1. Decide What You Need
Before you start looking for a horse, be clear how you will use it and the type and temperament you require. Be honest with yourself about your ability and how much time you have to invest in the horse. Many people make the mistake of buying a horse that is too much for them. A novice rider can rapidly run into problems with a horse that needs more schooling, is highly strung or needs more exercise than the purchaser has time to give. Sometimes an older schoolmaster type would be better, however much you want a four-year-old. Do consider what you can afford, taking into account any equipment you will also need to purchase. Those items add up. Once you have decided on what you need, do not be talked into a horse that does not meet these requirements. Be led by your head, not your heart or the pressure of the moment. After all, you may need to live with this decision for 20-30 years.
2. Never Buy Unseen
Online shopping is a fast and convenient way to buy many things, but a horse is not one of them. We are aware of many problems with internet sales, so always try before you buy. We have seen a case of a parrot mouthed Shire going through three owners, all of whom bought him unseen off a website run by a dealer. Unscrupulous dealers will sell horses based on false descriptions and it can be almost impossible to get your money back. Going to see and try the horse may be more effort in the beginning, but you have a much better chance of getting the right horse and being happy with your purchase.
3. Bring An Experienced Horse Person With You
A second opinion from a trusted, experienced horse person can help make the big decision easier. S/he can judge the horse objectively and ask questions that might not occur to you. S/he can also help you handle any overly aggressive sellers. They can also watch you – or even film you – doing a ridden assessment of the horse which will give you a better perspective.