Like most horse people, you’ve probably considered buying a horse of your very own. You’ve done your research, looked up how much horses cost to buy in today’s market, and even found a few horse stables to house your new friend, just in case there isn’t enough space at home. You’ve even decided on what the most expensive horse you can afford will be, and you’re ready to take on the challenge of giving it a good life.
The only question left is, “Where are you going to find a beautiful horse to call your own?”
This guide will give you all the basic information you need to find horses on sale. We’ll also share a few tips on how to determine whether or not a particular horse is the right one for you.
Before we move forward, just an important reminder: make sure that you buy your horse from an ethical seller. The welfare of our hoofy friends is top priority. As such, the only horse sellers that deserve your support are those that raise their steeds in cruelty-free environments. Whenever possible, try to do a background check on the seller and their methods before closing any deals for horses.
With that in mind, here’s how you can find the best place for you to buy your very own horse:
Reasons for buying
Before you start looking for horses for sale, you need to be sure about why you’re buying a horse. Your reasons for wanting a horse will determine the best places for you to buy one. Owning a horse can be a hefty investment, and youwant to make sure you know why you’ll be spending for one.
If you’re just looking for an equine companion, for instance, then we highly encourage adopting one from a shelter instead. There are many horses who deserve to find their forever homes, and the love you’ll be giving them for the rest of their lives is the greatest gift you can give these noble animals.
If you want to compete as a racer or equestrian, then you’ll want to look at reputable stables and websites that offer proof of pedigree and other details. A horse’s breed, for example, can give you important info on how they might mesh with your riding style.
You also need to make sure that you’re prepared to handle all the responsibilities of owning a horse, regardlessof the reason. You’ll need to factor in the cost of food, health, and equipment, so itreally isn’t a decision you shouldn’t be rushing into. In terms of money, how much to buy a horse is relatively low compared to how much you’ll need to make sure it lives a long, happy life.
Adopting from kill shelters and rehab barns
As unimaginable as it might be for horse people like us, there are a lot of people out there who just abandon horses they don’t want anymore. It could be for a number of reasons—they couldn’t handle the horse’s temperament, the costs of maintaining them might have been higher than they thought, or the horse could be underperforming as an athlete or service animal.
Either way, these are horses that deserve a second chance. There are kill shelters and rehab barns all over the country who take in rescues and put them up for adoption. If you want to find one in your state, you can visit the A Home for Every Horse website, which acts as a directory for horse shelters and rescues.
You can also try your luck by Googling for “kill pen horses for sale near me”; adding “near me” will tell Google to display results closest to your location. It works just as well with other search terms like “where to buy horses near me” and “riding horses for sale near me”, in case adopting isn't an option.
If you do choose to adopt, make sure that you visit the horse in person. Many shelter horses develop trauma from the experiences with their previous owners. You’ll need to learn to help rescues build their trust in you,and it all starts with your first encounter.
Some rescues may also need your help with certain medical conditions, so be sure that you’re ready for that, too. Be on the lookout for potentially life-threatening horse diseases likelaminitis, Potomac horse fever, and equine herpesvirus.
It might take a lot of work to bring a rescue horse into your life, but it’s also one of the greatest things you can do as a horse lover.
Visiting horse farms and barns in person
If you want to buy a horse and are lucky enough to live near a sale barn, your best option is to give them a visit. There are quite a lot of horses for sale at these barns, and the owners are usually generous with the amount of info they can give you for each one.
There’s really no substitute for visiting a horse to get a good feel for what your relationship might be like. Dropping by the sale barn will also give you a chance to chat candidly with the owners, who are most likely horse people just like you.
And who knows? You might just have that magical moment where it’s love at first sight, and you just know that this is the horse for you.
If you’re not sure about where to find sale barns, you can always check out horse-related publications like US Equestrian, Practical Horseman, and Horse & Rider—pretty much anything that writes about people riding horses. These magazines will often have ads for farms and horse stables where you can buy horses.
Horse shows are another great way to find horses for sale in person. Many of the horses at these events are actually for sale, although some of them can be pretty expensive horses to begin with. That beautiful horse you’ve got your eye on, for instance, might be a very rare breed.
You could also ask the owners of the horses at these shows if they represent a farm where you can find more horses for sale. More often than not, they’ll be happy to let you know how you can schedule a visit. If a show horse clicks with you during that visit, you might have just found your new best friend.
Shopping for horses online
There are a bunch of great options for finding horses for sale online. The quickest and easiest way is to head to a classifieds site that is specialized for horses—and there are a lot of them.
EquineNow is a popular choice because of how it lets you filter your search by location, breed, and color, and it hosts listings from breeders, trainers, and animal rescue teams. Horseclicks likewise lets you filter by location and breed, while ehorses’ international listings are organized by tags based on age, breed, and other details.
The dreamhorse.com website might look a little barebones by today’s standards, but it’s one of the most reliable places to find horses for sale. That’s because the DreamHorse classifieds platform has been around for over 24 years, and has had more than 2 MILLION listings since it started. Horseweb is another familiar old name, having been an active marketplace for horses since 1995.
If you’re looking for a site with a more traditional-looking storefront, check out horse advertising sites like The Horse Bay. Every listing has all the key details in an easy-to-read thumbnail, and many of them include videos of the horses themselves! It’s a great way to make sure that the horse you buy was raised by fellow horse people.
There are also a lot of small, family-owned businesses with horses for sale online. Horse of My Dreams, for instance, specializes in connecting families with safe ranch horses and ponies, and takes a very personal approach to sales.
Whichever site you choose, try your best to pick a horse you can visit before purchasing. Again, you want to make sure that you can keep the horse happy, and a lot of that has to do with making sure your personalities are a good match.
Taking in retirees
You could also try your luck at buying a horse from an equestrian. There comes a time in an event horse’s life where they’re no longer fit enough for competition, and when that happens, they’re often retired by their owners. While some horses might be kept until they ride off to that great big field in the sky, others are sold because their owners no longer have space for them in their horse stables.
You can visit some of the best equestrian communities on Facebook and horse-related forums to see if any retired horses are up for sale. Just keep in mind that some of them might have special needs due to injuries or old age.
If you do decide to take in a retired horse, make sure you have a chat with the previous owners. You can get tips on what they did to improve their bonds with their horses, and try the same things out at home. The goal is to make the horse feel like you’re a new part of the family they’ve already grown to love.
Now that you know the many different options, it’s time for you to get out there and find your dream horse. Just remember two things: first, always buy ethically; and second, the amount of thought, effort, and care you put into your horse doesn’t stop at buying it. You’ll be responsible for your horse for as long as they live, and while this can present a few challenges, there’s nothing more rewarding than riding a mighty steed you’ve put your heart and soul into caring for.