It is difficult to answer this question with complete detail because everyone wants something different when it comes to getting a horse. Horses have developed for many different tasks and competitions over the years so the first thing that needs to be determined is: what do I want this horse to do?
Of course, there are some basic elements that make up a “good” horse of any type, so we will concentrate on those. This will provide a solid foundation for going on to details of the different kinds of horses. It’s important to put both steps together correctly to get just what you want and need when choosing a horse.
Let’s assume you have decided you want to get a horse for recreation and personal riding pleasure. The first thing you will need to do is find a few reliable sellers – individuals and horse breeders/trainers. Talk with friends, family members and others who are horse owners. Ask them to recommend someone they have had a good relationship with. This will eliminate a lot of guessing and worry about whether you are making the right decision.
Once you get a short list of three or four sellers that you can trust you can talk with them about the kind of horse you see yourself owning. Give them details about your plans for owning, caring for and riding a horse. These experienced people will be able to narrow down your choices to a couple of horses that will fit your needs. For example, if you have a glorified vision of owning a large, muscular and beautiful golden mount that will be the envy of everyone who sees you, be prepared to search for awhile. Then be prepared to pay a premium price for the horse of your dreams.
In contrast, if you talk with two or three veterans of the horse world they will be able to point you to an animal that fits your needs, budget and riding style. If you have moderate riding experience and want a horse for pleasure riding and medium-level trail riding, you will need a strong horse with stamina that fits your body size well. If you are an absolute beginner you will need to find a horse that is comfortable with new riders and easy to work with.
Ask questions about the general health of the horse and find out what you can expect from the specific horses you look at. Each animal has a personality distinct from the horse standing right next to it. If you can get your expert adviser to go along with you, that would be excellent. Don’t be afraid to say “no, thanks” if a potential seller doesn’t answer your questions to your satisfaction.
Make sure you get to handle the horse yourself. If you have riding experience, lead the horse, take him for a short ride and see how he loads on a trailer or enters the stable or barn. Learn all you can about each horse before you agree to any purchase. Finally, make sure the seller agrees that the purchase isn’t final until your veterinarian has a chance to give the animal a thorough check-up.