How to Buy a Horse in Iowa: A Clear Guide for Prospective Horse Owners

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If you’re looking to buy a horse in Iowa, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the process. Iowa has a thriving horse industry, with many breeders, trainers, and sellers throughout the state. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced equestrian, there are several factors to consider when purchasing a horse in Iowa.

First and foremost, it’s important to determine what type of horse you’re looking for. Do you want a horse for trail riding, jumping, or dressage? Are you looking for a specific breed or age range? Once you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, you can start your search for the perfect horse. Iowa has many reputable breeders and sellers, as well as several horse auctions throughout the year. It’s important to do your research and choose a seller who has a good reputation and can provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

Understanding Horse Breeds

When it comes to buying a horse in Iowa, understanding horse breeds is essential. There are many different breeds of horses, each with its own unique characteristics and traits. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at three popular horse breeds: American Quarter Horse, Thoroughbreds, and Clydesdale Team.

American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is one of the most popular horse breeds in the United States. It is known for its speed, agility, and versatility. American Quarter Horses are commonly used for rodeo events, ranch work, and trail riding. These horses are typically between 14 and 16 hands tall and weigh between 950 and 1,200 pounds.


Thoroughbreds are another popular horse breed. They are known for their speed, athleticism, and endurance. Thoroughbreds are commonly used for racing, but they can also excel in other disciplines such as show jumping and eventing. These horses are typically between 15 and 17 hands tall and weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds.

Clydesdale Team

The Clydesdale Team is a draft horse breed that originated in Scotland. These horses are known for their strength, size, and gentle nature. Clydesdales are commonly used for farm work, logging, and driving. They are also popular in parades and other public events. These horses are typically between 16 and 18 hands tall and weigh between 1,800 and 2,200 pounds.

In conclusion, understanding horse breeds is an important part of buying a horse in Iowa. By knowing the characteristics and traits of different horse breeds, you can make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the right horse for you. Whether you’re looking for a horse for ranch work, racing, or simply leisure riding, there is a breed out there that will meet your needs.

Finding Horses for Sale

If you are looking to buy a horse in Iowa, there are several ways to find horses for sale. Two common ways are through auctions and websites.


Auctions can be a great place to find horses for sale in Iowa. They offer a wide variety of horses, from young to old, and from different breeds. Some popular auction houses in Iowa include:

Auction House Location Website
Keosauqua Sales Co. Keosauqua, IA
Bloomfield Livestock Market Bloomfield, IA
Kalona Sales Barn Kalona, IA

When attending an auction, it is important to do your research beforehand. Look up the horses that will be available for bidding and decide on a budget. It is also important to inspect the horse before making a bid.


Websites can be a convenient way to find horses for sale in Iowa. There are several websites that specialize in listing horses for sale, such as:

These websites offer a variety of horses for sale in Iowa, from different breeds to different ages. Some websites also allow you to bid on horses through their platform, such as

When using websites to find horses for sale, it is important to thoroughly research the horse and the seller before making a purchase. Look for reviews and ratings of the seller, and ask for additional photos or videos of the horse if necessary.

Overall, whether you choose to attend an auction or use a website to find horses for sale in Iowa, it is important to do your research and inspect the horse before making a purchase.

Assessing Horse Value

When buying a horse, it’s essential to assess its value to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. Here are some factors to consider when determining a horse’s value.

Age and Size

Age and size are two crucial factors that affect a horse’s value. Generally, younger horses are more expensive than older ones, and larger horses are more valuable than smaller ones. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, a well-trained older horse may be more valuable than a younger, untrained one. Similarly, smaller horses can be more valuable if they excel in a particular discipline.

Color and Appearance

While color and appearance don’t affect a horse’s performance, they can influence its value. Some colors, such as black, sorrel, and chestnut, are more popular than others, such as grey and red roan. Additionally, horses with unique markings, such as paints, may be more valuable than those without.

Training and Abilities

Training and abilities are the most critical factors when assessing a horse’s value. A well-trained horse with excellent abilities is more valuable than an untrained one. When evaluating a horse’s training, consider its level of experience, discipline, and whether it can ride or drive. Horses with specialized training, such as dressage or jumping, may be more valuable than those trained for general riding.

When assessing a horse’s value, keep in mind that prices can vary widely. A horse’s value can range from as little as $1 to as much as $6,500, depending on its age, size, training, and abilities. For example, a 9-year-old, 15.1hh broke sorrel mare may be worth more than a 7-year-old, 14.3hh untrained black gelding.

In conclusion, assessing a horse’s value requires careful consideration of several factors. By evaluating a horse’s age, size, color, appearance, training, and abilities, you can determine its worth and make an informed purchasing decision.

Checking Horse Health

When buying a horse in Iowa, it is essential to check the horse’s health. This section covers two critical aspects of horse health: Vet Check and Soundness.

Vet Check

A vet check is a crucial step in the horse buying process. It is essential to have a licensed veterinarian examine the horse to ensure that it is healthy and sound. The vet check should include a thorough physical exam, including a check of the horse’s eyes, teeth, respiratory system, and heart. The vet may also take blood samples to test for any underlying health issues.

It is essential to choose a reputable veterinarian who is experienced in equine health. The vet should be able to provide you with a detailed report of the horse’s health, including any potential health issues that may require treatment or ongoing care.


