding the right horse for the right person is what provides longevity in their profession. The agent should be able to provide references from sellers and buyers they have represented. The fee for service and the agreed upon services the agent will provide, should be identified in writing. The agent will be able to obtain disclosure statements from the seller regarding competitive records, health issues and vices. If the horse has medical or specific nutritional or training requirements, a written statement is usually provided to the buyer. It is in the horse’s interest for the seller to communicate all pertinent information to the buyer. Purchasing a horse should be based on an informed and educated decision.


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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?