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WriteStuff 03-27-2011 10:31 AM

Thinking about buying
Hi, folks, I've been reading on and off now for a couple years, but this is my first post--I apologize in advance for writing such a novel! I've been half-leasing one of the horses at my riding school on and off over the past year, and I really, really like her personality and attitude, but I'm just not sure she's the right horse for me, physically. During these past years I also keep looking at the OTTBs on Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue, but I worry about choosing a horse based on just a few hours of interaction and then not "clicking" together.

About me: I'm a middle-aged re-rider; I've been back taking lessons for 2.5 years now. I am a heavy-set rider--I've successfully lost about 12 lbs in the last two months and I expect to lose more, but for right now it's still an issue, and I don't want to be overly optimistic about getting down to 130 lbs and staying at that weight for decades!

My mid-range goal is to get into low-level eventing and doing other local schooling shows, along with just having fun at riding. My current instructor is more dressage-oriented, and I love my class and classmates, but I'm thinking about switching to a different class/instructor that does more jumping, because I'm more jazzed about that than doing just dressage. My barn does have a low-key adult event team that I can practice with when the time is right.

About the horse: she's a 10-12 YO grade quarter-horse type, 15.1 hands. She's a nice, responsive horse (unlike a lot of school horses I've ridden, and I've ridden more than 25 in the past 2.5 years!)--she's got good brakes, steering, and the gas pedal works just fine is how I think about it. Smart, willing, alert. Appears to have been originally trained Western--she neck reins really nicely. I've not done anything terribly complicated with her, but she's never even thought about refusing a fence on me. My instructor says that we work really well together.

However, she's got some physical flaws that are the main cause of my concern. Her shoulder is steep, and after I had my husband come out a couple weeks ago and take some confo shots, it also seems like she's over at the knees. I'm less good at judging hind ends. She also has an old injury on her right shoulder, and she's very stiff about flexing in that direction. She tends to counterbend on right rein as a result. She's heavy on the forehand and has a difficult time balancing around tight curves, on downhill grades, etc., especially at the canter.

So, to finally get to the main question: how bad is her conformation, and if I really only want to do low-level stuff with her, how much improvement can we expect to get if we really focus on improving her carriage, or am I just always going to be frustrated trying to help her keep her balance and get her more supple through the shoulder? I'm worried, after riding so many school horses that are full of evasion issues and just generally not so fun to ride, that if I keep looking, I'll have a hard time finding a horse that I enjoy riding so much and that I get along with so well.

I realize in retrospect that in the confo shots her legs are positioned correctly in one set but her body wasn't square to the camera, and in the other set she was square(ish) to the camera but her legs aren't right--so I'm uploading one of each, along with front and rear shots and some other general photos.

Here you can see her getting counterbent on right rein:

In contrast, here's a horse I've got my eye on over at Mid-Atlantic.AvailableHorse_Chief
He seems like a better candidate, physically, for what I want to do. But how can I be sure we're "simpatico" based on just limited interaction?

I'd appreciate your realistic opinions. (No rider critique, please--this is the first time I'd seen photos of myself riding--I see TONS of things to correct, and I'm already working on them!)

Ray MacDonald 03-27-2011 11:03 AM

For low level stuff, either one would do fine as long as they like it. Do you plan on buying the horse you are leasing?

dee 03-27-2011 11:12 AM

I really like your mare, although that may be because she reminds me of my old mare. However, I do have some concerns about how long she will remain sound in the field you want to compete in. She is somewhat over at the knee, and the old shoulder injury causing stiffness is something else to consider.

It looks like the OTTB you are looking at may be more what you are looking for in the long run, but there is no way to really know for sure. Is there some way you could take him home for a trial? A lot of rescues will let you do that - it's preferable to placing a horse in a home where he and his new owner turn out to be incompatible for whatever reason.

Wish I could have been of more help...

Elana 03-29-2011 09:22 AM

Looking at both horses I prefer the first one to the second one. Over at the knee is not nearly the issue that BACK at the knee is. I have known horses that were over at the knee (actually bobbed theirknees and bounced them while standing around) that never took a lame stride and were jumpers. Back at the knew horses are a whole 'nother ball of wax.

This mare is a little long in the back too.. but not overly so.

The second horse looks like his training has been rushed. I wonder if he cribs? He is high headed (usually from being rushed in training) and looks like not an easy keeper. Legs appear clean but if I was tasked with buying one over the other I would take the first horse over the second.

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