Buying a new horse or pony is exciting, but it can also be a stressful experience. Getting it right will set you up for a long and successful partnership with your horse, but if it goes wrong, the result can be costly in terms of time, money and emotional stress. So to help you through the experience, SPILLERS have come up with a few pointers to help you get the most out of your horse viewings.

Do your homework

Before you go to view any horse, understand your requirement and prepare to do a bit of detective work;

  • First of all, be realistic and honest about the type of horse you would like to find. Think about whether you would like an older more experienced horse or maybe you’re looking for a young horse to produce.
  • Make a list of the ideal criteria you would like your new horse to fulfill, i.e. height, age, attitude to work. If you want a horse that is safe for the entire family, don’t buy that ‘pocket rocket’ just because they whinnied at you when you walked on the yard…stick to your list!
  • Do your research. If the horse you are interested in has competed in affiliated competitions (British Eventing, British Dressage, British Showjumping etc) you should be able to find a record online. If they have been part of a Riding Club, Pony Club or been hunting then you can ring the relevant secretary for references.
  • Be aware of the fact that if the horse you are viewing has always been ridden by a professional it may well be used to being placed on the perfect stride at a fence and not so used to sorting itself out. Some horses struggle to adjust to being ridden in a different way.

Buying a horse








At the ‘new horse’ viewing

Use the below as a check list to ensure you get the most out of your viewing;

  • Have a good look at the horse before it is tacked up to assess its confirmation. Feel its legs to check for any abnormalities and watch the horse walk and trot up to see how straight they move.
  • Look at the horse in natural light, horses always look better at night under unnatural light.
  • ‘The knowledgeable friend’ – Take a friend with you who knows your riding ability and your aspirations who will give you an honest opinion after trying your potential new horse. Also ask your friend to take some video of you riding so you can use it as a comparison if you are trying several different horses.
  • Give the horse a good test drive. After watching the seller rider the horse try to ride the horse in as many different environments as possible such as in the school, out hacking, in an open space and it’s always a good idea to make sure the horse is happy to leave it’s friends and go away from the yard on its own.
  • It is very likely that the horse has been well prepared for your viewing so do bear it in mind that if he’s a bit fresh or lively then he will probably be even more so when you get him home to his new environment.
  • Check the horse’s passport to make sure the horse or pony is actually who they say it is!
  • Get your ‘potential’ horse vetted by an impartial vet to make sure they are fit for purpose and you don’t have any costly surprises to deal with when you get your new horse home.

Buying a horse









Preparing for your new horse’s arrival

When you have found your perfect horse, it’s a good idea to plan for its arrival;

  • Organise a support system – the initial period of time with your new horse sets the tone for your partnership so you want this to be as positive as possible. It would be sensible to arrange for a friend to ride with you for the first few times you go out hacking. However, if that’s not possible you could consider having your new horse in livery for the first couple of weeks where you will have help and someone to ride with whilst you get to know each other.
  • Developing your new horse’s routine is vital in helping them settle in - find out as much as you can about their previous routine so that you can make any changes gradually.
  • For advice on what to feed your new horse you can call our Care-Line on 01908 22 66 26 to get your horse off to the best nutritional start and to support your future adventures together.


We hope this SPILLERS guide will help take the stress out of finding your next equine best friend but if you have any further tips on avoiding the pitfalls of buying a new horse, please comment below as sharing is caring…