View Full Version : Planning ahead - thoughts??

Hunter Mom
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:24 PM
I am planning on shopping for a move-up horse in a few months. My current mare, though awesome, just can't do above 2'6", and I'm ready to start thinking about doing 2'9" and 3'. We show at some rated and some local shows. Given my budget, we're going to have two options - I can either get an older horse who is moving down or a younger (not green, but not finished) horse.

I can see some advantages and disadvantages to both. Thoughts? I know which way I'm leaning, but want to know what experiences or advice you may have.

Fairview Horse Center
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:41 PM
It depends on the youngster. Some need a LOT of training, but others are bred to be amateur "ready". I have sold 3 year olds into nice Hunter homes for amateur and junior riders that were looking for safe, solid mounts, but others I have had needed a more serious rider for a few years.

You can also save money by buying a bit smaller of a horse, but one that can still easily make the distances.

Hunter Mom
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:50 PM
You can also save money by buying a bit smaller of a horse, but one that can still easily make the distances.

Given my build, I can't go small. I need something with a fair amount of bone, at least 16.2. I ride a 17+ boy some now and look awesome on him. Having a horse that makes my butt look small is a must! :D

Jul. 3, 2009, 10:14 PM
I'm a jr, but I have had to train every one of my horses from scratch. The advantage I get to know each one and learn how to ride not just sit there, the disadvantage, some days I would really like to just be able to sit and steer.

Jul. 3, 2009, 10:47 PM
I've done both...

There's a lot to be said for that experienced horse moving down a level. They know their job and will allow you to concentrate on yourself. OTOH, you need to be prepared for them to have more soundness issues and a potential early retirement (speaking from experience!).

Now I'm on a greenie. He's got a great brain, but is wiggly as all get out and lead changes are a real challenge. Sometimes I would like to focus more on ME than him, but I don't often get that opportunity. OTOH, in a couple of years, he's going to be incredible. And it's unlikely I will ever outgrow his capabilities. Hoping to keep him forever.

So, it depends on your goals. If you want to keep showing at a higher level than you are now, I'd go for the older horse. If you don't mind staying at your current level while your and your green bean figure each other out, then go green.

Rue Belle
Jul. 4, 2009, 08:28 AM
As a professional, I usually always recommend the older/experienced horse for situations like this. The confidence that an experienced horse can give a rider who is moving up in divisions is priceless. Plus, they know their jobs so well that they rarely will need a training ride. I find that when I get a unfinished horse for someone who is new to the division, I find that the student ends up spending more for training rides to stop the horse from learning bad habits from the less-experienced rider, than going to shows. I think younger horses are great for people who are comfortable/happy with their division and want something fancier. Plus, there is always a market for a well-behaved, experienced horse, if you decide to sell it later on; even if it is moving down to the 2'6 job.

Just what I've learned from experience. Good luck

Jul. 4, 2009, 08:35 AM
I agree with Rue Belle, I would look for the older horse moving down. Allow yourself some mileage. When these horses are well taken care of, they will last and last at the lower levels, and their own education is so vast that it really expands your experience.

Good luck!

Jul. 4, 2009, 08:46 AM
I think it really depends on what you mean by moving up, and what you see in your future.

I faced this same choice when I was 16. I had a great mare that I had just spent a season doing the childrens on, but she was 17 years old and the height was becoming a struggle at the end of the season. She was sound, but really exerted a lot of effort to get around a course. So I decided to move her down, sell her as a 2'6" or under horse, and get myself something to move up to the 3'6".

My trainer found me a really nice open hunter that didn't need to jump smaller, just not be compaigned quite so hard. I was showing only once a month May-September, and it seemed a good fit. But it wouldn't have been. With my limited ability to show (financially) I was afraid I'd get bored with a horse that was already finished and polished. I decided to look for something that needed some more work, to keep myself occupied.

I find my mare, a TB, former track rat and broodmare. She was certainly broke, but nothing about her was polished. However, she had never jumped a thing and went over anything I pointed her at when I went to try her. Really had scope, and was a 9+ mover. There is nothing quite like the feeling of walking into the ring, taking the tricolor ribbon for the juniors, on a horse you made yourself.

So like I said at the beginning of this novel, it all depends on where you want to be not only next summer, but 5 years from now.

Jul. 4, 2009, 08:55 AM
A friend of mine who's almost 60 was able to find several older, but still nice, horses in her price range. With the economy being as it is, the offer of a a good home from a financially secure buyer are good news to the sellers. I'd go with an older (but not old) horse in your situation.

Hunter Mom
Jul. 4, 2009, 09:20 AM
I can't say I expected so many "go old" responses! My problem is that I have a WB appetite (they do make my rear look smaller), without the budget for a nice one. My trainer has contacts galore, so she's confident we should be able to find something that will work.

I was leaning toward dark green. I am a decent enough rider, and have the time to put into a dark green horse. We have enough local shows here to put miles on one. Another thought is that, assuming she sticks with it, this horse could be my daughter's children's horse some day. I do also like the idea of having a horse I finished go on to do well.

