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View Full Version : bay vs gray (sorry, a little long)



sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:25 AM
Both is not an option. And this is not about color preference. ;) However I do need some input. I have been looking at horses and have found two that I really like.

Bay horse is an 8y/o Trakehner cross mare. Is relatively green, not much in the way of steering, good walk and trot and nicer canter. Usually ridden only once or twice a week. Can be very sassy. Is somewhat backed off from the rider's leg.

She definitely has potential. She is definitely a one-rider horse and was a bit weary of me being in the saddle. Ride #1 was messy for me. I was worried and didn't trust her. She is a bit backed off to the rider's leg (with current owner as well) and very stuck in her body. Her work ethic does not appear to be the greatest but at the same time current owner hasn't asked much of her and I also feel she was testing me. I did ride her twice more and had a blast after I was past my initial nervousness. And each ride seemed better than the previous. On day three - in a row so much more work than she is accustomed to - she did show signs of weakness in her left hind (felt her trip a little and it was apparent for a few strides here and there, though she was not lame) so the ride was shorter than the others. But by this point I was all smiles and really enjoying her. She was also less stuck in her body. Downside: Owner did tell me I have not seen her at her worst, though it doesn't sound like she is dangerous, just opinionated and I feel those are probably the times when she is more expressive about being backed off to the rider's leg. With some work I'd say she could easily do 3rd level dressage, IF she has the work ethic.

Gray horse, a 12 y/o Hano cross mare. She was unflappable when I went to try her out. There was a yearling running and snorting and bucking near the arena and this mare did not care, not even an ear twitch. She wanted to please her rider. She is much further along in training and clearly has some jumping in her background (an area where I lack experience). But her background is very unknown. Current owner hasn't had her long (less than 6 months) and is selling because of financial reasons. She has lighter bone structure than I prefer. Not the greatest feet, but had four shoes and pads pulled recently and has not shown any lameness. I also believe she needs some work on strengthening her back. Her conformation when I saw her made me question her soundness through the loins but an older photo of her makes me think she has lost conditioning and weight and that is why she looks so weak through the loin. This mare is also only being ridden once a week, at most. She is also not easy to bridle and this will need lots of work. She was very easy for me to ride. I almost felt like I was playing.

If this mare can hold up to 3-4 rides a week I can see her as a very nice, all around horse. She has three good gaits (not great, but good) and I know she will ride like a Porche. Very quick - not rushed - and very agile. What I love most about her is her work ethic. Big positive: owner offered that if I purchase her then she comes with a 30 day soundness (mental and physical) guarantee.

Here is what I want: A horse with a good brain who I can dabble in dressage and jumping with. I don't believe I will find what I want in a horse who has the ability to go "all the way" and I'd be happy playing at 3rd level and lower level eventing.

Both horses are super cheap. I feel they each have their risks but I also think all horses have their risks. If these horses were in full work, without their individual problems, I feel they would be well out of my price range. I clearly like them enough to not want to keep looking at other horses. I really enjoyed riding both and think they are both good horses for an ammie like me.

SGray
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:31 AM
from your descriptions I would have no doubt of which to go with

Po-Po
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:33 AM
Based on the information that you have provided, I would lean toward the grey mare.

What are her issues with being bridled? Throws her head up? Balks? I have seen horses with similar issues come a long way with time and patience.

sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:35 AM
She throws her head up and backs up. She definitely needs to be bridled in a stall right now. But that is not a problem for my setup.

Po-Po
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:43 AM
Ok. That would not deter me from purchasing her...with time and patience you can work through that. :yes:


She throws her head up and backs up. She definitely needs to be bridled in a stall right now. But that is not a problem for my setup.

Perfect Pony
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:44 AM
The bay mare sounds lame and uncomfortable and clearly does not want to work, I would pass.

The gray does not sound perfect, but a horse happy to work is 80% of the battle.

sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:46 AM
Thanks, PerfectPony. I don't think the bay is in pain. I just think she is setup incorrectly in her body and when she gets unbalanced she has an opinion about that. By day three she was less stuck and also less opinionated which is why I think this is not a pain issue.

