What’s The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Horse, And Why?

While talking to a friend recently I realized that I’ve bought the vast majority of my horses either in the spring or in the fall which started me thinking. Does it matter what time of year you start looking for a horse or is now always the right time? I decided to research this question so spoke to a number of sellers (both private and dealers) to see when they chose to sell their horses and why. I was really surprised by what they told me, and I’m sure you will be too.

When is the best time of year to buy a horse? Fall and spring are typically the best times of year to buy a horse because there are more for sale. Late fall tends to be slightly cheaper too although the cheapest horses are often found in the winter because sellers don’t want to pay the higher winter feed costs.

You might not think it matters what time of year you buy a horse but it can make a big difference. Even if the quality of the horses for sale doesn’t change from season to season the quantity certainly will do as more people decide to sell their horses after the competition season rather than during. 

Buying a horse in the spring

Spring is one of the best times of year to start looking for a horse and if you’re thinking about buying a horse for a child then I personally think there’s no better time. A lot of sellers and breeders start to think about selling their horses in the spring which means you’ll have plenty of horses to choose from.

Buying a child’s horse or pony in the spring also means that they’ll have plenty of daylight left after school to spend with the horse, and will really be able to bond with them. Then of course there’s the summer break when your child and their new horse will really become inseparable!

If you’re not buying for children then the spring can also be a great time because the horses for sale will generally be in good shape and quite possibly ready for the show season.

As far as I can tell (and as far as sellers have told me) the only downside to buying a horse in the spring is that they sell super quickly which means that if you’ve found a horse you like it probably won’t hang around for too long. That said though you shouldn’t rush in to buy the first horse you see without having all of the necessary vet checks done.

Buying a horse in the summer

While the spring may be a better time to buy a horse, in terms of choice at least, it doesn’t mean to say that the summer is a bad time to buy at all. In fact, some people prefer to buy in the summer instead of the spring, and with good reason.

There’s no doubt that there’s more choice in the spring but that doesn’t mean to say that there’s no choice in the summer. Sellers have told me that, while sales tend to increase towards the end of the spring there are still plenty of new horses for sale well into the summer months.

With our ever-changing climate you can never be too sure but historically the summer months are drier, brighter, and last longer which gives people plenty of time to search for that special horse. The brighter and longer days mean that you can also see the horse properly. Okay so that may sound silly to say but winter coats can hide a horse’s true condition while the wet, muddy pastures mean that in the winter you can’t really see the horse run so don’t know how they move.

Buying a horse in the summer generally also means less work needs to be done, the horse can often stay outside 24/7, additional feed isn’t needed and grooming is a piece of cake too. Then of course there’s the added bonus of horses generally being cheaper to keep in the summer, not to mention the long rides you can go for as the sun starts to set.

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Buying a horse in the fall

Without a doubt, buying a horse in the fall is the single best time of year to buy a horse, regardless of why you’re buying or what you’re buying. Many sellers will start to think about selling their horses in the fall because they don’t want to (or can’t) pay the higher winter feed prices which is why some seasoned buyers refer to this time of year as ‘bargain time’!

It’s also a great time to buy a competition or show horse, the season may be over but only just so the horse will be at its peak, fitness-wise. On top of that though, you may also have been able to see the horse in action, or if not the seller will have very recent pictures and videos of any events or competitions. If you are looking to buy a show or competition horse then buying now will give you the time to get to know the horse before next year’s season starts again.

A lot of sellers told me that buyers are more likely to get a deal during the fall because sellers are keen to sell the horse before winter and the higher feed prices.

The only caveat I would add though is that, while fall is certainly the best time to buy a horse, there are plenty of ‘not so good’ horses for sale too as some yards sell the horses they can’t afford to keep and aren’t bringing in the results.

Buying a horse in the winter

From everything I’ve said about when to buy a horse, you might think that buying in the winter is a bad thing and should be avoided but that’s not the case. While there are obviously fewer horses for sale it can be the cheapest time of year to buy but you must know what you’re looking for, or at least take somebody who does with you.

Buying in the winter can often mask other problems such as head shaking and sweet itch but it can also make it difficult to tell how ‘mareish’ a mare will be when she comes into season. The cold weather can also make a horse act more lively as the weather gets to them which can hide their true nature.

