View Full Version : How long did you look before you found your horse?

Nov. 17, 2010, 01:44 AM
My tentative plan is to have been back in riding for at least a year before I go horse shopping. However, like buying a house, finding a job, etc. it can take a while to find the right thing. Besides, the type of horse I'd feel comfortable with in a year or so might be different from what would be most suitable now.

The last horse I owned was one I bought as a youngster after I finished school and sold a few years ago. I had done the research while I was still in school, realizing that I wouldn't have the time or the money to buy until I graduated.

Fast forward to now and as an adult that has been in the workforce for a while I'm in a much different position. I can basically buy anytime and my budget is much larger than it was last time around, but I think it makes sense to have been back in the saddle for a while before buying.

I'm curious about the average time people spent looking before the found the right horse. In addition, is it easier to start shopping in the summer with the goal of finding something by fall or is it easier to actually start looking in the fall or winter when people might be doing less traveling and/or showing?

Nov. 17, 2010, 01:59 AM
If you're ready and have the money it will take forever, and if you want it to take a full year you'll find a horse tomorrow. :lol:

Almost all of my horses have found me ("found me" as in the owners have called me, generally out of the blue, and asked me to take their horse), so I don't speak from a great amount of experience. But the last time I went looking for a horse it took me about 10 months from the day I started looking to the day I wrote the check. I wanted an unbroke 3yo, but couldn't find a 3yo that would pass a vet check. I went to a local breeder's farm and fell in love with a yearling and that was what I ended up loading into my trailer :)

Nov. 17, 2010, 08:08 AM
I've gotten multiple horses on my first try and have been looking for my next for a couple of months now. I've shopped at various times, both fall, winter, and spring and so far it hasn't made much of a difference.

Nov. 17, 2010, 08:12 AM
I started riding again last September after several years (getting settled into the workforce after school) and wasn't going to buy a horse until mid-summer of this year. I got my horse at the start of March. He was a bad fit with someone else at my barn but a perfect fit for me, and is my heart horse. There was no way I could turn down the chance to own him because it was almost immediately apparent we were just right together.

My previous horse purchase took about a year.

Nov. 17, 2010, 08:59 AM
2-3 months (but I had a kind of difficult budget v. horse situation for the local scene- what took so long was coordinating my time and the trainers to make the several hour trips convenient for both of us... and then, of course, the horse we found "by accident" that I bought was 5 minutes from the barn)

Nov. 17, 2010, 09:04 AM
If you're ready and have the money it will take forever, and if you want it to take a full year you'll find a horse tomorrow. :lol:

Totally agree. My last 3 horses found me -- wasn't shopping, but found out about a horse I had to have at a price I couldn't turn down. I bought my weanling after seeing his newborn pictures on facebook when he was 3 days old. His breeder swears he's the last horse she sells on a whim off FB, as I got a total steal. :lol:

Fourth horse ago I looked for about a year to find what I was looking for in my budget that would vet well enough. I still have all 4, and have been happy with all of them.

Life is Good 2
Nov. 17, 2010, 10:04 AM
The first 3 months we looked here and there, nothing was just right. We flew to Ocala and the trainer was already down there trying horses. With 15 horses to try from the 46 she previewed we flew down. The first day all 15 were tried and then narrowed it down to 3( in my heart I knew right away) Retried the next day and reviewed the video we made of each ride. We flew home that night and the trainer negotiated the price on our favorite, that took a day and we owned the horse pending ppe. It seemed like a whirlwind but it was fun and easier to compare when you can ride many in the same day.

Nov. 17, 2010, 10:08 AM
I'm a pro who is always having to find horses for my customers, but for myself is another story!

I JUST - as in on Saturday - purchased a horse for myself. I have been "looking" for ten years, chosen and vetted three horses previously in that time, and had all three fail a vetting royally. A beautiful young WB that ended up being a dressage horse because he was not going to be able to jump, an adorable pony that I lost track of, and a lovely OTTB who is, last I heard, having a lovely career as a jumper with someone else. I never really go shopping for myself, but I always have my eye open to find THE ONE.

