The most important things to look for when buying a draft horse are health and suitability for the job. The horse's temperament and level of training are also important considerations.
Draft horses can be used for different jobs, including pleasure riding, farm work and competitions. A person purchasing a draft horse for recreational riding should consider a smaller draft horse, which may be easier to mount from the ground. The smoothness of the horse's gait is also an important consideration for comfort during longer trail rides.
Draft horses used for farm work should be healthy and have solid, calm temperaments. Inexperienced owners may wish to consider a well-trained individual or team that is already used to farm work, which can help prevent accidents and frustrating delays. Some breeders and private sellers are willing to mentor new owners, which can also help the learning process.
Prospective buyers for competitions should look for a horse that is suited for the type of competition. Breed shows require purebred animals that meet breed standards for conformation, color and size. Competitive driving classes require an attractive, well-trained horse that calmly obeys commands. For horse pulling competitions, strength and health are the primary concerns.
Regardless of the intended use, a clean bill of health from a veterinarian and a good temperament are important factors to look for in a draft horse.