The all important questions to ask when searching for your dream horse Part 2

In the first part of our series we looked at some of the many considerations involved in electing to purchase a new horse. Once you're committed to pushing forward, the search is officially on. It's time to find the perfect horse for you. However, be ready to be EXTREMELY PATIENT. Be prepared to look at so many horses that you have to take a break from your search. It's critical that you never allow anyone to push you into making a rushed purchase. If someone tells you only have 3 days to try the horse before you must tender an offer, take a pass. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for horses to be so seriously drugged when they are sent to a potential buyer to try out that it takes a month for the drugs to completely wear off.


To help you make the right decision we have prepared some of the essential questions you should ask when looking at a potential new horse.


Questions for the horse's current owner:

1. How long have you owned this horse?
2. What is your the reason for selling?

3. Why did you choose this horse when you originally bought him/her?

4. Where did you buy him?

5. Does he have any bad habits?

6. What are his good points?

7. What are his bad points?

8. Does he have any issues with being handled on the ground?

9. Are they registered with a breed society (for pure bred horses)?

10. Has the horse ever been leased out? If so, how did this go and why did it end?
11. How well does the horse load into a trailer?
12. Is the horse suited to both ring work and trail riding? (Regardless of the discipline you ride, taking your horse out on the trail is a good way to break up the routine and prevent your horse from becoming "ring sour.")


Get Details about the Horse's Behavior Under Saddle.

12. What type and level of rider does this horse need?
13. How often is the horse ridden?
14. When was the horse last ridden?
15. Have they been shown or competed in their trained discipline?

16. What sort of results does the horse usually achieve?

17. How do they behave at shows?
18. Are they safe in traffic?
19. Has the horse ever bucked, bolted or reared?
20. What type of bridle, noseband and bit do you use to ride?
21. Does the horse go out alone and in company?
22. Have they been professionally trained?
23. Does the horse have any training issues?
24. Do they have any issues under saddle e.g. not standing to mount?
25. Do they require any special tack?

26. Do you take them trail riding and how do they react to changes in environment?

27. Is the horse spooky when ridden?

28. Does the horse jump show jumps and natural obstacles? (If you are looking for a jumper)

29. Does the horse respond quickly to aids?

30. Do you need to ride with whip/spurs?

31. Does the horse understand advanced maneuvers in your chosen discipline? i.e., Pirouette or Piaffe in dressage, bounce jumps or roll backs when jumping, etc.


Ask About the Horse's General Health

32. What is the general health of the horse?

33. Has the horse ever sustained an injury?
34. Has the horse had any serious illnesses, surgery or conditions?
35. Have you ever had the horse vetted? If so what was the outcome?
36. Which vaccinations has the horse had and is he/she up to date?
37. Is the horse regularly dewormed? When he/she was last dewormed and which product did you use?
38. When did the horse last see the vet and why?
39. Which Veterinarian do you use?
40. Has your horse ever had colic?
41. Are there any ongoing or unexplored health concerns?
42. Is the horse insured? Have you ever needed to make a claim?

43. Is the horse on any ongoing medication?

44. Does the horse have any non medicinal supplements?

45. Has the horse been seen by a dentist regularly?
46. Does the horse crib or require any ulcer medications?


Discuss the Horse's Current Feed Regimen

47. What feed is the horse currently on?
48. Does the horse maintain weight well easily? Is he an "Easy Keeper?"
49. How often is the horse fed?
50. What is the horse's current feeding routine?
51. Is the horse turned out to pasture?
52. How much forage do they eat and what type?
53. How is their forage fed? Soaked? Nets? On the ground?
54. Do they have any issues with particular feeds?


Ask About Routine Horse Care & Maintenance.

55. Is the horse turned out to pasture. How often are they placed in a stall?
56. Does the horse get along with other horses?
57. Does the horse wear blankets?
58. Does the horse have any bad habits in the stall?
59. Have they ever been clipped?
60. Are they easy to bathe?
61. Is the horse allergic to anything?
62. Is the horse contented when groomed? Does it have any especially sensitive areas?
63. Does the horse tie quietly?

64. How does the horse react to changes in its surroundings?

65. If the horse is a mare, does its behavior change dramatically during estrus?

66. Does the horse behave properly when lead?

67. Does the horse lift its feet to be cleaned, obediently, when asked?


Drill Down On Questions About The Horse's Manners & Behaviors.

It is important to ensure a horse is quiet when having his feet trimmed and/or shoed.

68. Does the horse load easily?
69. What types of trailers has the horse been in, and do they travel easily?
70. Is the horse easy to catch??
71. Has the horse been lunged regularly? Do they lunge easily?
72. Have they done any Natural Horsemanship training?
73. What, if any, aspects of the horse's training need improvement?
74. Does the horse graze alone or with others?

75. Is the horse happy with mares, geldings, youngsters and older horses?

76. Is the horse herd bound?
77. Does anything make your horse anxious?

Hoof Care

78. Does the horse behave around the farrier?
79. Does the horse wear shoes or do you just trim his feet?
80. Have they ever required corrective shoeing?
81. If they are barefoot how often are their hooves trimmed?
82. Has the horse ever had laminitis?
83. Has the horse ever been lame?
84. Are their feet prone to cracking?

85. How often does the horse see the farrier?

86. Who is the current farrier?

85. Do you use any products on the hooves such as moisturizer or supplements for growth such as Farrier's Formula?


After you've asked all these questions, tried the horse for at least one month and have elected to go forward with making a purchase, it is highly recommended that you invest in a pre-purchase exam. Ask your veterinarian about details regarding this process, specifically about costs for an all inclusive exam that includes x-rays of all four legs.

Once you decide a horse is right for you and have made the decision to go ahead with the purchase, continue to visit us here for more great advice on horse health care, welfare and training.

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons