Horse shopping-advice? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-02-2017, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Horse shopping-advice?

Hi guys,
I've posted in here as although not a newbie, I rode all the time as a teen and my old horse died at 28 2 years ago, horse shopping is sure making me feel like one! Long story short I haven't ridden in a long while but I've recently been taking some lessons to get the feel back (and feeling like an idiot the whole time), I can only really go once a week, however I have a perfectly good horse paddock, a whole farm to ride around and all the gear, I'm not interested in competing and just want to trail ride with maybe the odd 25-40km endurance fun run equivalent. I'm keen to get my own horse and get back into doing what I like rather than being drilled around an arena..........unfortunately I hate horse shopping. I thought I'd found a horse that was perfect, went to see her, she was an absolute dream to ride. But she was unhappy on the ground, didn’t put a hoof wrong and perfectly behaved, just sour about it. Ears back and obviously wanted to be anywhere but with people. She was girthy too, biting the rail in front when saddled and pinning her ears. I could see myself loving riding her but not enjoying grooming her, feeling she’d rather be anywhere else and not enjoying it. I did think of turning her out for a few months (she lives in a shelter/small paddock and is rugged year round) and just letting her be a horse for a while might help but what if it doesn’t? I guess the question is: am I being too fussy here? My budget is around $6000 and I’m looking for a quiet forward moving horse that is nice to handle, from around 6 years to 12 years old. I don’t want to regret not buying this horse but even worse I don’t want to regret buying her! People keep telling me I’ll just ‘know’ but I’ve never ever had that happen to me, with people, horses or dogs!
Any advice is most welcome and I’ll keep everyone up to date with the hunt!
Vanessa
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-02-2017, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
. She was girthy too, biting the rail in front when saddled and pinning her ears. I could see myself loving riding her but not enjoying grooming her, feeling she’d rather be anywhere else and not enjoying it. I did think of turning her out for a few months (she lives in a shelter/small paddock and is rugged year round) and just letting her be a horse for a while might help but what if it doesn’t? I guess the question is: am I being too fussy here? My b
1. If her current owner has not had the mare checked or tried treating for gastric stomach ulcers --- big shame on the owner.

That would be my first and only guess for the mare's behavior as you describe it.

2. That segways into whether or not you are being too fussy --- that depends whether or not you are willing and able to deal with a horse that likely has ulcers and likely will be prone to them, if not properly cared for, including a NO GRAIN diet:)

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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 #3 of 10 Old 05-02-2017, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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That was my first exact thought too, about the ulcers. I should ask if she's been treated or not, I suspect she'll be sold before she can be treated and reevaluated and I'm not sure if I want to take the risk and treat her after buying and then find that it wasn't ulcers after all. I think part of the problem may be I'm looking for the horse I had.....which of course isn't going to happen!
Vanessa
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-02-2017, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by forfarhill View Post
absolute dream to ride. But she was unhappy on the ground, didn’t put a hoof wrong and perfectly behaved, just sour about it. Ears back and obviously wanted to be anywhere but with people. She was girthy too, biting the rail
You are not likely to find a horse that's perfect in all ways - bit like girls finding 'Prince Charming' is rare as hens teeth! But at the same time, depending on your what they're worth in your parts($6k should find you a pretty good one in this neck), it's not necessarily too fussy. If you are looking for a relatively 'perfect' horse, then I'd actually start with employing a trainer or such to find you one. And then, if you're not knowledgeable/skilled enough, you can very easily turn that perfect beast into a problem in some ways too. The behaviour you describe could very well be due to pain - ulcers or such, which may be easily fixed with the right treatment. If it is purely behavioural - as in, she's learned through experience to hate being handled or to boss people round or such, then that can usually be changed with the right training too.
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just letting her be a horse for a while might help
There's another consideration. Horses are herd animals, and I wouldn't personally keep one alone. Not just because it's 'nice' for them to have company, but it can seriously effect their health & wellbeing. Best if they're with other equines too, but other herd animals can be fine, and you don't necessarily have to buy one/some - you could always find other horse owners who need accommodation for their horses.
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-03-2017, 12:22 AM
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$6k is a pretty large budget for a trail horse doing short endurance rides. I would hold out for the right horse. It could take a while, but your perfect partner is out there somewhere.

If it's important for you to have a horse that enjoys your company and being groomed, then you shouldn't settle for one that doesn't. BUT... the horse you'll eventually bond the strongest with is that horse that doesn't really like most people, but is loyal to and adoring of the one person who spends time with them. My old gelding was like that - it took me a year to really get along with him - but I have to say the moment he got off the transport truck (first time I saw him in person) I knew he was the one.

I think everyone who isn't massively into competing should have a horse that they feel a connection with more than anything else. And when you find them, you'll know.

Don't forget your VET CHECK though! Nothing sucks harder than finding "that horse" and investing lots of money and lots of hours into them only to discover the horse is unsound. I've been there.
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-03-2017, 01:50 AM Thread Starter
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@loosie exactly my thought no one horse is going to be perfect, I need to figure out what quirks are okay and which aren't. I think my budget is pretty good for the horse I want but I could be very wrong!
I have sheep and cattle on the farm, my last horse was actually ram herd master and protector. Horse won't be an only horse too long as my mum is planning on adding a miniature horse for her to drive in the next 12 months or so.

@ blue eyed pony This is something I'm concerned about too, maybe the slightly standoffish horse will ultimately be the best horse. But how do I know? I wish I had that 'yep this is it' feeling but I never seem to *cries* And yep vet check all the way!

