Shopping for my perfect horse... Is this workable? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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Shopping for my perfect horse... Is this workable?

I went yesterday and tried a horse (for the second time). The first time was 3 or 4 months ago. She's not being actively marketed, but the owners have more horses than they can ride and would sell her. Last time I rode, she was perfection. She's laid back, probably as bomb-proof as they come (I know that's never completely possible - but I know her history somewhat and believe her to be very solid). Her ground manners are great. She neck reins and goes off of very gentle leg cues. Has a wonderful Whoa and 'back'. Seems very well trained. They said she likes a light hand (great for me as I don't like always yanking on a bit...). They've taken her on many trail rides, from big organized ones to small rigorous ones.

They've been busy and she hasn't been ridden for several months. Yesterday, she still had the great temperament and was easy going, and was very easy to ride... until I took her out away from the barn (and her companions) by myself. She refused at a certain distance to move forward, and did a little tail swishing and a few steps backwards. Nothing was fast, and she showed no inclination to spin or bolt. Did lay the ears back a bit in a stubborn way. Just balking. So, not knowing her well I was hesitant to get assertive (like I said, I'm pretty green... and I have been on a few horses that ramped it up to crow hopping etc when pushed.. and I just don't want to go there). The owners were great, made no excuses, said they understood my hesitation but that she is not inclined to get nasty when pushed harder - they helped me work through it by being slightly more assertive and walking her away and back to the barn a number of times (they would have to hand lead her about 2 steps in the right direction then she would listen to me again). So, after about the 5th time, she started riding great and no longer resisting. I realize horses aren't robots, she didn't know me, and she hadn't been ridden for a while. I was never scared, just a little disappointed as I expected her to be perfect and 'walk on water' again!

Anyway, sorry for the long report, but I'm wondering if this is indicative of serious barn sour issues and is a big red flag, or normal behavior and something that I could fairly easily overcome by systematically working with her in an arena - taking lessons with her - getting occasional tune ups with a trainer - etc. I really want to get it right this time. It's possible we could work out a trial period, but I know from experience that barn sour doesn't necessarily creep up for quite a while, so not sure even a trial could predict that.

I've 'had the word out' for about 6 months that I'm looking (not to mention the months I spent searching for my first horse). Even though I've made a lot of connections in the horse community, all I've been getting are random links to facebook groups and Craigslist ads... not first hand recommendations. This mare is one of the most enjoyable I've ever ridden. That doesn't mean she's perfect for me, though.

Background:
I bought my first horse last February, and for various reasons she wasn't the perfect fit - just sold her recently to a more experienced rider and that seems like a great match. I'm an older novice rider, but surrounded by good mentors who are enabling this adventure. I'm not an assertive rider (though am learning...) - I frequently ride a friend's wonderful quarter horse and we get along swimmingly, but she isn't for sale. I'm looking for a horse like that one... I'm spoiled, as I think she's one-in-a-million.
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post #2 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 11:40 AM
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It sounds like her little bit of barn/buddy sourness would be completely workable. If you love everything about her except for that, but think you can work through it, I'd give her a shot. She sounds wonderful and the one small issue she has wouldn't dissuade me, especially if I liked her otherwise.
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post #3 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 11:44 AM
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My advice at this point is, take some lessons on OTHER than the perfect horse. Learn to ride the occasional balker because ANY horse can and will if they think they'll get away with it and at this point in time you're not confident enough to ride through it, so if you bought the horse it would escalate. And, as much as I hate to say it because I'm likely to lose my Mare Lovers Membership card, look for a gelding. Don't necessarily turn down the perfect mare, but geldings tend to be better for the unassertive rider (in general).

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post #4 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 11:45 AM
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Good question, she sounds like a nice mare, and if she did everything that you wanted having not been ridden for a while that says a lot.

The barn/buddy sour thing does not sound serious, more of a "I don't want to. Oh OK is you insist" attitude rather than "SHAN'T and you can't make me"

The one HUGE piece of advice that this older, nervous, cautious re rider will give you...think about brain worms...

I have bought horses before that had a 'niggle' and I gaily thought that I could overcome what ever it was, but some brain worms get in your head and stop you progressing. You have to be really really sure that you can deal with this little bit of resistance, with your support networks help.

If you're confident you can do it no issue, but if you are not, then walk away

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post #5 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
And, as much as I hate to say it because I'm likely to lose my Mare Lovers Membership card, look for a gelding. Don't necessarily turn down the perfect mare, but geldings tend to be better for the unassertive rider (in general).
That's what I've heard- that's honestly what I've been looking for. Just haven't had any luck yet, so hated to rule out a mare. But yes, I'd love to not have to have those discussions.....
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post #6 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 12:18 PM
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"And, as much as I hate to say it because I'm likely to lose my Mare Lovers Membership card, look for a gelding. Don't necessarily turn down the perfect mare, but geldings tend to be better for the unassertive rider (in general)."

But, Dreamcatcher, mares can be so "interesting." : )

Folly, for a novice, you sound like you do have a handle on what you are comfortable with and what you are not. And it sounds like you have good support to help. And this is probably a wonderful mare.
But, personally, I would not encourage a novice to start out with a problem. I won't bother all the reasons why. Done it...don't want to do it again.
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post #7 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 12:18 PM
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I agree with Dreamcatcher, you need to ride a lot of imperfect horses to know what to do.

The fact that she tried it on is not unusual, you are a novice rider and she was bound to test you sooner or later.

Take your instructor along to see what she is like and whether she would suit you.

Be aware that the most perfect horse is going to try things on and if they are not corrected the manners get worse.
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post #8 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Horse View Post
The one HUGE piece of advice that this older, nervous, cautious re rider will give you...think about brain worms...
Niggles and Brain Worms - great visuals. I do let things get into my head, especially now that I'm older. Must be wary of this. Good advice.

------------

I have taken lessons on resistant balky horses (one had to be spun in circles - I hated doing that), and even the "one in a million" horse I described that I ride is not totally compliant. I actually love when I can push through or solve something, without it ramping up to a huge confrontation... she's a big tank of a QH, and I'd never win. The first few times I rode her out in a farther pasture, she would try to rush home at the end and break into a trot, and it was an argument to slow her down. This last ride, instead of just a 'whoa', I sort of s-curved her back. She did great. I think next time will be even better. I love to learn and work through some issues, but on a horse that doesn't escalate it into some big tantrum. I've ridden two that did, and it was no fun. I'm wary and want to avoid that. If I need to avoid mares to stack the odds in my favor, so be it. Hard to find!
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post #9 of 27 Old 12-12-2015, 12:33 PM
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I bought my present mare about 2 yrs ago and she had been ridden out on trails etc and was good on them but never out by herself.
Because of our severe winter that year I didn't ride her until spring and the first time I saddled up and took her out she was ok, the second time when we headed out into the field she baulked and refused. This was an important stage in our riding together as she had to go out alone. I didn't have a crop with me and I don't ride with spurs so I gave her a slap with the reins and used my voice to get after her thinking "boy, I sure hope this old body of mine can handle what she dishes out" but she caved in when I insisted and went on, never had that happen again.
I know that if I had given in to her this could have become a problem. There are times when you just have to insist but I usually am careful to pick my battles to ensure that I have everything in my favour to be successful.
Otherwise she sounds like a nice horse and if you get her, make sure you have some help in the beginning to make sure she doesn't get away with anything. It's a lot easier to nip a bad behaviour in the bud before it becomes a bad habit.
Good Luck
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post #10 of 27 Old 12-13-2015, 03:50 AM
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I will add, there is no 'perfect' horse anymore than there is a perfect husband.

Both have to be taught!
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