This is hard for me. I've turned around backed-off horses and I've also successfully rehabbed weaker horses with back problems.

On the flip side... the gray mare could turn out to be A LOT of horse once she is fit. I don't see the bay being as much of a handful when fit.

kcmel
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:49 AM
I don't like the sound of the bay at all.

Perfect Pony
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:52 AM
Thanks, PerfectPony. I don't think the bay is in pain. I just think she is setup incorrectly in her body and when she gets unbalanced she has an opinion about that. By day three she was less stuck and also less opinionated which is why I think this is not a pain issue.


You can think whatever you want. Don't make excuses, seriously. She has given you several indications that something is not right, you said yourself the last day she was NQR on one hind and was tripping. This in conjunction with her not wanting to go forward is a deal breaker for me. Unless you can take this mare on a long term trial I would run away.

sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:59 AM
PP, I guess my experience rehabbing horses is different. I've seen them go from weak/small trips behind to 100% sound in work with me. Not making excuses, just clarifying something that is hard to understand without seeing the horse in person.

I do agree with everyone liking the gray mare's personality more. She is a doll and a very hard trier - something priceless in a horse, I think. Anyway, would love to hear more opinions from other people as well.

goeslikestink
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:08 AM
PP, I guess my experience rehabbing horses is different. I've seen them go from weak/small trips behind to 100% sound in work with me. Not making excuses, just clarifying something that is hard to understand without seeing the horse in person.

I do agree with everyone liking the gray mare's personality more. She is a doll and a very hard trier - something priceless in a horse, I think. Anyway, would love to hear more opinions from other people as well.

if they super cheap and cant decide buy both lol
then work on each one as they both have issues which often cheap horses have

The Centaurian
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:11 AM
I would not consider a horse that is 8 years old and still green, unless I could afford more than one horse. JMHO, since you asked.

sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:11 AM
if they super cheap and cant decide buy both lol
then work on each one as they both have issues which often cheap horses have

They are super cheap! And I could afford to buy them both. But I cannot afford to keep both.

Timex
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:24 AM
i'd go with the grey mare. the bay, on top of being green, sounds like she would need more remedial work (not just getting fit, but fixing things) while the grey sounds like one you could do more with. and if you're worried about what the grey mare might turn into once fit, i wouldn't worry about it. she sounds like she'd do her best by you, regardless of the fitness level.

Madeline
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:44 AM
Sounds to me like YOU want the grey. So get her.

CatOnLap
Jan. 18, 2011, 12:26 PM
hmm a bitchy backed off mare or a willing to please but out of shape pleasant one?

Enjoy your new grey horse!

netg
Jan. 18, 2011, 12:34 PM
With all the negatives... there's some reason you want the bay. Is it your gut instinct in reaction to the horses, or is it just because of age? I have a feeling that's actually who you want more and you are telling yourself logically that isn't who you should want.

Personally, the gray sounds less adjustable and interesting, and likely to have less potential from your description. One I might want as a schoolmaster, but wouldn't want to have be my sole horse for years to come. The bay just doesn't sound appealing from your description, but I have a feeling there's something there telling you that's the one for you.

Perfect Pony
Jan. 18, 2011, 12:38 PM
The bay just doesn't sound appealing from your description, but I have a feeling there's something there telling you that's the one for you.

Yeah, it's probably prettier, and a challenge. That's always the best recipe for choosing a new horse, it always works out so well.

The big red-flag for me with the OP is she is claiming the 8 year old, green, ridden once a week, NQR, bitchy mare that doesn't want to go forward is a 3rd level dressage prospect.

And I am not trying to be bitchy myself btw, just playing devil's advocate here. Made enough mistakes myself as an re-rider that's for sure. If you can afford to keep this mare in your backyard and go buy another one if she turns into a nightmare, more power to you. If you can afford one horse you have to board, seriously, there are a lot of red flags. I would really try to get an extended trial or a short lease first.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Jan. 18, 2011, 01:05 PM
If these are your only two choices and the grey passes the PPE, hands down her. :) You said you wanted a good brain, and this one is showing you that she has one.

