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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone! I’m getting my first horse. We are going to try wait till spring unless the perfect horse pops up before then! I’m over the moon,loaded with excitement! But... I’m a little worried. Not really worried,just those lil nervous twinges about picking the right horse. I know I can care for it. I know I can fall off and get back on. I’m not afraid.

But maybe you guys can help me narrow it down on what to look for? I feel like the field I’m looking in is really big!

About me: I’ve been riding for six years and have been on 8 different horses. I can catch horses that walk away,pick up stubborn feet,tack up,groom,lead,muck,handle stubborn or feisty horses under saddle,etc. I feel very ready for my first horse,and confident about it. I can stay calm on a nervous jumpy horse. However I don’t come across this way. I’m very quite and very gentle. I tend to observe before I jump in,which comes across as scared of the horse or nervous to most people. I politely refuse to just jump on a horse,instead I ask about behavior,spookiness,brokeness,etc. I have a a quieter voice so it usually comes across as nerves to most people. I’m an introvert which doesn’t help! But in reality I’m calm and collected. The horses know this,the people don’t. I also have very soft hands,I’m not one to jerk around a horse and kick it! Please try to tell me what level I am. It’ll help! Thank you!

What I’m looking for is:

My age range for the horse is 10-15 years old. Although I’m finding wonderful 8 year olds,is this too young? I’m trying to stay under 20,I want it to be able to gallop,be ridden regularly,etc but I’m finding great 18 year olds! I’m looking mostly at quarter horses,but I’m open to everything as long as it’s a good fit. I want to just ride for fun,gallop through a field once in a while,trot about the trails,do little (6 inch) jumps in the arena,just laid back for fun stuff. See what I mean about not actually knowing what to look for? Lol! Like I kinda do but not really. How experienced should the horse be? The definition of green is huge,so I’m not avoiding them entirely,should I? I’m confused at what I should look for!

I’m not sure what level to call myself. Am I a beginner? Intermediate? I probably forgot something. I’ll let ya know if I did!

Ps. To those wondering about Jynx... he was adopted before I could go see him.
 

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Would your instructor be able to help you find a horse? They usually charge a fee, but based on what I've heard, it's really worth it to have someone who knows you and knows horses help you out.

I don't think 18 years old is too old at all for a first horse, but you might find that you will have some health issues that would need to be managed, thus increasing your day-to-day costs.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! I plan on taking my instructor with me to look at them,and she’s giving me some advice.

There is a VERY SLIM chance I might be able to purchase the horse I’m riding now,but I’m not counting on it!
 

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You sound like just the sort of human every horse would love to have. Your quiet nature may actually be a good match for a horse that needs quiet, and that can be a timid horse, or a very emotional one. I would avoid a horse that wants to take over all the time, tho.

Ten to 15 is a really good age Range. Some horses age better than others. If you get an older horse , get one that has been regularly active most of its life. An older horse that has been a pasture ornament for years may break down easily when then brought back into use. But older horses that are ridden all along stay rideable longer. Just my experience. Also, some breeds stay rideable longer, like Arabs for example.

I look forward to seeing what you get.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You sound like just the sort of human every horse would love to have. Your quiet nature may actually be a good match for a horse that needs quiet, and that can be a timid horse, or a very emotional one. I would avoid a horse that wants to take over all the time, tho.

Ten to 15 is a really good age Range. Some horses age better than others. If you get an older horse , get one that has been regularly active most of its life. An older horse that has been a pasture ornament for years may break down easily when then brought back into use. But older horses that are ridden all along stay rideable longer. Just my experience. Also, some breeds stay rideable longer, like Arabs for example.

I look forward to seeing what you get.
This made me really happy!😍 I’m glad you think I’ll be a good horse owner!🤠 I will keep everyone updated! Thank you for all the info!
 

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I agree, a quiet personality is my favorite when it comes to riders or horse people in general. Loud, pushy, or bossy people don't do well with a lot of horses, or have too much to prove. That doesn't mean you can't be assertive.

