Buying a Horse

Where can you buy a horse? Know your options before you buy

Are you dreaming of becoming a horse owner? Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a novice rider, the prospect of bringing a horse into your life is exciting. However, before you can saddle up and ride off into the sunset, you’ll need to decide where you want to start looking for your horse. Here, I’ve listed some of the options as well as the pros and cons of each.

Private sellers

One of the most common ways to buy a horse is through private sellers. These individuals may be horse owners looking to sell their horses for various reasons, including downsizing their herd or helping their horses find new homes. You can often find private sellers through word of mouth, online classifieds, or local riding communities.


  • May offer a wide variety of horse breeds and disciplines.
  • Opportunity to connect directly with the horse’s current owner.
  • Potential for negotiations on price and terms.


  • Limited transparency about the horse’s history and health.
  • Limited legal protections compared to purchasing from reputable dealers or organizations.

Horse dealers and trainers

Professional horse dealers and trainers are experienced in matching riders with suitable horses. They often have a selection of horses available for sale, ranging from young prospects to well-trained riding horses. Working with a reputable dealer or trainer can provide you with peace of mind and expert guidance throughout the process.


  • Access to a curated selection of horses.
  • Expertise and guidance in finding the right horse for your needs.
  • Increased transparency about the horse’s background, training, and health.
  • If it’s your trainer, they’ll be aware of what type of horse is good for you.


  • Prices may be higher due to dealer or trainer commissions.
  • Important to research and choose a reputable professional to avoid potential pitfalls.


Breeders specialise in producing horses with specific traits, such as breed, conformation, and performance abilities. However, like any other source, buying from a breeder comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you only buy from reputable breeders who are committed to breeding healthy horses.


  • Breeders are knowledgeable about the specific breed they specialise in. This expertise can help you find a horse that aligns with your desired breed characteristics.
  • Breeder horses often come with well-documented pedigrees and bloodlines, which is important if you plan to show or breed your horse.
  • Breeders typically maintain comprehensive health and medical records for their horses. This transparency can give you confidence in the horse’s health and history.
  • Many breeders start basic training with their young horses, providing a solid foundation for future riding or discipline-specific training.
  • Breeders may offer customisation options, allowing you to have a say in the horse’s upbringing and training.


  • Horses from breeders can be more expensive due to their desirable bloodlines, conformation, and training.
  • Breeders primarily focus on specific breeds, so your options may be limited if you’re looking for a cross-bred or a horse from a less common breed.
  • Some breeders may prioritise breeding goals over the individual horse’s health and temperament, leading to issues down the line.
  • Breeders tend to have young horses or foals, which means you may need to invest additional time and resources into training and caring for a younger horse until it’s ready to be ridden. This can be several years, depending on the age of the horse when you buy it.
  • Breeders may have specific terms and conditions for their sales, making negotiations and customizations more challenging compared to private sellers or trainers.

Horse and livestock auctions

Open air auction

Auctions are another avenue for purchasing horses. These events can range from small, local auctions to large-scale, prestigious affairs. They can be livestock auctions, where you can get a large variety of animals, to private auctions that are invitation only and sell highly trained horses from well-known trainers. While auctions offer a wide range of horse breeds and types, making them a viable option for buyers with various preferences and budgets, buying at auction isn’t for everyone!


  • Opportunity to see a variety of horses in one location.
  • Possibility of acquiring a horse at a reasonable price.
  • Auctions often provide information about the horse’s history and health.


  • Competitive bidding can drive prices up quickly.
  • Limited time to evaluate the horse thoroughly before purchase.
  • Be cautious and do thorough research before participating in auctions.

Rescue organisations

If you’re passionate about providing a loving home to a horse in need, consider adopting from a horse rescue or equine welfare organisation. These organisations rescue and rehabilitate horses that have been abandoned, abused, or neglected, offering them a chance for a better life. Rescues can sell or lease horses, so check the contract conditions before signing so that you know what you can and can’t do legally.


  • Opportunity to provide a second chance to a deserving horse.
  • Many organisations provide health assessments and rehabilitation.
  • Often lower adoption fees compared to purchasing from private sellers or dealers.


  • May require additional time and effort to retrain and care for rescued horses.
  • Limited selection of breed and age compared to other sources.

Buying a wild horse

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses freeze marking to identify captured wild horses and burros. Freeze marking is a permanent, unalterable, and painless way to identify each horse and burro as an individual. It is applied on the left side of the neck.

I’m going to mention here that you can buy horses born and raised in feral populations, such as Mustangs or Dartmoor ponies, but buying a wild or feral horse is not for the beginner horse owner. Wild horses require a lot of training and if you’re not experienced with horses that are fearful of humans and often more sensitive than horses that have grown up without daily human contact.

The organisations or government agencies that manage these populations will typically round up horses and sell off extra horses once a year. This is necessary, since wild populations don’t have natural predators and can quickly become a pest which is detrimental to the environment. Wild horses are typically sold as-is by the organisations, meaning that they’ve merely been rounded up and put in a pen (or sometimes carted all over the country to auctions) without further training. Mustangs have a no-sell clause for the first year of ownership, so be sure to check the status of the horse and your contract before you buy.


  1. By buying a wild horse, you are contributing to the management of feral horse populations, like Mustangs in the United States.
  2. Wild horses are often more affordable to purchase initially compared to domestically bred and trained horses. Lower purchase prices can be appealing for budget-conscious buyers.
  3. If you are an experienced horse trainer or rider, working with a wild or feral horse can provide a unique and satisfying challenge. Building trust and forming a bond with a previously untamed horse can be incredibly rewarding.
  4. You have the opportunity to shape the horse’s training and behaviour from the ground up. This allows you to create a horse tailored to your specific needs and preferences.


  1. Wild horses typically come with little to no training. They are often fearful of humans, which can make handling and training them a time-consuming and risky.
  2. Handling a wild horse without proper knowledge and experience can be dangerous. Wild horses may react unpredictably when faced with new situations or challenges.
  3. Training a wild horse requires a significant investment of time, patience, and effort. Progress can be slow, and results are not guaranteed.
  4. When buying a wild horse, you have limited control over the horse’s age, temperament, and physical characteristics. This can make it challenging to find a horse that matches your specific riding or competition goals.
  5. Wild horses may have had limited access to veterinary care in their natural habitat, if the population doesn’t get regular human intervention. It’s essential to budget for potential health issues and initial care, such as vaccinations, hoof trimming and shoeing, dental care, as well as a transition period in the feed of the horse. Some horses from the wild can be very thin, especially if it’s a mare that has been providing milk for a foal, and can require a long rehabilitation period before you can ride the horse.

The journey to find your perfect horse may take you down various paths, each with its own advantages and challenges. Whichever route you choose, remember to conduct thorough research, seek expert advice when necessary, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the horse of your dreams. You can find lots more information about buying a horse, leasing a horse and the process itself in the Buying a horse-section.

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