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What to ask when buying a horse?-Must-read guide before purchasing a horse!

After years and years of just dreaming about riding a mighty stallion through the open fields at dusk, with that gentle breeze just crooning into your ears and drifting you into a world unlike any other, From those juvenile fantasies of racing your best mate across the land with your Arabian horse galloping like there is no tomorrow, almost everyone of us have been at a point in life where we’ve wanted to buy a horse of our own. Do you know what to ask when buying a horse?

What to ask when buying a horse?

But buying and caring for a horse is no walk in the park. It requires a great amount of time, energy and a whole lot of money. Many people think that a horse is just like your neighbor’s dog Timmy. Mark my word, the maintenance of any traditional pet is nothing compared to the workload of caring for an equine. The job comes with a vast amount of responsibilities and commitments to be made.

So we have set out a buying a horse checklist list that is absolutely essential for when buying your first horse. However, since this is not a simple matter of buying another pet, we highly recommend that get in touch with an equine expert before doing anything else.

  1. The Horse – Genetics and upbringing
  2. Equine law firm
  3. Nutrition
  4. The stable
  5. Tech and equipment needed
  6. Horse health and maintenance
  7. Checklist before actually buying

The Horse – Genetics and upbringing

The first thing you would want to look into is what type of horse you are to buy. Now, this is a vital aspect to look into if you are a noobie to the subject of horses. Horses are generally bought In Sri Lanka for either breeding or professional racing. There are 3 types of horses to look into. Stallion (male horses), Mares (female horses) or a Gelding (a castrated male horse)

Young Stallions are great horses for racing. However, they are not the type you’d want to keep in your free land or small farm for leisure rides. Stallions are naturally social animals. But that is in the wild, not in your home garden. Based on the genetics, breeding and the training received each stallion may be different from each other. They usually showcase aggressive behavior towards other horses and human handlers. They tend to bite and kick anyone that invades their privacy or seems to post any sort of threat to them.

Trust us; you do not want to be at the receiving end of those shoes. Even when it comes to behavior, each horse is different from one another. One might be very calm while around water and another might cause havoc if they come near water or at least see someone else using water. We would not recommend a stallion if this is going to be your first time around any horse. They are only for the experts and people that are serious about horses.

More about genetics and upbringing…

Mares are the exact opposite of stallions. They are generally very calm and quiet. If you are looking for a riding horse, mares would make lovely companions indeed. They are naturally light-headed and easy to be around, making them ideal for a person buying a horse for the first time. Much like the mares, geldings make great companions as well. A gelding is a castrated male horse, therefore they are generally easier to ride with other horses and take care of.

What to ask when buying a horse?

Whatever the breed, training is a very important aspect to a horse, especially if you are new to them. Horses are brought up in different ways according to the different ideologies of their owners. “Natural”, “herd” or “pasture” are the commons forms of management used by horse trainers. Each method instills different qualities and attitudes within the horse. So it is very important that you get a proper understanding of how your horse was brought up and post it to an expert for further clarification. So it’s very important to get the background of the horse first.

The breed of the horse matters as well. Just like dogs, horses have been carefully bred with certain characteristics. Breeds like Quarter horses, paints and draft horses are quieter in nature whilst Arabian horses and thoroughbreds are more boisterous. Make sure you pick the right horse which fits your capability, not your preference.

As I mentioned before, the best advice I could give you is to consult an expert for guidance. They are the people who could direct you on the right path for buying the perfect horse for you.

Equine legal solutions

It is always good to have legal backing for when buying your horse. Be it your first time or the 25th time, a legal backing is always good to keep close for any future needs. Equine insurance plans will be very beneficial when it comes to covering emergency medical treatments.  The financial assistance will ease off the unnecessary burden that’ll be upon you and you will be able to focus on your horse.


  • General feed and water

Proper nutrition for your horse is an essential factor to consider when caring for them. A common misconception many people make is thinking that 2 or 3 stacks of grass or hay per day would be sufficient for a horse to keep him full and energized the whole day. This is far from the truth. A young, healthy horse consumes almost up to 15- 20 kilos of grass per day. And that too in very small amounts while grazing over pastured land taking frequent breaks to help with its delicate digestive process. Alongside the meals, it is vital that the horse has access to clean water throughout the day. A horse consumes up to 15 gallons of water every day, and more if fed dry feed such as hay.

  • Proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients

The main source of energy for a horse is the fats and carbohydrates in the food. Proteins help in building the muscles and tissues. Feed like corn, barley, and oats have high amounts of carbohydrates which will provide adequate energy for your horse. Legumes and hay are great sources of protein.   However, one must not overfeed the horse as well. This can lead to it being too dynamic which might make the horse hard to calm down. Consult an equine nutritional specialist if you are not sure about what to feed in what quantities.

Ideally, a horse that is for leisure riding or a horse that is not usually subjected to physical exertion, will have a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals in his body to keep the nutrients balanced. This depends on the quality of the feed. For instance, if the horse is fed with low-quality hay, he/she might need an addition of a specific supplement prescribed by a veterinarian to his daily diet.  This is also applicable if you are constantly feeding your horse with grains. Young horses, however, require a balanced diet including calcium and phosphorus. This is to ensure healthy growth in his/her skeleton.

  • Other Feeds

Other feeds that include the essentials nutrients required for a horse are forages, grains, mixes, and pellets. These will provide your horse with all other nutrients that are essential for its healthy growth apart from the normal feed.

Prior to feeding your horse anything, please be mindful to get the opinion of your veterinarian. The vet knows what to give, what quantities to give and when to give them.

The stable

Like a human would love to live in a comfy home, a horse to appreciates a respectable resting place. Many people may think that a barn in the back yard will be enough for a horse. A passionate horse owner couldn’t disagree more! A horse requires space and a lot of it. So the best option for any new owner is to look for a bedding house or proper boarding facility from the vicinity if they are unable to provide housing on their own. Ideally, it needs to be a half an hour drive from your house so it isn’t a burden for you to visit your horse every day.

Horses need to be kept in what is known as loose boxes or box stalls. Your horse might not like to be in it forever, but it makes caring for them much easier. The recommended floor area is 10’X10′ (3mX3m) to 12’X12′ (3.6mX3.6m) for a normal riding horse. But extra would be appreciated by the horse, the vets and yourself. Make sure that the flooring is done of a comfortable material such as sand or rubber mat. Concrete and stone floors may be hard on the horse’s legs and over time the horse might tend to feel uncomfortable being in the stable.

The ceiling height is also to be considered when selecting the perfect stable. Some stable owners look past this element and have their stable ceiling built just enough not to touch the horse’s head. The standard height for the room needs to be at least 8 feet high. This would prevent causing any harm to your horse if they get a bit excited and try to move about too much.

 Equipment needed

So now you’ve got your horse and you’re ready to hop on its back and ride like the wind? Not so fast cowboy, there is a considerable amount of basic equipment you’ll need to have in hand before proceeding to ride your horse. Some stuff we advise buying beforehand and setting them up prior to bringing down the horse and some, just hold on until you get the horse into your arms.

If you are going to be raising the horse in your home stable itself, it is very important that you get an opinion from an expert prior to bringing in the animal. Your barn may not be the best place for the horse. If you do get the green light to proceed with bringing the horse to your home, you will need equipment from your local tack shop.

  • Feeding and nurturing

Feeding tubs

If you do not own a meadow or have the ability to regularly take your horse to a meadow for grazing, we’d advise you to buy a large tub for feeding. But do occasionally take your horse to a nearby land for some relaxation and grazing.

Water tubs

Horses usually consume up to 15 gallons of water every single day. Make sure to buy tubs that can be cleaned easily. Check for any harmful coating as well.


Make sure to buy the halter after trying it out on your horse. It should not be too tight, nor should it be well loosened up. Your veterinarian will be able to help you out with picking the perfect halter based on your horse’s gender, breed, and age.

Curry comb

his tool is used for daily rubbing down your horse to clean off any accumulated dirt and loosen up the hair. Brush gently in a circular motion and avoid using it on the horse’s legs or head. Daily brushing down your horse will help the skin produce natural oils to keep its coat lubricated

Face brush and body brush

This is a soft-bristled brush used for cleaning out tiny dirt particles and to add a shine to its coat. It is also very soothing to the horse and can be used on the head as well.

