View Full Version : 'Free' horses and creating the lower-level eventer

gully's pilot
Sep. 28, 2009, 03:20 PM
Hey all--

I got an email via my area coordinator that a camp is putting all its horses up for sale--as far as I can tell these are Western trail horses used to carting children around. Price is practically free.

I admit to a large soft spot for Western-broke trail-steady horses, as I've known several whose hearts I greatly admired, including Saint Trapper, my dear deceased gelding. I turned him into a field hunter in about six months, knowing not nearly as much as I know now, and he was fabulous. But then, he was owned and ridden by one person only; he wasn't part of a string.

I'm strongly tempted to go down and nab one of these horses; I don't clearly know why. I don't actually have a stall or a pressing need. I have Gully, who is 12; we're running Training and hope to achieve Prelim someday. I have vague thoughts of After Gully getting a schoolmaster on its way down, who can teach me more. Gully and I have done all our competitions together.

My 11-year-old daughter rides a 22 yo QH who has done everything from Western Pleasure to winning the costume class to recognized BN. He's steady and lovely. She has another few years on him unless he suddenly develops health issues.

If I did get a schoolie I think the first thing to do would be to turn him out with the herd for the winter, then embark on some ground work and a bit of dressage. Then see how he felt about jumping.


Sep. 28, 2009, 03:38 PM
Can you try them? I think it's really important that you can control the horse outside the ring...there are horses out there that hate cross-country/trailriding/just too spooky. I'd want to trailride him (not for hours, just walk/trot in a field or something) and make sure he was happy out there.

I also think horses have to have a willingness/aptitude to jump...you could try a groundpole, then try a low X. I have a rescue OTTB I was hoping to event, but he is just uncannily bad at jumping. He is willing to try, but if he gets into a short/long distance, he has no problem crashing right through the fence. We're working on his jumping, but I definately don't see myself eventing him (um, solid fences don't come down). He just can't save himself if I don't see a distance or I put him to a tight/long spot. (That's ok though--we're plan to show at 2nd level this fall and I'm happy with having a new goal with him)

What about long term soundness?

Good luck! I hope you find a great match!

gully's pilot
Sep. 28, 2009, 03:43 PM
I'm going to find out. I do know these horses were used almost exclusively on the trail.

Sep. 28, 2009, 03:49 PM
Well, if you can swing it, you'd certainly be a hero to the chosen horse. :)

Go look, cross of the ones that are obviously unsuitable, unsound, badly conformed, etc. and do a second tier of crossing off if necessary--whittle it down to a handful of prospects, and see if one of those grabs at your heart. :)

Sep. 28, 2009, 03:52 PM
I did it once - the "head wrangler" called us as she knew we could use a useful horse. She had a 14.2 grade/QH who she said was too nice to waste as a nose-to-tail horse. She was right! We didn't really try him, just looked at him & checked his conformation. 3 weeks later he was doing 2'6" courses, simple dressage. 5 weeks later he was winning ribbons at the local show in flat & jumper classes & the following weekend he was off to his new home - a D2 (US D3) pony clubber - that family had a blast with him.

Sep. 28, 2009, 06:03 PM
I have a major soft spot for saintly trail horses. Those horses have been there, done that, and usually had someone who had no clue sitting on them while they were doing it. There are some real diamonds in the rough out there.

And, hey, Amy Tryon's Poggio was a pack horse. Who knows what you will find! ;-)

Sep. 28, 2009, 08:31 PM
I would go for it, many of those horses have good minds and just need to be shown the ropes.

I've frequently thought of doing the same thing... one day when I'm not dirt poor, perhaps!

Sep. 28, 2009, 09:09 PM
I'll throw in my two cents...not ever having ridden even an elementary level cours...,maybe next year. I have run very small riding program at a summer camp for the last 14 yrs, 13 of which we have gotten horses from the same person. This summer we got a young Haflinger who I took a shine to. He is level headed and kind; I am a 41 yr old working mom and needed something safe and fun. I essentially got a two month trial on him and during the last week of camp decided to make an offer on him. I just didn't want to see him go to a sale and he truely has the personality I wanted.
I have had a him a month and a half and I am really enjoying working with him. I have this issue with mounting and the horse moving away and just general middle-aged mom mind games. Today's ride was awesome and reminded me that I can ride. It was windy, and muddy, and I was riding in the ring that sits right next to a busy road with lots of loud trucks. NOTHING bothered him. Finally I am bored with just trotting and had promised myself I would canter at least 10 strides. I got a canter and he threw a little buck. It cracked me up. I loved his canter and just couldn't get enough!! Maybe my goal of a baby XC course will be reliazed next year!!
Long story for just wanting to say ...give the camp horses a chance!!

Sep. 28, 2009, 10:47 PM
Are these the ones from NW GA? I got that email too.... alas I'm full up as of picking up a rescue horse this week.... !

Some of the nicest lower level eventers my students have had came from "trail horse" careers! And one or two were even free, too!