Picking a horse with a good temperment - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By DuffyDuck
  • 2 Post By MHFoundation Quarters
  • 2 Post By thesilverspear
  • 1 Post By MN Tigerstripes
  • 1 Post By Cherie
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
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Picking a horse with a good temperment

The recent thread,
was disturbing to me. I've had little experience in my 26 years of horse ownership with dangerously aggressive horses. The one time I did, a little 14"2hh mare kicked my Arab "Corporal" (1982-2009, RIP) so hard that I thought that she'd broken his leg--she didn't, fortunately. At that point I separated her from the rest of the herd and sold her.
Even my super-tough horse, "Tyke" (1970-1998, RIP) who beat up several other horses of mine, used descretion. When he took over the herd the day after I bought him, he allowed my elderly mare and my pony to hang with him, and brought peace to the rest of the herd. As long as I took time to introduce a new horse to his herd everything was fine and no horses were hurt.
My current herd like each other. My two 5yo geldings are such BFF's that they put each other on the opposite sides of the fence to bite each other--go figure. My mare, 3/3, enjoys their company. NO worries, no Vet bills. Just little nicks and bite marks, sometimes kick marks.
It occurred to me that people new to horses know very little about judging a horse's temperment. They do what we all used to do, head first, body second, "can I ride it?" third, etc.
I'd like input from your experiences to help the newbies so that they don't bring home a monster who injures their existing horse(s), or WORSE, injures a person. I will wait to post my pointers so that I don't repeat good advice. My PURPOSE for this thread is to help. Thanks, in advance. =D
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 03:40 PM
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I would also like to add something to this, and I think its very important for first time buyers- be aware.

Seriously look in to blood lines when you buy for anything 'hot' or known to be harder to handle.

I see so many threads on here that begin with
'Three months ago I bought my horse/pony and he was brilliant, now I can't even halter him/he drags me/rears/bucks' etc.
Working with a horse isn't just about riding, it is about groundwork, interaction with the horse and how you allow that horse to know you are its alpha, so to speak.

I would honestly say take someone with experience with you, see the horse for what it is, and either keep in touch with the previous owner in case you run in to hiccups, or seriously crack on with ground work so you set the basis for your relationship with the horse.

I learnt this quickly, thinking I had experience around horses.. the rope burns taught me an invaluable lesson.
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 04:11 PM
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I've dealt with a handful of aggressive horses over the years, they aren't fun and take intense work to deal with. My personal horse was one of them, not his fault, he was turned into that horse. My hubby was sure he'd be the one to end me or at least do serious damage, thankfully not. He went from being one that would bite, kick, charge, rear & strike to now being a good citizen, big baby on the ground and very quiet & willing under saddle. At this point I even have hope he may become a kid's horse many miles & wet saddle pads down the road. I'd not EVER recommend going that route to anyone, it's hard work not for the faint of heart or inexperienced to overcome major aggression issues.

I think many new owners get taken in by a pretty package and hope to love it into wanting to be a willing partner, that doesn't work.

Biggest recommendation, find someone knowledgeable to evaluate prospective horses with you. Someone who doesn't have a dog in the fight so to speak and can look at a horse objectively.

Don't settle on the first one you see or the second. It's like finding a perfect pair of jeans, you might try on 20 pairs before you find the one pair that fits you perfectly.

Don't ever take an owner's word on something. Find out for yourself if that animal is what it's advertised to be. I've found more often than not that they aren't. What one person considers broke and what I consider broke are often vast distances apart.

High price tag doesn't always equal good.

Free or cheap generally doesn't equal good.

Look into bloodlines and history when possible, if dam & sire were hotheads, chances are the offspring will be too. Don't buy one bred to be a cutter when you want a jumper or vice versa. Look for one that is bred to do what you plan to do with it. Trying to conform a horse into something it wasn't meant to be is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Ask for medical history & vet records, look for sedative purchases, x-rays, etc. Never skip a PPE.

Ask for name & number of the person that started/trained that animal under saddle, call, ask what they were like to work with. You'll generally get an unbiased opinion when that horse isn't on the payroll anymore.

Ask for reference from the farrier. Find out what that horse is like to deal with from their point of view.

If a horse is already brought in and tacked waiting on you, red flag. I walk when that happens. I want to catch that horse myself and go through the whole routine that I'd do myself upon purchase. If it isn't tacked, look for sweat marks, be sure they've not worked the snot out of it first.

That's what comes to mind now, there's much more but who wants to read a novel?
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 04:59 PM
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My horse is very horse aggressive -- she's unsafe in a herd -- but she is all sweetness and light towards people. I'm just writing this because horse-aggressive horses don't always equate to people-aggressive horses. And I've had this horse for more than twelve years so if there were a problem, I think I would know about it by now. She is also safe to ride in the arena and on the trail with other horses, as she minds her manners when a human is in charge of the situation.

Would I buy another poorly socialised horse who could not be turned out in a herd? Nope. It can be a hassle to manage when you move barns as much as I have and the turn-out situation has to be explained and negotiated every single time. Would I send this mare to the knackers for that reason? Hell no. She's a wonderful, gentle riding horse in every way.
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 05:09 PM
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I have one that is aggressive with other horses (geldings more than mares) and is great with people. It is a PITA to deal with, though he has improved with a small herd of 1 mare. There were definitely some hairy moments for the first year and they were separated for their entire first winter.

In addition to the previous advice I would recommend getting a good look at the turnout situation and the horses that are turned out together. A bunch of really beat up horses usually points to someone in the herd being overly aggressive, you're taking a chance that it's the one you're buying. Personally I would also like to see how the horse interacts with other horses while ridden and handled. Soda was aggressive in both cases until he learned that the human is always boss. Might not always be possible, but is helpful if you can manage it.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 05:28 PM
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This can not be overstated, TAKE SOMEONE EXPERIENCED WITH YOU even if you have to hire them.
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 10:22 PM
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Every herd aggressive horse I have had (including the two that killed other horses) were really nice, solid saddle horses and absolutely kid-proof on the ground. You could lead horses off of them and ride in the middle of a big bunch of horses and they would never lay an ear back. [But then, they were taught these good manners from day-one of their interaction with people.] They were only mean when turned out with other horses and a person was not there.
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-06-2012, 10:50 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2012
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I've only ever known one horse that would kill another if given the chance. He was a fantastic trail horse and great with people and geldings, just hated mares. He was always kept separate behind secure fencing, so he never had the chance.

I knew a couple that refused to take someone with them. First they bought a green three year old. However it became apparent that she had a nice fast walk and liked to move out, and they were very insecure with anything the was not extremely sedate. we encouraged them to find some older well broke gelding to build their confidence and volenteered to come along. They showed up with two young horses who had not been ridden in months and were formerly used for gymkana. Needless to say, not a good choice. Then a untrained two year old who became a mess and caused amny injuries. They currently have one of the gymkana horses, kept by its self in a corral. they come walk it, but are too intimidated to ride any more.
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