The "free" or "fixer upper" horse and newbies an expensive but common mistake. - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Turndial View Post
Nicely said HerdBound. I have a question for you though.

In a few years, I am moving to a country that has no regard for horses as anything more than on a racetrack. When we move there, it will be my first opportunity to own a horse.

The problem is, I have been doing my homework and all there are on offer are OTTB's or horribly abused animals (some that rarely see the light of day).

There are a few rescue centre's - run by non-locals - but nowhere I have seen to actually purchase a good 'been there done that' horse that a beginner would need.

What does one do in such a situation?

Import costs are far too high to consider as well.
What country are you moving to? If there are horses there you can find a well broke one. You may have to pay a mint or look really hard but you can find them.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #22 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
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I am living proof that newbies and free horses are potential disasters. The first free horse I looked at, bucked me off the moment I sat in the saddle. I landed on the round pen fence and was lucky I didn't shatter my arm. It is 5 months later and I think the scar is here to stay.

The second free horse ( I hadn't yet learned my lesson) bucked me off on our 4th
ride and I ended up in the ER with a broken rib...and I later developed pneumonia as a complication. That "free" horse ended up costing more more in medical bills than the purchase price of the calm, sane horse I ended up buying.

Lesson learned.
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post #23 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by mildot View Post
I wonder how much the pepperoni guy has contributed to this problem of new riders/horse owners being completely overfaced........
Please, lets not start another "anti-PP" discussion! I'm not his fan, but we had similar discussions in past and every time it went hot causing thread to be closed. Plus bunch of other NH trainers out there selling "DVDs for beginners" and all about "you can do it yourself" (just to be fair).

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
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post #24 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 12:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
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1 - I bought well outside my skill level. That was an error, but for someone new to riding, it is easy. My mare was described as well-broken, perfect for a beginner rider. 4 years later, the trainer I hired concluded she had never been broken for much more than leading with a rope, and that I had as few injuries as I do because she is actually a very sweet horse by nature.

My advice now to any new rider/buyer is to hire someone who knows horses to find a horse for you. The good news for me is that my mare was, in one way, perfect for me. She has tons of personality, and seeks engagement with her rider. I am now fascinated by horses because of her. And in return, the trainer who has worked with us says I'm one of the few people she has worked with who would keep her and try to learn.

2 - There are definitely good horses out there for free. I got one in December, over my objections. The woman giving my daughter lessons knew of a mustang pony that was free to a good home...and time was turning that into 'free for whoever hauls him away'. My wife decided to take him, and 2 days later the instructor delivered "Cowboy" to our house. With tack. Free.

He is an excellent little (13 hands) horse. 14 years old, BLM mustang, experienced, good-natured, likes people, will gallop if you ask but content to walk if you do not. He'll refuse to go faster than he thinks is safe on a trail, but will gallop under my 175 lbs when the footing is good.

My wife stopped all riding a few years back after I got hurt on my mare. Yesterday, I rode my mare for the second time in years off our property and out in the desert. The trainer I hired was on our Appy, while my wife rode the little mustang. It was her third time on a horse in 3 years, and she returned with a huge smile. By the time we got back, she was confident that Cowboy would take care of himself (and thus her). She now wants to start riding regularly in our arena, and out on trails with others - on Cowboy. You couldn't pay her to get on my mare. But Cowboy is one of those level-headed horses who thinks nothing good comes from a rider getting hurt. He seems to believe happy rider = food, water & maybe a treat sometimes.

BTW - when the equine dentist came out and did his teeth, she offered to buy him for her niece based on his behavior. Not bad for a free horse.

All that said, I'd recommend someone new to horses be willing to spend extra to get a well-broke horse. The difficulty is in assessing the personality of a horse you haven't lived with. A horse can be a wonderful creature with one owner, and turn into a nightmare for an inexperienced owner. I think my horses are uncommonly well behaved, but some of that is because of how my family and I treat horses. If spoiled or treated roughly, any of the three would get ugly within months.
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post #25 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 12:43 PM
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The problem isn't only buying outside your skill level; that can be a challenging and rewarding experience.

The problem is mostly people's over-inflated, erroneous, falsely held high opinions of their skill level, a disinclination to recognize what they are/aren't capable of and reluctance to learn where appropriate.

If I never took on a horse that was outside my skill level, I sure would have never got a job track riding. And no one else would either.

All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.
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post #26 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 07:16 PM
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*sigh* I learned the hard way that a "cheap" or "free" animal is NEVER that way for Romeo was a "cheap" horse that I took in as a favor to a person I knew. The amount of money and time I have put into him to get him into good shape is far beyond what I expected. Juliet, well I paid $5.00 to get her and well into the the hundreds getting her together. There will be much more to come to finish training Juliet and keep them both in great shape.

