First time horse buyer - questions to ask at viewing and important things to check?

15 August 2017
I am very excitedly going to purchase my first horse in the next few months (depending on what pops up) and I'm going to view my first 2 this Sunday. Unfortunately I'll be the only horsey one attending (non-horsey parents and other half are tagging along) which means it all rests on my own judgement. I do have two friends checking horse ads for me and suggesting what they think sounds good and will of course give their own opinions, along with an instructor that is happy to chat to me about things. Just wondering what kind of things should I ask, and what kind of things should be done during the viewing.


Well-Known Member
25 November 2005
Ask every question, no matter how mundane, because if the seller misses something out there may be a reason - good to catch, shoe, groom, clip, good manners in the stable, hack out alone and in company, does it bite, kick, crib-bite, weave. Good to load and travel. Ever buck or rear, nappy. Sweet itch in summer? Good with farrier and what about the dentist. Traffic - tractors, lorries, bikes, dogs. Can it be ridden in open countryside safely.

Does the seller think the horse is suitable for you? Ask what it has done.

Every horse has some fault so ask what it is. Depends on what you can live with.

An occasional buck - how occasional?

Have it vetted, tell the vet what you want to do with it and would it be sensible. Take bloods.

Have the seller ride the horse first and buyer beware. They can't tell you a direct lie, but they can omit to tell the whole story.

I think a lot of people buy a horse and then say, it was much greener than they realised when they bought it!

Good luck. Have your eyes wide open!


Well-Known Member
9 October 2014
Refusing To Defer To The More Popular HHO Posters
Wear a mask, use hand sanitiser, and wherever possible remain at least two metres away from other people.

Note where the horse is when you first arrive, and pay attention to its behaviour. Is it in the field, or has it already been brought in? Does it appear stressed or dehydrated? Look out for any signs of chewed fencing or doors, etc. Does it appear well mannered around the gate and/or the stable door?

Don't handle or ride the horse until you've seen the seller or their representative do so first.

Ask if the horse is microchipped and passported.

Check whether the seller's name is recorded on the horse's passport as the current owner.

Check whether or not the horse's vaccinations are up to date - this will also be in the passport.

Ask if the horse has any existing health issues, allergies/intolerances, injuries, fears, quirks, tricks, vices, or failings.

Ask how the horse behaves for the vet/farrier/dentist/physio/saddle fitter.

Ask how the horse behaves when being groomed/bathed/clipped, etc.

Ask how the horse is to rug/tack up.

Ask how the horse is to catch in/turn out/lead in hand.

Ask how the horse behaves when stabled. Is it safe to turn your back on it when mucking out/hanging up hay nets, and so on?

Ask how the horse behaves when at grass. Does it respect fencing? Can it be turned safely out on the sort of grazing that you will have access to?

Ask what the horse's current routine is. What is it fed, and how much daily turn out and/or work is it used to? Is it kept alone, or in company?

Ask how the horse is to load and travel.

Ask how the horse is to hack out alone and in company.

Ask how the horse behaves when away from home for competing and/or training.

Again, don't handle or ride the horse until you've seen the seller or their representative do so first.


Well-Known Member
27 August 2020
I'm viewing horses at the moment too. My biggest piece of advice is don't impulse buy or feel pressured to put a deposit down. I need a good 24 hours after a viewing to digest all of the information and my experience with the horse, in order to make an informed decision as to whether proceed or not with another viewing/deposit/vetting etc.

It's true that in this mad market, you may end up missing out on a horse by not pouncing right away, but I'd rather miss out than make the very expensive mistake of buying an unsuitable horse that needs to be sold later.

Putting out a wanted ad is also a good idea - you might find someone looking to sell who hasn't advertised.

Good luck with your search!


Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
I agree with all the above . But Do not rush your choice and get a vetting. Check for signs to see if the horse has already been worked ie coolers on. Wet patches, tack marks when they bring the saddle pad out check if it’s wet, also if they get it off a horse Walker and say it’s just warmed up etc . I also always arrive early that’s mainly because I have a think about being late but it’s caught a few people off guard ie. horse being lunged etc
Good luck !
28 December 2020
If you are the only horsey person viewing then get someone to take videos of you riding, the owner riding (from all angles). Get the horse trotted up and get this videoed too. You can then look back on the footage when you’re home and also show to a few experienced friends. Good luck


Well-Known Member
30 December 2005
West Sussex
I really do not think it is a good idea to go horse hunting without another horsey person, and preferably one who has a lot of experience with horses. My only advice would be that, however wonderful any horses you go to see effectively on your own may seem, don’t actually commit to one without going back with your instructor or similar.

