I'd love to hear your stories about how you went about searching for your eventing horse. Did you buy from the internet? From your trainer? Breed him/her on your own? What made you choose your horse? What did you look for in potential horses? Did you know much about what would make a good eventing horse? Did you rely on your trainer? Or just luck out? Did you pay more for breeding and/or credentials? Or did you buy something in your price range and hope for the best?
I'm hoping to begin my search for a horse to buy next year only I'm overwhelmed! I'm sure which ever eventing facility I end up at would be thrilled to have me purchase one of theirs. But I'm not sure that would necessarily be the best way to go! (Or would it?)
I know buying the horse is only the beginning... But for this post I'd like to focus on this step. More questions undoubtedly to come on ownership in the future!
Anyway, I'm just trying to arm myself with information and would be thrilled to hear about and learn from your experiences. Thanks in advance!
When I was just generally shopping for new horses, I had a list of what I needed. I needed several new horses and I put my DH's needs first, which is why we bought HIS horse first. HE (6'5" tall) needed tall and strong and he wanted gaited. We had limited funds, and I didn't want a lot of baggage BUT I didn't want to wait several years breaking in from scratch--YOU may wish to do this, however.
We bought a 3 yo, 16'2hh KMHSA, he grew an inch, and he now weighs about 1,300 lbs, easily can carry around 250 pounds, for $3K.
I prefer 15'2hh, I PREFER a horse that trots, and the best we found was a 15'2hh, 4yo QH who had been donated to a rescue as a colt. They broke him there, and he was very sociable with a nice build, strides under well, etc. Cost us $1,500
Make yourself of list of favorites. Divide this list into: MUST HAVES, Can do without. Decide the MAXIMUM $ you can spend. (DH and I have bought from many auctions in the past and we ALWAYS decide what our top dollar is before the item/horse is auctioned. Don't overspend--you could lose the horse if you have to take out a loan and can't repay it. Sports horses CAN be very pricey. Somebody selling their well trained sportshorse bc of moving up is going to charge a lot for all of their training time, as they should. IF you can afford to keep 2 do so. If you're practicing a Dressage Test you can learn it on your 2nd horse and not let you primary Eventing horse MEMORIZE it. If you buy young and train you will be VERY frustrated at not having a finished horse to ride. I was, and I was glad that I've always had a finished horse to use while training a green one. (It is possible that you could be training somebody else's horse at the same time, and that would help.)
Regarding what makes a good eventing horse:
1) Minimum 16'hh. The jumps just get bigger and harder for a smaller horse to handle
2) NO gaited.
3) No downhill build
4) Look for natural collection. Watch the stride at a walk. The horse's back feet should be able to cover the footprint left by the same-side front foot. BETTER if that hoofprint is slightly in front of it.
5) Buy the BEST BUILD you can afford. Toes slightly out, cow-hocked, etc. will make the horse fall apart sooner. He/she should be able to have a long, fun career with you. Study up on confirmation NOW.
6) DO NOT buy for color. Color of the horse is like sprinkles on a donut. They do not change the taste or add ANYTHING but froo froo.
7) Finally, have the horse free jumped for you. If your horse doesn't like to jump, he'll dislike 2/3 of the Event. If he likes to jump, he's a good jumper. I even had a 15'2hh mule for awhile that was so green I couldn't get on him--had him 6 months, lol--but he jumped my 5' fence about 5 times. I guess if I had really liked him, I could have broken him in and gone to little, small town Events with him!! Good luck, and keep us up to date on your search!! **hugs**
I bought Excel from the woman who retrained Molly. She was a steeplechase and flat jockey in England before she came to the states and started retraining OTTBs. Molly ended up in bad hands after she left her farm, learned some horrible habits, and lost a lot of her dressage training. She sold again, this time to someone who had good intentions but didn't have any experience with Thoroughbreds or training. She found Molly was too much horse for her, sold her to me, and through a YouTube video I found her off-track trainer. I contacted her, and she was delighted to find Molls again, quickly offering to retrain her for the cost of board for a few months at her farm.
