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twh 12-07-2011 12:04 PM

"He's SO pretty!" ---- Horse buying decisions based off eye candy
"He's SO pretty!"

How many times have we heard that in the horse world? I'd say too many... for example:

1) A woman bought a horse simply because, and I quote, "He's so par-r-r-r-r-etty!". The horse in question was a gorgeous tall blue roan, but was very hard-headed and needed a strong rider, who this person was not. The result? Horse wound up rotting in the pasture, never being taken out from one end of the month to the other, and was put up for sale within two months of her buying him. Let it be noted that this woman was not new to horse buying: she had three other horses whom she had also bought for their looks and had trouble riding.

2) BNT routinely bought prospective showhorses online sight unseen basically based off good looks and got burned at least twice: once when the horse arrived she found he had human eyes (sellers managed to hide it in the photos), and the second time when it turned out the horse was much greener than she had been led to believe. (This also falls under the why-buying-a-horse-sight-unseen-is-a-bad-idea category, but that's another issue altogether)

3) The first time horse buyer carving it in stone that the horse they get MUST be a palomino/buckskin/blue roan/cremello/etc.

...and the list goes on.

Let's get one thing straight: excluding conformation, the outside of the horse does not matter. It's what's inside that counts.

I remember when I was looking for a horse for a family member, I asked someone I knew if she had or knew of any horses for sale. She immediately told me that she could find me something if she didn't have it, and her first question was, "What color do you want?"

I told her the horse could be hot pink for all I cared, as long as it had a suitable temperament for someone who was a bit timid and just getting back into riding. The lady seemed a bit mystified by this attitude, and came up with a horse who was "really pretty" but tried to throw his rider on the test ride.

Everyone wants a beautiful horse that everyone else will drool over. It's perfectly understandable and normal, but it becomes trouble when people let it become one of the main criteria in their horse buying ventures, sometimes to the point where they'll pass over a trusty, steady bay for a flighty, spooky palomino.

If you want nothing but a lawn ornament, go ahead and set color or good looks as one of your main criteria. But if you're going to work with and ride the horse, his being pretty is not going to help you when he's being stubborn, buddy or barn sour, refusing to lead, or trying to dominate you.

I'd like to say this wall of text is directed to first time horse buyers, but unfortunately I've met too many people with literally decades of experience owning and/or training horses who buy horses for their looks or color.

Now, if you wanted a flashy Paint to show at APHA breed shows, and got yourself involved with a respectable APHA show barn, odds are you wouldn't have that much trouble getting a nice APHA performance horse through said respectable barn. But unless that's the scenario, instead you're cruising around online classifieds such as Horsetopia for anything below a successful performance horse, you need to keep in mind that, and I repeat myself, excluding conformation, appearance doesn't mean a thing. Sellers use a horse's good looks as a huge selling point, a lot of them actually boost the sale price because the horse is "pretty" or of an unusual or "special" color. But it is no indication of what sort of temperament the animal has, or if you'd want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

Equilove 12-07-2011 12:20 PM

Some of the best horses I've ever ridden were jugheaded sorrel mutts, hehe...

gigem88 12-07-2011 12:44 PM

Human eyes?? Never heard that term before, what does it mean?

brighteyes08 12-07-2011 12:47 PM

im going to guess she meant visible scleras?

MajorSealstheDeal 12-07-2011 12:49 PM

I'm also curious what "human eyes" means? Never heard that term before.

PerchiesKisses 12-07-2011 01:07 PM

I agree with everything except the conformation part of that, not because conformation doesn't matter - it does! - but if you're looking for that horse that will build your confidence. That horse that will be willing and kind, and the horse that will be a true partner, sometimes conformation can take a second seat to attitude.

My bf learned to ride on a little crooked-legged arabxQH mare. She was 7 years old, and a lot of people looked her right over because of the obvious conformation flaw... what he first saw in the mare is beyond me. But she turned into the most willing, cleverest horse I've laid eyes on. She would tote small children around as calm as a horse three times her age, and when my bf wanted to run.... well not a horse on the entire farm could keep up with her. She never had an unsound day - although we did have to hire a very talented farrier who could trim her to compensate for the flaw.

So I agree, looks should take a backseat to what's inside the horse's head. Because you just never know what you could be passing over.

christabelle 12-07-2011 01:13 PM

I think looks come into everyone's decision to buy a certain horse. Good conformation is pleasing to the eye as well. Lucky for me, short dark brown with no white is my favorite, and there is an abundance of them ;)
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bsms 12-07-2011 01:13 PM

Of course, one challenge is knowing what a horse's personality is. My mare was sold to me as 'good for beginners', and she seemed calm when we saw her. That was about 180 out from the truth.

90% of the time, tho, she IS a sweetheart. The remaining 5-10% can be pretty ugly. It isn't easy to find that out without riding her a lot, tho.

gunslinger 12-07-2011 01:14 PM

Looking back at it.....I think I married my first wife for many of the same reasons. When I married my current, (and last) wife, I knew more about what to look for. Hey, what can I say? It happens!

Courtney 12-07-2011 01:18 PM

More and more, I know I lucked out with my mare. Not only is she absolutely beautiful, but she’s kind and willing. She’s quiet, intelligent and we work exceptionally well together. Granted, I bought her for WHO she was (a much cherished horse from years gone by) and I was fully expecting her to still be the awkward looking youngster I knew. I would have bought her regardless of her appearance, soundness, ability, etc… it was more a matter of having her with me than anything else.

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