View Full Version : When to see if a horse is a diamond in the rough and when to pass

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:16 PM
I've been made aware of an interestingly bred young horse that is easy enough to get to to try. Unfortunately, the horse looks good "on paper" but has a true rough and ready, backyard look to it in the most recent pictures (one step up from the ads we all whine about). I'm trying to decide if it is worth taking a look and see if we've got the proverbial diamond in the rough, or if would be a big old waste of time. Thoughts?

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:24 PM
Did you ever see photos of Paddy as a youngster? Or have I told you the story of picking him up? LOL!!! Well, let's say he was less than impressive!
If it's easy, than I'd say try it out - what's to lose? Nothing but time and energy and it might just pay off. Let me know if I can help you out!

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:27 PM
From our "conversation" earlier this week, you know how I'm feeling about this endeavor! :lol::lol: It's an interesting horse, but considering the thing I sat on earlier this week seemed interesting, I'm gun shy!!!

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:31 PM
If he's close, go see him and try him. My new horse whom I bought 4 months ago was a bit of a diamond in the rough. He had been out of work for a couple months, needed to gain a little weight, feet were overgrown and needed a trim and new shoes, and mane needed to be pulled. He's a 2006 OTTB who came off the track a little over a year ago. When I went to try him, he hadn't been ridden in a little while (what was I thinking?) so we put him on the lunge before I got on. I walked and trotted, and that was it! But as I trotted, I had fun on him. He was a fast learner, and I realized I wanted to keep working with him. Fortunately the seller was willing to let him go on trial, so I got him on trial for 1 month. I pulled his mane, got him new shoes, started fattening up, and had my trainers ride and jump him to see if he would work. They loved him, so 3 weeks later I vetted him and bought him. Now he's in Aiken in full training becoming an event horse, and is doing great. And he was cheap! I say go for it! What do you have to lose?

Tamara in TN
Jan. 9, 2011, 04:37 PM
it is just a skill that comes from lots of practice...
I can only say make sure his angles are where they need to be
backyard or no they do not change nor does frame or capacity
and make CERTAIN that his tail does not look too long for his body

Tamara in TN

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:41 PM
I love finding cheap, 'backyard' horses, turning them around, and finding them a great home, so take this with a grain of salt: I get excited when I see sketchy ads with fuzzy horses and backyard pictures (assuming the horse is priced accordingly, of course!). The background and hair length don't change the gem underneath. I find the green ones are the most satisfying to work with - you get to shape your own mount instead of deal with baggage. If he's close and cheap, go take a look. See if he's worth polishing up!

I pass if: the owner is obviously lying or changing stories, the horse has ANY damage/scar tissue on legs or joints, conformation is horrible, etc.

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:44 PM
The other thing I didn't really mention is that it may be a diamond in the rough, but it has a bit of a princess cut, platinum setting price tag. I think that's my biggest hang up...if it was a cheapy and I liked it otherwise, I'd go in a heartbeat. But it isn't cheap and while I like the ingredients, if I'm going to spend the time to go take a look, I would prefer it have a little more spit and polish....that's the seller in me talking.

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:44 PM
I think you could look upon it as "kissing many frogs" and whether you end up liking the horse or not, it will bring you one step closer to finding the right one!

Oh and I can totally understand your attitude, afterall if one is presenting an item at a price, than one should probably attempt to make it look deserving of the price....BUT realize that apparently some folks don't think like we do! :-)

Jan. 9, 2011, 04:56 PM
I'd go and make an offer based on what I felt the horse was worth at the time.

Jan. 9, 2011, 05:02 PM
YB- This is one of the main reasons we (CANTER MA) started the retraining program and stopped selling horses straight out of the field. It is very hard for most people to see past the let down phase that the Tb's go through once arriving off the track. The yak hair (at this time of year), lack of muscle, no topline and general body weakness makes it difficult to get any sort of reasonable price. Heck looking at that horse people are thinking I can get that horse for free at the track but yet it's a 16+ h, gelding, sound with no vices it just happens to be fugly at the moment.

You put 3 months into that horse that might be standing there looking quite ugly and funky and all of sudden people are beating down the door to buy the same horse and you have generated a bit more income to return back to the program. I see some of these horses as they come off the track and they are absolutely gorgeous and then 2 months into the let down phase I am going OMG hide them behind the barn.

I always go with my gut feeling and try to evaluate the conformation, gaits and some free jumping if possible and not look to hard at the diamond in the rough status. I truly enjoy the process of taking horses that other people might have overlooked and turning them into something special. I get a huge kick out of it when people ask who I am riding and it's the same horse I was riding several months ago. Sometimes my instructors don't even know it's the same horse and that is when we all get a pretty good kick out of the change some of them can go through.

You know what you are looking for so trust your gut!

Jan. 9, 2011, 05:11 PM
I don't care about spit and polish.

If it moves well, jumps well (free jump or undersaddle)...has the right conformation. I'll pay more for them even if they look a little backyardy. That is easy to clean up. Especially this time of year.

I'd rather buy that sort of horse...and pay what they are worth even if they look a bit rough. Then get taken by a less then quality horse who looks better than it is because of spit and polish;)

So if it is within a few hour drive...I'd go and look at it and see if it is the right horse for me.

Jan. 9, 2011, 05:14 PM
BFNE, you make a good point....a really good point. I guess I'll go take a look. I might be able to kill two birds with one stone. There's another farm up that way with some very nice looking prospects.

