Why choose a horse that is not "bombproof"? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 34 Old 07-19-2013, 02:00 PM
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I also don't like the term "bombproof" either. There's no way to guarantee how a horse will react in any given situation, a horse is a living breathing animal with it's own brain and instincts and they can act differently on different days, just like humans. They're not robots, but I am amazed at how many people, inexperienced or not, sure expect them to act like one! We can train and expose them to as much as possible, and some horses do get extremely quiet and accepting of all sorts of situations and stimulus. But I think it's extremely naive to assume that any horse could be totally, 100%, "bombproof", and I don't like that this is what people seek out when they go horse shopping. There is no universal measurement of "bombproof" either. So one person's opinion of bombproof may not be another person's definition. You know what they say, 2 horse people, 3 opinions! :P

It's all very misguided imo. People go out looking for this magical bombproof horse, mostly inexperienced and novice horse owners, because they don't know any better, because that's what they are told they need, they see it in magazines, movies, the horse ads. They buy this supposedly "bombproof" horse, and then are upset when something happens, it gets randomly chased by a dog and the rider falls off. Or the horse takes a while to adjust to its new home and starts to test its new owners and push their boundaries, and then you end up with the horse becoming spoiled, walking all over everyone, becoming herd bound, spooking or bucking under saddle and being naughty, etc, just because it can. And now the new horse owners are upset because Dobbin was supposed to be "bombproof"! Horses can change with different locations, different handlers, different ways of doing things. People really shouldn't be surprised when they buy a horse and they take it homes and it acts differently. We are horse owners need to have the experience and prepare ourselves first, and that just comes with time, lessons, riding different horses, and learning as much as you can beforehand. There's no fast track to learning this stuff unfortunately, and we see it all the time, people getting in over their heads and having no clue, ignorance really is bliss. I know many "bombproof" horses that will fall apart if the rider is nervous wreck up there. Every horse is an individual, and learning that is all a part of horses.

This is why it's so important to take lessons first, get out there into the horse world, find that awesome coach or experienced horse person that will teach you and show you the ropes. Very rarely do inexperienced people just get a horse and ride off happily into the sunset. It's not like the movies. It takes years to gain that knowledge, and it never ends. To assume you know "enough" to not need to learn anything further or stop taking lessons is so naive as well. Not everyone wants to go out and ride at that high level or take their horse to shows, of course, but we do have is a responsibility to the horse, to provide the highest level of care and comfort of the horse and adjust and maintain that as things changes throughout the horse's life. And to me that means always learning and moving forward and exploring new things and what you could do differently. For a lot of us horses aren't *just* livestock, they are our friends, our partners. We love them, we pamper them, we buy them all sorts of things, spend lots of time with them, so it goes deeper than just solely an obligation to them as us owning them as livestock. There's that magic about horses that a lot of us can't deny, it's more than just a warm body living outside in a pasture that we feed. Horses can't choose their owners, so we as horse lovers have that responsibility to the horse first and foremost. It's hard when someone has wanted a horse all their life and they *finally* have the time and money for it, but it's even harder to admit that you aren't "ready". Which is where people go wrong, they get so caught up in the moment, they want something SO badly, they don't think about the big picture. It's tough because we are such a NOW society, all about instant gratification, and with horses it's the opposite, you really have to put in the work and learn first, it's more of a long term thing, a labour of love. Horses aren't something you get on a whim, you don't wake up one morning and decide that you want to be a horse person and just go out and buy one. Lots of people DO do this though, but it's *always* the horse that gets the short end of the stick in the end, even if none of it is their fault.

And with the temperament scale they have on the horse sale sites, well, that's all relative. I know some laid back horses that are spooky, and I know some hot horses that aren't afraid of anything. Little Joe might be the quietest little horse riding all over the farm at home, heck, the grandkids even groom and ride him, so they list him as a "2" for temperament and mention "bombproof" in the ad. And then someone buys him and takes him home, and all of a sudden Little Joe is confused. It's a new place, new people, new sights and sounds, maybe he's in a stall instead of his pasture. Maybe they put him on alfalfa hay which he's not used to. And then the new owners pull Little Joe out for that first ride, and he's nervous, tense, spooky. For a lot of reason that some less experienced horse people might not notice or expect, but I can't say I blame him. And then everyone is up in arms again because Little Joe was supposed to be "bombproof"! Frankly I'd be a little surprised if I bought a horse and it DIDN'T act a bit different in a new place, or take a little time to settle in to a new place and routine.

