Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I don't think it's a purpose problem really. Most horses can do nearly anything at low levels (which in reality is what 99% of people seem to do), and I think all riding horses can be trail horses of varying quality. Doesn't matter if they're a dressage horse never out of an arena or an OTTB. I just got an OTTB and she's going to be a pleasure horse/low level allrounder. It's not what she's trained or bred for, but she'll still suit with the right training. So purpose is pretty flexible.
I think the problem you're getting at is buying a horse that doesn't suit the rider, whether it be their skills or experience. Some people think that it just means training, that if you get a well trained horse who isn't remotely green it will still be suitable. That's not true though, there are many brilliantly trained horses that would not be suitable for a beginner. Even on here everyone says "don't get a green horse as a first horse" but there are also a lot of horses that aren't green that aren't suitable and many beginners don't know that.
Then there is the other side of people who think that because trail riding is "simple" they don't need to be experienced at training to take a green horse or an OTTB and turn it into a trail horse. Again that's not true, because training isn't just discipline specific work but the very act of being ridden, the aids, control, the manner in which a horse conducts itself.
I think the trouble arises because of lack of understanding. Looking at a person ride it seems easy, until you own your own horse you don't know the "behind the scenes" of horse riding, and the work that goes into it. Going to riding lessons every horse is well behaved and you can walk, trot and canter and you think you can do that on every horse because you can do that on every horse there. The reality is different, but people don't know that until they experience it. I remember buying my first horse my family thought a $500 budget for a kids riding horse was more than generous, that a horse shouldn't cost more than that. If you're not part of the horse world, you simply don't know how it works.