I am unsure whether I should keep my horse and require advice
About two months ago I got a 3yo Standardbred gelding, who is unbroken to saddle. I recieved him from a Standardbred organisation on a year lease, they state that if the horse in unsuitable in any way you can tell them and they'll relist the horse, but it will stay in your care.
I am an experienced english rider, and I am planning to break and train my horse as an allrounder. I've began basic lunging etc with him and he is VERY quiet and calm. He'll be a great trail horse. I keep him at a family's property for free - I met him through PC. They're pretty wealthy and them and a friend have a few real nice horses they bring in to train up and sell on.
Today I was talking to the owner and she said (very politely) that in her opinion I would be best to give the horse back. She said he has a wonderful temperament but she thinks, along with her trainer friend, that he will never be suitable for what I want. She says that he is not pretty enough, or has nice enough paces, for dressage and does not have suitable conformation for jumping. She said if I wanted I could take on one of their many horses and train up and ride it for as long as I liked, or when trained they could sell it on and give me a share and with that money I could purchase a better horse, or whatever I liked. She said that if I wanted it could just sort of be "mine" ie. no one else would work it. She said they have noticed that I have a lot of time and "love" sort of thing, and it is kind of a waste on this horse.
This did strike a chord with me. He's looking great since I have got him, put on condition, wonderful coat and he goes along fine. He is not a people horse though, he'd rather be left alone, and he comes and is fine, but is happy away from me. I look at him sometimes and wonder what I will do with him. He is sound, but his legs aren't great, and I think he'll be perfect for trails and pleasure, but not if I wanted to do more, which I think I might. I like him though, and he is calm and all good, but I know I am not going to be able to do lots of work for years because of his age, and even after all that time he might never be good for what I want, where as they have a nice 5 year old, and a nice 7 year old and more coming in.
I'm a 20 year old student, which is why I did a lease thing rather than a free or cheap horse, because I don't know where I'll be in the future or how much money I will have.
Sorry for the novel, I know only I can decide but what do you think I should I do?
There is alot of dicrimination against Standardbreds, make sure you are judging this horse not his breed.
Conformation is not everything, you should always breed for the best but it is no garauntee. There are many many horses that are very far from ideal conformation wise that do well in their chosen feild whatever it may be. Don't make it the be all end all.
First of all, I think it's great that you're taking a logical, practical approach to this issue.
There is a lot of passion around rescuing/rehoming racing Standardbreds as they frequently end up in auctions/kill pens after their racing careers have ended, just like TBs do, and it's sad to see ex racehorses treated as disposable.
That said, STBs are bred for pulling, not for riding. and it shows in the conformation. Some STBs make the conversion to riding horse well, others do not, depending on conformation, and of course, training. I've seen some make good lower level dressage horses and event horses, but they have been the exceptions. Their great strength is their disposition; usually they are lovely horses to work with. However, there are some special issues/concerns retraining one that has been broken to harness, primarily with teaching it to bend, and also somewhat with the canter.
I'm going to assume for the sake of this discussion that these folks are right, and that this horse's riding future is limited to pleasant trail horse. I seriously question if the kind of time you'll be putting into the horse is worth what you'll get out, especially if your goal is to be able to do some lower level dressage and jumping. Ultimately, though, it's your decision - do you want to put 18 months of work into this guy to get a trail horse, or is your expectation to put the time in and get something you can do more with?
It also sounds like you've found wonderful mentors who have your best interests at heart, and their offer of a more likely horse to focus your time on sounds like a good one since your STD isn't under saddle yet.
I would like to hear more about *why* they don't think this horse will succeed as a sporthorse. It would also be helpful if you could post a photo of him.
I think its more a comparison between him and the other horses that prompted them to say this. Like the idea that there is my horse, who is rather average in a lot of ways (I feel bad saying this because he's nice) and then their horses who are sitting in a paddock who are really nice. I got him because I wanted an all-rounder, and I'd been out of the horse situation for a while, but lately I have been noticing that there are a lot of really nice horses around, and to be competitive you need something rather decent. Another reason that they said this is because he does have some knocks on his legs - like a knock splint lump, and I think they are somewhat concerned about his long term soundness for hard work.
I want to do some jumping eventually (maybe 1m - 1.2m/4ft), bit of dressage, I'd like to try my hand at some endurance riding, perhaps even a little Polocrosse and the occasional show.
Here is a pic of him, its the only conformation-ish one I have, but he is standing on a little bit of a slope, which makes his hindquarters appear higher than they are - they are still highish but I think that is just because he is currently in a growth spurt.
I spoke to my mother and she had some concerns. Like if I really like the horse I work with and want to move away but can't afford to buy it, and she is of the opinion that you don't know how a horse is until you try it, so she thinks its a little soon to judge my horse.
I have heaps of time now (3 months uni holidays) so I was thinking of breaking my horse to saddle, and working with one of theirs, and seeing where I stand in the New Year.
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