4 Tips and Tricks for Buying Horse Stuff Online

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of something new and expensive… or like the utter distress when you look at your bank account afterward. Here’s how to cope.

Thanks to the Internet and the fact that Paypal saves your card information, it’s easier than ever for horse people to buy things on impulse.

Cue the too-short breeches that I was too lazy to return (then multiply it by three)… and the XC vest that didn’t fit so I sold it at a loss and bought a far more expensive one at the tack shop… and the Passier that doesn’t fit and is currently making my bank account very very sad until I sell it… and then bring tracings to the tack shop to look for a new one.


Anybody need a dressage saddle?

Why have I not learned that some things are just better purchased in person? Well, that’s the million dollar question, but until I figure out the answer, I do have some tips and tricks for buying online.

The Tape Measure Is Your Friend: Ideally, whatever you’re looking for will have a sizing chart online. If not, you may have to do some sleuthing through the manufacturer’s site or through forums. Actually go through and take your measurements before putting those breeches in your shopping cart—equestrian brands are notoriously idiosyncratic, and one man’s “regular” is another’s “since when is having two-foot legs regular?”


Shoulda used that sizing chart.

Your Friends Are Your Friends: I wouldn’t recommend using your local tack shop as a showroom, since they need as much support as they can get to stay in business, but do you have a friend who owns whatever you’re looking to buy? Have a chat and find out if s/he would recommend it—but keep your own needs in mind too. The saddle brand that fits their Frankenhorse might not work for your not-so-Frankenhorse, no matter how comfy it is.

Reviews Are Your Friends: Now, most people won’t take the time to review something unless they feel strongly, so keep that in mind. The people who think a product is perfectly serviceable, but not the best thing since no-turn bell boots will likely not bother to take the time to write a review saying so. So it’s a fine art to figure out if one terrible review really means the thing is awful.


SmartPak has a fantastic customer review system for its products.

And Above All—a Healthy Dose of Skepticism: Realistically—how likely is it that the item will fit? If you or your horse are not a typical “off-the-rack” size and shape then you may save yourself a lot of hassle by buying in person—or doing a LOT of research before you buy online.

Yet even with all the measuring, research and good intentions in the world, buying sized items online is a bit of a gamble. So save your boxes (or collect a stash)! I know from personal experience that if you get rid of the box, that return policy deadline is going to zip by and you’ll be stuck with a bunch of breeches that only semi-fit.

So there you have it—four tips to (hopefully) minimize the amount of back-and-forth you have to do with the returns department. Now repeat after me: I will not make any more impulse purchases… I will not make any more impulse purchases… well… at least until the next sale.

Go Shopping.

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