HOWEVER, teh idea of having one who is ready to go today is appealing. Since I am a true ammy who works full time and has a family, being able to go and just ride sounds good, too. I had an impressive fall at our last rated show last year, and it took me a while to get my confidence back, so that is something to think about, too. Either way I go, brave is at the top of the list for must-have qualities. Right after slimming to me!

I have a friend who bought a very nice horse who was supposed to be ready to go, but without a lot of show miles last summer. Within 3 months, he was back at the barn where she got him from b/c he needed the pro-rides. He's still there, but now on the market. The pro can ride him well, but he's a long way from being an ammy horse IMO. I don't want to go there - what's the point of having a horse you can't ride yourself?? Worked out great for the other trainer.

Jul. 4, 2009, 02:25 PM
Ok...so you are looking for a 3'er so you can move up, right?

Can you jump a 3' course well enough to help that greenie-who will need that help? Can you get him to the right spot for an oxer? Coax him a little when he is suspicious? Confidently ride him when he gets "looky"? Can you see where you are landing in a line quick enough to adjust the step so you get out safely? Or do you need a pro to teach you that before you teach the horse...or to just ride and teach him for you?

Answer those questions and you will have your answer. Just remember, somebody has to teach, a greenie will not make themselves up. If you are strong and confident enough to teach one to go on at 3', get the greenie. If not, go old.

I see way too many that are bought by those that think they can "move up together" and forget somebody needs to know how to do it to teach the other.

Jul. 4, 2009, 04:00 PM
Another vote for getting a made up horse if you are planning to move up to the 3'... especially in the current economy, you may not even have to look for an older one moving down the ladder, as there are plenty of folks who've decided to get out of the game due to $$$ concerns, job loss etc. Prices are lower than they've been in ages and you might be surprised what you can buy out of the 3' ring right now.

Jul. 4, 2009, 05:37 PM
Maybe consider leasing an older horse with miles for a year and getting confident in the division you want to enter, THEN buying a greenie with a good brain? You'll have given yourself a year to get the experience with the bigger height, and you will then be in a better position to help the horse.

Otherwise, findeight's questions are excellent.

Fairview Horse Center
Jul. 4, 2009, 06:24 PM
Another suggestion, is to look for a horse with an owner heading off to college. Many times they will do severe price cutting if you may be willing to allow the kid to come and visit several times a year. That kind of situation can be a big plus for the right person, especailly if you have limited time. The previous owner may be willing to do a partial lease during summers and winter break to help keep the horse fit.

Jul. 4, 2009, 06:58 PM
I tend to agree that one half of the horse/rider team should be comfortable and confident at the height you plan to jump, both at home and in shows.

Going down to a true 3' oxer, at a busy show, with dogs barking and tents full of people and coolers blowing off horses etc, it's nice to know that Steady Eddie doesn't need you for the confidence and perfect ploacement to get over.

Jul. 4, 2009, 07:12 PM
One of each ;)

Jul. 4, 2009, 07:40 PM
I am an adult novice rider, and I own one of those not green, but not really trained horses - so I sort of have the best of both worlds. I bought my lease horse when she went up for sale, because I loved her. She's 10, and has been a trail horse that my barn owner acquired and trained up as a hunter. Basically, I got a horse that is quiet enough for a beginner to ride, and who is very tolerant and forgiving of beginner errors. For example, she still goes over a jump if I have gotten ahead of the jump and if I gets unbalanced and lay on her neck after a jump, she'll keep going if I get organized and ask or if I say whoo-aa, she'll gently come to a stop. But she didn't know her lead changes, or much about bending, or being round, and she is not push-button. I definitely need my trainer to give her training rides, as well as private lessons to keep me learning what I need to do.

There are some teenagers I ride with who have these lovely, older, push-button ponies that just pack them around a course, and even as an adult, I am a little jealous when we go to shows and they do these beautiful courses and I am struggling to get the big picture. We're totally getting there, and it is super rewarding when we get it just right.

BUT, some days, it is really really hard and frustrating to have to think about my position as well as my horse's body and I have to pick one or the other and the result is not always pretty.

Having watched some of the teenagers on their experienced horses - if showing is important to you, then an older, well-trained horse is probably the best option. However, if you enjoy the learning process, have access to a trainer for training rides and lesson, and don't mind going to shows to get some experience instead of to win and having some very ugly courses while you and your horse figure things out together, then some sort of well-broke hunter prospect might be a lovely option.

Jul. 5, 2009, 08:15 AM
Personally, I like the older/experienced ones. I know I'm not good enough at jumping a 3' course to ride a greenie that would need some help. Plus I get so nervous that if the greenie acts like a greenie, I don't think I'd mentally be able to handle having to ride a greenie all the time. I'm just having so much fun with the horse I just bought (14-year-old stepping down to 3' from the 3'6) because I don't have to worry as much...I still have to actually ride him, of course, but if I don't see anything, as long as I just steer him at the jump, he'll save my butt distance-wise.

It really just depends on you and what you feel comfortable with.