Anyway, do take your time. Go slow, very slow. Avoid being blinded by the idea of getting a horse. The last thing you want is to get a first horse that takes the fun right out of it. Don't close your eyes to red flags. In fact, look for them. I've bought three horses in the last four years, and got two out of three right, but the one of them was, and still is, a bit of a train wreck. We still have her, and are still trying to fix her issues because I can't, in good conscience, rehome her right now. I wish I had paid attention to the red flags. Also, require a trial. Do not take on a horse without a trial of some sort. She's the only one for which the seller refused to do any kind of a trial. For our first horse, we had a 10-day buy-back contract which allowed us to return him within 10 days if he didn't work out, and for our third horse, we had a 6 month trial because he came from a good friend who trusted me and figured it was one less horse for her to feed over the winter (though that kind of arrangement is highly unusual - maybe ask for a two-week trial or buy-back period, and get it in writing). I don't think it's a coincidence that my two other horses, who are awesome, did come with a trial. The owners had nothing to hide. On the other hand, I believe my problem mare was drugged when we rode her. But there were little things I should have paid attention to... learn from my mistake! Insist on a trial!

You want to have fun with your horse (great goals, btw) so you should probably get a horse that is pretty chill in temperament and is a good, all-around horse citizen. Personality may be more important than high-level training in your case. You want a horse that is willing and happy to move forward, but not the type of horse that gets worried about everything, or refuses to work in certain conditions. In other words, avoid really high-strung, jumpy horses. Trails can be scary places. You never know what you will run into. That nice relaxing trail ride can quickly end in disaster on the wrong horse. So when trying this horse, take him out on a trail. Preferably with another horse, then by himself (even if it's just a short loop alone to see if he is ok being separated). Make sure you have a good whoa, that you can steer, and leg yield (important things on a trail). And because you also want to do a bit of jumping, work the horse in an arena (indoor our out) as well. Go ride the potential horse twice. I used to go see the horse by myself first, and if I thought it had potential, I'd bring my coach on the second visit (I didn't do this for my problem mare). She'd often ride the horse too. Then, if all looked good, I'd get a PPE.

In terms of age, while it's true that an 18 year old can be a very solid horse, you have to keep in mind that you will have a limited number of years left to ride a horse that age. But they can be amazing, and if you're ok with just doing light riding, then you can definitely pick up a really great schoolmaster horse at a good price. Younger horses are usually a bad idea, but my third horse was only 6, and only had about 10 rides on him. I never thought I'd buy a horse that young, but he's wonderful. We're bringing him along in terms of training, and to my amazement, he is progressing very well. So while I don't recommend this for most people, there are exceptions.

Finally, I'm all over the place in terms of breed. I thought I wanted a quiet QH, but the first horse I bought for my 10 year old daughter was a fiery Arabian. And guess what, he's the most solid citizen of all three. We can take him anywhere, he is a perfect gentleman, a very safe mount for my daughter (now 14), and has won two division championships in Intro Hunter classes, not to mention dozens of firsts in all kinds of flat classes. However, he's not crazy about trails. He will do them, but it's not his favorite thing. My new guy, who has now just turned 7, is an Appy. I was never really attracted to this breed, but have fallen head over heels for this guy. Appies can be jumped, but they also do really well on trails, being quite rugged and bold horses for the most part because of their Indian pony ancestors. My Appy loves trails, and is the first horse I ever met who does NOT want to go back to the barn when we finish a trail! He is also funny, interesting, curious, loving - a great backyard horse.

My problem mare? A QH. Spooky, anxious, moody, unpredictable... not that this is representative of the breed of course, but each horse is an individual. Breed stereotypes are just that. Focus on what's available in your area. Find horses you can ride a couple of times, and whose owners will be willing to do a trial. Try out a lot of horses. You have time, so take advantage of that. And good luck finding your dream horse!
 

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I agree, a quiet personality is my favorite when it comes to riders or horse people in general. Loud, pushy, or bossy people don't do well with a lot of horses, or have too much to prove. That doesn't mean you can't be assertive.

Anyway, do take your time. Go slow, very slow. Avoid being blinded by the idea of getting a horse. The last thing you want is to get a first horse that takes the fun right out of it. Don't close your eyes to red flags. In fact, look for them. I've bought three horses in the last four years, and got two out of three right, but the one of them was, and still is, a bit of a train wreck. We still have her, and are still trying to fix her issues because I can't, in good conscience, rehome her right now. I wish I had paid attention to the red flags. Also, require a trial. Do not take on a horse without a trial of some sort. She's the only one for which the seller refused to do any kind of a trial. For our first horse, we had a 10-day buy-back contract which allowed us to return him within 10 days if he didn't work out, and for our third horse, we had a 6 month trial because he came from a good friend who trusted me and figured it was one less horse for her to feed over the winter (though that kind of arrangement is highly unusual - maybe ask for a two-week trial or buy-back period, and get it in writing). I don't think it's a coincidence that my two other horses, who are awesome, did come with a trial. The owners had nothing to hide. On the other hand, I believe my problem mare was drugged when we rode her. But there were little things I should have paid attention to... learn from my mistake! Insist on a trial!

