View Full Version : Do I have a sticker on my back that says Free Pony Rides ?

Jun. 29, 2011, 08:21 PM
How many trial rides is too many? I have never had to trial ride a horse I bought more than once, but apparently I am the minority!

Jun. 29, 2011, 08:53 PM
The previous owner insisted I take my horse on a trial period. He had been out of work for 5 months and I had a specific goal in mind to see how we progressed, but after one ride I knew I wanted him if my first impression was correct.

Every other horse I've purchased was after 1 ride only.

Jun. 29, 2011, 09:45 PM
I wanted more than one to be sure that the first ride wasn't a fluke on my boy. Turns out it was, but that's neither here nor there. Still like him anyway.

Jun. 29, 2011, 09:49 PM
I have two horse now that I was able to trial ride. I knew on the first ride they were right for me. I've ridden others that I knew on the first ride were not for me. If I was looking at a very expensive horse, I may want more than one ride.

Jun. 29, 2011, 09:58 PM
I think two rides is a minimum. A horse is a partner, a little bit like a spouse. Would you get married after only one date? On the second ride, you should be handling the horse yourself with the agent or seller around to watch/answer questions but leaving you to groom, tack up and ride on your own. I wouldn't hesitate to offer additional trial rides to a serious potential purchaser. You want the match between horse and rider to be a good one. I don't think one ride is enough to decide.

Jun. 29, 2011, 10:15 PM
I leased my current horse, Trooper, after fifteen minutes of riding him bareback. I knew within that short amount of time that he and I fit like a hand in a glove. Since then we've put on many miles together and I don't regret the 'snap decision" at all.

The horse I trialed before I found Trooper, though........holy cow. The woman was leasing the mare as a Canadian Dressage Champion and claimed the mare (half arab) had 11 ROM's. That may be so, but I knew within five minutes that the bloody thing wasn't for me. I have never in my life been on a more hard mouthed knothead in my life. I don't use the bit as a brake, but this mare gave me no choice. She grabbed the bit and pulled like a locomotive. I asked politely for a walk and she went from walk to gallop in a few steps. It was with great relief that I said to myself, NOT THIS HORSE and bailed out after less than ten minutes.

That's what trials are all about. I don't believe the number of trials is important. It's what your gut tells you. If the horse scares you, get off and don't get back on.

Don't be ashamed to say "I'm sorry, but this isn't the horse for me." If you want, say, "I'm sorry, but it's too much horse" but don't take the horse because you don't want to lose face. Face isn't what you're riding on.

Go with your gut and your mind. Your heart will follow when you find the right one.

Jun. 30, 2011, 12:22 AM
First horse I was riding in lessons so I rode him a bunch.

Second horse I did one ride on. In hindsight I probably should have gone back since I didn't get to tack him up or anything but it's worked out very well!

Jun. 30, 2011, 12:31 AM
I'm a sucker for a sob story, so most of my horses have been the "Someone please get this thing off my feed bill ASAP!" variety. Some were unbroken, or youngsters. If I get even one trial ride that's a bonus :lol:

Though I don't take home everything I see, obviously. Generally I know pretty quickly if I'm willing to take a chance on a horse or not. Most of the time I'll either put a deposit down on the horse, or I'll tell the seller I'm not interested on the first visit. Second visit is when I pay for the horse and take it home.

And I'm sort of ashamed to admit that although I always advise other peple to do it, I've never actually had a pre-purchase exam done on a horse. :uhoh:

Jun. 30, 2011, 12:34 AM
How many trial rides is too many? I have never had to trial ride a horse I bought more than once, but apparently I am the minority!

Horse 1) one ride, which ultimately was a mistake. He was a bad fit, it worked eventually but I should've ridden him another time to see the "other side" :no:

Horse 2) learned lesson from first horse, specifically worked with people I knew well to look at new horse. was able to take him on a "weekend trial": worked with their trainer at their barn, did flatwork on my own, xc/stadium partly in a lesson, then on my own. Then we scheduled a pre-purchase by the vet of my choosing, and I bought him! Would do this again in a heartbeat! Worked so well and really knew what I was getting.

Horse 3) went out to look at him, literally picked up the reins...and just knew. Looked over at the owner and said, "I'll take him. Can I pay now, load him and take him home today?"

