Would you buy a very spooky horse because they are good at showing?
To preface this question: I have been leasing a 9yr old OTTB for a year for the purpose of showing in the Hunters in the Midwest region.
I have never owned a horse, I have always leased / shareboarded historically. Never really showed before due to not leasing or shareboarding horses that were considered competitive. I began showing for the first time when I got this horse a year ago because he IS competitive. In fact, he's a blue ribbon pig, a division hog. I'm ecstatic with how well we did this year, considering my limited show experience.
The end of our lease has come and I have obviously been given the choice to re-up the lease or purchase. This horse had some training after the race track before he came to our barn on a trade. He is a cute mover, flashy, fine-boned, excellent jumper, only refused a jump one time (and that was my fault for a sloppy approach). He apparently didn't have much show experience before I got to him.
Sounds like a decent horse, yes? So, what's the problem?
He's extraordinarily unpredictable on the flat at home, which becomes dangerous when the horse is extremely fast and athletic. In the winter months (6 months of the year here), this horse becomes an un-manageable monster. He spooks at everything, becomes irritated at other horses in the ring (chases after them if we are on the rail and someone goes by), he's kicked a horse while I was on him, he doesn't calm after spooking(and I am a soft, gentle rider, I don't get aggressive with him because we quickly found it doesn't work). We turn him out, my trainer lunges him until he's steaming like a sauna and even then he can be a very tough ride. I have only fallen off this horse once, but he has almost shot me out of the tack many times. He's no easy ride and in fact, not enjoyable when you are cantering and know that at any moment, he might stop and leap sideways and gallop off with no warning. He's highly intelligent...but that seems to translate to everything being scary. He also is not friendly...I had to train him to not be quite so aggressive in his stall, because he was actually quite scary once upon a time.
Sometimes in the winter, my trainer even offered to give him a small bit of tranquilizer to make him safer to ride. I appreciate the gesture, but this tells me I'm dealing with a horse that isn't completely safe. To me, no one should have to 'take the edge off' of a well-finished horse just to flat. But hey, maybe I'm naive, please tell me if so.
In the summer, he is vastly better because it is usually 85 degrees here. He's an absolute saint at 90 degrees (ha, big surprise). However, I have had him get extremely unreasonable in the summer if the temperature ever drops to 75 degrees, or if the wind blows, or it might rain, or the sun is gone, etc.
On a whole: great competition horse in the spring and summer months...a time bomb in the fall and winter months, even at 3 day shows. I basically been told that any competitive horse will be hot tempered or spooky and that I should basically buy this horse because he's so good in the show ring in the summer and judges pin him even though he's an OTTB. He's not a cheap horse and he doesn't have a nice temper either. Nor do I find his lead change to be easy, which is an issue for me.
Am I crazy for wanting to hold out for a competition horse that is a solid citizen? Do they exist? Or are they all bad tempered and crazy? Would you purchase a very spooky, unpredictable horse just because they are good at competing 6 months of the year or would you pass and continue searching for something with a better temperament? I'm just lost because my trainer often just comments on how great a horse he is...aside from him being extremely difficult. I don't mind the occasional spook, I know how to ride them, but I don't like a horse that spooks like they are being PAID to do it. Does good competitor always means spooky or difficult?
Any opinions or thoughts are welcome! I don't intend to show at a national level or anything, I'm an adult woman with a full time career, so showing is just something I like to do once or twice a month...but I like to win when I do it, considering I'm dropping $1200 in a weekend for it.