Hot and spooky, and quiet and "bombproof" do not necessarily go hand in hand either. I know many TB's that come off the track and they have seen EVERYTHING. They aren't spooky or worried about much at all, but they ARE hot and definitely a handful to handle. And then I've seen many horses that you would swear are broke to death and you could put anyone on, but a lot of times those are the ones who are walking down the trail perfectly but then all of a sudden spook and spin right out from under you with no warning. My TB mare is one of the super hot ones, and right away people assume she is spooky as well. Which she isn't in the slightest. You can't really categorize horses because they are all individuals, different upbringing, handling, training, it all makes a HUGE difference.

Well! I went off on kind of a crazy tangent there, lol. I hope all of that somewhat makes sense!!
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post #22 of 34 Old 07-19-2013, 03:12 PM
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There is a definite trend here for the horses that are 'hot' and forward going being the ones that are less inclined to be spooky in the sense that they'll do more than just a jump on the spot.
I have never trusted these ploddy types that you have to boot along as I'm always convinced they're constantly looking for something to spook at for an excuse to run back home!!!
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post #23 of 34 Old 07-21-2013, 04:29 AM
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I agree with with what others have said. I don't really like the term 'bombproof' because any horse has the potential to react in different situations.

My gelding was sold to me as a 'bombproof confidence builder' and for the most part he is. However he is not a particularly confident horse, its just that his reactions generally aren't much more than to look at something and freeze.

He shied off to the side for the first time the other week while I was riding him bareback (I have no idea what spooked him) and I would have come off if he hadn't stopped and let me pull myself back up. He also put in his first half-hearted buck the other day when I wouldn't let him follow the other horse I was riding with.

Any horse has the potential to dump you on the ground, 'bombproof' horses have their bad days just like every other horse. I always say to someone that wants a ride on my horse that yes, he is pretty safe but at the end of the day he's still a horse with a mind of his own.
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post #24 of 34 Old 07-21-2013, 06:51 AM
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On these scales of 1 - 10 a lot depends on the owners assessment and that can vary a lot!
Some horses classed as bombproof are just plain idle and no joy to ride. Others that are 'forward going' can be bombproof in that they never spook or nap but would be unsuitable for a novice rider.
I had a mare that had jump raced. She could be termed as 'gassy' and always wanting to go from A to B as fast as she could no matter what the pace, it was always as fast as she could move her legs! Schooling her and riding her regularly made her a wonderful ride and following hounds, which you would think would over excite her, was her forte. I could ride her at the front or the back of the field, once was leading two small children on their ponies, she remained sane and sensible.
I decided to sell her and a woman who said she was experienced came to try her and the mare would not stop cantering around the arena. What most would have classed as bombproof was an 8 or 9 on the scale. So much depends on the rider.
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post #25 of 34 Old 07-21-2013, 07:56 AM
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I admit I didn't wade through all the responses but what I have found is that the scale is subjective. Some sellers use it as a way to convey ability, others spookiness, others energy, and still others basic age related "the horse is young so is hot" type attitude.

For example, recently I inquired about a 4 year old that was listed as a 6; my preference is 5 or lower. When I asked the owner why, she said it was because he was only 4 and even though he was calm and quiet on a regular basis..he was only 4; and yes she said it just like that. Another horse listed as a 3 had little ability beyond a basic W/T/C and was a spazz..he was also listed as appropriate for an amateur rider..I don't think so..that horse needs at least a good 6 months under a professional trainer.

If a horse is listed as a 5 it basically means they are average in temperament and ability..your general every day type horse that will occasionally spook or have an "oops" in their attitude occasionally..like they all do.

Now, unless you are a professional rider or like the nutcases, I don't even consider 7 or higher..that generally equates to strong willed which may lead to bucking, bolting, rearing etc. Some people like that type of horse...a friend of mine is one of those. She just turned down a great TB that fit her like a glove but her complaint was that the horse was too quiet. She LIKES the attitude and fire :)
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post #26 of 34 Old 07-22-2013, 02:11 PM
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I agree- there's really no such thing as bombproof.