I think more than 2 trial rides the person needs to work out some kind of deposit/trial weekend or something. Unless you really don't know the person and have a gut feeling there may be something undisclosed, 3 full days of riding/testing the horse out (owner/prospective owner working on appropriate work level, etc.) should really give you a good idea of what that horse is about!

I love a good trial weekend for a horse that needs to be able to wear multiple hats. You really get to see all the sides and the attitude after multiple rides, etc. :) More than that? A little over-kill, imo...

Jun. 30, 2011, 01:21 AM
3 full days of riding/testing the horse out (owner/prospective owner working on appropriate work level, etc.) should really give you a good idea of what that horse is about!

Sometimes just knowing what the horse is about isn't enough.

I knew my horse would be ok personality-wise before getting on. He had been ridden 3 times in the last 5-6 months and was known as a very hot TB. When I asked if we should longe him, my trainer said "no, I'll just get on him." I had a car accident and totalled my car the day before - and was in pain. He still responded the best he could while I was on him, despite it being clear I could barely sit on his back.

However, I went into it knowing he was a curler. My trial period was for two things: 1) to arrange a vet check and 2) to ensure I was able to make progress in trying to get him to take contact. I knew it would take a long time to get contact where I wanted, probably a forever project really. But I wanted to know my riding ability and skills were enough to get him headed the right direction that there was significant difference in a month.

Jun. 30, 2011, 09:09 AM
I had one trial ride on mine and I might not have bought her if I'd had a second. Three years later, I can say that my mistake turned out to be a good one :)

She's my only horse, so far, but now I think two trial rides would be my minimum, and I'd see if the horse does the things I want to do, which is to say LL dressage and hacking out. A horse that hacks out alone would be ideal.

Jun. 30, 2011, 09:40 AM
One horse I leased for a week at the barn where he resided. Vet could not get there to do a pre purchase exam and I didn't want anyone other than me on him. Wonderful horse, he is buried in my back pasture.

Another horse I drove for 5 hours to see. Hopped up on him and literally took a gallop around the farm (event prospect). Bought him that day and he still resides with me 16 years later.

OTTB. Walked and jogged him in hand at the track. He was vetted and purchased the following day. Had him for about 2-3 years and then sold him (too many horses at the time). A fellow COTHER now owns him.

I buy horses really fast and have never regretted it. I just know when it's right and when ... it is not.

Jun. 30, 2011, 09:46 AM
I think I had 3 rides. 2 on my own and one when the trainer came to look at her. I really wasn't planning to buy a horse at the time and was trying not to like her. But she stole my heart and has not yet given it back:) She is a wonderful girl and I'm keeping her forever.

Jun. 30, 2011, 10:05 AM
Didn't take the poll since my purchased horses we always unbroken when I bought them. But having recently tried out a few horses for a free lease (I train free so owner can sell while my show mare is healing) I can say once is all I needed.

Jun. 30, 2011, 10:07 AM
I was looking to potentially lease a horse and both horses I looked at I tried two times. The first one I loooked at first with my trainer, then had a long time friend (was my first trainer, as it happens) look at the horse.

The second horse I looked at was suggested to me by my friend. I drove 5 hours to see her, tried her, and then rode her again the next morning to see if my initial impressions were correct.

Am a bit of a neophyte, so did not know if that was an unusual practice, nor did either horse's owner indicate that it was not normal protocol.

To my way of thinking, leasing the horse represented a HUGE (for me) financial and emotional commitment, and I try not to enter into either type of commitment lightly. Given I also tend to test drive cars more than once before purchasing, 2x did not seem unreasonable.

That being said, I did not ride the heck out of the horses when I tried them. I tried to be respectful of the owner's time and of the horse.

I bought my very first horse when I was a child, and only rode him the one time. It was a colossal mistake, although it's hard to say any learning experience is a "mistake." The horse needed a more experienced rider, and I needed a horse with less issues. With that kind of expereince behind me, I think trying a horse 2x is very reasonable.

I would say that taking time to make the right decision ultimately benefits both the horse and the owner, since the owner would no doubt want the horse to find a good home.

