Temperament and soundness

Unless you’ve owned numerous horses and are a seasoned rider, you’ll want to choose either a gelding or a mare – not a stallion. Geldings are generally more reliable and less moody, but it depends on the horse. When looking at seller’s ads, look for words like ‘quiet’, ‘steady’ and ‘calm.’ Safety should be your number one priority when buying a horse, so it’s often a good idea to shortlist some horses that you think will be appropriate and run them by an expert (such as your instructor) to decide which ones you’ll trial.


Consider what style of riding you would like to enjoy with your horse. Here is a basic overview of riding styles and suitable breeds:

  • Dressage: Most breeds are suitable, however warmbloods and thoroughbreds are the most popular. Pony Dressage is becoming very popular for the smaller horse. Under Equestrian Australia’s Rules ponies competing in Pony Dressage must not exceed 149cm with shoes, or 148cm without shoes.
  • Showjumping / Cross Country and 3DE: You’ll be looking for a horse with balance and stamina, experienced in jumping. Many horse breeds are suited to eventing, from thoroughbreds to warmbloods.
  • Carriage and Harness: Draft, heavy horses and light carriage horses / ponies such as hackneys are great if you want to compete in carriage classes or harness work. Welsh ponies and Clydesdales often have great temperaments as well as being beautiful breeds. If you’re not a trainer, make that the horse has had some schooling in this area.


While you’ll no doubt be attracted to horses with beautiful colouring, be wary of letting appearance influence your decision – temperament should be a priority for safety’s sake! Nevertheless, the breed that is most suitable for your chosen purpose will exist in a number of colours. Horse Channel provides information on colouring for different breeds, so once you’ve got a better idea of what you’re looking for, research it here.

Trial the horse

It’s essential to spend some time with a horse to find out if you’re suited to it as a rider. Everybody has different views on what constitutes a ‘naughty,’ ‘nice’ or ‘temperamental’ breed – as you progress in your level of horsemanship and come to understand the animals in more detail, you’ll get better at defining their character for yourself. As a beginner, however, if the horse likes you and is proven to be well-schooled and gentle in nature, it will be a likely match. It’s also important to remember even a ‘good’ horse can act out, so always take safety precautions and always follow instructions from senior riders.

Veterinary Checks

It is always wise to have any horse or pony you are considering buying examined by a Vet who will conduct a Pre-purchase Examination. The Vet can perform either a basic examination, or a much more detail exam with Leg X-Rays. Discuss with your vet what you plan to use the horse for and what your budget is. Even if you are purchasing an inexpensive horse, a Vet Check is wise as Vet & Medical care can prove to be very costly if the horse turns out to be unsound.

March 10, 2022 — Greg Grant Saddlery