That said, how exciting and good luck!


Well-Known Member
27 July 2010
Before you even view, google name of person, name of horse, phone number, address and do a bit of FB stalking, this is to check the seller's and the horse's history. If it has a competition name, its competition record, if it by a certain sire you can usually check progeny.
We all make mistakes, I often forget how old something is past four, but the passport is a key document, you should have a full life history, if its had vaccinations where were they done, and does it match up to the history you have been given. Ask open questions, and let them tell the story, and does it add up? I have turned up to a viewing the pony didn't match the description in the ad, with no passport, another a racing yard a few years ago, no passport. No matter what they say, it's in the post, it will be here next week, walk away.
Even if you are nervous, pretend like you buy six a week, and even if you take a 'friend', devise a strategy, who asks the questions and who checks things you can see.
If possible catch it and tack it your self. I actually like buyers to do this so I can check they are competent.
15 August 2017
Just to update everyone - One of the horses I was meant to be seeing was sold the day before I was meant to be seeing it which was a bit disappointing. Still, made the 2 and a bit hour drive to Kent to see a lovely tb. Horsey friend decided to get trains from Cambridge to come and view horse with me, I'm glad she did! Not 100% sure about him but took your advice and asked plenty of questions. Few things don't add up so bit suspicious unfortunately!! Thank you :)


Well-Known Member
28 August 2018
Having sat on both sides of this fence numerous times (as a buyer and seller), here is my practical advice:
- Ask all your questions on the phone, you'll save yourself a wasted journey. You can always confirm the answers to those questions if you go and see the horse.
- Do your research BEFORE you go and see the horse. If it's a TB, look up it's racing form (if raced) and contact trainers. Contact breeders, previous owners, look up competition history...just do your due diligence. Nothing worse than falling in love with a horse to find out there is something sticky in it's history.
- Do not take your first ride as your answer - trying a horse is such a stupid way to commit so much £££ but there is no way around it sadly. So when you first get on, take a breath, head to the other end of the arena and spend 10 minutes in walk - allow the horse to acclimatise to you and vice versa. We expect such a lot from horses with a brand new rider on their back who is probably feeling the pressure of having all on eyes on them. I tried a horse and hit the deck monumentally within the first ten minutes - that horse was the best horse I ever owned.
- Take someone with you who knows what they are doing - even if it means paying an instructor or agent. You need a second opinion, don't make the decision alone.
- Make sure you do what you want to do with the horse and don't let the vendor dictate what you do (within reason, obviously). If you want to do five more minutes on the flat, do that. I always ask if I can hack the opposite way to whichever way they suggest - just to see if the horse keeps thinking forward.
- Vettings are a fact finding mission and nothing else. I personally don't get ' a vetting'. My vet goes in and just checks eyes, heart and breathing. Trots up in a straight line and SOFT lunge. I don't flex or lunge on the hard because you can make any horse lame doing that. You'll likely have seen the posts on social media for the 'CVs' of horses who have catastrophically failed vettings and gone on to be hugely successful. The best horses I've had have all failed vettings, so as much as they are useful, you have to be realistic with them.
- If you get a 'feeling' - good or bad...go with it. Trust your gut, if everything seems perfect but you have a bad feeling... walk away.
- Always, always, always keep the seller in the loop. If you're interested, tell them. If you're not, tell them. They won't mind, but they'd rather know!
- Don't trust anyone - that sounds brutal, but seriously, don't. There are SO MANY dishonest people out there, and they ruin it for all the lovely honest sellers but you have to walk in with your eyes wide open.

Best of luck!


Well-Known Member
29 May 2010
Video everything. Ask on facebook stalk the hell out the horse and owner before you buy it.
Do not be pressured to put a deposit down. Do not believe anything you are told by who are are buying off stalk.
Dealers love to put up posts of horses looking brilliant and then they are terrible when you go see them or the best one they do is "sorry the one you came to look at sold but we have another one not quite as big but I am sure it will suit you" Out comes a much smaller skinny poor looking animal.
You probably wont realise they are dealers either so get yourself on facebook groups and ask you will be surprised what messages you get.
Where are you btw maybe someone on here might be able to come with you to help.
Dealers love novices.
If its a much loved horse someone is selling they will be asking you more questions than you are asking them. If its a dealer or agent they just wont care.