Looking for the right horse
I LOVE horses. Have been crazy about them since I could walk. Now I have horses of my own for the first time. When I was young I was in a bad accident on a horse and was badly injured. This left me VERY nervous around them. I have tried a couple of horses who turned out to have bucking problems. This has only made me more nervous. I currently have 3 horses. My daughter's POA pony and I adopted a mare for my husband who turned out to be pregnant. She had a sweet little colt in March. I want to keep the baby but he will not be ready to ride for several years. Not sure I would be the one to ride such a young energetic horse anyway. He is my baby for now and I am really enjoying bonding with him. He will be gelded as soon as the vet feels it's safe and I found a good trainer to send him to when he is older. So for now I would love to find a safe horse I can ride in the meantime and or for my permanent horse. We wanted 4 anyone to even things out here. I know they say geldings are better but we would like a mare. My husband's mare is the sweetest horse but a Quarab and too forward for me. She wants to go go go the second you mount her. Would an older horse be good? I just want a lazy mare who wants to just walk. That would be a match for my speed. :D I just keep running into sellers who lie to make the sale. The last one resulted in a "safe" horse who turned out to have bucking issues and bucked my daughter into a tree. I can't have that again but where to go to find a horse seller I can actually trust?
I rely on a friend that trains and gives lessons as well as a couple of friends that are willing to come and evaluate a horse. Usually if there is something off one of us picks up on it. I'm blessed though I have a couple of friends I trust that have sent me horses sight unseen that fit what I needed when I couldn't arrange to see the animal or try it myself.
Hi and welcome to the forum! Generally speaking, older horses are more mature and can quieter, or at least more "set" in their personality. Here are a few tips for when you are horse shopping. First, make sure you see the horse in the entire grooming, tacking up, and riding process. Don't just watch him being ridden and not being handled in the barn. Also, I would go see the horse several times - horses have good and bad days too. Next, try the horse out doing what you want to do. If you want to trail ride, see if you can take him out or at least watch the owner ride him out. And one last thing to remember - just because a horse acts differently when you get him home does not mean the owner was dishonest. I have sold several horses that I owned for 10+ years and ended up taking them back because the new owner had problems. Different environments, different ways of riding and handling, and different feeding or turnout routines can all change the way a horse behaves. When it comes to sellers, mainly just go with your gut on how comfortable you feel with the person and the transaction.
I would say get an older horse. A bombproof, quiet all rounder so that you can get your confidence back in riding. I made the mistake of getting a 5 year old OTTB for my first horse and I'm lucky that he's as quiet as he is. In terms of buying it, look on craigslist, kijiji (if your in Canada) or a similar website for them. Then I'd suggest going and checking him out. Have him tacked up while your there so you can see if it has any issues. Then ridden by the seller. Ideally id go back a second time to ride then, but maybe depending id ride the first time aswell. Be sure to ask lots of questions!!! Ask about anything that you will be doing with the horse , if theyre prone to founder, colic, etc, to be safe. Then have him/her vetted. making sure that the seller wasn't lying about any health problems. If you prefer mares, then that's alright and yea, but if you find the perfect horse for you and its a gelding, don't pass him up just because of it! :) Best wishes on your search!
Bucking with a new horse is both dangerous, and, unfortunately, VERY common. People start horses today that don't know how to train them, are not successful, and then dump them on the market.
I'm sorry that you didn't join this forum before you adopted your mare. This will cost you $. You need to shop around for and hire a trainer to completely finish your horse for you. This can take, with a decent trainer, about 4-6 months, or so, to guarantee a reliable horse, AND you will have to be trained to keep UP your horse's re-training, or else your horse will slip back into old habits.
Age no longer guarantees a good horse. You might contact CHERIE, one of our moderators. Although I have owned/trained horses for 28 years, I would buy a finished horse from her in a heartbeat bc IMHO she doesn't skip any steps. If she doesn't have anything for sale, she can probably point you in the direction of safe horses for sale by others here on the forum, too. This economy just keeps getting worse and we are selling things, too, including extra horses.
Find a trainer or instructor that you think you'd want to work with. Introduce yourself, have a lesson on their horse so they see how you ride. And make sure they're on board to help you find a horse.
First ask a lot of questions. Then go out there and make sure you see the horse be caught, saddled and then ask the owner to ride before you. If they lunge first that's a bit of warning sign. Take note of what bit they use and ask them to walk, trot and canter the horse each way. If possible, as to see it ridden outside of an arena.
Then you or your husband have your ride. Put it through it's paces. Handle it on the ground, see if it's respectful. Then go away and show your trainer a video of you riding it, or something, and get their advice, and then bring them out. Get them to try the horse out, put it through it's paces.
Ask for a trial, it's not really a red flag if they say no, but it's preferable. Then decide if you want it, and if so buy it.
Try and find horses through people you know, ask at the local riding clubs and there might be a been there done that horse for sale.
Also, I don't know what your budget is but keep in mind that good horses don't often come cheap. A real quiet, reliable horse can go for a fair bit.
Age wise, I'd go over 9 but under 16, give or take.
I started with a gelding, and he turned out to be a little too much energy for my needs...he needed to be worked daily or he's be a spaz when I wanted to ride...I'd always heard to avoid mares, but I ended up buying one anyway and it's turned out great. She's older (16) and pretty calm. She prefers walking to running or even trotting which is perfect for me because I want a slow and calm horse. She has grumpy marish moments, but nothing horrible. I'd say go for a mare if you find one you like. I was able to 'test ride' my horse for a couple of weeks to decide. Maybe you can find a similar situation. Most horse sellers really want a good home for their horse so don't want you to end up with a horse you aren't happy with.
The horse doesn't need to be older if it has the right personality. My horse sounds like the type of personality you're looking for and he's only 9. He's perfectly happy walking along at a snails pace (which is what he does when I put beginners on him) but will also go faster when I ask him to. We're always working on being a touch more forward for competing, but lazy is better than crazy I always say :-)
Definitely try to network with as many honest horsepeople as you can. Trainers, farriers, vets, etc. and let them know what you're looking for. They see a lot of horses and hear about it when they go on sale. Be a little wary of trainers trying to sell you their own horses (or horses they're getting a commission on)- some trainers (but not all, of course) are less than 100% honest when it's their own money on the line.
Have you considered checking out some Equestrian centers in your state that are selling horses? Most are constantly moving lesson horses in and out and they are usually bomb proof. And even if they dont have any listed, if you call, sometimes they are willing to sell them. I ride at 3 different barns and each one is pretty large and sells their lesson horses, or the owners sell their own horses to open stalls up.
Also, there are plenty of rescue organizations that have great horses for adoption because people can no longer afford to keep them, not because there is anything wrong with them. I'm in NJ, and every one I have worked with has been very careful about trying to pair the right horse with each person.
Have you considered a draft or draft cross? In general, they're really laid back and gentle. The owner I bought from offered a 30 day trial (we got it in writing) - transportation and vet costs where on us, but we were SURE he was the right horse for us first time horse owners. I looked at him by myself but got lots of feedback from super savvy staff at my barn once he was there. We have heard lots of horror stories about horses being drugged- even rumors of one that stays in their system for weeks! Tip I recived from friends that buy and sell regularly... make an appointement to see the potential horse and then show up early... it can be incovience to the seller but you can make sure they're not working the crap out of it before you get there or having major issues catching it! Best of luck - keep us posted.
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