My new boy just fell into my lap while looking for critters for a student and I fell in love. I thought for sure, with my track record, it would fail the vetting, but it actually passed with flying colours! So now I have myself a horse. Just what I needed, right? lol I keep trying to tell myself that it was THIS horse at THIS time and I really need to NOT ask questions! :)

Nov. 17, 2010, 10:57 AM
I was in similar shoes as the OP. I was just starting to get back into riding after quite a few years off when I started looking. I started "researching" in the summer of '09, then started formally looking and trying horses in September. After having three horses fail the PPE, we finally found one at the end of April. So, from the time we formally started looking to writing the check, it was about seven months.

It probably worked out well for me because I was able to slowly get myself back into riding shape on fairly reliable horses and was more prepared to handle most of the tricks of a young greenie. Since then, he has helped me take my riding to the next level. From my experience, I would say don't worry about being totally ready for the horse -- you'll be ready when you find the right horse :winkgrin:

The horse before him fell in my lap when I wasn't even looking or riding. Go figure. I credit him for me getting back into the horse world and wanting to get back into the show ring after decades off :D.

Nov. 17, 2010, 12:43 PM
Both of mine found me- I was looking for the 2nd one for several months (more of, "keeping my eyes open" rather than "actively searching") but he ended up basically falling into my lap- In my 'search' I had been seriously considering a few others, but I didn't get to even try most of them (sold, owner vanished, horse didn't sound like what I wnated after more investigation, etc) and I had 1 on trial that had an issue I didn't want to deal with come up in the vet check. Then out of the blue, I got the call "do you want this horse? if so, come get him within 48 hours" and, long story short, went and got him.

First horse found me too, I had been saving money for a horse, but didn't think I'd actually get one that quickly, or that my parents would let me! Wasn't looking at all, wasn't even dreaming of considering getting a horse then... he literally found me/my parents.

So to answer the OP's time question, for horse #1 it was totally by chance, and for horse #2 it was probably 8-ish months from the time I decided "when I come across the horse that fits what I want, in the price I can afford, etc etc, I'm going to buy"(around March I think) to the time I showed up with trailer in tow and check in hand (November).
I had the one on trial in June, so had he passed the vet it would have only been 3 months.

Nov. 17, 2010, 12:52 PM
don't shop until you are ready to bring one in!!

Shopping for the perfect horse is very romantic. Problem is, unless you have a lease to buy option you never REALLY know if you are going to be lovers or haters.

I usually go looking for something that I can resell easily, just in case.

If you think your preference might change, don't buy now. Maybe find a fun free lease until you think are are stable in your abilities and know exactly what you want! :yes:

Depending on how specific you are with what you want, you may find it quite quickly.

I've always found the horses I go looking for within one weekend of all day shopping. Usually we see 10 or so per trip. (Or within a trip to a certain barn that has many)

Nov. 17, 2010, 01:10 PM
It took me one day and she was the first horse I tried. I was definitely a casual shopper, had found some ads online and brought them to my trainer who wasn't even aware I wanted to buy yet, lol. Told her I'm not in any type of rush, just keep your eyes open for x type of horse in this price range. Ads didn't pan out, so we ended up going to another one of her contact's barns where my horse had just happened to come literally 3 days earlier. No one else had tried her, they hadn't even started marketing her yet. As soon as I got on, I knew. Took her for a week trial, she was awesome, vetted clean so I bought her.

She was basically being dumped by her old owners at the end of show season because the owner couldn't cut it in the A/O jumpers with her. Me finding her was all about being in the right place at the right time. So I can't really say if shopping at a certain time will have a bearing on what kind of quality you'll find. I think you should just start shopping when you're ready, which you sound like you are now.

And I definitely agree with you, maybe spend a little more time in the saddle, do a half lease, or at least try to ride as many horses as possible at your barn. I would never have imagined buying this horse a year ago, she is super talented but tests me constantly and can be very forward. I think I year ago I would have fallen off by now, curled up into a little ball and resold her. However, after spending almost a year half leasing a super steady, confidence building schoolmaster type dude (who also had some quirks :) ) I felt physically and mentally ready to handle a horse like my girl.

Nov. 17, 2010, 01:23 PM
It took me about two years of window shopping (browsing the online ads with no intention to buy) and three months of actual shopping to buy my last horse. I was on a small budget looking for attitude, size, and ability, everything else was open for negotiation. It didn't take long. One friend has been looking for about three months, and it's hard to tell if she'll buy something next weekend or next year - decent budget but very specific requirements. Another friend on a shoestring budget has been OTTB shopping for about a month and I'd be surprised if she doesn't bring something home in a few weeks.