The 8 yo sounds exactly like a mare I was leasing a couple of years (also part Trakehner) ago with the hopes of buying her. She was a complete no-go (in every sense of the word). Her attitude got worse and worse, and I was not the rider to turn her around.

sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 01:05 PM
Actually, the more I talk about the two, the more the gray appeals to me. I have always gone by the "buy the horse you feel comfortable riding today" moto. I can ride both but I am more at ease with the gray's personality. She might end up being hotter but I know she tries.

The bay mare IS prettier. But what has ultimately held me back from her has been her personality. I wouldn't mind the weakness behind (again, I've successfully helped a few horses through this proper conditioning) but I just don't like the 'tude that comes with it. She isn't full out bitchy but this is also more than a quirky personality. And being NQR behind on the left hind - when she naturally carries herself to make that leg work ever so slightly less than the right hind (the part about her being stuck in her body) - fits together. So, PP, you are probably right and it is more of a pain issue. Probably the beginnings of one.

Thanks all for helping me talk through this. After riding the gray I was so excited I almost didn't want to go back and ride the bay. But I thought "what the heck, I need to make sure." The more I rode the bay the more I liked her but there are also more red flags.

I scheduled to see the gray again. I like that her owner offered up the 30 day guarantee.

cyndi
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:02 PM
The gray. I bought a very talented, fabulous moving horse - and then spent many years training it without getting very far. It all boiled down to work ethic.

I will take cooperative/eager to please over raw talent any day. And I've had many horses. My most succesful horses have not always been my most talented - but the ones who enjoyed their job and wanted to work.

Megaladon
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:33 PM
All signs point to-->the Grey! :yes:

netg
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:36 PM
After more from the OP - yep, the gray sounds like the winner.


The description of the bay sounded the way I would describe a horse part of me knows is the right horse for me when I feel self-doubt about whether or not I deserve that horse's talent - emphasising possible issues, and making some up in my head. In my case, thankfully I bought that horse. Sounds like in this case, it's more a minimal description of issues, and the grey is the horse to go with!

Burbank
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:18 PM
the grey, if the horse was fun to ride and has a great work ethic that is the one you want, plus she will be able to teach you to jump since you feel she has more experience in that then you

Oberon13
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:31 PM
Let us know how your second visit to the gray goes!

naturalequus
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:44 PM
...just opinionated and I feel those are probably the times when she is more expressive about being backed off to the rider's leg. With some work I'd say she could easily do 3rd level dressage, IF she has the work ethic.

What I love most about her is her work ethic. Big positive: owner offered that if I purchase her then she comes with a 30 day soundness (mental and physical) guarantee.

Sounds like you are an amateur? Work ethic can certainly be developed in the bay. That said, it can be difficult to develop and if you lack the proper expertise you will constantly be struggling to have sufficient forward and impulsion and even responsiveness to your leg. So my thought is that the Grey may be a better fit; it is not so much about the horse as YOU and what better fits you as a rider at your level.

Otherwise, both sound promising, though I like that the Grey comes with a 30 day guarantee! Get her in a regular work schedule immediately and see how she holds up those first 30 days. She seems like she has got the right mind and sufficient talent otherwise to do what you want.

ETA: the bridling issue may be directly related to bridling (ie, bit, teeth, past experiences, etc) or it might be more indirect - something bothering her u/s in general (ie, rider's hands, how she is worked, pain, etc), etc. Generally it should be something you can work through.

FatDinah
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:51 PM
Since you don't know much about the gray's background, her reluctance to bridle could be from rough handling. If so, patience and gentle handling ought to turn her around.
Of course, I'd check teeth issues, too, in case that is what she worries about with a bridle.