When we went to pick her up 2 1/2 months later, she gave me a lesson on Molly, who was slowly regaining her former training. Jenni informed me that she could not jump due to a splint fracture that no one but the screwed-up owner knew about (yet this girl continued to jump her, despite the huge risk of her collapsing at any given time), but told me of an eventing prospect she had gotten off the track a few months ago who was shaping up to be an excellent horse. She had free jumped him 3'6" over a 3' spread, so he definitely had the height, and his trot was to die for. Being a gangly-looking 5-yr old, he had some balance issues to work through and needed a lot of training to get him up off the forehand. I rode him and fell in love with his superb demeanor, so we took both him and Molly home. Here's a video of him with Jenni after 2 months off the track:
I actually went right to a breeder who breeds horses for Hunters. Haha I know, sounds crazy. But she had some mares who looked nice and I know a few horses she bred that are really good horses. So I went up there at looked at about 30 2,3, and 4yos.
I picked gypsy because 1) I fell in love with her when I first saw her [def not the only good reason to buy !]
2) good confo
3) the right personality - she was basically untrained and we free jumped her. She liked it so much she kept running away from the breeder to go jump the jump
4) price was right
1) Minimum 16'hh. The jumps just get bigger and harder for a smaller horse to handle
This is the only thing Corporal said that I truly and whole-heartedly disagree with. Don't make height a huge issue. There are MANY upper level event horses in the 15.2 hh - 15.3 hh range that have zero issues with the jumps. Overall you want an athletic horse that' clever with their feet and conformationally sound.
I'm currently not looking for a horse, since I'm not financially able to support a horse right now, but a lot of times I find horses through my current coach. In the near future I probably will be without a coach for a while, so it will be likely that I'll find my future horse online and go ride it in person, get the vet check, etc. done myself.
Primo was an odd find... not that I wasn't looking, I just didn't think I'd come home with something like him.
I have never been a fan of a schooled horse. Hindsight, that might have been a better idea, but then I'd be outgrowing the horse faster than my budget would allow. What I went looking for was a 16HH+ horse (unless girthy enough to take up my long leg) that was quiet outside, uphill build, good thick bone and feet, decent movement and smart. I actually spent a lot of time looking at trail horses. The biggest problem the girls I ride with have is that their horses turn into monsters outside. I wanted a horse that was more at home outdoors since eventing is 90% outside. Sometimes you get SJ or dressage indoors, but not often.
I found Primo out of luck. A horse I had looked at the day before was a huge dud... not only was he not 16HH, he was gaited and had no will to jump. The lady had said she wanted to trade him for the Hano cross down the road, but he was too much horse on the ground. It's not that he was bad on the ground, he just didn't trust a lot of people. I did some join-up and played. It gave me an opportunity to see him at liberty... wow was he a mover. Out on the trail he was happy just swinging his head on the buckle, but he had a spark that told me there was some omph in the hay belly.
He's panned out well. I've owned him for nearly 2 years and we'll be doing Novice in the spring. We're actually schooling Training, but the dressage needs to improve before we think of moving there. He'll probably top out in Prelim... but that's ok with me. I nearly pooped my pants jumping some Intermediate fences on an old pro. But who knows... he eats xc fences for breakfast. This horse LOVES to jump. Went from barely making it around a BN course to confidently coursing 3'3" this summer. =) Yes I love my horse.
What if you ended up with an eventer when you aren't?
I'd been tossing around the idea of another well broke horse for my lesson program . I used to show a lot of hunt seat & jumping in my youth years but have spent my whole life on reiners & working cowhorses.
My eventer kind of fell in my lap. My mom was at a retirement party for a co-worker and her regional boss got talking about horses. His daughter didn't have time with grad school studies to ride on the eq. Team this year so her mare was just standing in the pasture not being used. To make a long story short, I now own my first non quarter horse and the first not QH to call our family farm home in 50 years. She's a doll of a mare. 16.3, 19 yo black Hanoverian mare with a heart of gold.
After riding my new girl for the last month, I may join you all on the dark side and do some xc with her next season. I've put her over some jumps in my arena and we've taken on all of the downed trees & deadfalls in the woods. I'm having more fun with her than I've had in years!