First horse - advice needed!

I am really excited as planning to get my first horse in about 6 months…starting to look now though as I cant resist!

If anyone could offer any advice on a few things, it would be really appreciated:

  • approx. how much hay would 2 horses consume per month, if the grazing is relatively poor and 1 is being used for hacking 3-4 times per week? Will rotate them in different fields for optimal grazing but the area is just not that great for grass unfortunately.

  • would it be difficult to find a retired horse to keep as a companion with my new horse…ideally not to purchase and the owner would cover vets, farrier, extra food…I would look after it day-to-day though.

  • what do you all do when you go on holiday/back to the UK?

  • in your experience in France, do many owners sell horses with tack included? Would like to change/upgrade this if needed but short-medium term it would be great to have tack included!

    Really appreciate any advice you can offer and I will try not to ask too many more questions! :slight_smile:


Second, third and fourth that! My current horse is a 15.1 chestnut mare, originally from… Ireland!! I brought her over with me and would not hesitate in finding her (eventual) replacement from Ireland/UK. Its only around 500€ to import them via international horse transporters (for example John Parker) and, again, you’d save the cost of transport as UK horse are soooooooooo much less expensive. That said, I’d never buy without trying the horse/having it vetted so maybe not for you? You’ll know when you’ve found the “right one”. Good luck Louise

Hi Claire, so do I take it you haven’t actually found a horse yet? If not, then perhaps your friend at the yard will be able to help in this respect. I only once bought a horse here in France from someone I knew well so got all the horse’s history (very important) but if I was to go looking for another one, think I would go back to the UK and find something there. What you want, whether here or in the UK, is a ‘been there, done it’ horse. In other words, probably about 10 yrs old or more, perhaps been competed at novice level so its been out and about, with kind, calm temperament, but not a slug, a horse that will take you places and look after you!

Most of my horses have been Irish - they are just the best in the world, we always used to say an Irish horse had one extra leg to get you out of trouble, and they are usually sensible and kind. I wouldn’t advise against a rescue horse - I know that sounds bad - but like rescue dogs, they usually come with baggage and you need to know what you’re doing. You could look in some horse magazines, Cheval Pratique etc, but you would need an experienced person to come along with you, and don’t forget to get it vetted! Other than that, go by your instinct. If you feel an immediate affinity with a particular horse, then go for it. Its an emotive thing, not to be compared with buying a car.

i wish you lots of luck, horses are the most wonderful creatures. I once had a big black Irish horse that ‘found’ me, at a time in my life when I was in despair, and I swear this horse saved my life. he was my best friend for 20 years, and the envy of all my friends. If you can ever find a horse like that, then its the best thing ever in life, and something to be treasured.

Hope it all works out for you



Hi Jean,

Thanks for the advice!

I have to say, beginners/tourists riding my horse is a concern. However, the owner of the stables is a close friend and she is very strong with her students and really loves her horses, so I am sure no rough behaviour would be tolerated.

The benefit for me would be company when hacking, experienced people/friends on site and having reliable care when I pop back to the UK, also significantly reduced livery costs! I would of course do it on a trial basis initially.

I am definitely not rushing into this, I have been dreaming/planning to have my own horse for years but it was just unfeasible in the UK (costs, working hours etc…)! I have weekly lessons (in exchange for maintaining the stable’s website/advertising) and will continue to do so once I get my horse…

I would be really interested to hear how other’s have found their horses, as the websites etc…here are rather limited and obviously the country is so vast! Any tips would be great :slight_smile:

Thanks again

Hi Claire, Just read the advice from Louise and have nothing to add on that score, but would put in a word of caution re letting your horse be used for lessons/hacks. You have no idea what standard of rider would be using him, and he is likely to be kicked and thumped in his poor sides and his mouth pulled all over the place by people who can’t ride/still learning to ride/should never be on a horse in the first place! Just be careful what you sign up to, though having your horse at the local stables with other people around to give you advice will be good for you to start with as I have to warn there is much, much, more to owning a horse than most people think. At least you are taking advice and trying to find out about things before taking the plunge. so many people get a field and think, ‘oh let’s put a horse in it’. Every time I hear someone say, ‘oh I’ve bought a horse now we’ve got a field’ I always casually ask if they’ve done much riding, and the answer is often NO. Fills me with total horror. Best of luck anyway, Jean

Thanks for all the advice!

I am considering keeping it at my local stables initially (at least first 6m - 1yr) and the instructor would use my horse twice a week for lessons/hacks. I do wonder though whether I would be able to ‘bond’ enough with the horse if loads of different people ride him/her - what are your thoughts on this?

Thanks for the advice re. the hay!

I have been looking on leboncoin and various other sites but any tips on where to look online would be great :slight_smile:

The robinsons site looks really good, I got a brochure from a friend a while back and it does seem really reasonable. I think a synthetic saddle would suit me fine to start with, so I can focus on riding!

Thanks again


Hi Claire,

As a general rule of thumb, a horse needs 2% of its weight each day in forage (grass and/or hay). Average weight for 15.2 horse around 450- 500kg, so 10kg-ish per day. Hay bales vary in weight and size, so to calculate cost you need a price per tonne. If your just doing hacking then “foin de pré” is fine. There is also a much much higher energy vale hay called “foin de crau”, but this has lots of luzerne in and should be fed sparingly as its the equivalent of rocket-fuel for horses, LOL.

Loan horses, check out the retired race-horse sites through Galop France, though with these you’d be responsible for all costs. Probably better to buy a small pony, cheap to keep in terms of feed (would probably manage on grazing alone)and usually hardy so apart from annual vaccinations and regular hoof trims/worming, no expense.

Tack included? Hmm, bit like buying furniture with a house, you can think you’re getting a bargain, but the cost of horse/house has been loaded to take account of “free” furniture/tack, plus normally not very good quality…

If you’re looking for start-up tack a a reasonable price, check the “Robinsons” website (Uk based). They do a good basic range and synthetic saddles are very good these days. I can guarantee that buying stuff in England, even after carraige charges, is FAR cheaper than buying the equivalent in France… Same goes for any supplements etc you may need. I have numerous horsey friends here now for whom I order stuff from UK and bring it back when I visit relatives back there 2 -3 times a year.

For holidays, I’m lucky that we all help out with each others beasties, works quite well. However, there are usually people willing to visit, feed, etc for a fee, just check your local small-adds or web sites such as “Equirodi”.

Hope this helps, good luck and welcome to the world of being broke, dirty, smelly and deliriously happy most of the time!!!


Hi Claire,
If the grazing is poor the horses will need hay in autumn, winter and possibly summer if it’s very dry where you are.They will probably need extra food aswell especially if they are ridden and in the winter.
You could easily find a retired horse for company but most of the time I imagine it would be a horse for sale,not as a loan.
I bought my horse with the tack included but I’m not sure if that’s normal or not
Good Luck with your
"horse hunting"