Hoping to Find My First Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-17-2018, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Question Hoping to Find My First Horse


First off, thank you so much in advance! (Sorry that this is so wordy!)

I am a beginning rider with a little bit of experience. I have been riding off and on for about two years now. For about one year I was receiving English show lessons for about once or twice a week on a good month. I have some experience with Western, as I leased a horse for a month or two, but then sadly came to the conclusion he had too bad of ground manners along with bad riding habits to the point where he needed someone more experienced than I was to get him back into riding. I then took barrel lessons two or three times and I ended up deciding that the environment was not quite for me. I'm still in high school and am a percussionist/second bass in my symphonic/marching band. This leaves almost no time for me in the fall to ride so I took a break. If I do get a horse and that does become a problem, my horse comes first and I would be willing to quit. We're now looking for that special horse, as it was all started by a little Christmas present of looking at a horse that was free to lease... which definitely did not work out. I am still not sure what branch of riding I would be interested in, and so I'm looking for a pleasure horse more than anything. If at all possible, we're trying to avoid an expensive horse and look for an older, calm quarter horse. Any tips?

Note: We just looked at a 16-year old AQHA gelding that was borderline skittish over the course of two different days- something I would not like to handle on a daily basis- considering circumstances, it may be environmental, but I do not want to chance it. On the other hand, while looking at this horse, the seller showed us a docile mare that was so sweet and calm. We looked at her both days along with the gelding One of the riders at the barn rode her for us as we watched and she maintained her calm demeanour, doing what was asked. You will probably call me crazy but today the seller asked if I wanted to ride her bareback, and (with my parents' permission) did with my dad leading her. With the lightest touch/click, she would go. I just rode her at a walk as I had not been bareback in forever. Here's the kick- she's 3 1/2. I know it's a big no no to buy a horse this young, and I definitely do NOT want to get her and do a complete injustice for her. Please tell me if my heart is interfering too much with this. What should I do?

Thank you!!

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post #2 of 9 Old 01-17-2018, 11:50 PM
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We are at similar stages in our riding career, though not quite in chronological age. I have ridden a warmblood for a few months, I am now leasing an OTTB mare for a year, and I am looking into leasing a second OTTB mare (completely opposite personality to my current one) for at least another year. In addition, I had the chance to ride several other horses at my barn - under supervision, leading individuals myself on trail rides, and solo. Long story short, after riding for a little over two years, I am not ready to give up the learning experience that riding many horses can offer me. After your description of your lease horse, I do believe that you, too, can still benefit from riding horses that are less than polished. Just as calm waters don't make good sailors, perfect horses don't make good riders.

My advice is: Don't.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 12:29 AM
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Every horse that I've ever had that was beginner friendly was that way from the get go and, by the way, they've all been mares.

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 02:54 AM
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I would not say a 3.5yo green horse is necessarily a bad choice for a green rider. Just that a 'been there done that, tried & tested' older horse is a safer bet. Depending on her level of training at that tender age, HOW she was trained & ridden, she may or may not be good for you. Depending on her reactivity(which might be totally different in a different setting) and YOUR reactivity... etc, and then you've got to factor in management & feeding differences, and her maturity effecting her behaviour too - IME they can grow more mellow, but quite often mellow youngsters develop a bit more... oomph as they mature. And depends how much hands on support you will have with the horse too. So... most of that can apply to any horse regardless of age & experience/education, but there's just more risk with a youngster/greeny for a beginner.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 03:06 AM
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...But just careful not to get sucked in to buying an old horse, because he's cheap & well behaved, unless you're prepared to keep an old retiree & the special care he may require, for the long haul. Of course, they deserve good homes too, and any age horse can have something go wrong that causes them to have to retire, but likelihood that the horse may not be rideable for long is high with old horses people are palming off. ... or with younger horses who are well trained but cheap - buyer beware! Ensure you have an experienced person, like your trainer check out prospective horses for a more objective opinion, and consider a vet check on even(especially?) very cheap horses, for the above reasons - purchase price may be a non-event compared to ongoing care.
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 09:04 AM
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"I leased a horse for a month or two, but then sadly came to the conclusion he had too bad of ground manners along with bad riding habits to the point where he needed someone more experienced than I was to get him back into riding."

This to me says you need more experience in basic handling from the ground up. Even a well behaved horse can become a beginner's nightmare once you get the horse home if you aren't adept and comfortable handling horses. A young beginner friendly horse that has not had the time and training necessary to become a solid mount does not belong in the hands of a green rider unless there will be a trainer there every. step. of. the. way. I say that because at 3.5 the horse has not been on this earth near long enough to have had solid training and miles to back it up. If they have then for their age IMO they have been overworked and I would pass. I would ask about the type and level of training she has had, how much saddle time she has had, was she started English or western? As Loosie pointed out age, change in feed, change in management, change in handling can mean a change in the horse.

