To Buy or Not to Buy - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-18-2016, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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To Buy or Not to Buy

I am toying with the concept of buying my lesson horse. I would like to hear what others think I should do considering my circumstances.

Why I think I should go for it
-I have ridden the horse for almost a year. He is super safe on the street, jumps well, and is easy to handle. I have ridden also other horses so I am in the position to compare.
-I have a good job, with enough income to take care of a horse. I also have enough flexibility to go and ride, for instance, during lunch time.
-I am living in a country where keeping a horse is relatively cheap
- I am sure about my own commitment as I have been dreaming about riding my own horse since my teens
-My instructor is willing to help me with all the details

Why I am hesitant
- I will eventually have to move away from the country I am living in and I get very emotionally attached to animals so I would prefer to take the horse with me and that can be complicated
- The horse is 15 and I am scared of his fate if I leave him behind
- The horse had a minor back muscle problem in the fall and was resting for a few weeks. He is back to normal though
-I have noticed that he is less responsive to aids sometimes, but mainly only, when he has been ridden by many different riders

Let me know your thoughts
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-18-2016, 05:55 AM
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I think this sounds like a good choice. You are obviously very thoughtful, and the plus is that you know the horse, so you won't get stuck with a horse that has issues and is completely different than advertised.

The main problem I see is the moving away part. I don't know your situation or how far the move would be. Of course, with enough organization and finances, everyhing is possible though, so if you are dead set on bringing your horse, I think that can be done.

The muscle problem would be no issue to me. You will find no 15 year horse ever that had never been off for something. As long as he has made a full recovery and is sound, I wouldn't worry about it.

So although I don't often advocate for buying, in this case my choice would be YES! :)
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-18-2016, 06:15 AM
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Remember that once you "own" the lesson horse he will only have you riding him.
Right now he has multiple riders, handlers, varied experienced people who work with him on a weekly basis....
What I am putting out there is that once it is just you he may not have the exact same personality or riding style since no one else is exercising him or keeping him on top of his riding game as is being done now.
What you ride currently may not be the same in a few weeks or months after purchasing him and having exclusive rights to him.
Lesson horses are wonderful animals, don't get me wrong.
Do be smart though and get a vetting regardless of how long you have ridden the horse. You don't truly know the horse or their health background.
Use a vet that is NOT the vet of the lesson barn and horse owner!! You have already mentioned he had a back issue and was off work for that....BE CAREFUL!!
I've seen to many lesson horses that needed special shoes, medications to remain working sound...
His age.... he has many, many years left of riding time.
A good horse remains a good horse even as they age with appropriate care and some tweaking to their workload as needed...right now he is in his prime!!
Go into this with the rest of your eyes open about the horse. You seem to have the financial aspect pretty well under control.
Many good school horses when offered for sale are sought out by another lesson barn...and worth $$$$. Those other lesson barns also know what to look for in "high maintenance" horses and pass on them..keep that in mind too.
If serious....
Get A Vet and do a PPE with flexxions, xrays and careful exam knowing he was "off" with back issues. I would not buy this horse otherwise!


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post #4 of 10 Old 02-18-2016, 07:26 PM
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From the sounds of the situation, it seems like a really good idea. Again, the move could be concerning but if you set your mind to it it is always possible. It just might be costly, but that is something you could save up for.

The back injury probably isn't concerning but I would definitely get a vet's opinion before you buy.

The only personality changes I foresee with you being the only rider is he might not lose the sensitivity with the leg but he also might be more energetic and in turn sometimes makes them spooky. Some horses it really doesn't matter how much or how little you ride and their personality stays the same.

It sounds like you know the horse and have a good relationship with your trainer. If it was me and my trainer (and I was almost in your exact position) I would trust her without a doubt.

Also, not every barn wants to sell their lesson horses to another lesson barn. At mine, there was a gelding who was an excellent lesson horse but as he got a bit older (14ish) he was more picky with who rode him and wouldn't always listen to the aids if there was too many different riders. My friend decided to purchase him and they are an amazing team! This could easily be a similar situation so I wouldn't be too concerned with why they aren't looking to sell to another lesson barn.

I'm sure your trainer has the best interest of both you and the horse in mind.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-19-2016, 06:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the helpful replies and encouragement! I think the situation of my horse is pretty much that of jackiedev friend's horse. He is still an excellent lesson horse but not as forgiving as before. I have noticed that during the weeks I have been his only rider things have gone smoother (I am still learning myself but I get along with this horse very well- we understand each other). I asked about his price and they said approx. 5000 dollars which sounds decent. But as horselovinguy suggests I will definitely get him checked by a second vet outside the barn. I do want a healthy horse but I have no great competition ambitions. I just want to hack, jump a bit, and enjoy a horsey time....
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-20-2016, 10:03 PM
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Don't mean to sound negative, but I have some other questions. The situation sounds good in that you know the horse (and presumably the seller) and have the financial means to make it happen.