You want to have fun with your horse (great goals, btw) so you should probably get a horse that is pretty chill in temperament and is a good, all-around horse citizen. Personality may be more important than high-level training in your case. You want a horse that is willing and happy to move forward, but not the type of horse that gets worried about everything, or refuses to work in certain conditions. In other words, avoid really high-strung, jumpy horses. Trails can be scary places. You never know what you will run into. That nice relaxing trail ride can quickly end in disaster on the wrong horse. So when trying this horse, take him out on a trail. Preferably with another horse, then by himself (even if it's just a short loop alone to see if he is ok being separated). Make sure you have a good whoa, that you can steer, and leg yield (important things on a trail). And because you also want to do a bit of jumping, work the horse in an arena (indoor our out) as well. Go ride the potential horse twice. I used to go see the horse by myself first, and if I thought it had potential, I'd bring my coach on the second visit (I didn't do this for my problem mare). She'd often ride the horse too. Then, if all looked good, I'd get a PPE.

In terms of age, while it's true that an 18 year old can be a very solid horse, you have to keep in mind that you will have a limited number of years left to ride a horse that age. But they can be amazing, and if you're ok with just doing light riding, then you can definitely pick up a really great schoolmaster horse at a good price. Younger horses are usually a bad idea, but my third horse was only 6, and only had about 10 rides on him. I never thought I'd buy a horse that young, but he's wonderful. We're bringing him along in terms of training, and to my amazement, he is progressing very well. So while I don't recommend this for most people, there are exceptions.

Finally, I'm all over the place in terms of breed. I thought I wanted a quiet QH, but the first horse I bought for my 10 year old daughter was a fiery Arabian. And guess what, he's the most solid citizen of all three. We can take him anywhere, he is a perfect gentleman, a very safe mount for my daughter (now 14), and has won two division championships in Intro Hunter classes, not to mention dozens of firsts in all kinds of flat classes. However, he's not crazy about trails. He will do them, but it's not his favorite thing. My new guy, who has now just turned 7, is an Appy. I was never really attracted to this breed, but have fallen head over heels for this guy. Appies can be jumped, but they also do really well on trails, being quite rugged and bold horses for the most part because of their Indian pony ancestors. My Appy loves trails, and is the first horse I ever met who does NOT want to go back to the barn when we finish a trail! He is also funny, interesting, curious, loving - a great backyard horse.

My problem mare? A QH. Spooky, anxious, moody, unpredictable... not that this is representative of the breed of course, but each horse is an individual. Breed stereotypes are just that. Focus on what's available in your area. Find horses you can ride a couple of times, and whose owners will be willing to do a trial. Try out a lot of horses. You have time, so take advantage of that. And good luck finding your dream horse!

Wow! Thank you so much! I trial is a very good idea,I’ll make sure I get one. My instructor said this time of year is the best time to get a horse for a good price and it seems to be true. Lots of horses are being listed lately,young,old and everything in between! You have given me a lot to think about. Your description of the horse that would be good for me sounded perfect! I’m going to include two screen shots of two different horses I’m thinking about looking at and would love your opinion on them! They are screen shots to block my location,but all info is in them. I never knew owners let you take a horse on a trail while your test riding it! Cool! Thank you VERY much! I’ll have my Mom read this post too!
 

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Discussion Starter #8



I can’t go look at any horses yet because we are still in the process of finding a boarding stable. We have two stables we want to go look at. We went to a stable thinking it would be a good one and it was super creepy!
Thanks!
 

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Since there are soooooo many horses out there, you will need to narrow that down with some general filters.

For example, I am someone who is less than thrilled about the idea of dealing with a moody mare. Not all mares ARE moody, but many are. Some people enjoy that changeable nature. I'm too old for it. So, I'd only look at geldings.

Height of horse can matter. Trail riding is a bit harder on a real tall horse.

