Horse Shopping Tips & Etiquette

Horse shopping is stressful! It’s a big financial commitment that’s more than just purchasing a car, because there’s even more to owning a horse than just the buying process. I was able to talk to three industry professionals for their tips on how to be better prepared to purchase your next horse, as well as how to be a better shopper.

Here are some shopping tips from Candy & Bret Parrish, Lora Whittington, and Ruth Ellen:

  • No question is a dumb question. If you ask a question and the agent or trainer, whoever is representing the horse, doesn’t give you a straightforward answer, it would be time for your red flag to go up.
  • If you look at the price range where you can absolutely not go, you’re never going to find the horse that suits you in the price range that you can afford. So I always tell people that I need to look for horses in their budget, that’s how they find something.
  • Deal with people that you know are looking out for YOUR best interest.
  • Understand that spending a little more up front in your horse investment can be a wise decision. It costs the same amount to take care of, train, show, etc. a high quality horse as it does a horse of lower quality. Buy the best horse you can for you budget; don’t settle for a horse just because it may be less expensive.
  • Show some common courtesy. It will not only earn you respect in the industry; those you treat well will support you in the search for your perfect horse. Return calls and messages. If you’ve asked someone to accommodate your specific requests, only to determine the horse is not a good fit, let the seller know and thank them for their time. They will remember you when the right one comes along!
  • Don’t get hung up on age – Olympic caliber mounts don’t start getting good until they’re about 12 years old. It is my experience that if a horse is still sound at age 10, there’s no reason to think he won’t be for many years to come. Yes, he may require some maintenance, but if you need a horse with miles, it’s a small price to pay for your safety and success.
  • Be ethical! A large percentage of show horses are represented by trainers and agents. These are trust professionals hired by the owners to manage the sale of their horse. Circumventing the listed contact seldom proves beneficial and is often embarrassing.
  • Don’t set unrealistic expectations—every horse will have his flaw or slight issue, and no horse is perfect.


For more tips and advice, read my article on So, You’re Buying a Horse...


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