Buying Your First Horse

Your first serious step to thinking about buying a horse is to make sure that you have leased a horse. This is a good initial gauge to financially commit a minimum month to month. It is also a fraction of the time and financial commitment you may need. It is a good way to get your feet wet.

Four Winds prides itself on a meticulous pairing of the perfect horse and rider combination. Whether you would like help purchasing a horse, would like to sell a horse or lease a horse, we would be more than happy to help you. If we are hired to find a horse for you to buy, the cost is 10% of the horse's purchase price. We will search online, and also speak to our many contacts in the horse industry to find prospective horses. We will talk with the horse's owner, trainer, or agent to get more information and to determine if it is appropriate to see and test the horse. If we see the horse, the prospective buyer is highly encouraged to accompany us to see the horse and do a test-ride. If the horse is a good match and we agree that we should make an offer to purchase the horse, we can arrange a prepurchase veterinary check of the horse, to be paid by the prospective buyer. Assuming the horse passes the vet check and an offer is accepted by the seller, we can also arrange for transport of the horse, the cost of which shall also be borne by the prospective buyer. The commission fee will be waived on all horses purchased or leased directly from Four Winds.

There are several factors that go into buying your first horse. It is easiest if you first start with what your budget looks like, and then we work from there as to what horse we can afford to get. Then we work to answer: What horse do you need vs want? What is your current level of riding and how good of a horseman are you?

Horses are comparable to cars. The first horse you buy is not a Ferrari. Odds are, if your first car is a Ferrari, you will put your foot on the gas to eagerly and end up wrecking it. Your first horse or car is probably the Honda Civic. It’s reliable and safe, and probably has a few miles on it to keep it affordable. Odds are it is also going to need some general maintenance, and probably just a little more than an initial new car. It’s normal!

Always expect to outgrow your first horse. Your first horse is meant to be a teacher, to get you comfortable with the joys and worries of horse owning. This is not a horse that often could fulfill your riding dreams. It is a horse to build your confidence and fall in love with. It is a horse to keep you safe as you make mistakes and learn. Keep this in mind when budgeting for your first horse as well.

A horse’s price is based on the following:

4. Age
a. A young horse (4-8 years of age) can need to be in part time to full time training
b. A mature horse in their prime is between the ages of 9-15. These tend to be the most valuable.
c. Reliable school masters are horses 16 and up. Shutterfly and Flexible are both horses who COMPETED in the Olympics until 22 years of age. If a horse has been properly maintained, age is hardly a deterrent.

5. Ability/athleticism
a. Trail rides only?
b. Walk-trot through x-rails
c. 2’6” Horse
d. 3’ horse
e. 3’6” Horse
f. Grand Prix Horse
g. Good movement?
h. Good Jump?

6. Look/Conformation
a. Straight Shoulder? Sloping Shoulder?
b. Chrome (blaze and socks/white)? Plain dark bay? Blood bay?
c. Roman nosed? Dish faced? Good head?
d. Short backed? Long backed?
e. Sloping pasturns? Straight hind end?
f. Etc, etc

7. Size

8. Show Record/Proven competitor

9. Breed: Gaited horse? Warmblood? Quarter horse or thoroughbred?

1. Safeness
a. Does the horse have a spook, buck or rear?
b. Can you ride it bareback? On a trail?
c. Does the horse have any aversions? Clipping, bathing, hauling?

2. Ridability/Temperament
a. Is the horse well trained and ready to show? Does it need to be in training?
b. Is your horse hot headed or wild? Is your horse quiet and lazy?

3. Soundness
a. Often if a horse has done any competing, it needs some maintenance. This is the same as us taking a joint supplement as we get older. Horses need the same, especially with as big as they are and with the impact we ask of them. You can expect a seasoned show horse to get joint injections and an oral supplement. Maintenance can also consist of an equine multi-vitamin, chiropractic work, basic vet work (dental once a year, shots, etc.). This does NOT affect a horse’s price.

b. Soundness does come into play for a horse’s price. And seasoned show horses can also have a pre-purchase exam done and have some soreness in an area. Often, unsoundness is more of a negotiation point than a deterrent, depending on the “grade” of lameness. This lameness will help determine the level of maintenance needed for a horse. You do not want to buy a horse that is “crippled” though.

When assessing the above, it is also similar to buying a house. Sometimes we sacrifice some of the ideals to keep it within our budget. So what can you get for your money? Below is a list of price ranges, with a good rule of thumb for the qualities you’re allowed to have above.

  • $2,500 - $6,000: Pick 2/9 qualities

  • $7,000 - $10,000: Pick 3/9 qualities

  • $10,000 - $15,000: Pick 4/9 qualities

  • $15,000 - $20,000: Pick 5/9

  • $25,000 - $35,000: Pick 6/9

  • $40,000 - $65,000: Pick 7/9, add to base quality and ability as price goes up.

  • $70,000 - $98,000: Pick 8/9

  • Six figures: 9/9 at any ability

You can expect your average financial responsibilities to be as follows:

1. Lessons and Training. Horses to stay good, need consistency. ANY horse, no matter how good they may be, will not stay good if they’re left in a stall or if a rider continues to make bad training decisions. Good riding, good training and a good work ethic continue to keep good horses, good. If you cannot put the time in, please know that you should then put your horse in training if it cannot be lease out. Also be sure to keep yourself in lessons. A professional on the ground is always invaluable. Our head trainers still seek to better themselves by working for other top professionals in the industry when time permits. $200 monthly average.
2. Board. Averages $400 monthly at Four Winds
3. Vet. $600 annually, barring injury
4. Ferrier. $750 annual average
5. Feed. $150 monthly average.
6. Maintenance. $100 monthly average for supplements.
7. Equipment. Typically one upfront cost, but then it also needs maintained. If you’re a youth, you will outgrow your first saddle. Expect an initial $1500 investment, and then $500 annually. Horses rip blankets, leather sometimes breaks, holes are worn through paddock boots, etc.