Posted: 28th July 2020 | Back to news feed

Buying a horse is a big commitment and whether you are an experienced rider looking for your next budding superstar or are new to horse ownership and are looking to buy your first horse, finding the right horse for you can be difficult.

Getting it wrong can be both costly and emotionally draining as the new owner is forced to sell the horse, which could be for less than they originally paid and heart-breaking if you have already fallen in love with a horse that is totally unsuitable for your needs or ability.

Event rider and trainer, Harriet Morris-Baumber, is often called upon to accompany clients to look at a potential new horse and will even hop on board to get a feel for the horse herself.


Here Harriet offers advice on the important things to consider when buying a new horse:

Get a second opinion - Always take someone with you, so you can discuss your thoughts together afterwards. Record a video of both you and the vendor riding, as the camera never lies! The horse may have felt completely different to how it looks so having a video to refer back to will be very helpful.

How does he feel?  It can be very easy to get carried away with how the horse looks but if the feel isn’t what you were wanting, it might not be the right horse for you. Do you feel safe? This sounds like a silly question but if you don't feel safe on a horse, it doesn’t matter how amazing it jumps or how extravagant its medium trot might be.

Play to your strengths as a rider - It’s very easy to get sucked into to thinking ‘I can learn to ride this horse’ or ‘my friend can ride it well so I must be able to’. Always go with what suits your own natural abilities. Not everyone can ride every horse and if you only have one horse, it’s important that it ticks as many boxes as possible.

Temperament - The horse’s temperament will never change. You can train a horse to jump narrow fences, or to do a better dressage test but in order to do that the horse has to have a willing attitude.

Daily routine and facilities - A horse’s management routine can have a vast impact on how settled it will be so find out exactly what the horse’s routine is and if this will fit in with your routine and facilities. Does this horse require turnout every day? Does it live out?  If its routine is considerably different to what you can offer, think carefully before taking the plunge.

Age and experience – The age and experience of both the horse and rider is important. If an inexperienced rider makes an error on an experienced horse, the horse will probably help the rider out, but if the horse relies on the rider for reassurance and confidence it’s more likely to progress better with a more experienced jockey. However, some young horses have such a fantastic attitude and are wise beyond their years so consider the strengths and weaknesses of each horse as an individual.

Help and support - Do you have a regular trainer who could guide you and help out if things don’t go to plan? Buying a younger horse with less experience combined with a less experienced jockey may be fine if there is an experienced person around to offer advice and help. Think of it like learning a language from someone who is fluent rather than someone who is only just beginning to speak it themselves.

Beware of the ‘project horse’ - There may be a genuine reason for a horse not being fully educated and developed but generally there is good reason why a horse has not been able to fulfil its potential and is being sold as a project. It may be because it physically cannot do what is asked of it due to weakness or discomfort, it may be it has a rotten attitude that stops it from performing to its best. Either way, ask lots of questions and have your eyes wide open and be on high alert.

Some riders like the idea of a challenge. They like the idea of turning a horse around but the true challenge should be ‘Can I get 5% more marks in the dressage?’ or ‘Can I jump a clear round time after time?’ rather than ‘Will I make it round the course at all?’ or ‘How will I survive the collecting ring with my naughty horse?’

“If in doubt, always ask an experienced professional who you trust, someone that will be there to help you once you’ve bought the horse. If possible take this person with you to see the horse, as they can offer their opinion on all aspects.

“Where possible get this person to ride the horse too, then you get to see the horse being ridden by someone other than the vendor, and they will be able to feel what the horse’s strengths and weaknesses are and give you feedback on its potential suitability.” advises Harriet.

Harriet is available for dressage, show-jumping and cross-country lessons at her base near York.  

To find out more call Harriet on (07795) 562745 or visit    

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