Most important to me is the horse's past training and use. I would not want a horse that had years of barrel racing. I don't want the mental baggage that often comes with such horse's; wanting to burst and run when excited, and anxious about speed.
I personally wouldn't want a horse who is mostly trained Western Pleasure because he would not be happy being asked to trot or canter the way that I prefer.
Horses that are advertised as " natural horsemanship " trained are sometimes spoiled by owners who have dulled them out , or turned them into crabby, resentful horses. ( that's something that may offend some people, but it's my experience). I am a bit hesitant about that in a sale listing.
When they say experienced rider, it can sometimes mean problem horse, getting rid of it since they can't deal with the problems ( which they have often created).
 

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I can’t go look at any horses yet because we are still in the process of finding a boarding stable. We have two stables we want to go look at. We went to a stable thinking it would be a good one and it was super creepy!
Thanks!
Good for you that you're doing your homework well ahead of time! I could say a lot about good and bad stables too. One thing that's a deal-breaker for me in a stable is no turnout. Horses are unhappy kept in all the time. I prefer a lot of space for my horses, but realize that's not possible in all parts of the world.

So, horse # 1, Kodi, is listed as being for intermediate or experienced riders. That is a red flag to me. Also, they say that he is for someone who wants to "continue to work" with him. Why? What does he need to work on? Why do they say he's not for a beginner rider? I'm not saying you ARE a beginner rider, just that when there are things like that in an ad, it can mean that the horse has issues. I'd pass or call them and ask the questions I just wrote out. They may just not want to deal with beginners, but it's a little suspicious. There isn't a lot in the ad. Why are they selling him? Does he have any vices? Any medical conditions or unsoundness? The price is quite low, which also makes me suspicious. I know you're not ready to buy yet, but you could always call and ask those questions (or have your mom do it). He's probably not the right horse for you, but you should go see a few, and call about many more to get experience reading between the lines of what sellers tell you.

Horse # 2, Dolly, sounds lovely, but the ad says she's not for beginners, that she's "too much to handle" for the owner, and that she used to bite. It seems a bit contradictory to me. Again, I'd say that the very fact that they are putting these contradictory statements in the ad would be a red flag for me. Doesn't mean you can't ask for more information, or go see a horse like that, but I'd be worried. Are hormones an issue? Is she mareish? I have to say that I'm in the same camp as @tinyliny on this one - no more mares for me. I can't deal with the unpredictability of a mare. Sure, there are great mares out there (apparently - I haven't met many personally), but you won't know if a mare is moody until she hits a cycle. In the winter, those usually die down quite a bit, so you can buy a horse in the winter or spring and it's fine, then the first cycle hits around May, and you have a monster on your hands. I'd insist on a one-month trial if I were to ever buy a mare again. And even then... geldings are so, so much easier. True, they say mares bond more to their person, whereas geldings are less fussy. And they say that when you win a mare's loyalty, she'll do anything for you. After three years, my mare is pretty bonded to me, but she's still completely nuts at times so that has not been my experience.

Both these horses sound to me like they still need some training. I'd suggest you find a horse that does not have issues, and does not need training as a first horse. But the good thing is that you have lots of time! Keep looking.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you both very much! Acadianartist,I didn’t even think of those being red flags! Thank you SO much for pointing them out! I would have though of “no begginers” as in not being a absolutely perfect. I would not have thought of it having any issues. I have a list of questions to ask written down too,here it is so you can review it.

Is it trail safe?

Road safe?

Any buck,bite,rear or kick?

Has it ever had any lameness?

Will it pick up all its feet?

Take a bit?

Stand for mounting?

Does it get along with other horses?

Is it hard to catch?

Does it respect fences?

Good ground manners?

Is it spooky?

Is it cinchy?

Does it load/trailer well?

Any vices?

Is it trained to rear on command? (I know this a weird question,but people do it and I don’t think it’s safe)

How does it do with worming?

How is it for the farrier?

I think that’s all? Anything else I should ask? Anything I shouldn’t ask? Thanks!
 

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All good questions.

I'd also ask about why they are selling the horse. If they just don't feel the horse is right for what they want to do, that's fine. If they give you a reason that doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. The lameness question is a good one, but I'd also ask if the horse has had any injuries or health issues while they have owned it, or that they're aware of. It is your responsibility to do a PPE, and they do not have to disclose any medical issues or illnesses, but if you ask point blank, it makes it harder for them to not disclose them. I even put it in my purchase contract (if you google it, you'll find several examples of those online). There was a line that asked them to write down any and all injuries and health issues the horse had while in their care.

