If you are moving into an older home, you will likely be dealing with a product called horsehair plaster. This hasn't been used for a number of years now, as the new products on the market are more durable and less subject to cracking. Cracking is the general complaint about this type of plaster. The plaster itself is constructed of thin fibers that peel open over time. Since most of the houses that have this in them are more than 100 years old, general aging can be considered the prime cause for the issues experienced.
Dealing with Cracks in Horsehair Plaster
If you find yourself facing a cracked plaster, you can try to first put mud and mesh tape over the area. Some people would suggest that you "v" out the crack, but that depends on the integrity and age of the plaster. Avoid joint compound, as it has a tendency to shrink, thereby making the crack worse. There is also a product called patching plaster, but it does not work any better than the joint compound. Consult someone at a local home improvement store for further details if your situation seems a bit more extreme than normal. Worse comes to worse, consider replacing the plaster altogether.
Removing Horsehair Plaster
In order to remove horsehair plaster, you need to turn off the power in the wall you are removing the plaster from. You should then remove any trim on the wall and use a stud finder to locate studs in the wall. The studs and outlets in the wall should be marked. In order to prevent your floor from becoming filthy, you should lay down drop cloths on the floor.
Before you start removing the plaster, you should put on safety goggles, a respirator mask, and gloves. To remove the plaster, you should drill away from the studs and cut out sections of the wall with a reciprocating saw.
WARNING: If your home is over 100 years old, find out if it has asbestos in its walls before you start working. If so, you'll need to contact a professional to take care of the walls.