Buying a Horse as a Beginner

by | Apr 22, 2011

Are you getting into horses for the first time?

Searching for your first horse?

Need some beginner advice?

Here are a few tips!

1. Start by leasing a horse and taking lessons. If you don’t know the first thing about being around horses this is the most important thing that you can do to educate yourself. It will give you the perfect opportunity to learn how to handle them safely on the ground and how to ride correctly. Doing this will also help you decide if you really want your own horse. Remember, horses take a lot of time, dedication, and money.

2. Never start with a baby horse. This is extremely important! There are too many ways a baby horse can go wrong with a beginner owner, such as aggressive behavior. Remember, a baby horse turns into a full grown, thousand pound animal in a short amount of time, especially for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. This can become very dangerous very fast, horse kicks and bites do not feel good. Neither does getting run over or thrown off. Breaking out a spoiled, bratty horse takes a lot more time and knowledge than a horse who has been taught manners and boundaries. So, please leave the babies to the professionals.

3. Don’t buy a mustang straight from BLM land. Mustangs that come right off the range are frightened and confused horses who need a confident leader, not a beginner. Remember, any horse can learn bad habits, mustangs included. They also take even more time and dedication than a horse who is born in a domestic environment.

4. Never start out with a rescue horse. This is by far one of the worst beginner mistakes, one that leads to serious accidents. Rescue horses often take the most amount of time and effort, more than even a baby or a mustang. This is because not only do you have to start all over at the beginning with them, but you also have to erase all of the bad memories and naughty habits they will have. A rescue horse, more than anything, needs a strong, confident, and knowledgeable leader and not someone who is learning for the first time.

5. Do your research! What kind of horse will fit your needs the best? A beginner horse person should always choose an older horse, older than ten years old. Remember, a ten year old horse in good health still has a lot of good years left. There are most definitely certain breeds a beginner should avoid, such as Arabians, Warmbloods, and Thoroughbreds. These breeds tend to have lots of excess energy and become nervous very easily. A breed I like for beginners is the Quarter Horse. If you are older and just getting into horses, why not consider a Missouri Fox Trotter? This breed has very smooth gaits and will give you a nice, comfortable ride. Last, but not least, don’t forget to factor in size. If you are a bigger person, get a bigger horse. If you are a smaller person go for a smaller horse, you will be better off in the long run.

6. Always take an experienced horse person with you to help evaluate both the horse and the seller. It is very important to pay attention to the seller’s attitude too and not just the horse’s attitude. Ask the seller why they are selling the horse. If they won’t give you a straight, honest sounding answer, they are probably trying to hide something. They could be hiding the fact that the horse is actually psycho and that’s why they are getting rid of it, or maybe it has navicular. Remember, there are plenty of horses out there so don’t waste your time on the ones that don’t fit the bill.

7. Always have a vet check done on the horse before agreeing to buy it. Believe me, it is worth spending a couple hundred bucks to get a clean bill of health than to buy a horse and end up spending an arm and a leg on medical/vet bills.

8. Always make sure you can take the horse for a two week trial period. Remember, a vet check can give you a clean bill of health, but it can’t tell you if the horse is sound of mind. So make sure you can bring it home or to your boarding stable to see how it reacts in a different environment.

9. Be prepared to spend a good chunk of money on your first horse. A $300 horse could end up costing you a lot more money down the road in medical bills if you get hurt. Remember, horses are an expensive hobby, not a cheap toy. So if you are going to take the time to get into horses, suck it up and spend the money right off the bat, for your own safety. For many people horses are a luxury, so if you can’t afford to buy one, you probably won’t be able to afford the proper care that it will need over its lifetime. Oftentimes, the overall expense is not in the initial purchase of the horse, but in the years that follow. Think farrier, teeth floating, vaccinations, etc. Please, make sure that if you get a horse it will receive all of the proper care.


  1. horserider

    Thanks for the story of your experience Beth! There are always exceptions. It sounds like you were fortunate to have good help and a young horse with a wonderful temperament.

  2. horserider

    Karen – so, so true!!

  3. horserider

    Thank you for your comment Iris. I meant younger Arabians or young horses in general. You are right about older Arabians, I’ve actually recently met some nice older Arabians I’d recommend for a beginner.

  4. Beth

    Great advice. I broke almost all those rules three years ago by getting an 18 month old rescue. I have put a lot of money into her, and fortunately have had the right people at the right time come into her life. They are always amazed that she is the perfect first horse. Smart, sweet and loves people. But it was totally dumb luck, and would never go about it that way again. I will be passing your article on to others looking to get their first horse.

  5. Karen Clark

    Great advice! Too many people make too many mistakes and then as a riding instructor and trainer, I just may not want to step into the problems… the horse is then sold or given away and our industry loses a family of riders and they take with them an incorrect opinion on horse ownership!

  6. Iris Peppers

    Very nicely written. My only disappointment in it is the statement that Arabians should be avoided! Older Arabians can be wonderful first horses for someone and shouldn’t be ostracized because they are “Arabians”. Any breed of horse can “have excess energy” including Quarter Horses! Just saying! It depends on the horse as they are individuals!

  7. Alexa

    Thank you for these wonderful facts about buying a horse! I’m going to be boarding mine too… I reeeally need a list of supplies that I NEED to begin with a horse like halter, lead rope, brushes, ect…. thanks!

  8. horserider

    Thank you Noble and good luck to you and your upcoming horse adventures! 🙂


  9. Noble

    Thank you for the insight! I recently found opportunities in upcountry for leasing horses. Before that I never knew such a thing existed. This post on Buying a Horse as a Beginner is very helpful, thank you for writing it.

    All the best to you!

    Mahalo & Aloha,