So it really just depends, and of course if you're Just Looking, and Aren't Ready Yet, you're just asking to find that perfect horse that you can't pass up :)

Nov. 17, 2010, 01:26 PM
I don't know, I was non-seriously "window shopping" for months before I started actually contacting sellers and asking questions and showing ads to a couple of horsey folks whose opinions I trusted. So...seriously, probably starting in around May of last year and going until August.

The first horse was in at the horse rescue where I volunteer. I liked her a lot, but someone else adopted her before I laid claim on her.

The first horse I went to look at to buy...well, I came out of that visit with a very impressively sprained ankle.

The next horse I actually went to see was gorgeous but not right for me.

And then someone called up the rescue owner about a horse they had and needed to sell but were afraid would end up in a bad situation. She tells them, "I know someone looking for a horse" and tells me about him. I go, "but...he's younger than I was looking for, and way way WAY more green than I was looking for, and a lot more WHITE than I was looking for...but I guess it can't hurt to go look at him?"

Yeah, uh, within 24 hours of seeing him, I was bringing him home and the rest has been marvelous. :)

Nov. 17, 2010, 02:17 PM
Snickle - as a re-rider, you might want to consider leasing for a year. I don't know much about your riding, but since you're talking about getting more saddle time, the horse that's right for you now might not be the horse that's right for you in a year or two.

Let's say, for example, that you're comfortable jumping 2'6" now, but you'd like to move to 3' or 3'6" in the next couple of years. You might be very happy with an older school master for the next year or so, then move up to an AA or AO horse.

I was in a similar situation when I started re-riding. I bought a 14 yo TB who was perfect at packing me around 2'6". By the time I was ready to move to 3', he decided it was time to retire (at age 17).

Nov. 17, 2010, 02:26 PM
If you're ready and have the money it will take forever, and if you want it to take a full year you'll find a horse tomorrow. :lol:

This. With the latest horse, I was entertaining the idea of buying. My trainer showed me his ad, I tried him and ended up buying him. I would've preferred to wait awhile longer, but he's a nice horse.

I did buy him thinking about his re-sale value as, like purplnurpl said, you never know if it's going to be a good match. Things weren't great with this horse for a while, but we are getting to the point that he "is the horse I bought" and I love riding him.

Nov. 17, 2010, 02:37 PM
[QUOTE=PNWjumper;5227995]If you're ready and have the money it will take forever, and if you want it to take a full year you'll find a horse tomorrow. :lol:

hahaha! this is exactly what happened to me. I had the money saved and it took me close to a year to find my horse. I had two others on trial before him, one failed the vetting miserably and the other was just too green. My farrier and vet both told me about my horse. He was a pasture ornament for a woman going through a bitter divorce and trying to get custody of her young son. Went to see my guy, and it wasn't love at first sight. Took him home for a two week trial and it was love by the end of that. I offered her less money, in cash, and meet her at the local feed store that night. Guess she was desperate......

Nov. 17, 2010, 02:44 PM
Horse #1. Born at the farm I was at (I wasn't looking either). We found each other.

Horse #2. One week. I wanted a project horse and my trainer found me a cute roper who was too hot in the box. Unfortunately, he jumped like a deer. :( We did show some dressage, and I got to work with her on retraining a horse--which was cool. He ultimately found a FANTASTIC home, post horse #3, with someone who would appreciate his quiet nature and good looks and just wanted a trail horse.

Horse #3. Found me. Outside trainer brought him to barn I was at to be sold. I bought him before I even sold horse #2. Of my adult riding horses, this was the absolute most talented horse (and unfortunately he was also slightly insane). I learned that a (under 5k) horse that can jump a 4' course is, in fact, not a good deal because there is something really wrong... *sigh*
Also learned to pull bloodwork in a prepurchase.

Horse #4. Was not looking actively and friend decided to sell her horse because they weren't suited. So he found me. That's the impulse buy I really regret, because it didn't work out and it's just akward sometimes to get horses from friends (and then sell them). Mmmm.

