How to Find Your Dream Horse

Are you ready to start looking for your first horse? You need to remember that there are many different types of horses out there, and making the right decision on the perfect horse for you is very important. A high-strung Thoroughbred that just retired off the racetrack may be too much for you to handle. Or, going to the other extreme, a plodder of a horse that would rather stand around eating in his stall or pasture than have you strap a saddle to his back and take him out for a run may also be not desirable for you. Finding out what type of horse that will help you reach your potential as a novice rider and horse-person is very important.


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    Find and go to local stables, local horse breeders, tack shops and even in the local newspaper or Internet that may have any advertisements or know of any horses for sale.
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    Try to find an older horse that already has been well-broke to the saddle (preferably a ranch-type horse). You can also look for a horse that you know or your local riding instructor[s] know, if you have already taken riding lessons and/or are familiar with some horses that have been up for sale. Or, if you know one or more local horse breeders, you can contact them as well about any well-broke horses that they may be aware of or know about.
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    Take a one-on-one look at the horse. Look the horse over as it stands where it is and when you get it to trot around on the lunge-line. Study the horse's conformational qualities, especially with the feet and legs, and also the topline, the neck and head. A horse with sound feet and legs and a strong topline is a good horse that will take you almost anywhere you want to go.
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    Ask if you can ride it to get a feel of how it moves under you and whether you like the feel of him between your knees. It's best to do this with the owner as well as with your riding instructor or an experienced rider that knows you well enough to judge your riding abilities.
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    It is also a good idea to watch it being groomed and tacked up. If you like the way the horse handles grooming and being saddled up, ask if you can do the grooming and tacking yourself to see how the horse reacts around you. Your riding instructor or experienced horseman-friend should be there as well to assess whether the horse is within your level of horsemanship.
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    Go home and think about your decision. Don't buy the horse right away, as it's possible that the horse will not be the perfect one for you. It is also likely that the horse may react much differently around you when in a different setting, like in its would-be new home and when the owner and/or your instructor is not around. You may want to think about requesting with the owner to bring the horse to a more neutral setting (away from the horse's home) to do another analysis of its behaviors and actions towards you.
    • If the horse is not up to your standards, or you do not feel comfortable that it is the perfect one, then look elsewhere.
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    After you are positive that the horse is perfect for you, confirm about the price of the horse. You may have to barter a bit with the seller if the horse is priced too high or low priced for what it's worth. Don't over-guess the price either, as since this is your first horse, you will be less familiar with how much a good horse should go for than the owner or your riding instructor will be.
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    Take the horse home and put him in his new paddock with fresh water, hay and/or grass.
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    You may want to put him in the round pen or something similar and give him a good bit of exercise after all this. This is a time to join-up with him/her and establish your dominance (since, after all, this is your place, not his/hers), and give him a sense of "migration" from his old home to his new home, just like what wild horse herds would do when they had to move from an old grazing an area to another a fair distance away. Don't work it too hard, as this could increase the stress level for the horse and cause it to go off-feed.
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    Leave him be for a day or more until [s]he gets totally settled in. Each horse has their own time and levels of coping with the stress of leaving their own home and getting used to their new one. Your horse may only take a day to settle in, or [s]he may take a couple weeks.
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    Contact your local large animal equestrian vet and/or the owner if your horse suddenly goes down with colic or goes off feed.
    • Your vet's number should be on speed-dial no matter what in the first place.


  • Don't rush into buying the first horse you come across. You could end up paying for a horse that's too green for you to ride or even work with.
  • Geldings are often the best horses to get for a novice like you. This is because they don't have the spikes and dips in hormone levels like you would get with mares and stallions.
    • Mares have estrus periods where they can get a bit cranky and mischievous, possibly causing injury to you or damage to equipment. Some mares are more sassy and cranky during their estrus periods than others, but all the same, it's best to know what you're getting into when deciding whether to get a gelding or a mare.
  • Horses are naturally herd animals, so it may be worth while to think about purchasing an additional horse or pony to keep it company 24/7. Make sure the companion horse you're getting matches the energy level and personality of the one you just bought.
  • If you can't afford your dream horse try to negotiate with the owner to have it on a share or loan.
  • Don't get disappointed if you can't find your dream horse on the first day you start looking. Just like with looking for the perfect dog or cat, it takes time to find your perfect horse.
    • Also remember that your dream horse is often the horse that you raise properly. A horse can turn into a nasty critter if you misunderstand his behaviors, mistreat him, or even spoil him too much, letting him be the boss of you and not vice versa! A good horse is one that will listen to you, obey you, be submissive towards you, and that you understand.
      • Read up on good horse behaviour books like that written by Monty Roberts, or even those written by horse veterinarians before you get your horse. If you are new to horse language, it's best to learn about it first than deal with it when you get your first horse.


  • Green horses are ones to stay away from, unless you want to keep them as lawn ornaments instead of uses for leisurely riding activities.
  • Avoid getting a wild mustang too, as these horses are only for more experienced horse riders to handle and work with.
  • Avoid hot-blooded horses like Thoroughbreds and Arabians, if at all possible.
  • NEVER buy a stallion. Stallions tend to be more dangerous and much harder to handle than a gelding or a mare, even if they are well-behaved.
  • Don't ride the horse the first few days or weeks that it came home since he doesn't know you nor you him.
    • Put him on a lunge line for the first while to give him exercise and to get him used to you. Grooming will also help with the socializing process between you and him.

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Categories: Buying and Owning a Horse