Over the next week, I plan to do a series of posts on horse buying and selling. This first one will cover where to look for a horse, the pros and cons of buying privately vs. at a sale and what to expect in prices. In the following posts, I will go over what to look for in a horse, red flags to watch out for, the typical paperwork involved with an equine purchase, and for those who need to sell their horse, a special post on marketing and preparing your horse for sale. If you think of another buying/selling issue that I should cover in this series, just leave a comment!
So, where is the best place to begin your horse search? I recommend starting online, this way you can get a feel for the prices in your area and how well-bred or well-trained horse you will find in your price range. My favorite sites are www.dreamhorse.com, www.equine.com, and craigslist, though there are many, many horse and pony classified sites out there.
After you have done some online browsing, start spreading the work that you are looking, tell your horsey friends and ask them to spread the word. You will find that people are often very eager to help with this and if you find a horse through someone you know the chances are higher that honest and full truth on that horse.
That brings us to the next topic, where and from whom to buy. Generally, your options for purchasing a horse are at an auction, from a private seller, or from a dealer. At an auction, you will get little or no history on the horses, and what you do hear, don’t trust. Auctions are buyer beware, and you will probably have little opportunity to see the horse go or try riding him. However, this is definitely the cheapest way to buy a horse. I only recommend auctions if someone is experienced and is willing to buy a horse, try him at home, and send him back if necessary. If you are the type to get very attached right away, you may get stuck with a lame or unsuitable horse. On the other hand, a private seller has owned the horse for some amount of time and this is where you will get the most information and history on the horse. You are also likely to pay the highest price when purchasing from a private seller. The last option is to buy from a dealer. Dealers often have picked up the horse cheap either at an auction for from someone who needed quick money, rode them a few times, and are now reselling. While they may make it sound otherwise, dealers do not know about the horse besides how he did when they rode him. Dealers will often let you “return” the horse but only in exchange for another horse that they have. I am also very cautious when buying from dealers, and if you are a novice, take someone more experienced to help you.
There is actually one other option, and that is buying from a trainer that is selling a horse on commission. As long as the trainer is reputable, this can be a good option, because they typically know the seller, and have more history on the horse even if they themselves have not had the horse very long.
Next post on what to look for in a horse- evaluating temperament, soundness, and suitability, so sign up for feedburner or check back soon!