What to Look For

Sounds simple, right?

Well, there are many things to consider. The first step in buying a horse is asking yourself why you want a horse.

• Do you want to become a better rider?
• What activities do you want to do with the horse?
• How much do you know about riding?
• Are you going to work with your horse on a daily, weekly, monthly, basis?
• Do you want to breed your horse?
• How much time can you devote to care of your horse?
• How much can you afford to spend on caring for, stalling, feeding, vet bills, farriers, and supplies for your horse?
• Where will your horse live?
• Will my horse need additional training and can you afford it?
• Will you need additional training and can you afford it?
• Have you already found a farrier in your area?
• Do you know of a vet close by that you can use?
• Where will you get your hay?
• Do you have a trailer or how will you transport your horse?
• Are you planning on showing or competing with your horse?

While all these might sound like simple questions to those of you who already have owned or currently own horses, there are many first time buyers looking for the perfect Gypsy Vanner Horse.

Evaluate Your Skills

Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced rider or whip? If you are a beginner then you obviously need a different type of horse than the advanced rider or whip. While Gypsy Vanners are known for their quiet disposition, they are still horses. Horses have different training levels and different potentials. Once you decide on your goals and your skills then you can better determine what skills your horse needs to have.

Where Do You Buy a Horse?

groupOne of the best sources for purchasing a Gypsy Vanner Horse is from a reputable breeder. Normally a breeder will have a larger selection of horses. You can see different age horses, different training levels, etc. in one place. You can look at horses bred by the breeder and see dams and sires. You can also see the condition the horses live in and get a good idea of how they are managed. You can learn about bloodlines, registrations, etc. also from a breeder.

You can also purchase a horse directly from an owner. However, do not buy a horse from an online source without first seeing it with your own eyes or having someone reputable that you know and trust check out the horse for you. Pictures do not show a complete picture. A clever photographer can make a medium grade horse look outstanding and likewise a poor photographer can make a great horse look horrible.

Ask Questions

There are no stupid questions. At one time or another every one of us in the horse business has been an inexperienced buyer. I know that I have felt intimidated by all the “experts” at one time or another. First of all, if a seller makes you feel intimidated or uncomfortable, go somewhere else. You want to establish a long term relationship with this person. You want to be able to call with questions. There are horse traders and there are horse sellers. Once you have trekked to a few farms you will know the difference.

• What kind of training has the horse had and when?
• How often is the horse currently ridden or driven?
• Do you have current shot and worming records on the horse?
• Do you have the registration papers on the horse? What registry do you use?
• Has the horse ever had any health problems?
• Does the horse have any vices?
• Does the horse load?
• Does the horse clip?
• Does the horse stand still for grooming?
• What does he eat?
• Why is this horse for sale?
• Can I see your contract?
• Will you deliver the horse?
• Do you have a guarantee?     

Check Out the Horse

Arrive early for your appointment (you have called and made an appointment haven’t you?). You want to see them catch the horse if it has been out in the field. Determine for yourself that the horse has all the required “manners” you want. Watch for disposition, conformation, and movement.

Straw and BBCheck out the website for the seven points of conformation for a Gypsy Vanner Horse. If you are inexperienced look at many horses until you train your eye to see faults. Ask the owner to point any faults they see or any great points of conformation they see. Look for balance, structural correctness, degree of muscling, breed, and sex characteristics. Stallions should look like stallions. Mares have a distinct feminine look to them.

Once you have evaluated the horse on the ground you should ask to see the horse in action whether it is under saddle, lounging, driving, etc. Check for disposition problems during this phase also. However, remember that if you are “test riding or driving” the horse they might act a bit differently to a new handler. If you have brought your professional with you they should also “test” the horse. Two opinions are better than one.

Pre-purchase Exam

It is extremely important to get a pre-purchase exam. This exam can be simple or it can get complex depending on your goals for the horse. Review this with your veterinarian to determine what you need. On a few purchases, I have found problems during the pre-purchase exams. I don’t think the owners were even aware of the problems, nor were they trying to hide them. They just didn’t surface until the exam. If it is a “fixable” problem your vet will tell you. The times I did not get a pre-purchase exam I usually regretted it. It is money well spent.


If you have gotten this far then you must really like the horse! Remember you are buying a horse that has a personality. Do you get along with him? You will know when it works and when it doesn’t. Trust your instincts on this one.
Good luck! Feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.