Pros and Cons of Buying a Horse + Tips and Tricks for the Buying Process

If you are a horse lover you have probably thought about buying a horse. There are many pros and cons of buying a horse. Owning a horse gives you the freedom to ride as you please, a partner to help you reach your goals, and a reason to stay active. Although horses can be expensive and require a lot of your time, you may find that buying a horse will bring many benefits to your life.

Why do People Buy a Horse?

People buy horses for a lot of reasons. Some people buy a horse to learn to ride and compete. Others simply enjoy the active outdoor life that owning a horse brings. Some children get lucky and their parents buy them a horse when they are young. Others may not become first time horse owners until they reach retirement age. No matter your journey, buying a horse can be a wonderful, life-changing experience.

Pros of Buying a Horse

Pros and Cons of Buying a Horse + Tips and Tricks for the Buying Process

You Develop a Close Bond

When you buy a horse it gives you a chance to bond with an amazing animal. Learning how horses think and interact with one another can teach you how to befriend your horse. When weighing the pros and cons of buying a horse this can be one of the most emotionally rewarding pros. Once you and your horse are bonded, you will have a friend and confidant for life.

Consistency in Training and Grooming

Buying a horse provides you with consistency in your riding. If you do not own a horse you rely on using lesson horses, leasing, or riding friend’s horses. When you own your horse you will always have someone waiting for you at the barn. Riding the same horse also gives you a sense of predictability and routine. You will be familiar with how your horse behaves which helps eliminate the stress that comes with handling unfamiliar horses. 

Very Few restrictions

When you own your horse there are very few restrictions that go along with it. When you buy a horse you have the freedom to go for a trail ride, gallop through the field, or trailer the horse off of the property at your leisure. The only restrictions you may encounter are the rules set by a boarding facility, if you choose to board your horse.

Allows You to Reach Your Goals

When weighing the pros and cons of buying a horse, a huge benefit to horse ownership is that buying the right horse can help you reach your goals. If your goal is to learn how to jump or rope a cow, or compete, buying a horse will give you a consistent partner to train with. 

Its a GREAT Workout

Another benefit to owning a horse is that it keeps you physically fit. To ride well you have to have good balance, proprioception, and muscle tone. Besides the physical aspect of riding there is always something that needs to be done around the barn.  Stacking hay, filling water buckets, and mucking stalls are all physical chores. Even if you board your horse and are not responsible for the daily care, you will still have to groom, tack your horse up, and keep your equipment clean.

Cons of Buying a Horse

Horses can be Costly

One of the biggest cons of buying a horse is the expense that goes along with it. Most horse owners will joke that the cheapest part of horse ownership is the cost of buying the horse. Horses can range in price from being “free to a good home” to millions of dollars. Regardless of how much your horse cost to purchase, you will still need to pay for the care and maintenance of the horse. 

They Take up a Lot of Time

Horses require a lot of your time. If you keep your horse on your property you will have to feed the horse on a regular time schedule, clean stalls, fill water buckets, and turn your horse in and out from his stall. If you board your horse you will not be in charge of these duties but horses still require a lot of your time. You will have to keep your horse well groomed, tend to any physical ailments, and keep your horse fit. 

A Great Big Responsibility

Horses are a big commitment. Once you purchase a horse you have a duty to that horse to keep them happy and healthy. You are committed to providing or arranging the care for y*our horse. If they start having behavioral issues you are also responsible for training them or hiring a training to fix the issues. Once you own a horse it is not always easy to sell them, so you should have a plan to in case you find yourself unable to continue caring for the horse. 

Potential Vet Bills

When weighing the pros and cons of buying a horse most people forget to consider the potential for emergency veterinary bills. Horses are prone to injury and illness and mose horse owners have experienced an emergency with their horse at one point or another. It could be something simple like needing a few stitches, or it could be a major event that requires surgery. 

You May Have to Part Ways

At some point you will part ways with your horse. If you find yourself unable to keep the horse you will have to go through the process of selling him. Trying to find the right person to buy your horse can be sad, frustrating, and time consuming. If you are lucky enough to be able to keep your horse until the end of his life you will have to watch your horse grow old. Some horses pass away peacefully, but you may be faced with the heartbreaking decision to put your horse down. 

What to Ask When Buying a Horse

Pros and Cons of Buying a Horse

Some common questions to ask when looking at horses for sale:

  • What kind of riding does this horse normally do and how often does he get ridden? 
  • How does the horse currently live – in a stall, small paddock, or a group pasture?
  • What does the horse eat and how much of it?
  • Does the horse have a history of previous illness or injury?
  • Who normally rides the horse, a child, an amature, or a professional? 
  • Does the horse have any bad behavior or history of seriously injuring someone?

Tips for Buying a Horse

Define your Goals

You should decide what you want to do with your horse and choose a horse that can match your goals. If you want to ride in endurance races, choose a breed of horse known for their stamina. If you want to go slow and enjoy the scenery on the trail, choosing a horse that just retired from racing will not be an appropriate match. If you are not sure how to choose a horse that will match your goals, hire a professional to help you. 

Try the Horse 

A lot of people get so excited that their dream of buying a horse is becoming a reality they rush into buying the first horse they see. Or worse – buy a horse off of the internet without meeting him first. To make sure the horse is the right fit for you, you should ride the horse several times before you buy him. You want your personalities to be compatible, and to enjoy riding him. 

Vet check 

This is one of the most important but often overlooked steps when buying a horse! Most sellers are willing to have their horse examined, and if they are not you should be wary. Choose a reputable veterinarian to come to do a pre-purchase examination on the horse before you commit to buying him. Exams vary. A basic exam looks at the general health of the horse and checks for soundness. More thorough exams involve x-rays, bloodwork, and another more in-depth testing. The veterinarian can help you determine if the horse is physically suitable to your goals. 


Some sellers are willing to negotiate on the price of the horse. To check if you are paying a fair price for the horse, look at other horses for sale in your area. The horses should be similar in age, breed, and training. If you find that the horse you are wanting to buy is significantly more expensive than comparable horses, use your research to negotiate a lower price. If something negative comes up on the prepurchase exam, the owner needs to sell the horse quickly, or the horse has been listed for sale for 6 months or more, you can use those points to negotiate the price of the horse. 


When buying a horse make sure both you and the seller have signed copies of the bill of sale. If the horse you are buying has breed or show papers make sure you get those at the time of purchase. It is helpful to get a printout of the horse’s medical records. Some states require a brand inspection to legally transfer the sale of a horse. Check with your state’s agricultural department to see if they require a brand inspection. 

When weighing the pros and cons of buying a horse, you can see how horse ownership can be a wonderful experience. Horses keep you active, provide companionship, and can help you fulfil your goals and dreams. Even though horses can be costly and require a lot of your time, you may find that buying a horse will change your life for the better. 

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