What to look for when purchasing a trail horse? - Page 2

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What to look for when purchasing a trail horse?

This is a discussion on What to look for when purchasing a trail horse? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    12-14-2010, 02:56 AM
One thing nobody mentioned and mostly never do - Make sure it is decently educated. Make sure it will give it's head both ways laterally, and will move sideways off your leg. Essential skills for the trail - Wether it is avoiding obstacles or yelding to get their brain back in gear after some idiot backfires or a rabbit jumps out from underfoot.
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    12-14-2010, 10:27 AM
To add to everybody else, be sure you have the vet out to assess him/her. Just because the horse will be used mostly for pleasure doesn't mean that you can go without the vet check. If at all possible, have your farrier go and take a look. That way you will be sure how the feet are for your type of terrain. The two of them can give you a good idea if you're going to have potential problems later down the road because of the confirmation.

    12-14-2010, 12:08 PM
Green Broke
Another is surefooted!!! Hubby's horse rarely puts a foot wrong! He is a terrific little guy full of spunk, but gentle. We rode at Cypress Trails and there was a drop off to the creek that was 30 or 40 foot down in some places and the trail went right to the edge. Surefooted is a good thing!

Another thing I like about all of the horses I either owned or tried is that they would stand still while we stopped to smell the roses. Biscuit will stand quietly while we talk, wait for others to catch up or look at something.
    12-14-2010, 12:37 PM
Originally Posted by wild_spot    
One thing nobody mentioned and mostly never do - Make sure it is decently educated. Make sure it will give it's head both ways laterally, and will move sideways off your leg. Essential skills for the trail - Wether it is avoiding obstacles or yelding to get their brain back in gear after some idiot backfires or a rabbit jumps out from underfoot.
I agree with that except I don't find lateral movement a prerequisite because I didn't even have that button on my first 3 trail horses. I don't know if they would do it or not, but I was green myself and didn't know to ask.

But my last two horses didn't come with a "move off my leg" button at all, and I was able to teach them that pretty quickly. Because now I am better educated myself and I know that is a button I want on a horse. But before then I rode for years and years, none-the-wiser.

It seems pretty common in my neck of the woods to find otherwise nice trail horses that don't know how to sidepass. But I have been able to teach them that without much trouble. So that wouldn't be a sticking point for me personally.

Duh, I forgot about being able to trailer! I mostly ride out from my house, so I didn't even think about that, but if you have to trailer out to ride, then trailer loading is very important!
    12-14-2010, 01:14 PM
Trailhorserider, that's a great pic of your horse. Actually he looks like mine! Foundation bred!

My third horse, the roan, is big boned, black footed, and has cannons that measure 8.5 inches! SOLID. She has excellant ground manners, and STANDS
    12-14-2010, 01:54 PM
Thank you all so much for your responses! There's loads of good info here that I just couldn't manage to think of. My search won't start in earnest until spring most likely, but I want to be as prepared as possible!
    12-16-2010, 11:56 PM
Okay, first of all, if you CAN find a seller that'll take you on a trail ride, that would be ideal! I got to take my mare on two 3 hour trail rides on separate occasions before I bought her. The owner was more than willing to take a trail ride with me...that's the thing about trail riders, they are usually just happy to have someone to ride with and to give themselves a chance at a sale is a bonus!

Other than that, obviously you can ask how the horse is on trail, but who knows how accurate the answer will be. Some things to look for wherever you do get to try the horse out are spookiness, control(do you feel that you need the arena walls to contain the horse or do you easily have control?), and size(can you get on without a mounting block?) Obviously the size thing is a preference and you can always find something to stand on on a trail, but it's something to consider I think. I'm sure it's been mentioned but it's good to look for good, sturdy legs and sure-footedness!

Obviously, most horses COULD become good trail horses with X amount of work put in. However, it sounds like you're looking for a horse that's already a good trail horse so that you can trust it with less experienced riders as well as yourself? Just keep in mind that whatever concerns you in an enclosed area will most likely be multiplied out in the open, so don't settle for less than what you need in a horse especially if you have to try them out in an enclosed area. Good luck on your search! There are a lot of good trail horses out there for next to nothing!
    12-18-2010, 08:46 AM
I was looking for a trail horse last spring, and was fortunate enough to find one through a network of horse people I know. Although I did not know the seller myself, she was in a reliable network, so I knew I could trust her. The horse had been exclusively trail ridden for the last 4 years. She put beginners on him, etc. I went, (drove 8 hours to see him) rode a long trail ride and he was a dream. Now-here is the catch. Yes, he will pack a monkey and follow perfectly. He will also go out alone. However, if you ask him to really DO anything but follow, or anything he really considered work, he pinned his ears and got pissy. It has taken us 6 months of training to get past that, and he still gets pissy at times. He IS the perfect guy, if following blindly is what you want. Know totally what you want and what your capabilities are, then know what the horses vices are, how they spook (they all have vices, and they ALL will spook at something), and make sure the vice and the spook are not deal breakers for you, that you can deal with them. When either of my guys spook, they simply plant their feet. Perfect, at least in my mind. Rarely one will slightly veer to the side. Frankly, huge horse flies are my worst enemy. Worse than ANY spook.
Even once you get the perfect horse, remember, you have to work to keep them like that. Take them out in varying circumstances, sometimes alone, varying terrain, sometimes, lead, sometimes follow, etc.
Good luck and have fun with your search!
    12-18-2010, 10:15 AM
Green Broke
I find a good practice is also to familiarize yourself with many of the trail riding facilities/locations around your state, and then find out WHERE the horse has been ridden, and how often. This can give you an idea of what the horse has/hasn't faced in terms of terrain, water crossings, lots of wildlife or very little, etc. If you plan to do any overnight camping in conjunction with your trail riding, you need to make sure the horse also ties or pickets well, and will continue to eat/drink well when off property. For example, if I am looking at a horse and am told she has ridden extensively at Brown County or Harrison Crawford, I am familiar with these places and the area, so I know she is fairly well prepared for about anything I can throw at her, as there is some tough riding in these places. But if I'm told she's been ridden once at Potato Creek only, then I am aware she probably hasn't faced much in terms of obstacles and probably hasn't been ridden longer than a 2 hour stretch. This isn't an option everywhere and a lot of people ride only on private land, but it can give you an idea.

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