Buying a horse that's right for you. - Page 14 - The Horse Forum
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post #131 of 219 Old 08-27-2012, 08:56 AM
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buying the right horse

We were at a sale yesterday and there were lots of genuine horses and ponies that had been at camps all holiday, they were all ridden in an outdoor arena and the people who run the sale had allowed several trial days beforehand so interested people could go and ride the horses.
I chatted to a family with a young daughter who they described as a novice and suggested that they look at a pony I recognised - and had actually ridden myself when I was trying to keep in shape while my mare was unsound. The pony isn't exciting and quite plain but it does everything you ask of it quietly and happily including jump a course of show jumps. All they had eyes for was a flashy pony that had already had a tizzy fit in the menage as it got a bit excited and looked far from happy in the sale ring. It was a green pony and could go far in the right hands but absolutely not meant for a small beginner. I only hope they didn't buy it
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post #132 of 219 Old 08-27-2012, 09:56 AM
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^^^ I have often though this about people looking for horses and totally ignoring logic to buy a flashy horse or one someone else can ride really well but the horse only goes well for that rider. Hopefully the lass your talking about wont get over ponied, it can be so detrimental for young riders confidence :/

Saying that, I do kind of agree with peppersgirl. Taking on a challenge can result in good, but only if you have the confidence and right mentality! Alli was an unbroke 6 yr old with little human handling. I was nieve admittedly taking her on- my first horse, no experience with true youngsters- but she has turned out to be everything I want and need in a horse. Energetic to ride but can be chilled too, easy to handle, easy to teach new things to, just easy to be around (mostly)... She isn't always easy but I like challenges and know I am a better rider due to Alli, and I'm not afraid to ask for help every once in a while! I guess I had (a lot of!) luck on my side, and a little bit of fate if you believe in that stuff, but she has turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!

My point? Sometimes nievety but good intentions, a lot of will power and the right horse/human personality pairing can work out good in the end

We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too ~Kristen Martz
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post #133 of 219 Old 08-30-2012, 06:10 AM
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I prefer breed and the health of the horse first while choosing.. it helps me pick out the one with better functionality...
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post #134 of 219 Old 08-30-2012, 05:17 PM
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so true
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post #135 of 219 Old 09-01-2012, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
Okay, folks, I think it’s time we get realistic about buying horses and what you need to look for when you are buying.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, recognize your experience and ability for what it is. Take a scrutinizing look and quit lying to yourself. If you can semi-confidently w/t/c around an arena on a school horse, that does not mean that you are an experienced rider capable of taking on a green horse. You need to be looking for a finished horse that knows his job but needs a rider that can ask properly. That way, when you are riding correctly, he’ll do the job right and he’ll let you know when you are riding poorly by doing the job poorly.

Between the horse and rider, there needs to be a combined ability level of expert. What I mean by that is this, if you are completely new to riding, then you need a horse that has been everywhere, done everything, and has proven himself cool and calm in even the most exciting of situations. You need an old schoolmaster. As the rider’s ability and knowledge increases, they can safely begin to ride horses that are less than finished.

There is a good reason for the old saying “green+green= black and blue”. A new rider paired with a green horse will almost always end up with one or both of them hurt and/or ruined. If the horse knows nothing, then the rider better **** sure know what a good horse is and know how to create one.

Next, make a list of what you want and need in a horse. If you are wanting a good trail horse that you can relax on and gain some confidence with, then don’t take a second look at the reject barrel horse that is being sold because he flipped over backward and broke his last rider’s leg.

Make a list of the things that are a necessity, things that would be nice to have but aren’t a “must”, and things that will be avoided at all cost and stick to it.


Must haves: Neck reining, trail experience, arena experience, good stop, good leg yield, calm with crowds and large groups of other horses, okay with kids, clips, ties, loads, not spooky.

Nice but not necessity: Solid flying changes, consistent sidepass, patterned on barrels or poles, started in dressage/reining/cutting/jumping/etc.

Avoid at all cost: Cribbers, biters, kickers, buckers, buddy or barn sour, aggressive with other horses in turnout.

Stick to your list, no matter what, and don’t compromise. Don’t horse shop with your heart because your heart will fool you into thinking that you can handle something that you are not ready for. Don’t shop strictly for color, either. While there is nothing wrong with having a particular color in mind, don’t compromise on the conformation, temperament, training, or ability just to get the color. You’ll be much happier with a plain chestnut that has a great personality and is a proven winner than with a buckskin that bucks you off in the ring and bites when you try to pet him.

“But Sparky is so pretty, I’m sure I can help him to get over his problem with rearing”. No, you can’t and you’ll end up hurt if you try. Leave the beautiful Sparky for someone who has dealt with a rearing horse successfully before. The fact is, the first time you handle a horse with a particular problem like rearing or bucking or bolting, you need to have someone there who is experienced who can tell you what to do and give advice on what works and what doesn't.

