My riding future/What horse to look for?
I'm also wondering how much you can teach an old horse new tricks :) Here's my short story:
I grew up riding and competing in dressage, and I've only done a little jumping. I had to take a break from riding due to finances and having a baby (well, having it soon). I'm trying to figure out what kind of horse I should be looking for as I get back into riding after having this baby. Here are my plans/goals:
As I get back into riding, I don't care to be super competitive. I mostly want to learn, stay safe, and HAVE FUN! It's more important to me to have a kind, sweet, calm horse that isn't as talented, than something that's a handful and a constant struggle yet talented. I'd like to compete, MAX, at second level dressage (again) and MAYBE Training level eventing (eek!). Maybe just Novice :wink:
Where I live, I'm surrounded by a lot of small quarter horses, paints, and mutts :D. Anything other than that is a "novelty", and has a price tag that proves it. Since finances are slim, and my goals aren't extremely high, do you think I'd be able to reach them on a horse that, um, isn't exactly bred for this sport? Also, I'm used to young horses. Now that more people are relying on me to take care of them, I'm thinking I ought to look into older horses with more experience. However, the older horses around here are experienced in trails and rodeo events. Say I bought something around, I dunno, 12 years old that has western riding experience. Do you think I could re-train him? Or is that too old to be asking for that big of a transition?
I feel like I sound like a child asking some of these questions. Oh well, regardless of whether or not these are stupid questions, I'm going to put it out there.
Thanks to whoever read through this :D
Well since you know what you want that helps you alot. Keep in mind that all horses can do Training level dressage and most can do First level...even the run of the mill mutt types;) So I'd recommend finding a horse on the younger side with three decent gaits who can walk trot and canter under saddle just fine. Sounds like you don't need anything too crazy fancy but something solid. So really many horses can do. Might take a little bit of work on your part and working with a trainer is always good.
I agree with katdressagegirl. Really, you will bounce back more quickly than you think. IMO it would be gratifying to start a young horse RIGHT, and find him a good home later on, if you decide to do so. I retrained a lot of horses when we did CW Reenacting. DH and I kept the ones that retrained quickly, and sold the ones quickly that didn't. The determining factor was the horse's attitude. If you buy an older horse you might be retraining a safe horse for your daughter/son in the future. Really what is needed NOW in the horse world are good trainers...PERIOD. i think you'll be doing a great favor to the horse you decided to buy.
Although I've worked with warmbloods throughout my training career, I have to admit I love quarter horses, and it sounds like a QH may be a good fit for you. I would shoot for a well broke but younger horse that is properly trained with 3 correct gaits and one you see potential in.
Do you want the horse to be trained to jump when you purchase him or will you hire a trainer for this? Either way, I would also advise bringing an experienced trainer or horse friend with you to see and ride the prospect.
Also (in the US at least), training level in eventing is one step below prelim with XC and stadium fences at 3'3", 1.4m drops, ditch is just over 2m I believe. If you don't have much jumping experience, I'd suggest startiing off at beginner novice where the fences are lower and going from there. Good luck! :)
I probably couldn't purchase one already trained to jump due to the price difference, but I do plan on working with a trainer. And I definitely won't start at Training Level eventing! I just wanted to mention that training level is my eventual goal, so I would like to know if the horse I get would be suitable to allow me to get that far.
Thank you to everyone's help!
I'm sorry if I'm going to come across as a complete downer, and I know the others are saying to get something young, but in my experience babies are very time consuming. My son is 16 months now, but juggling him and riding can prove difficult. I have an older horse who I can let sit in a field for weeks and hop without a second thought. He's reliable, and I know if a kiddie hangs off one of his legs he's going to have the brain not to have a heart attack.
Remember that unless you can 200% rely on somebody to see to the baby that the baby will be in tow whereever you go. With the baby comes prams, bags, toys, ect. I went through a phase after my first baby that she would sleep in the car on the way, and I'd get a quick ride in. It didnt take long for her to learn the sound of the gate popping open and she was wide awake and my riding time was dramatically shortened and some days I'd do well to get 15 minutes in - that won't be sufficient for a horse for a young horse that you need to school if you want things done properly.
As I said, I have an older horse. He's been there, done that. If I wanted to go off and do an easy jumping class or dressage test he'd do it just fine. If you don't want to be super competitive I find an older horse ideal as it takes off a heck of a lot of pressure.
Best of luck with both horse and baby! :)
If I take everyone's advice and roll it into one, I think this is what I'm getting (feel free to tell me otherwise!) -
1. Pretty much any healthy, sound horse will be able to get me to my riding goals since they're not that high.
2. I'll still want to be selective and make sure the horse has good gaits and a willing temperament.
3. A horse that has some experience would be best. Ideally if I can find something experienced in jumping I will get that. However, even if the horse is only experienced in western events, he will still be better off since he's used to the show atmosphere and I don't have to spend time introducing him to absolutely everything.
4. There isn't a specific age range to be looking at. Something mature mentally and physically, but not too old and set in their ways incase I need to re-educate them... I guess I'm the most confused on this one. In my mind I'm looking for something between 6-11 years, but it will depend on the horse.
Does that sound good?
I think you've taken what everyone has said and made a pretty good beginning list to work from.
Also, don't totally discount all those QHs around you! ;) While I'm not a huge QH fan, I do know two (well, I guess one was an Appendix) that successfully competed through PSG, and one that was schooling GP but who was just getting a little on in years. xD
Regardless, I think you're on the right track and I agree that an older horse would definitely be better than a youngster. Your goals aren't at all unreachable with a "mutt" and to be honest I think you'll have more fun with a horse you can just hop on when you want rather than a horse you absolutely must ride every day.
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