Jan. 9, 2011, 05:18 PM
Especially if it's a young horse and if I'm looking to start it myself, (which I'm not and I wouldn't) I'd almost rather have the critter shaggy, ribby, and mud-covered. That means (more than likely) it's been living out, being a horse, and nobody's messing around with it yet. :)

Even if they're scruffy, they have their conformation, their feet, their movement, their temperaments and their general "type". Should be easy enough to look past some hair and mud. :)

And a fancy price tag is only set in stone if you have no intention of negotiating. :)

Jan. 9, 2011, 05:38 PM
I'd go look and make an offer based on its current value.

If you've got a good eye, you can get diamonds-in-the-rough all day long for cheap or free.

Of course, it is totally possible for a horse to be worth a chunk even as a diamond in the rough.... I paid a 'nice going Novice horse' price for a fancy horse that was w/t/c, had terrorized three trainers straight, put her former owner in the ER with her Wild West routine, etc. etc. but she was well worth it in the long run. Couldn't have afforded her at all if she hadn't been so messed up to start with!


Jan. 9, 2011, 06:02 PM
i just looked at one yesterday, 10 rides, 4 yr.old tb geld. 17.0 and huge, i mean looks like a damn wb. bay with chrome, never raced or started, just too big. amazing walk, really nice trot and canter to die for. and seems to love to jump, and has the jump for sure. very good minded under saddle, just tough on the ground, just young and got cut late, so thinks he is really cool. likes to nip a bit :) but all that's fixable. wish i had an open spot in the barn, cause he's pretty cheap.

Jan. 9, 2011, 06:21 PM
agree with everyone else; what have you got to lose besides some time out of your day?
Worst case scenario -- you fall madly in love with him but can't stomach the price, which turns out to be non-negotiable.

I think, though, you can only go if you promise to come back and tell us about it...:winkgrin:

Jan. 9, 2011, 07:24 PM
Looking never hurt anyone, yb! Go!

Jan. 9, 2011, 07:57 PM
Oh Amanda, if you could definitively have the answer to the OP question, you'd be a millionaire. It's always a crapshoot, but you try and pad your odds by looking under the rough coat and out of shape look, and finding those intangible, inside things that attract you to a horse you know will be good. But it is important to remember that each horse is an individual and a full brother or sister to some good horse does not mean that one will make it and the bad look may not be improved on if it got the throwback genes.

Beam Me Up
Jan. 9, 2011, 08:12 PM
Unless the price is a total deal breaker (so overpriced you don't think there is a chance of agreement) go look! Most of the horses you look at you won't buy, and many are totally not as described, but it does help refine your search. Plus we all want pics, a report, etc. Vicarious horse shopping is second best to actual horse shopping.

Jan. 9, 2011, 08:23 PM
To save yourself some time ask for a video. Most people can take a short video clip on their phone and sometimes that is enough to figure out whether it may be worth the trip or not.

batman the horse
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:32 PM
make CERTAIN that his tail does not look too long for his body

Forgive me for my ignorance, but what does this mean?

Jan. 9, 2011, 11:32 PM
Got mine as a shaggy winter OTTB just starting to learn to WTC at my trainers barn...I got on her to ride her for my trainer with no intention of looking at her to buy even though I was in the market at the time and she was cute, and I discovered how great her mind is. She was cute and a nice mover (her canter has taken a lot of work, but overall a very nice mover). So I rode her a few more times, including taking her over some of her first jumps and having her just eat them up. I was pretty much sold on her within a ride or two. To me then she looked pretty, but looking at pictures from then I would definitely classify as her as a diamond in the rough. Now she is a classy eventing mare who I'm hopefully moving up to prelim next year :)
I'd say look at soundness and mind and try to picture them muscled up and shedded out. After all, try and soundness are the two most important factors in a good horse! :)
If I was really good I'd get a flikr account or whatever and put her before and after pictures up...

Jan. 10, 2011, 12:44 AM
Sure, go look. Doesnt hurt!
I've paid $1000 for nice TBs and WB crosses out of backyards. Nothing a pulled mane, weight, muscle and shoes doesnt fix!

Tamara in TN
Jan. 10, 2011, 12:46 AM
Forgive me for my ignorance, but what does this mean?

a horse with a tail (bone) too long for his body was stunted as a baby...something they never recover from

Tamara in TN

Jan. 10, 2011, 12:47 AM
Forgive me for my ignorance, but what does this mean?

Age - a lot of time 'backyard' horses will be sold as "yearlings" bc they are thin, small, and still look like babies, when they're really two or three years old. They will honestly look like yearlings, but the mane and tail will be WAY too long for that age. Dead give away.

Jan. 10, 2011, 12:41 PM
I think we're definitely going to take a look.

For the record, I have ZERO issue with taking a diamond in the rough and have on quite a few occasions. But for more in the 1k price range. This one has a fancier price tag, but the breeding has me very intrigued (I've had a long time crush on the sire and had just saying I wanted one of his babies), so we'll look.

Jan. 10, 2011, 01:17 PM
. But for more in the 1k price range. This one has a fancier price tag, but the breeding has me very intrigued (I've had a long time crush on the sire and had just saying I wanted one of his babies), so we'll look.

different experiences....I've taken diamonds in the rough where I paid anywhere from 2500 to close to 6K.....those diamonds I either sold or was offered more than 20K within 6 months to a year.

Sometimes the diamonds are priced higher because they may not have the spit and polish...but the people that have them generally know what they are. The deals are when you find the diamonds with the owners who don't know they have diamonds. Those are a bit harder to find and you have to be at least a little lucky.