If you are on your own and have never dealt with an aggressive horse or a horse with a serious and dangerous vice like bucking, bolting, or rearing, don’t bring one home with the hopes that you can figure it out as you go along. Even more importantly, don’t bring home a monster with the deluded idea that you can “cure” him with love and end up with a “majikal bond”. It doesn't work that way. The horse will get worse and you will get hurt.

“I want to get a young horse so that we can learn together”. That is the most naive and asinine idea that there ever was and someone will end up hurt. Young horses are completely unpredictable and unpredictability with an inexperienced rider or handler is always dangerous.

It happens all the time and I can currently think of at least 3 open threads about this exact thing and the stream of them seems to be never ending.
“I’m a beginner and I am trying to train my horse but they are doing <insert misbehavior here>. What do I do?”

I know that many people who know nothing about horses tend to jump in head first without checking to see how deep the water is and that’s why I’m writing this post, in hopes of maybe educating some people so that they can save themselves, and an innocent horse, a lot of trouble.

I enjoy books and movies like The Black Stallion, National Velvet, My Friend Flicka, and the like as much as anyone but I think it’s time we get realistic. Love doesn't train a horse. Nobody can take a horse that has behavioral issues like bucking, bolting, rearing, biting, kicking, charging, etc, etc, etc and re-train it to be a perfect, respectful companion with nothing but hugs and kisses and sugar cubes. It simply doesn't work that way.

9 times out of 10, that horse that you brought home because he was free or just really cheap will cost you much more money in the long run (between trainer costs and hospital/vet bills) than if you had just went ahead and spent a bit of cash on a well broke horse to begin with.

The most important rule that any potential horse buyer can follow is this: DO NOT buy a horse that is beyond your ability to handle and/or ride.

If you are a complete beginner, then you do not want to go buy, adopt, or take home the first horse you see that’s “pretty”, especially if it’s an unhandled yearling, or worse, a stud. A free horse is never free and if a young, pretty horse is being given away for free, then there is some reason for it. Normally, it's not a good one either.

Maybe the horse is unhandled, in which case it is certainly not suitable for a beginner; maybe the horse is lame or sick, in which case it is not suitable for a beginner because there are many things that come with caring for a lame or sick horse that a beginner doesn't know or understand and that could cause more suffering on the horse’s part.

More often than not, young horses that are green broke or advertised as “broke” are being given away for free or very small charge because they are dangerous or have serious vices or behavioral issues. None of those things are suitable for beginners.

Also, let me clarify one thing. Just because you have been taking lessons or riding broke horses for 5 or 10 or 20 years, that does not automatically qualify you to buy an untrained horse and train it yourself. There is a very big difference between being able to recognize/ride a made horse and being able to create one. A person should work their way up to working with untrained horses.

All children and beginners should start out with a horse very much like this one, very well trained and responsive but at the same time, docile and a bit lazy.
YouTube - &#x202a;Wyatt Deary NRBC 2011&#x202c;&rlm;

As a person gains experience and ‘feel’, then they can begin working their way up to green horses. The best way to do this is by working under a trainer or hiring a trainer to work with you.

I had been riding for about 10 years before I ever set foot on a horse that was less than finished. It was about 5 years after that when I successfully trained one from scratch (under the watchful eye of a professional trainer). I trained one other on my own a couple of years before that but I’ll be the first to admit that it was a mistake. I wasn't ready and the horse paid the price. Thankfully, I had the means to give him a forever home so he didn't end up on a killer truck.

I’ve been riding now for about 25 years and training (mostly my own horses until recently) for a little over 10 and I still don’t know how to handle certain things that come up with green horses: for instances like that, I still have my professional trainer to turn to. To believe that someone who had been riding a schoolmaster for 5 years would know when to push and when to back off on a greenie by themselves is ludicrous.

There are a great many things that simply cannot be taught over internet forums or chat rooms.

Will be continued in next post...too much text.
Well said.

I know an experience that haunts me to this day, it happened when I was 8:

An inexperienced rider using a hackamore, riding bareback on a green mare named Shasta. She told her daughter to turn the horse around for her in a space too small, electric fence on one side, horse trailer on the other. Shasta swished her tail which touched the electric fence. Rider fell as Shasta bolted, catching her arm in the rein and got kicked in the head as the horse's hoof came into step at full gallop. The daughter was extremely traumatized, blaming herself for her mother's stupidity. The mother was in the head trauma unit for a month and had lost several motor skills including the sense of smell.
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post #136 of 219 Old 09-01-2012, 09:11 AM
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Glad people have kept this thread alive and going, as I think it's some of smrob's best work.

Recently I've come across a subtle variation of the buying too much horse problem, and I'll call it the "Buy the horse you need today, not the one you needed 5 years ago." problem.

I am in my 50s and most of my riding buddies are middle-aged as well. This means for the most part, that while we have the experience, our athleticism and fitness is declining, along our ability to ride certains kinds of misbehaviors.