Guess I'll have to keep on looking! I wish they were all a bit closer to look at! I found another horse I'd love to look at but she's around 6 hours drive away......and a bit younger than my minimum age.

Vanessa
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-03-2017, 02:06 AM
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When it's the right horse, you'll know.

Regarding driving 6 hours to look at a horse - if you have that much money to spend on a trail/endurance horse, why not line up several (10ish?) to look at and make a weekend of it? Drive up, stay the night in a hotel or caravan park, look at a few, stay another night, drive home.

The largest horsey community in my state is only 3ish hours away from me, and I've done the drive to look at one single solitary horse many times before, but it's incredibly tedious. Looking at a few makes it a little less painful.

I know a girl who looked at more than 300 horses before finding "the one". I fall in love incredibly easily. My big mare is actually the first horse I looked at last time I was looking! Every person is different.

I found it helps to write down exactly what you want. So for me it's something like

Thoroughbred
Filly
16.2 hands+
Good conformation for jumping
Sensitive but willing temperament
Friendly but well-mannered with it
Between 3 and 5 years of age
True black
Basic flat education

I know which boxes HAVE TO be ticked and which ones I will negotiate on. My girl is the top 4 (and a half; she's friendly but her manners aren't perfect) and was 4 years old when I got her, but she's bay (not black) and had no education outside of racing.

I absolutely won't even consider anything that isn't a Thoroughbred, anything under 16hh, and if it's a gelding it has to tick EVERY other box (personal preference, I love my mares).

So for you, the important things might be something like this:

Good trail horse, seen kangaroos, motorbikes, dogs etc
Good in traffic
Willingly goes through water
Friendly, enjoys human company
Between x and y in age
Between a and b in height
Preferred gender
Preferred breed (Arabian? Anglo Arab? They're great endurance horses and bond strongly with their owners)
Completed 40k endurance ride with good heart rates and recovery

And then it's up to you to decide which boxes are wants, and which ones are needs - ie, what you'll negotiate on and what you absolutely won't.
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-04-2017, 09:09 PM
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be patient!! The right horse will come along & you will just *know* it.

#NoFarmsNoFood
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-05-2017, 08:59 PM
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I wouldn't settle. There's no reason to. You have a pretty generous budget, you have horse ownership experience, there's no need to rush into anything. I do think that you could find someone who could locate some good horses for you for a fee.

When we got our second horse, a QH mare that was supposed to be beginner safe, my gut gave me warning signals. This, despite the fact that she seemed perfect in a lot of ways. I bought her anyway, partly because my daughter really liked her. Our first couple of weeks together were a disaster. But by then, we'd made a commitment. The seller would not take her back, and my daughter would get upset at the mere mention of selling her. So I sucked it up and hired a trainer to get her at least to the point where I could manage her. We are happy with her now - she's one of these horses that appears not to like people, but once she bonds with you, will follow you around like a puppy. I've really fallen in love with her. BUT, she was not the beginner-safe horse I wanted and probably never will be.

Something told you this horse wasn't right for you, that you wouldn't enjoy being around her. You should move on. At that price, you should be able to have a great selection!

One of the things I would do differently if I were horse-shopping again, is that I would avoid horse dealers, and instead, try to find a horse that someone has owned for a while, but is selling because either they outgrew it (lots of girls going to college stories), or have moved on to a different horse sport, or because of lifestyle changes (divorce), etc.. Our first horse Harley was that kind of a horse. The people who sold him to us were heavy into dressage, and while Harley was very successful at second-level dressage, being an Arab, he just didn't have the build or natural ability to go higher. They had a barn full of large, expensive, dressage horses. Harley was the smaller horse all their little girls learned on. They knew a little bit about his history, and I was able to track down one of his former owners. About a year and a half into owning him, his original owner (he is 18!) was searching for him on Facebook. I contacted her and she told me everything about him. She had sold him because of a divorce, but he'd been very special to her and she just wanted to know that he was ok. My point is that every owner Harley ever had genuinely cared for him. He's a lucky horse! It made him confident, friendly, curious, and happy to be with humans. My mare was picked up by horse dealers out west, trucked east where they flipped her for profit. Which is fine, for the most part. However, I found out later, again, through Facebook searches that allowed me to find one of her previous owners, is that she'd been treated very roughly. The owner before this person had wrestled her to the ground by the head. No wonder she was head shy and anxious!!!

Knowing a horse's history is very helpful in predicting future behaviors. Not saying you can't change those behaviors, but some are very difficult to modify once they've become ingrained. And a frightening experience can turn a horse into an anxious one that is submissive out of fear. They'll let you ride because it's been beat into them to submit, not in a true partnership. I think my mare genuinely enjoys being with me now, but it took a lot of work. If I'd known what I was getting into, I would have waited for another horse to turn up.
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-06-2017, 07:06 AM
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Treating and maintaining a horse with ulcers can get pretty pricey, so for a $6K horse it would be a deal breaker for me. If the owner hasn't had the horse checked or treated, then it's something I would plan a little extra for in the PPE to make SURE I wasn't buying someone else's problem. For a $1K horse that met all my other criteria, I'd consider it.

That said, she could have been just being a grumpy mare and/or bluffing you to see how you'd react. I have a couple of mares who like to bluff new people. I also ride one when I go for training, everyone says she 'hates' people. She doesn't. She LOVES my massage tool and curry comb. I make sure to spend a little time with her after our sessions and she really enjoys the attention and now perks ears and nickers when she sees me coming. BUT, if you're in doubt as to whether it's behavior or medical, I'd pass unless you like her enough to have a really thorough PPE done. There are other horses out there and the right one is just waiting for you to find it.
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