How to Select a Horse

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Selection Criteria

How To Think Like A Horse
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry Hill

  1998 Cherry Hill

Dear Cherry,  

I am 38 years old and want to buy a horse.  10 years ago I had horses, but had to sell when I returned to school.  I only want to ride for pleasure.  Should I look for a saddle horse?  What questions should I ask about a horse I am looking at?  I enjoyed the saddle horse I had before, but had trouble from the quarter horse.  


Dear Kaye,  

     There are many factors to consider when buying a horse.  I'm listing them in relative order of importance.


Movement, Way of Going and Comfort of Gaits

Level of Training

Breed or type



Size Quality

Color and Markings

   The breed or type of horse you select should depend on the style of riding you plan to pursue.  Since you are interested in pleasure riding, you will find individual horses in almost any breed that could suit you.

    Since you have been out of the horse scene for ten years, I'd suggest you pair up with a well-respected horse professional in your area to help you go horse shopping.  This could be a riding instructor, a trainer, a breeder or someone who you feel comfortable with and has the time to help you narrow down the field and give you a knowledgeable second opinion.  Of course, you will need to make some sort of arrangement to compensate this professional monetarily for his or her service.

   When you have found a horse that seems to be a contender and is in your price range, arrange for a test ride.  During the test ride and buyer exam, you should have a check list (mental or small notebook) of things you definitely want to check such as ease of picking out hooves, ease of mounting, comfort of gaits, is the horse head shy, barn sour, hard mouthed or XXX?  The list of physical and training issues that you need to evaluate can be quite long and that is why I wrote a book (Horse for Sale) filled with such lists to specifically to help buyers.  You can read about it on my website at

   After the test ride, if the horse seems suitable for you, you'll want to have the horse checked over by a veterinarian of your choice to see if the horse has an unsoundness or health problem that would rule him out.   Horse selection takes time and the better you are prepared for the process, the smoother it will go.  So read up and plan to take the time that is needed.  Best of luck.  I hope you find the horse of your dreams.

  Cherry Hill 



  1998 Cherry Hill 

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