Buying a Horse for Christmas: Basic Steps to Protect Yourself


Christmas is right around the corner and you, or Santa, may be considering buying yourself a horse for Christmas, or buying your son, daughter, spouse, or significant other a horse. There are several things you should do to help protect yourself during this purchase. Though this list is not exhaustive, it has many basic steps that will put you well on your way to a happy and successful horse purchase.

  1. Buy a horse appropriate for the level of rider. Green and yellow make black and blue! I am here to tell you that a young horse and a young or green rider will NOT learn and grow together. Typically, a horse will learn something in three attempts, and it can learn something good, or, something bad. Please buy a horse that is appropriate for the level of rider and appropriate for the intended use.
  2. If you are using a trainer or broker to help you, that is great! But if your trainer or broker will not let you talk to the owner, something is up. Either the horse is being priced to you differently than its actual sales price, or there is information someone does not want you to find out. There are plenty of horses, move on.
  3. When you go to try a horse, make sure the seller rides it for you first. Ask him to put it through all the moves you want to see before you get on and do it yourself.
  4. Tell the seller that you do not want the horse tacked up when you get there. You want to see it being tacked up. Some horses can have terrible ground manners. Now is the time to find out.
  5. Always use a Bill of Sale/Sales Agreement with your purchase. My recommendation is to have any attorney draft the Sales agreement up for you. If a Sales agreement is provided to you, then have your attorney review it before you sign it.
horse is chewing hay on snow
  1. Make sure there is a Date on the Agreement, Price, Date of Ownership, Signed between Buyer and Seller (preferably not agent), description of the horse, all terms of the purchase are clearly spelled out and do not pay for the horse before you sign the agreement.
  2. If the horse is registered, make sure you receive the registration papers and receipt of the papers are included in the Sales Agreement.
  3. Have a Pre-purchase exam completed on the horse prior to purchase. I recommend that you are present for the exam. If you are not, talk directly to the vet. Do not have the results relayed to you through a third party, even if it is someone you feel you can trust. And, always ask for a drug test to be administered.
  4. If the seller tells you that someone else is interested in the horse so you better buy it now, just tell them to go ahead and let that person buy it. If it doesn’t work out, give you a call. Never, ever fall for those pushy sales ploys. More than likely you will be hearing back from the seller and you are now in a position to negotiate because their “sale” obviously fell through.
  5. If you are not using a trusted trainer, have a knowledgeable friend go with you to look at horses. Preferably a friend that will speak honestly with you and have your best interest at heart. A friend that is not afraid to give you their honest opinion about the horse.

I always like to tell people that it is really easy to buy a horse, and very difficult to sell one. Also, the purchase of a horse is going to be the least expensive part of owning a horse. So, buy the best horse you can afford. Take your time and do not rush into your purchase. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a sale. If the horse of your dreams is sold out from under you, I promise, there is always another horse!

About the Author

Bridget Brandon is President of The Equine Expert LLC,, which is a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm. Expert equestrians join together to offer legal expert witness and consulting services in court cases, legal matters and business dealings. We have consultants offering a wide variety of expertise in most all disciplines in the horse industry to cover liability, business, standards in the industry, valuations, training, showing, sales and most all equine areas needing support in legal matters. For more information on their services, email [email protected] or call 817-454-4537 to schedule an appointment with a consultant.

Bridget R. Brandon the Equine Expert