You might ask if the horse does well on trails and in the arena. Some horses really prefer one to the other. You seem to want to do both so you need a horse that is ok with that. Ask if the horse will go out on the trail alone, or if it has to have buddies. It's a bit annoying to have to rely on having a trail friend every time.

If they say something about the horse during the conversation which isn't clear to you, ask for an example. Let's say they tell you the horse is good on trails, but doesn't like going out alone. Ask what happens if the horse is out alone (does he require just a little more nudging forward at first, but settle in ok, or does the horse have a complete meltdown?). Or say they tell you the horse is pushy around food. Ask them to describe a situation to illustrate that. Some people make a big deal out of a minor issue, but others don't think it's a big deal when in fact, the issue is a really big problem. Asking them to describe what happens when X occurs gives you a better picture.

I personally also like to know a horse's history. Someone who can't tell you anything about the horse, or who has just bought it and is re-selling it very quickly, is probably a bad sign.

I also like to know that a horse has good ground manners. Even my young guy, who is still learning, is pretty solid on the ground. I cannot stand a horse that is a complete brat on the ground - but that's me. Some people just want to hop on and ride, but I couldn't stand to have a rude horse on the ground.
 

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I'd also ask about when the horse has had his last dental work and if he has had yearly vaccines and dental exams. You're talking about getting a horse that is around ten or older, and I'd be very picky about getting a horse from someone who has taken very good care of the horse and wants a good home.

At that age, if the horse has not had regular dental care and hoof care, you can be dealing with issues for the rest of the horse's life. By ten, horses that have not had their teeth floated can have developed uneven teeth that will never join up completely again, or if they've lost a tooth and no one addressed it the other teeth might be all messed up. So that can mean just a few years after buying the horse, you may end up spending all kinds of money just trying to keep weight on the horse and buying lots of expensive feed.

Same with hoof care. If the horse has not had good trimming by age ten, the crooked hooves can have affected all the joints, leading to early arthritis, contracted hooves and thin soles that will cause permanent issues.

Even if you don't consider yourself a beginner, I would not get a horse that was advertised as needing an intermediate level or higher rider. You might think, "It's OK, I can handle a horse that needs a little work." The problem is that what the old owner might think of as a minor training issue or something that just needs a better rider, might actually be a physical problem that is causing the horse to be less compliant. Those types of things can often be very difficult and expensive to narrow down even with good vets.

If you start with a compliant, willing horse, you can always get him fit and more energetic. He's not going to be sluggish if he doesn't have physical issues, and if you get him on a good diet and on a good exercise program.
 

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I guess the very first thing I would look at, and really really hard, is the hooves. Balance, trim, etc. And I do believe I'd get x-rays for the fores unless they were just awesome looking feet, top and bottom. Huge wide strong frog, tight white line all around, well developed digital cushion, thick hoof capsule, etc.


Then I'd try to judge personality and compatibility with mine. And then all the stuff you and others mentioned.
 

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All horses have issues. There's no such thing as a perfect horse. You have to decide what issues you can deal with and what are deal breakers. For example, these are my four horses:
1. Raisin - has arthritis, great for little kids, not so great for heavy riders
2. Sunny - lazy and stubborn, fat even with a grazing muzzle
3. Suzie - can get nervous with a nervous rider, afraid of white things like paper and the weight tape
4. Feather - cribs, will kick if another horse runs into her


All of these issues are minor to me. To someone else, they may be deal breakers.


When you're talking to a seller, be quiet and let them talk about the horse. You may find out things you wouldn't have thought to ask.


Another question to ask is if the horse has any stable vices like cribbing. Feather's seller conveniently forgot to mention that to me. It's a good thing all my horses have 24/7 turnout.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you all so much for the great and VERY helpful advice! With everyone’s help I’ve managed to narrow it down to a general category.

10-15 age range

Beginners can handle it

Low to no spook

Preferably gelding but will look at none marish mares

More go then whoa but still a good whoa

Trail safe

Road safe

Not buddy or barn sour and will ride out without a buddy

Not cinchy (it’s not something I want to deal with everyday)

So still pretty open!
 

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No matter how miner they might make out the club foot to be it would be a deal breaker for me. Especially trail raiding as that would put extra strain on the hoof. It can be managed with a good fairrer but too high risk for me.
 

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Does it seem a bit odd to you that they say the horse was a therapy horse and lesson horse, but not for beginners? Seems a bit contradictory to me, though their therapy and lessons might be different...
 
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