Grooming rag

Usually used for wiping down the sweat after riding

Hoof pick

A small metal tool used to clean the hooves of the horse. Some picks include brushes as well. Make sure to thoroughly clean all 4 hooves before and after taking the horse for a ride


Sponges are recommended to use for cleaning the horse’s eyes, lips, nose, and ears.

Fly repellent

Very important to use on your horse under prescribed methods. Diseases such as swamp fever can be avoided with proper use of fly repellent.

  • Riding


Buy your saddle after thoroughly testing it on the horse. Get a profession to try it out. Make sure it fits perfectly and does not cause any harm to your horse.

Saddle blanket

Place this on the back of the horse before placing the saddle


This is attached to the horse’s head and mouth in order to assist in directing the horse while riding. There are many different types of bridles available, so make sure to get the opinion of your veterinarian and buy the one that fits your horse without causing it any harm.


A helmet is a must and for obvious reasons. It’s best to have a helmet on at all times when you first come in contact with your horse. No matter how trained it may be, horses are bound to change behavior according to the human.

  • Barn maintenance

Make sure to buy these tools to make the lengthy barn work as easy as possible.

  • Pitchforks
  • Stable brooms
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Manure Forks

Make sure to have a first aid kit in hand for any emergencies that may occur. It is best to have a list of emergency phone numbers with you at all times as well.

What to ask when buying a horse?

Horse health and maintenance

Now the health and maintenance of your equine are going to be the most important thing to look into and also the most costly thing about buying a horse as well. Unlike other animals, horses need to go about many tests and examinations in order to keep them healthy. And these do not come on a budget. If you buying a horse please make sure you will be able properly to take care of it for the years to come without going into debt.

Below we’ve listed out a few key factors to look into before and after buying your first equine.

  1. An excellent veterinarian

They say “the best health investment in a horse purchase is an excellent veterinarian” and this cannot be truer. Prior to buying your horse, you will need to get in touch with a trustworthy equine veterinarian in your vicinity. You will somewhat become lifelong friends as the vet will be seeing your horse at least twice a month. The veterinarian will be responsible for the monthly shots your horse gets, the blood tests, worming, emergency, and special treatments, etc. Some horse may require acupuncture or chiropractic work as well. The proper diet plans, nutrition, and supplements are also to be prescribed by your vet. So as you can see the veterinarian plays a major role in your horse’s well being. Investing in a trustworthy, experienced equine vet is very important.

  1. Vaccinations

Vaccination is an important part of preventing any potential decreases. They stimulate the horse’s immune system against any infections. The vaccines required to depend on the gender, breed, age, and size of the horse as well as the vicinity you live in. your horse veterinarian will be able to properly advise you on what vaccines you’ll need to get for your horse. Do not take the matter into your hands unless you are a well experienced and trained in equine health. Poor-quality vaccines can be harmful to your horse as each horse reacts differently to the medications they get. Listed below are some vaccinations you might need to look into.


This virus attacks the nervous system of the horse. This is mainly passed on by rabid animals biting the horse or the horse’s blood getting contaminated by the saliva or blood of a rabid animal. The vaccination can be given any time and will provide protection against the deceased.


This is a virus spread by biting mosquitoes and this too affects the nervous system of your equine. It is very dangerous as health reports show that only 10-15 percent of the affected horses survive. Prior to vaccination, consult your veterinarian as to whether the deceased has been reported in your area before.


The flu is one of the most common viruses a horse is likely to get infected by. All horses are required to get the vaccination to prevent any sudden outbreaks.

  1. Parasite control

Usually, while horses graze on pastured land, they are bound to consume parasite eggs from the ground. These can cause intestinal problems like diarrhea and colic. Horses are also bothered by flies and ticks as well. They can create irritating sores on the neck, head, ears, and legs of the horse. Apart from the deceases that can spread due to these parasites, it can also cause upset in the horse as well. This may lead to a bad appetite and failure in growth. Regular deworming treatments and parasite control programs need to be practiced to ensure your horse’s safety and health. Pasture care, manure care, proper grooming, stable cleanliness are all good practices to prevent any parasite related problems.

  1. Dental care

Horse teeth need to be checked at least twice a per. A qualified veterinarian would properly execute the necessary trimming and clipping of any sharp edges or points.