Jun. 30, 2011, 10:12 AM
There is no button for "My friend called and said she had a horse for us to go in on together so I said ok and she sent it and I rode what came off the truck" so I don't have an answer.

The above scenario was for two of my horses (well, the one was just unstarted so how do you "trial ride" an unstarted horse), and the third horse was one 20 min ride.

Sandy M
Jun. 30, 2011, 10:21 AM
The last one, well, none. He was 2.5.

The one before that - just one, he was 400 miles away, so the one trip was all I could afford. Ditto the one before that. I'm in the SF Bay Area, he was in Reno, NV. However, in both those cases (we had mutual friends, so there was a modicum of trust already) I was allowed to give a deposit and take the horse for further trial rides and a vetting, with a decision to be made within a week.

The only horse I took more than one trial ride on was the second, a TB mare, but she was kept only a 40 min ride away, at a trainer's barn, so several rides were easily arranged, as well as having my then-trainer check her out.

Jun. 30, 2011, 11:02 AM
I can usually tell after one ride if the horse and I are going to get on together.
I prefer to groom the horse and tack up myself. I can tell the personality of a horse when he is in the cross ties. If he bares his teeth and pins his ears when I bring out the saddle I think twice on that one.
I did have several horses that were rescue cases. They turned out to be great horses after feeding and grooming and lots of ground work.
It doesn't take all that long to figure out a horse's attitude and personality.
Sometimes it is a good match and sometimes it is not.
I prefer to have a horse vet checked for navicular and other lameness issues. But I did not always do it.
I had some great horses in my life. Most of them I knew straight out, they were going to be good to work with.

Jun. 30, 2011, 11:09 AM
When I was younger and tougher, I sometimes never even rode them.

Those were the days , my friend. :lol:

Jun. 13, 2012, 11:47 AM
Thanks all, I know it is the new norm to trial twice or more, BUT how do Trainer's handle the wishy washy, tirekickery 'can I take him on a trail ride, too?, Can we go to the Beach,?" Bad Rider? I'm going to start a new thread. I'm interested what people do the fourth time the same person comes calling...

Jun. 13, 2012, 11:52 AM
I've known within one ride whether a horse suits me or not, but if the opportunity arose to ride a horse multiple times and I was on the fence for one reason or another I would very gladly take advantage of it. I would try not to abuse the privilege, but a chance to do a variety of things with a horse that's required to be as versatile as an eventer is probably a "plus" if one wants the horse and rider to be a good match.

Mtn trails
Jun. 14, 2012, 04:53 PM
One horse it was one ride, in the dark, for about 5 minutes. I just knew he was the one and 16 years later, he's still the one.

The other was a wild baby (mustang adoption) so no rides for the next 2 years.

Jun. 14, 2012, 05:26 PM
My mare... One ride for 10-15 mins. I knew mounting, she didn't twitch a hair as we adjusted and readjusted the stirrups, taking our time. And the first couple strides of walk confirmed it. I wasn't ready to jump her and wasn't used to the power, but she felt talented and kind. We did the PPE the next day and I promptly left the country to fly home. I didn't groom her at all and barely spent any time with her. But I knew.

With 4 trial rides, they're either the nervous type or on the fence.

Jun. 14, 2012, 05:34 PM
Umm... I didn't vote because I almost never ride them, since I usually get unbroke greenies to flip and resell.

My TB mare was about 5 minutes of a trial ride. I actually got her in to train as a resell project for a friend (she was an OTTB who was used as a broodmare after her racing career), I got on, rode her for 5 minutes, then called her owner and said, "I'll take her." Naturally athletic and the best mind ever. She's still my favorite. She's never going anywhere. But I digress...

I despise wishy-washy buyers. But, I sell at a relatively low price point (always less than $5,000). If my horses were in the 5-figure range, and they were more of an investment, I would expect the buyers to be more cautious with how they spend their money. I think the time someone spends on their decision to buy should be directly proportionate to the price of the animal.

Jun. 14, 2012, 05:42 PM
Of the current horses I have:

#1 - appendix rescue mare- saw at a schooling show and fell in love- asked for a 2 wk trial just to see what her temperament would be like in a bigger barn enviornment (if she could handle being stalled at night). I already knew, though, that I was head over heels and wouldn't be able to turn her down. She turned out to be perfect ride for me, though is now retired after a bought of neurological issues which is causing unresolvable lameness. She's 20 and will be in my care for life.