I remember someone stopped by to talk to us as some friends and I were riding. They made the comment that they were thinking of getting a horse since they wanted to ride and "they just sit in a field and eat right?". Needless to say we all had a long chat with them over just what we had each spent in the last 6 mos on the horse we were riding. They changed their minds real fast
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post #27 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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I think this is one of those "easy to make" mistakes. I mean there are some really pretty horses out there that are free or next to free. And when someone offers one to you it's kinda like to good to be true...and unfortunately it often is. I know people who didn't have the room for a horse, didn't know jack squat about keeping, caring for, or handling horses BUT because someone gave them a horse which was probably worth about $100 IF that...they have since fenced in acreage, built a barn/tack room, got the saddle & stuff to ride it...probably somewhere in the thousands by now, and they STILL have yet to throw a leg over the thing. I think the whole "omg this is FREE thing" overwhelms people. Or worse they see a horse that is in bad shape, at a place that looks like a concentration camp for horses and think they will be the savior of the animal and it will love them for it in return. WRONG. Thats a whole other can of worms.

Getting a horse should be an educated decision. No lie I have seen people do more research on what kind of dog they want to buy than what kind of horse they NEED to own. Mind boggling.
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post #28 of 51 Old 03-09-2012, 08:52 PM
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My first horse as a kid was dead broke and very safe so i learned to ride on her. Then she got old and health problems required she be put down. I cryed for weeks over her my dad who wasnt a horse person decided to buy me a new horse. With hopes of cheering me up. I was suprized one day when dad took me to see my new horse beautiful ottb mare. She was way more horse then i knew how to handle but because i was fearless i rode her and survived. As time went on she and i got better and she got more sane but that wasnt without bruises on me and i ate dirt more then i care to tell. I was a stupid teenager i decided one day to get on this horse out in the pasture with no halter or lead rope. Jumped on her bareback and guess what she took off full speed across the pasture needless to say i fell off. Broken arm broken ribs and pretty black and blue from it. Now iv been in horses over thirty years and iam alot more carefull on what kind of horse i want . I sure know what i can handle and what i cant handle but as i get older i want horses that arent going to be crazy. The three i own now are nice easy going trail horses one was almost a free horse except i payed 50$ for him. Have way more then that in him now 8 years later was a rescue. I would never recomend a new to horses person buy unbroke or green broke horses. Theres a saying green on green makes black and blue.
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post #29 of 51 Old 03-10-2012, 12:50 AM
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I'll admit to anyone I bought above my skill level, mostly because I'm impulsive. My OTTB mare is quite over my head right now. However, I quickly realized my mistake and am taking measures to ensure I don't ruin her before I can ride her - like asking for help. I'm fortunate we have a great trainer and that I have many close friends who are experienced and accomplished horsepersons. She needs to be ridden - there's more than one who can ride her for me for the time being. As for me, I'm taking a step back and doing my learning on proven, well-broke horses.

I'll ride her eventually, but I'm not going to rush it - try to tone that impulsiveness down a bit.

My next one - because I know there will be - will be an informed purchase
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post #30 of 51 Old 03-10-2012, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by herdbound View Post
A horse is only worth as much as it’s training in my book. Training is like location in real estate. TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING…and often a well trained, pleasant, good mannered horse does NOT come cheap. They are what everyone is looking for. So if you are to take the gamble on the freebie, be aware that you could probably be investing in a trainer BEFORE you are going to get to enjoy it. And if you are just starting out with horses, a horse fresh out of training is NOT the horse you need. That horse is for an intermediate to advanced rider who is going to further develop the animal instead of unknowingly ruin it’s training. And if you are just starting out training a horse may be out of your range of skills.
I have seen this so many times, and I always tell people that if they want a horse to ride (i.e. not be a project), spend a little more up front and you'll be much less frustrated (or disappointed or injured).

That said, there are places to find very ride-able, well trained free/low cost horses. No one that is in the horse business for the long haul can afford to keep taking a loss on selling their horses, so a good place that I always look for is a horse farm/ranch that has 'older' trail/lesson horses or well trained, seasoned mares that have been used as broodmares for a few years. In both these cases, the ranch/farm has already recouped their investment (and often more) in the training and care of the horse and as they rotate to younger stock you can often get very good deals (even 'free to good home') for a well behaved, experienced horse that you can ride from day one without spending a penny on training.
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