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Horse Search

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  • Horse Search

    Hi all!

    I am going to be in the market for my first horse after a short break from riding. I recently immigrated to the USA from New Zealand so I don't really know where to start looking. What is the most reputable website or place to try and find my equine match? Also, where and who should I absolutely avoid? I have found a farm a few states away that I plan on getting in touch with to discuss what I am hoping to find, and what my budget is etc. I'd really like to try my search myself to start though.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    Edited to add: I am in Southern Maine, Androscoggin County. If anyone knows of any Dressage trainers around please let me know!
    Last edited by KiwiGirl91; Jul. 12, 2019, 12:18 PM.
    A Kiwi living in New England
    Grade V Para Dressage rider

  • #2
    I have had a lot of luck in my horse searches through Facebook. There are a TON (and I mean a ton) of groups dedicated to buying/selling horses, some a specific discipline, some a specific breed, some a specific region and/or state. I have also looked on EquineNow and Dream Horse, but honestly Facebook has been my best go to...I'm easily a part of 30 groups from when I was searching!


    • #3
      You may want to start visiting barns near you to review boarding options. That way, you can have a place to bring a horse upon purchase and when horse people know you are looking, they often have horses for sale or know of horses for sale. Check out the barns and trainers carefully. It’s not always easy to tell a good place from a place that may look good but isn’t. I look at the horses also to see if they are friendly and well kept, then if the facility is safe and trash and equipment picked up. Then look online for chatter about the barn and trainer (which is not always true or helpful). Facebook,, Canter, Lope, ask veterinarians and farriers if they know of horses for sale. Have the seller ride first before you ride. If you go with a trainer who is getting a commission, the seller or their trainer rides first, your trainer rides after the other trainer and/or owner rides, then you ride. Don’t let anyone tell you that vet checks are not done, regardless of the price of horse. If they do, run the other way. Good luck and have fun!


      • Original Poster

        Thank you for all of that info!
        I have a small farm so I won't be boarding my future horse. I will absolutely be getting a PPE too. Ideally a 5 stage with a full set of x-rays. Like you said, I always like the owner/rider/trainer to ride the horse first. If they won't there's usually a reason why.
        I have been having lessons at a barn (so I get some saddle time!) at a lovely barn with a great owner. Unfortunately she has sold up and is having a break from horses. I plan on looking for a new trainer more local to me and hopefully they know of a suitable horses for sale, or if there's somewhere local that is a good place to look. It's been difficult finding trainers that have horses available that aren't your usual (adorable, but beginner/intermediate mounts) school ponies/horses to have dressage lessons on. I've just found a tack shop in my area, so I've been looking at their news boards and talking with them to get more of an idea where to go too. I've joined a bunch of Facebook groups now too.

        I'm not ready to buy yet, but I want to be prepared so that when I am I don't miss out on something suitable because I didn't know where to start!
        A Kiwi living in New England
        Grade V Para Dressage rider


        • #5
          North America is huge and most people buy horses within driving distance of where they live, but if you are after something special or live in an area where your discipline is not common, you may need to expand your search and factor in some travel time to trial horses.

          Note also that prices for horses will vary a lot from region to region.

          I'd say that first step in shopping for anything is to do your research and be entirely realistic about your wants and needs. Decisions you need to make relative to your skills and ambitions include: do you want a made horse or schoolmaster, and if so how old is OK, and what level of medical maintenance or physical issues can you tolerate? Or do you want a prospect, and if so how young is OK and how green is OK? What breeds or crosses do you prefer? And what price range is realistic for what you want and need? What compromises will you need to make to stay wihtin what you can afford, or do you need to expand your budget? What height range? Dressage is currently on a taller is better kick, but smaller riders often do better on on a smaller horse.

          And it is very useful to already have connections with a trainer you like and trust before you start shopping. If you are doing your own shopping and are in the lower price ranges, you might consider paying the trainer a fee to review videos and visit sales horses with you, rather than having her take a commission on the horse she helps you find. And as you say, always do a vet pre purchase exam, and factor that into your budget.

          Working through these questions will help you avoid the dilemma that's not uncommon on COTH, where someone says "Help! What should I do? I can buy a unbroke 3 year old WB with an amazing trot at liberty, or I can buy an 18 year old PSG school master who needs hock injections every six months and might be getting Cushings, for about the same price! Or should I just get this lovely 7 year old golden palomino QH and switch to Western Dressage because she is so beautiful? I need to make up my mind by Monday!!"