#2 - 3 yr OTSTB pacer purchased sight unseen off the internet. Fabulous temperament, bigger horse than I bargained for, with bigger, bouncier gaits than expected, but I LOFF him. I feel like I'm learning how to ride all over again on this one- he's quite...different! We're headed to our first show in a couple of weeks, I am so excited!!! He came with a trial period, but I knew there was no way he was going anywhere.

#3 3 yr old arab x I've known since the day of his birth. No rides yet, but have big plans for this young chap's future.


Past horses

#4 7 yr OTTB - owner giving horse away, originally took as a favor and had plans to use for her daughters in 4h...which never happened. No trial ride, took a chance on a red tb mare. Turns out she was great in the winter and a hell raiser come spring - way more than I really wanted to deal with given my health issues at the time, just decided there were better, safer horses for me to ride. Was ready to just retire the mare and move on, but ended up rehoming her last year to a friend/boarder who loves her and could care less about the mare antics- the ranker the better in his opinion. He did trial her, though informally, which didn't matter to me as we board at the same facility.

#5 6 yr appy x arab - sight unseen rescue, ex tripping horse - took as a pity case. Petrified for 2 years, finally broke her to ride in the 3rd. Started having major physical/pain problems and unfortunately had to put her down. But she was a great horse while she was around, taught me a ton.

#6 4 yr paint gelding - went to see him, was too much horse for my friend, I thought he was kinda funny and loved his personality, so I took him. When we drove up to the barn he was laying upright in their front lawn - walked right up to him and he didn't even bother to get up for the occasion. Broke to ride, trained through 2nd level, and gave him to a friend of mine who needed a best friend. She still has him and loves him to pieces- and she did do a couple trial rides on him :)

#7 3 yr ottb mare. Didn't ride, didn't trial, took on a pity case because her owner absolutely wanted her gone. She was really spoiled and just plain naughty and dangerous. She needed a ton of chiropractic work and groceries. Took my time, got her going well under saddle though lightly - she was definitely more of a pet, and stole my heart. She started having lameness issues at 7 despite not really doing much by way of work and by 9 she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and by the fall she stopped eating and moving and I had to release her from this world. I still cry for her to this day.:sadsmile:

So....7 horses, 1 trial during which I actually rode the horse, lol. I guess if I were spending a lot of money on the horse or had some really stringent requirements for their job I'd want a ride or two. But generally I'm more of the sort to pick up the "trash" no one wants and try to turn them into something someone will cherish forever, even if it ends up being me - so trials don't often happen.

Jun. 14, 2012, 07:43 PM
The first pony I bought(I was 7) I rode her once then had a two week trial at my barn. My second pony I rode once and while being less than impressed with him he came home that day and ended up being my heart horse. I don't think I will ever own another horse like him. He is one of a kind. Then my first horse I rode twice. Once at her barn then once at a lesson with my trainer.

However when I sold pony #2 the family came out and rode several times. They had flown in from another state so they tried him Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Jun. 14, 2012, 08:12 PM
I can appreciate a seller's annoyance with undecided buyers, and I admire the ability to know immediately that the horse is the one for you. My first horse I rode once before purchasing, and the second I rode 3 times. Both purchases were mistakes. I rehomed them to good homes but doing that was difficult and expensive. Now I lease a great horse owned by a good friend and it is working out very well. If I purchased again I would ride the horse as much as I could before making the decision. The purchase price is a fraction of what you spend on the horse over the long term.

Jun. 15, 2012, 08:19 AM
With my first horse, I think one ride did the trick (would have bought her on looks alone and knew she was sound).

The subsequent horses I bought were ottbs and I couldn't ride them at the track for liability reasons, so I took a chance. For me, soundness and temperament were paramount. I did get to see one of them being breezed on the track, that was neat.

I understand that buyers want to be "sure", especially considering the astronomical prices sellers ask...but we are dealing with live beings, not cars, so I think sometimes it's hard to decide on ONE ride (could it be the horse is having a bad day? lol) which is why I let one of my horses go on trial (with trepidation) so potential buyer could work with instructor, and good thing I did, too, because this particular horse/rider combo was not a good match and rider could have gotten hurt.

