How do people determine prospects? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-11-2020, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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How do people determine prospects?

Hi, I am just curious as to how breeders/horse people determine a 'prospect?' Like is it all just subjective to bloodlines and breeding or is there a particular look a young horse, or older horse for that matter, will display? I know that most cow ponies are on the shorter side and WP-bred horses always appear to be taller and lankier, same goes for hunter/jumper. At the same time, I know people who buy horses and once they get to riding them they realize they are not suited for their goals and believe they need a career change. Thanks for the education
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-11-2020, 02:01 PM
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It would be a mix of those plus what you notice interests the younger horse.

I have a baby out of a racing bred/halter cross with some cow thrown in. Speedy, speedy, speedy. Most of her sibs are 1D/2D barrel horses. Her momma was an eventer. Her dad is race bred for the most part. He was one of my crosses for the draft mares. She loves to jump. Purposefully looks for things to jump. The bigger the better and wide does not phase her. She is built more like mom and would be what I would say is an eventing prospect. Her half brother we still own would likely do well with barrels as not only is he quick but he is lightning fast in turns. We aren't barrel racers and he is longer and leaner than most local horses so has been looked over. He has a great mind though so we will use him for trails and such unless he decides he likes to event as well but for ad purposes I would say barrel prospect. The last sib is built like a bulldog and would play all day with the cows on the fence. There was enough cow and she was really catty so I would say cow prospect. Now all of that can change once you get a horse under saddle but a prospect is just that. A prospect. Based on build, breeding and heart for the discipline. The eventing mare was purpose bred for barrels but didn't work out as she just didn't care to run the pattern and since she lost a couple of foals to LWO because there was no testing with the breeder/owner she was sold. Bucked like the devil under saddle on trails and was sold again. This person tried her on a cross country course and found her interest. For us she has become a goto for trails, no buck and my son will take her over fences here. She does well in dressage but I don't have an interest in showing and my son leases a horse that for his size suits him better.
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-11-2020, 04:25 PM
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I know nothing about cow ponies and the western side of things.

Judging a young horse is an art. Yes, breeding comes into it to some extent but the best breeding in the world doesn't count for a thing of that horse doesn't like the job it was bred to do.

For me, first impressions count. I see an overall picture, look at the eye to see if it is a generous one, small piggy eyes often mean stubborn behaviour.

A horse that has good conformation will have the ability to do well in (English) equestrian sports not necessarily top class but enough for most competitors.

The biggest thing for me is that they should enjoy their work whatever that is.

Many exracehorses have gone on to do other work once retired and reach a high standard. I recall one horse raced on the flat and over hurdles. Placed but no great winner. She was sold and became a top Show Hunter. Retired from that and went show jumping where she won many top classes. Was then retired to go to stud.
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-11-2020, 06:41 PM
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I am strictly a trail rider. When I got to the point in my life where I could afford a registered horse, I NEVER looked at the papers first - ever.

As far as a great horse goes, you can’t ride the head or the papers and in the words of Mark Rashid, “a good horse is never a bad color”. :):)

Having been taught horse hunting by my grandfather, the horse was quietly sized up physically, first. If all appeared to be well, the second thing was the level of “horse sense” the horse appeared to have.

Step number three was to trail/trail ride the horse.

I can train my own horses. If the horse had some training and/or mental shortcomings it was never a big deal to me.

Finally, after shaking hands on a deal, THEN I would ask to see the papers:). Papers are great for studying ancestry but they don’t make a good trail horse. The exception to that might be endurance horses:)
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-18-2020, 11:08 AM
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I don't know much on how to determine western horses, but I have a 4 - year old TB who I have deemed an Eventer and Hunter. She has a beautiful gait and rhythm. I came to this conclusion because I observed her on the ground and undersaddle. She is not a fast nor slow horse, but is more on the calm and collected side. She also has a great form for hunters where she can relax and maintain a good rhythm, tempo, and headset, while also if I shorten my reins and ask for collection and/or contact she will sit back and engage her hind and really work trough her whole body and extend like a cute little dressage pony. It honestly depends on how experienced you are and how well you know your horse to make that decisions. You want what the horse wants, not what you want to do with the horse. It also would help to have a trainer or someone who is very experienced to help make that decision. Trust your gut and your horse.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-21-2020, 05:34 AM
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I look at build, movement, age(dependent on my needs at the time) and if registered their bloodlines. My last few have been grade, so bloodlines weren’t considered. Bloodlines can definitely help give you an idea of where one may excel, quirks etc but they don’t guarantee anything. I know plenty of barrel bred to the nines horses who were totally not interested in racing.

With my last being grade it was 100% off build, athletic ability and movement.
My current prospects are a barrel/ranch bred filly and a cow horse bred mare.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-21-2020, 08:37 AM
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These days I'm looking for Ranch Versatility/Ranch Rodeo/Roping prospects. That is where my interests are in competing and buying and selling horses.

For young unproven horses I'm looking for what I would call an easy way about them. They are happy, curious and have kind of a brightness to them with a kind eye. In my experience that is a really good indicator of what it will be like to work with them.

I do study bloodlines pretty carefully, but I don't much care about more than 2 generations back (sire and grandsire top and bottom) because most of the horses I'm interested in will have similar breeding and I don't think having a great sire 4 or 5 generations back (and no-names/did-nothings in between) means much although it is interesting.

I like to see what Bob Loomis calls the trapezoid, and follow Heather Smith Thomas's advice on conformation and form to function and study a horse I'm looking to buy on both. I do look at color, markings and head shape but those are icing on the cake for me rather than what I'm looking for.

Last edited by jgnmoose; 09-21-2020 at 08:45 AM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-21-2020, 08:48 AM
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Like @Foxhunter said, it's an art more than anything. The horse must have the right conformation to do the job (usually! some horses defy the odds), and have the right mind to do the job, and figuring out what a young horse will probably become given training, is where experience and an eye is invaluable, either yours or someone else's. Those things are not acquired any way except by working at it diligently for a long time.

Genetics, especially close-up genetics, is going to matter a great deal, but horses are rarely inbred to the extent that other livestock is, at least these days. That lessens predictability. Still, if you know the lines you will begin to see patterns. The dam almost always counts more than the sire, as she not only contributes her genes but a foal's earliest life lessons. So knowing the parents well is another piece of information.

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