          I understand the dilemma but things will go smoother if you know the answers to those questions before you start actually contacting sellers, although remaining flexible is also a good thing.

          If you want to get a sense of the higher end of the market, Warmbloods for Sale has very nicely presented sales horses.

          With FB cracking down on animal sales, some equine groups have been affected and others seem to be business as usual. Equine Now and Dream Horse are still out there and searchable. You might find it useful to join discipline or breed related FB groups especially in your region. I would say it is time well spent to do some online research and then go to some local shows and see how much you can figure out about the local and regional players.


          • #6
            What are your goals?
            If you are looking to move up the levels I suggest finding an upper level trainer who may be able to find a schoolmaster for you to lease.

            I understand wanting to own your own horse, but I'm my experience there are very few places that have dressage mounts for lesson horses.

            Plenty of hunter/jumper , western riding but not dressage.

            Yes you won't own the horse, but you will be learning how to ride higher level horses and getting valuable experience and not have to worry about selling a horse that you have outgrown.

            Now, if you are the patient type and enjoying bringing along a young prospect you could do that too.

            If you aren't so much into shows but just want to learn dressage you aren't limited to just warm bloods. Just about any breed can perform lower level dressage.

            It really boils down to your own goals.

            You can reach out to your regions GMO. That is your local dressage/combined training chapter.

            If you put a little more information on your location area COTH posters may be able to direct you to dressage instructors close to you.

            Good luck.
            "They'll be no butter in hell."


            • #7
              Facebook seems to be the go to place to sell horses nowadays. I’ve found the most options there, what’s on sites like warmbloods for sale or dreamhorse pale in comparison. I’d join a bunch of groups for your area.


              • Original Poster

                Thank you Scribbler!

                You make some super valid points that I hadn't even thought of. I already have a pretty good idea on my budget and what I am looking for, but I'll get it down on paper so when the time comes I can see what I am really wanting/needing before the whole inevitable heart vs head thing comes into play.
                A Kiwi living in New England
                Grade V Para Dressage rider


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for all of that info AnastasiaBeaverHousen!

                  I am definitely open to leasing as well. I have leased previously and really enjoyed not having to sell the horse once I was ready to move onto something else. I have previously ridden and competed to NZ's equivalent of third level and I would really like to earn my Bronze medal to start, then continue progressing through the levels. I have been lucky enough to have found older schoolmasters that needed rehabbing due to injury and bought them cheap, and then rehabbed and learned a ton off them. I think I'm ready for something younger that I could train through the levels, or something that's already there but out of work. I have a number of routes I could go, it really depends on finding a trainer I like, my budget and what stage of training the horse I like it at. I'm definitely flexible nor going to rush into it, so hopefully the goes in my favor.

                  I am in Southern Maine, Androscoggin County if anyone knows of any Dressage trainers around
                  A Kiwi living in New England
                  Grade V Para Dressage rider


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks Zevida! I have found a number of groups on Facebook so I have requested to join them.
                    A Kiwi living in New England
                    Grade V Para Dressage rider


                    • #11
                      It's been a few years since I shopped, but there were some options in driving distance of you that had multiple sale horses.

                      Northshire Farm in VT
                      Cindi Rose Wylie in Georgetown, MA
                      Ruth Hogan-Poulsen in VT
                      Sons of the Wind (Lusitanos) in MA

                      NEDA is the GMO that covers much of that area, so I'd recommend you check out their page too.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks Joiedevie99! I have saved all of those links to my favorites for future reference
                        A Kiwi living in New England
                        Grade V Para Dressage rider


                        • #13
                          Might be easier to find a trainer you like first and then use their networks to streamline the horse search. I occasionally find something my trainer doesn't know about (like Libby's pony here on COTH!) but normally they're the one suggesting prospects to me because they run across so many more horses on a daily basis than me.

                          Good luck with your search! My leased gelding is a Kiwi, too. It would be pretty neat if you ended up with a horse from New Zealand here in the US!


                          • #14
                            Maine is sort of a wasteland as far as high-end horses go. Southern Maine is better, but still not great.
                            If you're interested in a well-bred WB, you might have to look in MA/CT but then you're paying inflated prices.

                            You should also be prepared to trailer a fair distance to find good horse shows. Same for lessons.