I assume you will board the horse? Will he stay at the same barn? Will the board include all of his daily care or will you be responsible for some of it? You talk about going to ride him at lunch... I've found that if I want to ride for about half an hour, it takes me an hour and a half from start to finish. And I haven't changed my clothes in that time. So riding during your lunch hour may not be realistic, unless you have a REALLY long lunch hour and are right next to the barn. But of course you can ride him at other times.

I am a little concerned about your comment that he is not as forgiving as before. You say it's probably caused by other riders, but maybe there is something else going on. Can you lease him for a couple of months so only you get to ride him?

Finally, you may have to ready yourself for the reality that it may not be possible to take him with you when you move. I don't know where you live or why you expect to move eventually, but it sounds like you won't have a lot of say in it. If you are moving to a nearby country, you can probably find a way to bring your horse, but if you're moving across the ocean, it gets more complicated and WAYYY more expensive. I'm not saying don't buy a horse, just that you should be prepared for the possibility that you may have to let him go eventually. As for his age, I wouldn't worry about it. If he's a good, solid horse, someone will be happy to have him. I'm looking for an older horse right now as a companion/mom horse. Unless they have big health issues, they can be wonderful kid horses.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-20-2016, 10:46 PM
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He sounds like a good choice, so long as your prepared for the responsibly of owning.

I wouldn't worry too much about the back issue, especially being a lesson horse. Probably a saddle fit issue, or maybe someone plopping a bit too hard on him. He could have even tweaked it playing a little to hard! So long as it's not a recurring issue I don't see a problem.

If you have to move away and couldn't take him with you he sounds like a versatile enough horse that you could lease out. Many people out there looking for solid packers for children or just an easy going trail mount! Worst case you could always retire him. I've looked into it and in my "area" (anything drive-able/day-trip-able) it ranges between $250-350 for full care.

As for his responsiveness, it's likely only a matter of training. It's amazing what some of these "dead head" lessons horses can do when a trainer get on them and pushes all the right buttons!! That should fade with time. My horse was a lesson horse, and a crappy one at that. She was hard to control, would constantly swap leads at the lope and would spin if you took your inside leg off or added to much outside leg (she is an ex reiner). Everyone hated riding her, even the other instructors. I got on her and she was a DREAM. Hence why I have her now!

One thing I would be concerned about, or conscious about, is his age. Older horses typically cost more money, whether it be for shoes or supplements. You may also be looking at him slowing down in several years. If that's not a problem for you, no worries. But if your the type that wants to show or do all day long trail rides over rough terrain this horse may not be a wise choice for the long run!

Lastly, vet check, vet check, vet check!! Don't leave any stone unturned. You'd much rather spend $1000 upfront on the check then LOADS more, plus the heart break, later on.
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-21-2016, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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I guess my comment of lunch break riding made me sound a bit idealistic...! I am an academic so I am in charge of much of my time management which means I might work until mid-night and weekends but I can also escape a few hours during the day.

I am located in Central Asia at the moment. Actually horse upkeep is here very economical. About 200-250 dollars for full-board which includes also basic vet fees (vaccinations, teeth etc.) and farrier. I am still a beginner who has been riding for a year. I like hacking and jumping small fences (just started). I am learning in my thirties so no showing for me I reckon.

People here do no leash horses but I am planning to talk to my instructor whether I could have the horse exclusively for a couple of weeks or even a month (kind of rent). This would also give me the chance to 'practise' what being responsible alone is like. Also I will look around for a vet who is not the barn vet (another fun fact- vets here are cheap!!! For instance, I paid about 20 dollars to get my cat microchipped! Same applies to horse wealth care Ive heard). I feel that this horse might indeed be a good idea if I a) have him exclusively for some time, b) get him fully vetted.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-24-2016, 06:22 AM Thread Starter
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One final question regarding the matter. Do you think that I am selfish for thinking about buying a fifteen year old horse when I know I might have to resell him? To be honest, having only ridden for a year, I still do not feel very confident with the younger horses. Also I want a horse that not only jumps but is a safe trail horse.
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-24-2016, 06:50 AM
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It is NOT selfish to buy a horse, and then sell it later. A good horse will make the next owner so happy! You are not adopting a child, you are pursuing a hobby. (An amazing, life-changing partnership, but still - a hobby.)
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