I hate selling horses. lol

Jun. 15, 2012, 10:02 AM
Rode mine twice. The first time the person I was buying from had trailered in two prospects for me to try. Watched them from the ground under saddle, then rode them both. Liked the other one from the ground, but liked my guy better under saddle. However, I wasn't quite "sold." My trainer suggested coming back in a week to do a second ride and I agreed.

In the meantime, we found a few more prospects to go look at. Went and rode the first horse first and I had a very good feeling. On the second ride I was able to focus more on the way the horse was relating to me than on how he moved/felt as a ride and was very impressed that when I asked for something, he seemed like he was "thinking" and trying to figure out how to give me what I wanted (only a 3yo, so very green). Negotiated the price but didn't commit as I wanted to see the others I'd set up to look at. Went on to see the others and by the end of the day I knew that the first horse was the one for me. Called to make arrangements pending a clean vetting and picked him up the next week. :) Got him home and found out how much it costs to feed him - (almost twice my last horse!!) Luckily for him, I (usually) think he is worth it.

If my trainer had not suggested coming back for the second ride, I'm not sure I would have bought the horse. The first ride let me know that I liked the horse's general way of going, but there was no "gotta have it" feeling. It was the second ride that sold me on the horse. We also took videos during the rides so I was able to watch him and look at him going with me riding in that week between so I was able to refine what I wanted to try/look for on the second ride.

Jun. 16, 2012, 10:51 AM
The first horse I bought as an adult I rode once and bought him. Huge mistake. When I tried him out atthe sellers barn he was perfect. Never kicked, bit, bucked, just plodded along like a good boy. Second I got him home he's tearing chunks from my arms, kicking out at every one, bucking and broncing like a fool. Took me 6 months of working with him every single day to break bad habits, and by six months we could w/t/c without temper tantrums... But I was scared to death by that point and gave him to a young adult to finish training.

After that I was insanely neurotic about trying out a horse multiple times. But I'm starting to learn the signs to look for to know when a horse was either doped, or had the snot worked out of it, before I arrived to test ride.

Last horse I test rode, for a friend, we arrived and the horse was untacked but had sweat marks where the saddle was. When I rode her, she woulnt turn and wanted to run into the barn. If you have to work the snot out of a horse before your prospective buyer comes then you're an a-hole. Same goes for the people i've seen who lunge the horse for an hour then stick it back in the stall so they can pretend it's "always so calm". Some people are unscrupulous.

Jun. 16, 2012, 04:30 PM
I went about getting my current horse in all the wrong ways. She had a reputation in my group of friends as being a horse with an attitude, mean, and had quite a few bad habits under saddle. But I leasing a horse at the time that I had skill wise grown out of and was looking for the next horse to move on too.
I only did one trial ride on though at least it was in a lesson with my trainer. I did get a long well with the mare and she didn't pull any of her bad habits like sucking back in that ride.
I did decide to take her even with her sorted past of homes that did not work out.
I at least knew her owner very well and we had the agreement that if it did not work she would take her back.
So a few weeks later Gracie came to my barn where I boarded to live and was mine for a dollar (always a bad sign!!!).
It was a rough road these last four years but today we have a strong partnership and I do not regret taking her.

BUT the next time I buy a horse I am going to be a lot more thorough and would like a few more trial rides I think. And maybe even take the horse on trial for a few weeks if I think I like the horse.
But in the end I think it depends on the situation and what you are looking for.

Jun. 16, 2012, 05:55 PM
I also bought after one ride, though I had a horse-experienced friend along with me, who also rode the mare. If I'd ridden her a second time, I am not sure I would have bought her.... She turned out to be more difficult than I thought she would be, and my friend seriously overestimated my abilities.

BUT. Four years on, I could not ask for a better horse. Oh sure, I'd make her more sound, but other than that... She actually turned out to be a very honest, safe horse and just the right amount of challenge for me. Took some pro training and a LOT of lessons, though.

We get a LOT of "great match!" comments from trainers and judges.

