Getting my first horse - I'm 50! Opinions on this one?
Hello! I loved horses as a child, and "bummed" horse time from my friends until I was about 13 years old (and we moved away...).
Fast forward 'a bit' (2 grown children later) - and I met a wonderful friend who has had horses all her life. For the past couple of years I've been riding her wonderful old mare, a push-button baby-sitter horse, with enough spunk to still teach me and keep me on my toes. Unfortunately the horse's arthritis is forcing a retirement soon. So, we've decided it's time for me to get my own horse to keep at her place so we can continue to ride together and I can keep learning. With my husband's encouragement, we're in full hunt - and I'm as excited as my 16 year-old self would have been!!!
The dilemma of course is in finding the right one. We've been searching since before Christmas, and I've seen and ridden some of the most beautiful horses ever... based on looks I would have loved to bring at least 4 of them home, but based on temperament I keep getting drawn back to one of the first ones I visited in person (not the most beautiful of the bunch, but a real sweetheart). She's a 14 year old Missouri Fox Trotter, and I would love some input from those of you familiar with the breed. I've looked at this MFT,
Rocky Mountain Horses, Quarter Horses (what I'm used to), and even a Walkaloosa. This MFT is the only one I've found that truly lived up to the descriptions as calm (beginner friendly) and has had extensive trail experience, as well as being used at summer youth camps. My friend had a Paso Fino once and likes gaited horses (even though now has QH and an Appy), but doesn't know much about MFT. She likes the horse's personality, ... said she is a bit underweight (fixable), and we know she needs a good worming. Otherwise she seems healthy and I believe was well loved. I would get a vet check of course. My mind isn't made up - but after passing her over, it just donned on me that this girl might actually have the important things I'm looking for. She is responsive and quick enough, but I felt completely at ease on her (unlike any of the others I've tried).
Here are a few pictures (sorry for the quality - snapped quickly with a phone). If anyone really wants to help me evaluate her I have a short video clip I could email. By the way, I'm just looking for a companion to hack around the pastures with, and to do basic trail riding. Not looking for a show horse obviously.
I know the post is long - thanks if you made it this far :)
Missouri fox trotters are great! I've owned them for the past 7 years and they are some of the calmest and most loving breeds out there. They make great horses for first time owners. Depending on the type training a fox trotter has had they may operate a little differently than what you are used to. Do you know what past experience the mare has had? Also, is she registered (if she is I can give you some more info on her based on her breeding).
As for the other breeds you have looked at, rocky mountains are also nice horses. They are similar to fox trotters in temperament and they make great trail horses.
Thank you for the reply! Yes she's registered - I haven't seen the papers but can get a copy sent to me. It took a few minutes to get used to, but she seemed to stay in gait even for me (and that was my first time ever on a gaited horse). I was smiling the whole time! So smooth, and no drama or head tossing. She just got to work. The only negative is that she direct-reins only... didn't understand leg cues or neck rein at all. My friend seems to think she would pick it up quickly (she has trained her own horses... and whatever horse I end up with, if it needs some time with a trainer, I'm not opposed to that either).
We had heard wonderful things about Rockies - and I'm sure it is all true. The ones we tried out, though, were very high strung! they were 11 and 16 so not babies... not sure what it was, likely lack of consistently being ridden is my guess... or show stock? It wasn't just me - the young wrangler was having a time of it, too! Wayyyy too much horse for me. But they were Stunning!! :) absolutely gorgeous. That's one of the ones I was about ready to bring home until I got on-board. It's hard to find them around here.
Most fox trotters are trained with direct rein, unless they are trained for versatility. All the ones I have worked with learn very fast, though. I would recommend a fox trotter for your first horse. They are smooth and dependent trail horses. This girl looks like an easy going gal; she has a nice face on her. And if she gaited easily for you that is a major plus.
Here's a look at how calm the breed can be. This image is from 'Missouri Fox Trotter Show & Trail Friends':
From everything you have said, she sounds like a really nice mare that you should snatch up. Is your video on youtube? I'd like to see it
It sounds like the only thing that you are hung up on is that she doesn't neck rein or know leg cues. Everything else, you are really happy with right? For your needs, she sounds perfect, as the most important thing is that you feel safe on her and that she has a nice temperament.
I wouldn't rely on your friend to be your trainer though, so it's great that you aren't opposed to one. The good news is that teaching basic leg cues and neck reining would be easy for someone with experience. If the price is right, go for it. Be careful about finding a trainer, if your friend knows of anyone, get their recommendations. You want to be able to see how they work to ensure that your horse will be well taken care of. Another thing you want is to be able to get lessons with your trainer. You need to see how they have taught things and are cuing for them so you can replicate that result at home.
I don't know about MFTs either, but I just want to point out one thing you may or may not have already considered. You say your friend rides QH and an Appy. When riding gaited horses with non gaited horses, often times the gaited horse moves MUCH faster even at a walk. You will be 2 blocks ahead and having to turn around to go back and have a chat with your friend, then back out you'll go unless she trots her horses along. Just a thought, may not make a difference to you, but thought I'd put it out there! :)
Cute girl btw and I personally don't think she looks bad weight wise, so not sure what you're seeing about her being underweight.
As long as she passes a Vet check--GET ONE, if you haven't, already!!--she sounds like a perfect first horse. Her pictures show a calm eye, and ALL gaited breeds are comfortable, especially for older, first time owners.
Ignore comments from people who LOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEE the breed that you are buying. It is NEVER the breed that makes a good horse. It is always a good build, a sound mind and many, many miles of good TRAINING that makes your good horse good. =D