I'd rate my horse pretty low on the temperament scale. He's not very forward, settles in quickly in new places, rarely spooks, has never offered to buck, etc. BUT the first month I had him, I took him to a horse show at the state fairgrounds. There was another event going on at the same time which was supposed to be on the other end of the property, but someone had the bright idea to put the petting zoo right next to the warm up arena. 99% of the horses flipped out in that arena. My horse wouldn't go more than a few feet into the arena, and when I pushed a little more, he started rearing. He's never reared under saddle since then, but I know that there is a point at which he will balk, and if pushed, that will be his reaction. But in a familiar environment I wouldn't hesitate to put kids or beginners on him.

Every horse has their limits, and if you're taking them out and exposing them to new things, you'll eventually find those limits. It's great for a beginner to get a horse who's "been there, done that" but they should never make the mistake of thinking any horse is "safe."
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post #27 of 34 Old 07-22-2013, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
There is a definite trend here for the horses that are 'hot' and forward going being the ones that are less inclined to be spooky in the sense that they'll do more than just a jump on the spot.
I have never trusted these ploddy types that you have to boot along as I'm always convinced they're constantly looking for something to spook at for an excuse to run back home!!!
See, and I am the opposite. When you say hot and forward going I am envisioning a jigging, prancy horse that won't relax on the trail, that will look for any excuse to bolt back home.

My two riding mares are more the "ploddy" type in the sense that they are never in a hurry, they are never jigging, they rarely spook at anything and if they did it would be a stop and stare reaction rather than a duck out and bolt.
They are calm, quiet, and confident on the trail, and go the speed I want them to go, relaxed on a loose rein.

So, even our definitions are so different and subjective it's no wonder horse ads are so hard to understand sometimes!

The other thing to consider is that a horse on a lead line at home might be a 1 or 2, completely comfortable in its routine. Yet, you take that horse and ride it at a show undersaddle and it might be a 6 or 7 because it gets excited and pumped up. It is all too subjective.
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post #28 of 34 Old 07-22-2013, 03:08 PM
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I think it also depends on the level and the discipline that you are doing.

A calm, high level jumper is going to be a lot more spirited than a high strung lesson horse. Although, on a sale ad the high level jumper might get put down as a 3 or 4, and the lesson horse a 7 or 8. Because compared to their peers, that's where they rank.
What is most important I think is to choose a horse with a personality and experience level which suit your needs. If you are more timid, then a horse with a calm, steady eddy personality is going to be your best. If you are very bold, then a horse with a bold personality is going to be your best. If you are very patient and calm, then you might consider a more scaredy cat horse. But then, if you are inexperienced, you should choose a horse of a suitable personality type whom has done and seen a lot of things and will be confident with the job you are asking him to do.

IMO how to judge a rider is to put them on a horse with a personality type that does not gel well with them. I am very type-A and adventurous and sometimes even my demeanor can overpower and scare a more nervous horse. For me my most challenging horses are thoroughbreds and similar type horses because just in how I behave, I get them very fired up. That I have personally found to be the most challenging part of training different horses. Where as someone who is more timid naturally, would not get along at all with the horses I've been most successful with - the jerks of the world haha.

So - personality first! Think about it as picking a husband :P You should gel well with their personality right off the bat.
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post #29 of 34 Old 07-22-2013, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ View Post
So - personality first! Think about it as picking a husband :P You should gel well with their personality right off the bat.
I love the analogy of thinking of it like picking a husband! I just had an experience with a horse that I do not mesh with and we are in the process of "breaking up" . He is a great horse but he is the forward, non spooky and temperamental type. On the other hand, I had a horse a few years ago who was very spooky about a lot of things but she never ever had an attitude and she was the best horse I ever had (RIP Rose). Its all about personality. And the temperament scale is definitely a gray area. There are many different opinions and variations.
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post #30 of 34 Old 07-22-2013, 04:37 PM
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Wallaby: thanks for that clarification. It has been confusing for me also. Your explanation sure helps ...
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