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Owning an American Quarter Horse

Become a part of the American Quarter Horse family.

Red roan mare with foal. Horse ownership can be a rewarding experience, one enjoyed by persons of all ages through a wide variety of activities, including shows, rodeos, races and recreational rides. The experience begins, naturally, with the purchase of your first horse. It is an important step, one which must be made with equal amounts of education and dedication. Your first purchase often sets the tone for your lifetime of horseback experiences.

The first step in horse ownership is asking yourself, “Why do I want a horse?”

This question will help you form a goal, which, in turn, provides the framework for your buying decision. As a starting point, ask yourself the following:

  • What is my goal?
  • Do I want to become a better rider and increase my knowledge of horses?
  • What types of activities do I want to do with this horse?
  • How much can I afford to spend on the purchase of a horse, plus stall rental, feed, training, health care and hauling?
  • How much do I know about riding — am I a beginner; will I need additional riding instruction?
  • Will I work with my horse on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?
  • How much time can I devote to feeding, care, lessons, shows or trail rides?

Different goals require different types of horses and different skill levels of the rider. If you plan to show competitively, the type of horse will differ greatly — in level of training, and subsequently, price — than a recreational riding horse. Your overall goal as a horse owner is the foundation for your buying decision.

Just as one researches buying a car, you should do your homework before purchasing a horse. Call AQHA toll-free, (800) 414-RIDE, to help you locate others within your area who can aid your search for the perfect equine partner. We'll also provide you with a referral to AQHA events in your area and other pertinent information to help you choose an area of interest to participate in.

Evaluate Your Skills

Once you’ve established a specific goal with your new horse, the next step is evaluating your level of horseback skills. Your skill level will indicate what kind of horse best fits your needs. Would you categorize yourself as:

  • Beginning, with limited knowledge of horses and riding in general?
  • Intermediate, with a basic understanding of riding and knowledge of a chosen discipline?
  • Advanced, with considerable knowledge of horses and competitive at a chosen discipline?

For beginning or recreational riders, a broke, gentle gelding usually is the best bet. However, beginners with a competitive goal should locate a horse which has mastered requirements within the chosen activity, or is “seasoned.” For example, if your goal is to one day become a competitive team roper, it’s a good idea to find an older, yet sound gelding which has been roped upon extensively. Find a horse with enough experience to help you advance your riding skills first, while still allowing you to compete and hone your competitive talents.

Intermediate equestrians have a bit more freedom of choice than beginners in that their horse should demonstrate fundamental activity requirements, as evidenced by some level of past performance, but they may not necessarily require a horse with years of experience. However, the horse should at least be suitable for a desired discipline, or demonstrate adequate potential.

Advanced riders have the greatest latitude in buying a horse, as they may be able to take a young horse which lacks experience and train it for a chosen activity. While this may be a rewarding experience when accomplished effectively, it should only be considered by advanced horsemen with years of experience who have the time to work with the horse.

Get more tips on buying your first horse.