Thinking ahead I will also say band can get you places if you are looking to college. Not that horses can't but chances are band will get you there long before horses will. There are several riders I know that sandwich riding time between band commitments. None of them have their own horse. They lease or ride lesson horses so that the horse has much more ride time than they can commit to. I take that back there is one but other family members ride so the horse isn't abandoned during peak band activities. If you are still debating disciplines then that is another reason to wait. Try out different types of riding - just because barrel racing wasn't for you doesn't mean some other western discipline wouldn't be. You mentioned English show but what does that mean? Dressage? Pleasure, HUS, Walk/Trot/ or W/T/Canter, jumping in any form? It maybe you find you just like trail riding if there are opportunities close to you.

Looking again at college if that is where you are headed - what happens to the horse. You have said if you get one the horse will come first and you would quit band. What happens when the horse interferes with college course work as in you have to work to support the horse. It can be done but you need maturity and time management skills many a new college student doesn't possess.

ETA: It sounds like your parents are aware of your interest and are willing to help you but have they considered these questions? Where will the horse be kept while you finish high school? Boarded or home? Are they aware of the costs involved in owning a horse? Can they afford a trainer to work with you? Will they purchase a trailer so the horse can be hauled?
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Last edited by QtrBel; 01-18-2018 at 09:13 AM.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for answering! My parents do have experience with horses. We had two horse when I was a baby, and they had one horse before that who was drugged and so they had to take back to the seller. One of the horses we kept was a mare and a bit ornery, and the other was a sweet old quarter horse named Jake who was bomb proof. We've found a boarding place right across the street that fits us and has a very sweet owner with horse experience. We can afford a trainer to work with me, and are aware of all the costs and time it will take to take care of a horse. Also, with the horse that we leased he had foundered before, and honestly, I loved him, but we could not ride him as often as I would have liked. Along with that, he hoped once while I was riding him. I held on and probably would have ridden him for longer to get a hold of him and back to normal, but my dad decided that that will probably be it for the day once I had circled him. He was also barn sour and would charge into the stall. I would try to lead him back out and in again, but it was both a combination of his bad behavioural issues and that he could not ride. I learned a lot from it, but looking back on it the final straw was that he had foundered and kept losing his shoes, losing another week of riding. He could still ride without pain, but on some days he clearly was in pain. I do not know if that changes anything, or explains a bit more, but to say the very least the horses we look at now walk into the stall like a dream haha.

On the 3.5-year old, she has been trained by a 23-year old woman who said she has ridden her every day for the past year. She had actually been out in the pasture for two months when sold to the buyer who is selling now. That being said, they took her out on the street, and the woman asked a girl who had never ridden her before to ride her. She got up on her, they cantered down the street and back with no problems at all. We also saw her load off and on, she just takes a little time getting off and prefers to face forward, as she was used to the little two-horse trailers. I do not think she has been ridden English, but I could ask again.

I have ridden on trail rides before, a lot of groups, and one on your own type adventure with my dad and a trainer and his wife. I would love to do that type of option, and this horse has definitely done this before. The type of riding I had done for a while was basics that slowly moulded into English dressage. Thank you so much again! This has definitely given us a lot to think about.

Also, with college, the places I have been looking at do offer boarding close to the campus. Along with that, I am willing to work as hard as possible to do everything I can. You only live once. I have taken some AP classes already so I know the day to day work I will have to work on. In addition, with band, I am not greatly motivated by it. I just love the community that comes with it, and it gave me someplace to call a second home. I am not extremely talented in the field, but I do devote some time to it. In my mind, it is a lot like a very time demanding hobby than a life. I don't know if that makes sense, but it is the closest I can come to it. I am just one of the only leaders in the percussion section and will be the main section leader for the drumline this upcomming year. I would have to take some careful planning into accord, but I do know at least one person in band has horses. Along with that, my mom has expressed interest in the 3.5 year old and riding her.

Last edited by Dawnfur01; 01-18-2018 at 03:17 PM.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 05:28 PM
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So out of curiosity why didn't the owner ride her? It sounds like y'all have a plan mapped out. I'd still be thinking long and hard about a horse being ridden that much at that age. Have her vetted out would be my advice. Without horses and no talent for music I ended up in the artsy crowd so I hear you. Clepped out of much of my undergrad work and did have horses so it can be done but it is an undertaking. Keep us posted.
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-18-2018, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! We are getting her vet checked tomorrow, and from what I remember it was the women's first horse, and she had gotten in such a pickle with not being able to pay for it that she had to sell it to pay her bills with the boarder. I could check again about the period she was not ridden in, because now that I think about it I am not 100% sure about that part of the backstory.
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