In some states, the winter conditions make riding outside impossible so if the seller doesn’t have an indoor area it can make it very difficult to try the horse out, unless, of course, you’re able to haul them to a place that does have indoor facilities. This can also make it difficult for you to ride if you don’t have access to somewhere dry to ride.

Okay so they’re the downsides to buying in the winter, what about the bonus? Well to start with horses are far more likely to sell below what they’re worth but the wet conditions mean that there’s no pressure on you to ride or get your horse fit and competition ready. This means you can enjoy spending time together and really get to know each other. Some people choose to buy around Thanksgiving or Christmas for this exact reason, they have time to spend bonding with their new horse.

Take home message

When you find the right horse, it’s the right time to buy, but if you haven’t started looking yet and are flexible then you might want to consider buying at a time that suits your budget. It’s also worth considering when you’re able to spend the time bonding with your new horse too. If you have the whole of the summer off then just before is perfect, likewise, if you don’t work during the holiday season then why not start looking in time for that?

One thing I will always say though, regardless of when you’re buying a horse, is don’t rely on what the seller tells you. Sadly they’re not always honest so you should take an experienced person with you and NEVER buy a horse without a vet check. Want to know more about what to look for when buying a horse? Check out this article on everything you NEED to know. Or if you’re keen to buy a horse as soon as possible but only have a limited budget why not head over to this article on the cheapest breeds in the world, you might be surprised!

If you are looking to buy your first ever horse then, first of all, let me congratulate you, owning a horse is a wonderful thing and I’m sure the two of you will have many great memories together. Secondly let me tell you about my latest digital book, The Ultimate Guide To Horse & Pony Care. I wrote it specifically for new owners and it covers everything you need to know about owning, feeding, and caring for your new horse in general. To bag your copy for $7.99 click here, or below, to order your copy today.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

Recommended products 

Over the years I have tried hundreds of different horsey products, from various blankets and halters to different treats. Some I’ve loved, others I’ve hated but I thought I’d share with you my top all-time favorite products, the ones I never leave the yard without. I’ve included links to the products (which are in no particular order) that I really think are great.

  • Horse Knots by Reference Ready – If you’re like me and enjoy pocket reference guides then you’ll love this knot tying guide. These handy cards can easily fit in your pocket or attach to the saddle for quick reference. They’re waterproof, durable and are color coded to make them easy to follow.
  • Mane ’n Tail Detangler – Even if you never show your horse you’ll need to detangle his tail from time to time (and possibly his mane too) which is always a challenging chore! I’ve found that if I run a little bit of detangler through my horse’s tails every few days it stops them from getting matted up and makes combing them easy, even if they’re coated in mud. I don’t know if I should admit to this or not but it also works wonders on my hair.
  • TAKEKIT Pro clippers – Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different clippers and while some were obviously better than others I found these to be by far the best. They are heavier than a lot of other clippers but for me, that’s a good thing, it makes them feel more sturdy and hardwearing. On top of that they have a range of speeds so are just as good for clipping your horse’s back as they are his face. I also like the fact that they come in a handy carry case but that’s not for everybody. The company that makes them is super good and incredibly helpful too, a real bonus these days. The only thing I wasn’t keen on was the fact that it doesn’t come with any oil, but that’s not a major problem as it’s not difficult to buy lubricant.
  • Shire’s ball feeder – There are so many boredom buster toys out there but I like to use these every day, regardless of whether or not my horses are bored. I find that it helps to encourage my horses to problem solve by rewarding them with treats (or pieces of fruit) but it also mimics their natural grazing behavior which helps to keep them calm and de-stressed.
  • Horse safe mirror – This is a strange one that many people are surprised about but I like to put horse safe mirrors in the trailers as well as in the quarantine stalls. It helps to prevent the feeling of isolation by giving the impression of other horses being around. Being herd animals horses can get extremely stressed when they feel that they’re on their own but with these stick-on mirrors, they believe that at least one other horse is with them.
  • Rectal thermometer – I know this isn’t glamourous at all but it’s vital for your horse’s well-being to be able to check their temperature and a rectal thermometer is the easiest way of doing this which is why I’ve added it to the list.

Shopping lists

I’ve also put together a few shopping lists of essential items that I’ve found helpful over the years. I’ve broken the lists down into different categories rather than put everything in one massive list 😉

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