One friend has been through 3 horses in 5 years and a lot of training bills. Now, she's a very competent, experienced horsewoman, but the problem is she when she looks for a horse, she looks for a hunting horse or foxhunting prospect. She last hunted at all 5 years ago, and last hunted seriously 10 years ago. At some level she knows she's not going back to hunting every week during the season, but she looks for a foxhunter. What she REALLY needs is a 1.) good trail horse that can go out in company 2.) impeccable ground manners 3.) low maintenence, a horse that's the same if she hasn't ridden it for a week or a month, that doesn't need to be lunged or to have someone else to knock the dust off of the saddle. If she had started out looking for the above, she might well be back hunting, but by insisting on a hunting horse, she's ended with several very nice but not truly suitable horses that she ended up selling.

Another friend and age mate insisted that she needed a horse that "could do some local showing." This is purest wishful thinking, I don't remember the last time she's shown. Not that she's not more than capable, just that it hasn't happened in recent memory. What she needs is the same three criteria as above, PLUS something that would hack out alone and was suitable to take lessons on occassionally. So she end up with a lovely show horse prospect that won't hack out alone and requires frequent professional rider tune ups. So she pretty much isn't riding her lovely show horse prospect and what she'd really like to be doing is trail riding with her friends and hacking over to a nearby ring.

I'd like to emphasize these two examples (and I have dozens more) are not newbies; they are competent, lifetime horsewomen who nonetheless kid themselves a little about what they REALLY need.

So be very realistic about what you'd like to be doing with your riding, as opposed to what you're actually doing with your riding. Go over that have to have/nice to have on your list and if there's something that's a wish or ambition, move it to the "nice to have." And never ever compromise something on the "have to have" - hacking out alone, loads easily, no professional maintenence needed, for the "nice to have" - show potential, typey, ability in a sport or at a level you're not currently competing.

Buy the horse you need TODAY, not the one you needed years ago.
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post #137 of 219 Old 09-01-2012, 11:10 AM
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Buy the horse you need TODAY, not the one you needed years ago.[/QUOTE]

Oh, how I agree with you. Not being a horse person until my mid-30's and by complete accident.....I feel blessed. I can understand a person who did competetive riding in their younger years and had to have expensive, showy horses to do this would kind of stay locked in that mode for their later years. Even though in my 40's now, and lack the same athleticism as when I was younger, I still, at times, feel like I am the same person as in my teens/20's. I sadly find out a short while later that it is not true.

I think needing that type of expensive, athletic type of horse because it is what you always had when you were young would be natural. Kind of like when an older person has to give up the reality of they can no longer drive a car and are in denial? I was a figure skater and I can honestly say that I will not skate in any rental skates, only my $600 professional skates. Could I possibly skate in rental skates again?....yes. However, I would not be able to carry myself the same and do the spins and jumps that I could in my own skates as well since they are made for those type of things and don't compare to rental skates. Same with horses? However, if the older rider is no longer athletic enough to compete and do those types of things any longer, an athletic type horse will prove to be too much to them despite what they did when they were younger. That is the danger then and when the person is in denial, sounds like it can actually make riding a chore and not be too pleasureable. But that person has to look at things realistically and come to those terms themselves and accept them.

It's hard to change and accept things as we age....but that is the way it goes. I am happy with my slow-going, no drama horses. The same horses that would make the competetive horse people cringe. But I happily ride them when I want without the antics, while the competetive people are unhappily riding their underworked athletes who are bucking them off on trails.
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post #138 of 219 Old 09-01-2012, 11:57 AM
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right horse

Two great comments
I did a lot of hunting, cross country and showing in my younger days and though I didn't want a boring horse when I had to retire my mare I didn't want something that was going to challenge me to beyond what I felt my body would allow. I now have aches and pains in places I never knew existed 20 years ago. I dont want to think every time I get on - am I going to fall off today. yes I have had some issues with the mare I bought but nothing that I couldn't deal with confidently.
I too looked at some lovely show horses with dreams in my head of past days but if I hadn't actually found it was a pleasure to do it any more they would have been just a waste of money as none of them had ever set foot out of a menage or show ring
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post #139 of 219 Old 09-01-2012, 04:54 PM
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I like your analogy of the $600 custom skates, but only up to a point. In the cases I'm talking about, those $600 custom skates are keeping them from skating as much as they want to; almost as if they had them made to the wrong measurements or got hockey or speed skates instead of figure skates. And it's not as if you went to be measured for skates, and said "Well, yes, I mostly figure skate but I like to play a little hockey on the weekends so Id like a skate with the potential to do both."

I do absolutely agree that a big part of the problem is failing too accept that our skills are declining as we age.
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post #140 of 219 Old 09-01-2012, 05:13 PM
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I agree, needs change as we find different things more important now then when we were younger. I saw a young paint horse I was interested in, who was so willing to learn and such an athlete with great personality and manners. I seriously considered buying him, but realized I would be doing a disservice to this wonderful horse. I couldn't take him to his full potential and he deserved someone who could. I really want more of a companion, who would challenge me a bit but would be okay with smelling the roses and meandering down life's path with me, no shows, no stress. I'm glad I had the sense to honestly realize this. My horse is out there somewhere, I will keep looking.
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