If I was doing this over, I'd want at least one more ride and preferably 3 or 4 on any horse where the first ride went well. And I'd want those rides to vary in content.

Jun. 17, 2012, 02:16 AM
My first and second horses I tried once and they were great.
Different instructor for my next 2 purchases. Tried both horses twice, which did actually show more to them than the first.
With my third horse he had been super green due to a severe lack of riding and I pretty much was told to 'just try to ride him in a straight line'. The next ride was a few weeks later and the trainer had really worked on the horse, so I was able to do at least a touch more with him.
My 4th horse was a greenie. (6 yr old but training more like a 4 yr old). He had been sick a month or so before I first tried him due to a bad reaction to a vaccine so he was quite out of shape. The first ride on him he was definitely out of shape and rode much more tired (which I prefer, haha, I would rather kick than pull haha), knew I wanted him. Second ride showed a much more energetic and forward ride which is more to what he normally is. Not HOT but wants to be on a big stride and fairly sensitive.

I knew I wanted all of these horses on the first ride except for my 3rd horse, but I don't think a second ride is bad at all.

I think 4 rides (when not on an actual trial) is starting to get pretty excessive.

Jun. 17, 2012, 08:47 AM
Horse 1: I had 2 trial rides and then her owner/trainer (OTTB) let me take her for 2 weeks on trial. I rode and worked around her and tried some different things with her and decided to keep/pay for her.

Horse 2: Was owned by a friend who needed to find a home for him. He had some interesting quirks and I wanted to make sure I was ok with them. I rode him 4 times. The first, she rode first and then I did. The 2nd, I rode from the beginning. The 3rd, I rode without her there. The 4th, I took him to another place to make sure he was sane going away to ride. And then, I brought him home and kept him. :) Obviously, if it hadn't been a friend, I would not have thought taking him somewhere else to ride was allowed, but she was good with it.

I very much feel like I need more than one ride on a potential new horse. I want to give them a chance to show me who they are...both good and bad. I don't get rid of horses easily, so they need to "fit".

Jun. 17, 2012, 10:32 AM
I said two because that is what I did with my first horse back to riding after a 20 year break from horses.

However most of ours were young - so bought either with barely one ride or no ride at all.

However, I know as soon as a I see a horse whether we want it or not.

Had a couple ponies on trial - not that it mattered - knew we were going to buy them.

Had a couple horses on trial and never bought any of those though.

I really know within minutes whether we are going to buy a horse. If I have doubts (or whenever I have been on the fence about a horse) and we vet or take the horse on trial we never end up buying it. So I need to just trust my guts. All the decisions to buy have been the right ones. Even one that we thought was a mistake did turn out to be a good lesson.

Jun. 17, 2012, 04:56 PM
I rode my new mare twice. The first ride I had her owner ride first, and I used the owner's tack. The second ride I brought my own tack. I was driving about three hours to check out a prospect who was going to need a lot of work, and I felt I had to be sure it was not a fluke or dishonesty from the seller, which it was not. One PPE by a vet of my choosing and a long trailer ride later, she was mine.

I have also sold horses with only one trial ride. I have no problem with two rides as long as the potential buyer expresses interest in purchasing after the first ride. Three would be OK if I was selling at a higher price point (over 5k). Four trial rides without a deposit, PPE, trial period or lease with intent to buy clause set up is a bit concerning.

Jun. 17, 2012, 05:07 PM
I may be in the minority here but I don't mind it when potential buyers want to look at the horse several times before deciding to buy. I want them to be 100% sure that my horse is the right horse for them. If I pressure them to make a quick decision they may rush into it without the horse being the perfect fit. The horse ends up being unhappy, the people are unhappy and then they may feel like I was sketchy and my reputation could be tarnished. But maybe this is the reason I haven't gotten rich selling horses. :lol:

Jun. 17, 2012, 05:42 PM
When I buy horses? I usually buy the ones that are not ridable. Either on the track TBs, that you cannot ride because they are at the track (not because they don't know how to be ridden). Or yearlings, who well...they are yearlings.

Now, the horses I sell, the last one, the lady came and tried her 3 times, which was fine. The only time I might refuse a third or later ride is if I honestly believe it is a bad match. I don't take the horses off the track and retrain them to sell them to an unsuitable person.