Tips When Trying Out a New Horse

Tips When Trying Out a New Horse

Tips When Trying Out a New Horse

Finding your perfect new horse, for many riders, can also mean having to ride a lot of horses in order to find ‘the one’.  It is a decision that will have repercussions for years to come.  This is true for you, the horse, and also everyone who has to work closely with the two of you!

So it makes sense that there can be quite a bit of pressure on riders to make the ‘right’ decision after trying out a new horse.

But for this episode, let’s stick to a few good, old-fashioned rules of thumb when it comes to trying out a new horse for the first time…

Be Realistic of the Potential

‘Potential’ is a funny thing.  We are all absolutely brimming to the top with it.  And all of our horses are too! However, there are very few humans or horses who actually live up to and experience their fullest potential.  I say this because, often, when we are trying out a new horse, we can either become oblivious to or we can get too caught up in the horse’s potential’

So before you go trying out every and any horse you see, be clear on what exactly you are looking for – you probably won’t need the best horse in the world; you’re looking for the best horse for you right now…

Be There to Groom & Tack Up

For time’s sake, many sellers will have the horse already tacked up and waiting for your arrival.  I would strongly suggest phoning ahead and requesting that this is not the case. And this is especially true if you plan on keeping the horse on your property.  Experiencing the horse on the ground is important.  Knowing that you can safely groom and tack up the horse, especially if it will be staying by your own home, is essential!

Watch for first impressions as well; when you reach the stable door what does the horse do? Walk to greet you or turn it’s business end to you? 

Horses Respond to the People Around Them

Keep in mind that the horse will be responding to the people who are currently working with it.  And will almost certainly change when they are with their new owner or rider for a few weeks or months.  There are certain things that can sometimes be overlooked.

Horses will do what they have been trained to or allowed to do by the people who work with them.  Bad manners and lack of boundaries are just two of the ways this can show up…

Your ability to retrain your horse will depend on your confidence and your horsemanship skills.  Trying out a new mount is not the time or the place to begin this work! But this point is an important one to keep in mind when looking at one.

Honesty is the Best Policy!

Be honest with the seller about your current riding level and commitment.  This includes time, facilities, trainer, etc. However, do keep in mind that, whether intentional or not, the seller can sometimes make what they are selling sound like it is perfect for you when it’s clearly not!

A great way to avoid this is to first ask lots of questions about the current rider and what they are currently doing with the horse. “Why?” is your friend here… Keep digging! 

Once you have a clear picture in your mind about the current rider and how they get on with the horse, then share about yourself. Tell them not only where you are at right now, but also your plans, goals, and ambitions for going forward.  If the horse hates trail rides or hacking out alone, but your 1-year goal is an overnight solo trail ride, this is probably not the right one for you!

Mounting Up & Trying Out…

Watch the horse being ridden first. This is important and something we can often fail to do due to sheer enthusiasm to ‘get in the saddle’. Hold your horses, practice a little patience, and slow down.  Rather stand back and watch how the current owner or rider handles the horse. This is true both before they mount up and when they initially mount up. If there is a reluctance on their part to get into the saddle and they have not mentioned anything to hint at why… You’ve got yourself a bit of a red flag.

After watching them ride the horse, I love to have a rider I personally know who has come with me ride the horse. Knowing how that rider rides, I can better see from the ground how the horse goes… 

And after all of that, then and only then, do I suggest mounting up yourself.  If you’re feeling happy and that this is a ‘match’, well test that theory out by spending time riding the horse. Keep in mind that this is not the time or place to have a lesson from your trainer, or to practice that nifty new movement you’ve been working on!

And It Might NOT Be a Match!

Okay, so if at any point prior to gently lowering your bum into the saddle, if you feel any sort of hesitation or ‘niggling feeling’ about mounting up; stop!  Simply tell the seller that you’ve seen enough and this is not the horse for you. Thank them for their time and be pleasant. You never know, they might even know of a more suitable horse for you… Very possible! And don’t feel bad…

Most sellers would rather ‘save’ the horse for a more suitable potential buyer than have someone onboard who is not a fit from the get-go. And if they are genuine, they will remain respectful and pleasant.  No harm done! 

Unfortunately, trying to sell a horse that was not a match for you from the beginning is very difficult.  Many people will blame the horse for the partnership not working out.  And, in my experience, these unfortunate horses tend to have untrue labels and names attached to them that become VERY difficult to change.

Prepare Yourself for a NEW Horse…

The final point I want to make here before I finish is that if you have had a horse for years and years and now, for whatever reason, are looking for a new partner… Give yourself a little grace! To go from having ridden and connected with the same horse for years… To suddenly jump on the back of a new horse and hope it all works out might be a little naive!

If you have only had experience riding one horse for the past 2+ years, before trying out a new horse, book in for some lessons on a ‘different’ horse first.

This way the ‘lesson’ horse can be the one you feel that initial discomfort of things being ‘different’ on. This will leave you better prepared to be more honest with yourself about the horse you are actually trying out when the time comes.

Happy Riding!

A Simple Plan for Trying Out a New Horse

This episode is the first, taken from a week of lessons inside Daily Strides Premium. They are all about what to do when trying a new horse.  And while this is the first lesson, and a quick overview of the dos and don’ts of trying out a new horse, the following 4 audio horse riding lessons are the actual riding plan!

A selection of simple exercises and movements you can use when trying out a new horse.  You will also learn what I suggest looking for at each stage of the ride. 

These are all available right now inside of Daily Strides Premium. Audio horse riding lessons are delivered straight to your phone so that you can use your own time and your own arena to help you and your trusty steed.  Daily Strides Premium is back! You can use the first and original audio riding lessons to improve your riding, train your horse, keep things interesting, and have fun… Even if you don’t have a trainer or coach

More Help for Riders:-

Equestrian Fitness Challenge ’24

Work on improving your overall strength, fitness, and stamina as a rider. The all-new and free 2024 Equestrian Fitness Challenge is a great place for you to do this.  It is walking and yoga-based (no workouts), so it will ease you into becoming a better version of yourself in the saddle gently. You can sign up HERE or by visiting 
There will be a daily walk, a 10 minute daily yoga practice, and lots of tips, ideas, exercises, and ways to improve so that you can show up as the best version of you – for you and your horse.
Sign up today and let’s transform your riding – one stride at a time! 100% FREE 2024 Equestrian Fitness Challenge

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