Horse #5 [Geez I can't believe I've had this many]. She showed up at the barn I was at, in-foal (foal going back to prev. owner) and for sale, and I absolutely was NOT looking for a broodmare. She found me. This was the absolute best (although it wasn't all roses) thing that has happened to me so far with horses, btw. Hands down. Because of Horse #6...

Horse #6 was bred out of Horse #5 I'm waiting for her to grow up right now. :)

Horse #7 was rescued by a friend from a -BAD- situation. I was absolutely NOT looking for a horse or a rehab. Then she needed to move him, and here I am with Horse #7. Another project horse. First one I'm basically doing on my own. Having a blast--no idea how he will do over fences yet, though.

See Made You Luke
Nov. 17, 2010, 03:27 PM
To be honest, all my horses have found me. My current horse which is the horse of a lifetime I found because I called the trainer to ask her about a mare I wanted to buy and bring to her. The mare didn't work out because of health reasons and I went out to see a gelding of hers that was a match made in heaven. We spent more than we would've, but we still got an amazing deal for him and he stayed at that trainers who also happens to be the trainer I've always dreamed of training with. It couldn't have worked out better and I'm so happy.

Nov. 17, 2010, 03:34 PM
..about 25 minutes.


Nov. 17, 2010, 05:07 PM
When I was on the circuit as a junior, it usually took us a few months each time to find the horse I was going to move up to.

Nov. 17, 2010, 05:34 PM
I'm curious about the average time people spent looking before the found the right horse. In addition, is it easier to start shopping in the summer with the goal of finding something by fall or is it easier to actually start looking in the fall or winter when people might be doing less traveling and/or showing?

It took me two months of serious looking in order to find my horse, but I window-shopped for a few months beforehand to get an idea of the market and what was available. He wasn't advertised for sale, I found out about him through word-of-mouth. I think the best time of year depends on what type of horse you're looking to buy. For me, fall was the best time of year because I was looking for an unbroken prospect and I found a lot of sellers were more motivated to move their youngstock heading into winter. Over the summer months a lot of sellers seemed to preoccupied with the show circuit.

Nov. 17, 2010, 06:25 PM
I honestly think it depends on what you're looking for and how picky you are. My first horse fell into my lap, and there's no way I would have picked him based on his description--a 5 y.o. straight off the track for a somewhat timid rider? Especially one that's only 16 hands on his tiptoes for a 6' lady like me. It turns out that he was the best first horse EVER--didn't look at ANYTHING and would jump whatever you pointed him at (and sometimes things that you didn't :lol:).

So after horse #1 passed away (colic), I found horse #2. I started looking about a month after I lost horse #1 and brought him home 2 weeks later. He was the second horse I'd emailed someone about and the first I went to see. My requirements weren't much--big, sound enough to do about 3', reasonably quiet, and an OTTB. Didn't have to be a wonderful mover or a great jumper and after horse #1 I was pretty confident about getting another greenie. It took us a while to get on the same page but he's really a good egg and tries to take care of me!

ETA Horse #1 was in fall 2008 as the racing season was starting to wind down. Horse #2 was in March 2009 when his breeder needed room for babies and a few coming home from the Florida track.

Nov. 17, 2010, 07:04 PM
I found my horse on my first day of looking... although I'd windowshopped and even gotten as far as vetting one horse last summer (failed vet), I was ready to buy last fall and went out to look at 3 in one day, and one was perfect :)

Put my other horse up for sale Nov/Dec of last year and he didn't sell until June of this year. IME it's very hard to sell over the winter, so you may be able to get a better deal.

Nov. 17, 2010, 07:27 PM
Pony #1 My parents bought for me because I begged and it was white and at the barn. Yea, not the brightest decision, but we never really went out and looked

Pony #2 about 3 months of shopping lightly

Pony #3 6 weeks of shopping, ended up getting the pony in the barn

Horse #1 5 months and 2 weeks of hardcore all over the east coast (and almost went to Illinois) shopping. The only one I've ever truly chosen for myself with any actual horse knowledge (let's chalk white pony up to me being 6 and my parents not knowing any better) and he's my heart horse!

I know people who have shopped for years before finding the right one and others who fell for the first horse they found. In all honesty, if you feel you aren't ready to buy quite yet, window shopping is always nice and if you want links not just to sale sites but also barns I have a giant bookmark list on my computer, just PM me. It's what I do when I'm bored.