                            Sara Bradley is in Waterford, Maine, and while I don't know her personally, I do enjoy her COTH blogs. As a hunter rider, I'm not well informed on good dressage trainers or programs around you. However, there are some decent eventing programs, and I've had good luck (in other parts of the country) finding talented and athletic horses for below value because they didn't want to be event horses, and the owners didn't know how to market to other disciplines.

                            Another option is to find a more horsey area of the country (say MD or VA) and do a week-long trip there, lining up as many horses as possible to try during that period. That's how I horse-shopped in Germany, and while exhausting, it was very efficient. Just take copious notes since all the horses will blend together when you're trying to remember who was who.

                            I have bought horses off FB groups, and warmbloods for sale, and dreamhorse sometimes have good options.

                            Good luck, and welcome to the US!
                            A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's does that...



                            • #15
                              Hi neighbor!

                              If you are near Gray, Trio Farm has a lovely PSG gelding for lease that just went up online yesterday. His young owner helps around my farm and I can attest to his good nature and quality. Plus, Karen is an excellent instructor.

                              Freeport Eq Ctr is excellent. Three quality instructors, good schoolies, and a welcoming atmosphere. I'm not sure of lease options there but the instruction is worth the trip.

                              Androscoggin is a big county, I'm at the southern tip, and have riding friends further north. If Gray and Freeport at too far south, let me know and I'll get some suggestions for you.

                              Welcome to Maine!


                              • #16
                                I found my horse by posting an ISO (In Search Of) on several FB groups devoted to selling/buying dressage horses. If you do this, my advice is to know where you are willing to be flexible (or not), be very patient and keep your sense of humor.

                                Let's say, for example, you are looking for a horse between 5 and 9 years old, between 16 and 17 hands, currently schooling at first level or above, and located within driving distance of Androscoggin County, ME. Your budget is mid five figures. Pretty specific, and not unreasonable, right? You will have many, many responses like "I have the PERFECT horse for you! He's 18 hands, located in South Dakota, and not started yet." Or, "He's 21 years 'young' with lots of miles left! Currently at training level!" Or, "10 years old, schooling the PSG, located in western Canada, only $120,000!" Or, an almost infinite number of permutations that are nothing like what you are looking for.

                                Remain patient, ignore the posts offering up horses that are nowhere near what you want (I started out responding with a "thank you, lovely horse, but not what I'm looking for" but eventually stopped doing that), and with a little time and luck, someone will have a horse for you. Good luck!
                                "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks Wanderosa! I am having a lesson with a new trainer shortly, so if all goes well I am hoping to have her to help me find/navigate the market when I'm ready.

                                  Thanks for your response Elementfarm! You make some excellent suggestions. I'm all for taking a few days to travel out of state to find my new equine partner. I'd just have to convince the husband! lol

                                  Hi Sadiegem! Thank you for those tips! I'm near Sabbatus and work near Freeport, so I've contacted Freeport Equestrian Center and we're setting up a lesson hopefully this week. If all goes well I'm hoping that they will be an excellent resource when I'm ready to lease/buy. I wish I'd asked on here first before trying to find a barn! I didn't even know about either of those barns, even with my hours of online searching. I must not have put the right wordage.

                                  Thanks for your response Sillyhorse! I was definitely considering doing an ISO when I'm ready. I see so many and the often completely off the mark responses that I think I will be prepared for that. I've seen some people adding a little note at the bottom saying please don't tell me about anything except a horse that meets these requirements, as not to waste any ones time.
                                  A Kiwi living in New England
                                  Grade V Para Dressage rider


                                  • #18
                                    I recently bought a horse that was advertised on Facebook groups, as well as (those were the main places I looked). I got my trainer to help me search as well - it can cost more with the commission, but then I would not have found the mare I ended up getting without my trainer's sharp eye locating her and helping me figure out what was best (she wasn't on the market long and leveraging a well-connected trainer's knowledge/reputation in the community goes a long way - the horse was advertised out of my budget, but we got her within my budget anyway thanks in part to the "good home" reputation of my trainer).

                                    A popular FB group is "Horses 4 Your Consideration (H4YC)" and "Dressage Horses Weanlings to GP - Any price".

                                    Good luck!!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks The Sandiest Shoes! I have asked to join those Facebook groups.

                                      I'm definitely seeing the benefit to finding a trainer and getting established with them, and then utilizing them when I am ready to lease or buy.
                                      A Kiwi living in New England
                                      Grade V Para Dressage rider


                                      • #20
                                        Oh, I'm jealous! I'm a Grade V para rider in NZ, and I LOVE the States!!