I've been down that road with a uncooperative mare and my experience was that it gets worse with age, not better. And I really think it stems from a physical cause that often can't be detected or fixed.

naturalequus
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:56 PM
PP, I guess my experience rehabbing horses is different. I've seen them go from weak/small trips behind to 100% sound in work with me. Not making excuses, just clarifying something that is hard to understand without seeing the horse in person.

I do agree with everyone liking the gray mare's personality more. She is a doll and a very hard trier - something priceless in a horse, I think. Anyway, would love to hear more opinions from other people as well.

I second this (re: soundness), as I currently have such a horse in the physical sense (though little different and to a lesser degree by the sounds of it) :winkgrin: Just means you have to take it slower and strengthen the horse correctly if they are that out-of-shape. Of course it COULD always be a pain issue that is the result of the horse being unsound generally (something that hopefully shows up in a PPE), but that is not necessarily the case. Do a PPE. Being backed off is not necessarily a pain issue IME, it can also be a result of that horse's temperament - some are naturally more backed off than others and demand a lot of respect from their riders.

I agree with your assessment that the grey could potentially be a lot of horse once she is fit however she seemed to handle everything pretty well in your rides so I would be under the impression that her mind is good in general (ie, less reactive horse in general) and that that trend will continue with increased fitness. You can always work with a mind and develop it anyways, decrease reactivity, increase relaxation, teach the horse to think, etc, but it sounds like she's already got a good foundation so IF you have to do any additional work in that aspect, it will only be a matter of fine-tuning (ie, you won't suddenly have a basket-case on your hands, lol). Her natural willingness to please is a huge asset too.

The bay, from my impression, is the bombproof, bold, unreactive sort, so if that is more what you are looking for, go for it. As I mentioned in my previous post, work ethic can certainly be developed! Just be aware of your own strengths and limitations as a rider (and it sounds like you have experience with this type of horse); if you can effectively deal with the sucking back via exercises, without it sucking the happiness out of you (lol), do it! If you work hard enough, that sucking back can be eliminated, especially as the work ethic is increasingly developed in the horse. If you have any doubts though, I would go with the grey.

naturalequus
Jan. 18, 2011, 04:04 PM
The big red-flag for me with the OP is she is claiming the 8 year old, green, ridden once a week, NQR, bitchy mare that doesn't want to go forward is a 3rd level dressage prospect.


The bay doesn't sound unreasonable to me, personally. I've currently got two horses of my own (with absolutely NO pain issues) that are of the natural personality the OP describes the bay to be and have worked with many more. It's not about the horse. It's about the rider. Thus the potential to TEACH the horse and develop it. Btw the coming-11yo gelding who was as the bay mare is described (personality-wise) is a the most bombproof, trustworthy horse I could ask for now, who teaches kids. Anything I ask, he does, without question and with a great work ethic and willingness to please. I just had to work harder for it than some of his naturally hard-working-willing-to-please counterparts. ETA: That said, you DO have to consider pain issues to exacerbate (or outright be the root reason, of course) a horse's inclination to back off, but that is where the PPE comes in. Just saying pain is not necessarily automatically at fault.

Perhaps the OP is wrong, however I would not automatically (rudely) assume it. The OP is likely basing the mare's 3rd level potential on her movement and natural physical athletic ability, in spite of her temperament and assuming the NQR is only a matter of working the horse correctly (as IS possible, I HAVE such a horse currently). Nothing wrong there, we all factor in such factors when evaluating a horse.

Anyways, OP, I would be leaning towards the grey myself, but if I felt the bay had the potential I really desired, that her 'tude was something I could easily work through with a lot of elbow grease (ie, I had the expertise), and she passed the PPE, then I would seriously consider her over the grey. Otherwise, provided the grey passes a PPE, I would go for her. She sounds perfect temperament-wise for you and she can be developed and conditioned physically to suit your needs. I wouldn't worry about less bone etc at the lower/mid levels, I think you will be fine.

