How to Test a Horse

So you've found the horse of your dreams and are ready to take him home! But there's one last thing you need to do -- you need to test him! What do you do? What if he's not the right horse after all?...


  1. Image titled Test a Horse Step 1
    The first step is to look at the conformation of your horse. Even if you've already looked him over, look him over again. See that there are no flaws that would decrease his ability to be ridden and might harm him in the long run.
  2. Image titled Test a Horse Step 2
    Have the owner show you his tack. Ask him/her to tell you about any special care the tack might require. Have the owner put the tack on him while you observe to make sure that the horse has no bad habits such as biting or stamping.
  3. Image titled Test a Horse Step 3
    Have the owner get on the horse and ride him around a bit. Watch and see if the horse is lame or has any eq. flaws (head held too high, high-stepping, etc.) Have the owner tell you as much about the horse's riding style as they can.
  4. Image titled Test a Horse Step 4
    When this is all done, you can ride the horse. Make sure that your position and riding is normal for you and that you are not just trying to impress the current owner. If you buy this horse, he will have to get used to how you ride. If the owner has given you any tips, make sure you follow them.
  5. Image titled Test a Horse Step 5
    Test the horse at all paces, including extended and collected strides. If you wish, have a low jump or two... nothing too high. You will need to get used to his jump style and speed, so keep it simple.
  6. Image titled Test a Horse Step 6
    Have the owner take the tack off and groom the horse. Again, you should observe and make sure that there are no bad habits the horse has.
  7. Image titled Test a Horse Step 7
    Make your decision! If you feel that this is the right horse for you, take him.


  • Before you buy, have a vet look the horse over. If they have any internal problems, ask the vet what you can do about them. Also inquire to the owner about what sort of medicine the horse was taking for them.
  • Ride the horse as you would normally ride, but use some common sense. If the horse you would normally ride is very lazy and needs a good kick, this horse may not be the same. See what the horse does before you begin (this is why it is recommended the owner ride first.)
  • If there's a problem don't be afraid to walk away.
  • No horse has perfect conformation, but there is a general guide you can use. A horse with good conformation should fit into a "box". They should have a strong neck, back, and hindquarters, with graceful legs and a head that is the right size.
  • If possible, observe the horse in his stall, before and after you ride. Make sure that he has no bad stall habits like cribbing. These habits can be potentially very dangerous and can be so deeply ingrained that there is no getting rid of them.


  • Never try to impress the current owners by riding very stiffly and at your absolute best. Most people can tell if you are, and the minute you make a tiny mistake you will feel embarrassed. Also, the horse has to get used to your style, so start early.
  • If the horse's tack requires any special care, make sure that you keep to that routine.
  • Never buy a horse with a very ingrained bad habit. Even if it looks like it can be fixed, it might not be able to be and then you'll be in trouble.

Article Info

Categories: Buying and Owning a Horse