In addition to a vet check, it is also important to assess the horse’s soundness. A sound horse is one that is free from lameness and other physical issues that may affect its performance.

When evaluating a horse’s soundness, it is important to consider the following:

  • Movement: Watch the horse walk, trot, and canter to assess its movement. Look for any signs of stiffness or lameness.
  • Flexion tests: Flexion tests involve bending the horse’s joints for a short period to assess its flexibility. The vet may perform these tests to identify any underlying issues.
  • Hoof health: Check the horse’s hooves for any signs of cracks, chips, or other damage. Poor hoof health can lead to lameness and other issues.

It is important to note that not all horses are suitable for all riders. When evaluating a horse’s suitability, consider factors such as the horse’s temperament, training, and experience. Ensure that the horse is safe for both you and your family to handle and ride.

In summary, checking a horse’s health is an essential step in the horse buying process. A vet check and soundness evaluation can help identify any potential health issues and ensure that the horse is safe and suitable for your needs.

Finalizing the Purchase

Once you have found the right horse and negotiated the terms of the sale, it’s time to finalize the purchase. This involves taking care of the paperwork and logistics of getting your new horse to its new home. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:


If you are buying a horse from out of state or a significant distance away, you will need to arrange for shipping. You can either hire a professional equine transport company or do it yourself if you have a trailer and the necessary experience. When choosing a transport company, make sure to do your research and find one with a good reputation. You will also need to provide proof of ownership and a health certificate for your horse before it can be transported.


If you are buying an older horse or one that has already had a long career, you may want to consider its retirement plan. This is especially important if you are buying a horse for a specific discipline or activity that it may not be able to continue doing for much longer. Talk to the seller about the horse’s history and any health issues it may have, and consider whether you will be able to provide the care and attention it needs in its later years.


In some cases, you may want to involve a third-party in the purchase process. This could be a veterinarian to perform a pre-purchase exam, a trainer to evaluate the horse’s suitability for your intended use, or a lawyer to review the sale contract. Make sure to choose qualified and reputable professionals, and be prepared to pay for their services.

Ultimately, finalizing the purchase of a horse requires careful attention to detail and a willingness to ask questions and seek advice when needed. By taking the time to consider all of the factors involved, you can ensure that you are making a sound investment in your new equine partner.

Horse Care Post-Purchase

Congratulations on your new horse! As a responsible horse owner, it is important to ensure that your horse receives the best possible care to maintain its health and well-being. Here are some essential tips for horse care post-purchase:


Feeding your horse a balanced diet is crucial for its overall health. Horses require a diet rich in fiber, including hay and grass, and may also need supplements to meet their nutritional needs. Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate diet for your horse’s age, weight, and activity level.


Grooming your horse regularly not only keeps it looking good but also helps maintain its health. Brushing removes dirt and debris from the coat, promotes circulation, and distributes natural oils. Additionally, grooming allows you to check for any injuries or signs of illness.

Hoof Care

Proper hoof care is essential to prevent lameness and other foot-related issues. Make sure your horse’s hooves are trimmed and balanced regularly by a professional farrier. Additionally, check your horse’s hooves daily for any signs of injury or infection.

Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary care is crucial to maintaining your horse’s health. Schedule annual check-ups, vaccinations, and dental exams to ensure your horse stays healthy. Additionally, if you notice any signs of illness or injury, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Horses require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. Consult with a trainer or equine professional to develop an appropriate exercise program for your horse’s age, breed, and activity level.

By following these essential tips for horse care post-purchase, you can ensure that your horse stays healthy and happy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for when buying a horse?

When buying a horse, there are several things you should consider. You should look at the horse’s breed, age, height, temperament, riding history, and suitability for your riding level and discipline. It’s important to evaluate the horse’s conformation, soundness, and overall health. You should also consider the horse’s training and any behavioral issues.

Are there any reputable horse sellers in Iowa?

Yes, there are several reputable horse sellers in Iowa. You can find them by doing an online search or by asking for recommendations from other horse owners or trainers. It’s important to do your research and ask questions before buying a horse to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable and trustworthy seller.

What is the average cost of a horse in Iowa?

The average cost of a horse in Iowa can vary depending on several factors, such as breed, age, training, and overall quality. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for a horse in Iowa. It’s important to set a budget and stick to it when buying a horse.

How do I know if a horse is healthy?

When buying a horse, it’s important to evaluate the horse’s overall health. You should look for signs of good health, such as a shiny coat, bright eyes, and good body condition. You should also check the horse’s vital signs, such as its heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. It’s a good idea to have a veterinarian perform a pre-purchase exam to ensure that the horse is healthy and sound.

What kind of horse is best for a beginner?

For beginners, it’s best to look for a horse that is calm, well-trained, and easy to handle. A horse that is suitable for a beginner should have a good temperament, be forgiving of mistakes, and have a smooth gait. It’s a good idea to work with a trainer or experienced horse person to help you find a horse that is suitable for your level of riding.

What should I consider before buying a horse?

Before buying a horse, you should consider several factors, such as your riding goals, budget, and level of experience. You should also consider the amount of time and resources you have available to care for a horse. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your needs and preferences before buying a horse to ensure that you find the right match.

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