2tempe
Jan. 18, 2011, 05:45 PM
to OP: This is NOT meant to scare you off, but if you follow up on the gray, have your vet do a neurological exam on her. I had a TB mare many years ago who went through the same bridling issue; not totally sure it was related but it turned out she had some neurological problem and ultimately had to be put down.
good luck

sabriel
Jan. 18, 2011, 05:56 PM
to OP: This is NOT meant to scare you off, but if you follow up on the gray, have your vet do a neurological exam on her. I had a TB mare many years ago who went through the same bridling issue; not totally sure it was related but it turned out she had some neurological problem and ultimately had to be put down.
good luck

Interesting, thank you. I worked closely with an equine dentist for a little over a year. We worked on a mare that, when he went to float her teeth, she had what looked like a seizure. Apparently there are some pretty active nerves in that area of the head (sorry for my non-scientific description) and sometimes messing with their teeth can cause a nervous system overload and they collapse. He said he had only heard of this and never saw it so it took him a moment to realize what was happening. I was nearly squished and saved only by the fact that it was a birthing stall (so extra long/wide) and was able to get out of the way. Pretty scary to feel 1200lbs of animal falling on you! Anyway, a smaller version happened again when she was bridled another time. But after that there was never a problem so a vet didn't examine her. Was this similar to your experience?

TheJenners
Jan. 18, 2011, 06:11 PM
Mind is everything. I had a perfectly sound young mare, known breeding and health background (should know it, I bred for her!), easy keeper and barefoot, and she had no willingness to work with me. On anything. Ever had a horse decide that when you pushed her buttons by trying to teach her something new, she would refuse to do anything else she already knew? I did.

Older mare, crappy little feet and already injected her knee once and she's on a joint supp. No idea on her history prior to age, um, eight. I did get contact with one lady through a COTH contact who stated she had been in her barn as a lesson pony at about age 6-8, and then bought by a client, but other than "loves to trail ride, kids loved her" didn't give me any other info. Nothing medical. Has her moments, but otherwise very willing and forgiving.

I can tell you which one I like more. If I had it to do over again, I'd still pick my version of the grey mare.

Valentina_32926
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:47 AM
The gray because of her work ethic. The bay's funny steps sound like weakness but her "tude" worries me. You want riding to be fun and if you buy the bay and her tude gets worse then it won't be fun. Buy the older mare and work slowly to bring her into shape and you'll love it!

MelantheLLC
Jan. 21, 2011, 05:50 PM
Actually I'd worry more about the bay being neurologic. Not that there's any direct evidence in your description, but any hind end weakness NQR, especially one-sided, always rings that bell for me now. Just as a question to be addressed.

Throwing the head up for bridling wouldn't really suggest neurological issues in and of itself. And you've got 30 days to get her over that; I'll bet you can overcome it in 3 days if you focus on it and use some positive reinforcement. ;)

(But definitely have a neurological exam on any horse; it's simple and can save you a lot of grief. Try to find a vet with some real experience with that, though, not all of them can see subtle neuro issues.)

thatsnotme
Jan. 21, 2011, 09:58 PM
I don't like the lack of work ethic in an 8 yo. IMHO if they aren't started right off working, they tend to not want to. A couple days a week develops a couple day a week ethic.

SunsAfire
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:22 PM
Gray mare, you won't regret it!

mickeydoodle
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:29 PM
work ethic is everything- I took on a "challenging" mare for a lot of $$ that never improved her work ethic. Take the horse that wants to learn and cooperate.

snbess
Jan. 23, 2011, 08:57 AM
I hope things go well with the gray, because I agree with the others that she's the way to go. Sounds like a horse you can have fun with!

As for the bridling issue, 30 days, some peppermints and positive reinforcement of boundaries may take care of that. It did for the gelding I've had for almost a year now. The first day at home that I tried to bridle him, he tossed me on the ground. He learned quickly to stand and now he can't wait to get the bit in his mouth.

sabriel
Jan. 24, 2011, 08:41 PM
wow, thanks for all the additional comments. The bay has been taken out of the picture. I found two other horses to look at and plan to go back to see the original gray again this weekend. Weather hasn't been cooperating when I've had time off from work but hopefully that won't continue to happen! Thanks again to everyone who weighed in.