  1. Hoof care

Hoof care is to be carried out as a daily routine. It is vital that you keep the hoof of your horse clean and free from dirt, stones, and other irritating tiny objects. Also check for any discoloring, fetidness and bruising as they may be indications of illnesses.

  1. Pre-purchase tests for horses

Apart from the vaccinations and medications that are required to be done, there are few pre-purchase checkups you’ll need to know about.

  • Coggins test horse

What is it?

This is a test developed in the late 1970s to detect antibodies against horse infectious anemia virus or EIA. This is a very serious viral decease because if the horse is ever infected with the EIA, it remains infected for life. The worst case it might come to is having to “put your horse down” in order to prevent the decease from spreading. The virus is spread through the blood from the affected horse to another, mainly through horseflies and deerflies.

How do I know if my horse has Coggins?

Symptoms of EIA include the following; lethargy, edema, bad appetite, fever, and depression as well. If your horse shows any of the above signs, its best to call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

How long does Coggins test take?

The test usually takes about 24hours completely get it done with. But depending on the state of your horse and age, it might even go on for 2 days. My Best advice would be to check with your veterinarian prior to doing anything.

How much does a horse pre-purchase exam cost?

This actually depends on you how long you can wait and the other medical needs of your horse. In the US a checkup will range from 20 dollars to even a hundred dollars.

What to ask when buying a horse?

Apart from the Coggins test, here are a few more blood tests you might want to consider getting done!

RBC Count 

This is to get the total count of red blood cells in the horse’s blood. A low count indicates anemia, while a high count might be due to dehydration.


Depending on the white blood cell count test, we can get the number of white blood cells circulating the bloodstream. Used to identify inflammation or infections.

Glucose test

to identify the level of glucose in the horse’s bloodstream.

Consult your vet for further tests your horse might need.

Checklist before actually buying

Now that you’ve got a basic overview of what you’ll need to look into about the horse, it now comes down to actually buying the horse. This can be a very tricky thing as horses cost a fortune and not every dealer is going to be your friend. You need to have a thorough understanding of what questions to ask and how to properly check the horse. My best advice here would be to get in touch with a trustworthy professional. He would know a good deal at sight.

Listed below are Horse pre-purchase questions you might want to post on the seller over the phone or in person.

  1. Basics and appearance

– The registered name of the horse

– Gender

– Age

– Height

– Weight

– Breed?

– The health of its legs, hooves, and eyes

– How was it bred?

– Color of the horse

– The horse’s coat condition

– How is breathing?

– Any visible injuries?


  • Is the horse sound?
  • What is the current diet he/she is following?
  • History of any deceases
  • Has the horse been wormed?
  • Is the horse given regular shots?
  • Current health issues it has?
  • Training
  • Is the horse broke to ride?
  • Skills it has acquired?
  • Has professional training been through?
  • Notable characteristics


  • The behavior while being groomed
  • How does the horse behave with the vet?
  • How does he behave while clipping?
  • The bathing behavior of the horse
  • How to cope up with other horses?
  • How does he behave in the stable?
  • The behavior while on the field
  • How does he behave around children?
  • Any problems that have occurred with the horse?
  • How to behave with other humans?


  • What kind of stall is being used at the moment?
  • How does the horse interact with other animals?
  • What type of fencing around the area?
  • What other animals live on the property?
  • How much an area will be needed?

From the owner

  • Owner’s name, address, and phone number
  • Possible reasons for selling the horse
  • Job the horse was used for
  • Any other owners it has had in previous years
  • What type of facility is the horse use to?
  • Any legal documents the owner would like to show?

Also, do the following as well:

  1. Take notes and pictures – refer to the pictures shown to you by the owner and the pictures you have taken. Make sure there aren’t any differences in them.
  2. Get an expert to try out the horse – or have the owner itself ride the horse before your eyes to make sure that its sound with the owner. If the horse seems to show a lack of discipline with the owner, that’s not a good sign
  3. Put the purchase agreement in writing – very important to avoid frauds
  4. Get all the paperwork – make sure to get all the necessary paperwork of the horse from the owner.

As you can see, buying a horse is not for everyone. It takes a great amount of responsibility and sheer commitment. If you are willing to put in the work, the prize of riding your own horse is worth it. At the end of this writing, we firmly believe that now you have a great idea regarding what to ask when buying a horse to a greater extent.

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