View Full Version : Spinoff Poll: I would be interested in a horse under 3 if...

Wits End Eventing
Dec. 16, 2011, 06:23 PM
The Future Event Horse series is currently in flux which has brought up some interesting discussion about the program and about eventers and their general interest in 1 to 3 year old prospects, the desire by breeders for the general population to have more interest in babies, can we get there from here, etc... Thus the poll

Dec. 16, 2011, 06:44 PM
I think a nice 3 year old could be good, especially if it were a TB that had washed up as a race horse. I usually like horses that can go straight to work, but 3 is close enough for TBs, probably wouldn't buy a 3 year old WB.

Dec. 16, 2011, 06:49 PM
I bought mine at 3 weeks, brought her home as a weanling, she is now 4 1/2 and we are just starting to jumper seriously.

Bringing up my own has been a very rewarding experience, that I would do again in a heart beat.

But, I do not have competition goals, and if I did, I may feel differently.

Dec. 16, 2011, 06:52 PM
...could afford to have it, plus something to ride.

I'd love to have babies (well, equine babies!) but can't really justify paying bills on something for several years, and giving it several years to self-destruct, before I could really ride it. That said, I would certainly take a three year old, and probably a two year old if it was exceptional-- we have a really nice coming 2 year old Rock Point filly right now of a client's that I would take if she were offered to me. But I wouldn't LOOK for one that age.

Dec. 16, 2011, 06:54 PM
You have no option for "I am currently looking for one and would be all over that if I could find a quality prospect at a realistic price".

Dec. 16, 2011, 07:06 PM
An unbacked horse can't prove it's worth under sadddle, so we have to rely on pedigree, performance record of parents, and conformation to give some slight indication of the animal's future talents. With that in mind...

I would be interested in a horse under 3 if...

1. The breeders selected sire AND dam for their performance careers. No more OTTB mares who couldn't stay sound racing and went to the breeding shed because they couldn't be ridden.

2. The breeders selected sire and dam for their correct conformation, and especially legs and feet. Is that too obvious?

3. The breeders would send me good, clear conformation shots of the horse AND the sire and dam. Bonus points for leg shots from in front and behind. I want to know how it's going to turn out because hey - it's not done growing!

4. The breeders would send me video of the horse's movement at the walk AND trot AND canter. All three gaits matter to me. I want to see them.

5. The breeders would send me video of the horse freejumping if 2 or older. Not freejumping 2' either... they can indeed go past 3'+ a couple times at that age.

I have been looking for a baby for over a year and I can't tell you how hard it is to get these items from the average breeder or seller of an unbacked horse of any jumping discipline in the USA. Most are, however, relatively common in Europe.

As a result of the lack of the above, my trainer has been urging me to go shopping in Europe. I am sick and tired of "just jumping in the car" at a photo-and-video-phobic breeder's insistance only to find poorly put together animals that can't move. Your lack of time/ability to make a 20 minute video or take 2 photos resulted in my 6 hour car trip, a tank of gas wasted, and total annoyance. Do that every weekend for a while and you can see how a person might become irritated.

This indicates to me that breeders aren't educated in what buyers want, don't know how to freejump a horse, don't really want to sell their babies, feel uncomfortable with the technology required to make video, or just want to sell the babies after backing to make more money.

Good pics and video don't take much time or money to do with today's Flip Video and phone cameras being so simple to operate and cheap to buy.

Admittedly if you live very close by you'd just hop in the car to see a horse, but does the breeder really want to limit the pool of potential buyers to those within an hour or two of them?

It's a crapshoot buying a baby, but the items on this list give a little more indication that the odds are in the buyer's favor.

Dec. 16, 2011, 07:47 PM
I love bringing along youngsters and would certainly consider a baby if I had a bit more time, money, and the right situation to keep it in. I would LOVE a well bred baby, bred for the sport or at least sport horse bred (heavy on the TB, of course) and get a big kick out of bringing them along. Even the early stuff, before you ever climb on. If I could have that and a riding horse, I'd be happy. Because of my financial limitations, I'm probably more likely to buy some failed race horse than something specifically bred, which sucks, I know. But when you're broke, you're broke.

Dec. 16, 2011, 08:00 PM
I can't change my poll option - I put "would do it again" but what I meant was "It was a good deal."

Currently have some young ones, not all of which are turning into my next upper-level prospects, so they are just eating me out of house & home. Would prefer something that is 4 at the moment...

Perfect Pony
Dec. 16, 2011, 08:09 PM
I don't know how to answer. Sometimes it's answer #1, sometimes #2. After buying young horse after young horse that has not worked out for whatever reason (soundness and/or temperament) I am really hesitant to do it again.

I bought a 3 year old I started last year. Since she was only just walking around, and had done no real work, there were still a lot of things I could not have anticipated. She has turned into a REALLY hard to saddle fit pony, and what looked like just poorly trimmed feet as a barefoot, pasture living baby has turned into a real issue for her with shoeing and struggling with dressage as I ask her to use herself more.

So while I LOVE working with babies, sometimes I think I would really love to buy something that I can really ride before I buy next time!

Dec. 16, 2011, 08:18 PM
...if I had the money to invest in backing and a training program.

Dec. 16, 2011, 08:47 PM

lots of them

Dec. 16, 2011, 08:58 PM
Of the last 5 horses I have bought, 3 have been under 3 (long yearling, yearling, weanling).

I love the process of working with them, especially the stuff before you back them.

They have all worked out well, but you have to be prepared to accept that, breeding and everything else not withstanding, eventing may not be the right niche for the horse.

Dec. 16, 2011, 09:18 PM
I've done it twice, with varying success. I'm a lower level rider, so I don't have the pedigree and athleticisim concerns that those looking for the next up and comer would.

The first one was a rising 4 year old mare that a friend and I started under saddle. She was a gorgeous little mare, but very sensitive in every way. Just really not a good fit for me. I di however make out quite well when she was sold, so no real complaints.

The 2nd is my current little guy - he was 4 when I got him. He's amazing - and the perfect horse for me. I did pay for 3 months of pro training for him due to the fact that I had taken a year off before getting him, and didn't want to ruin him. He's now jumping small courses, and we're on track to go to our first BN/Entry level event this coming season (he's the pony in featured in the blog link below).

Here are the circumstances under which I'd purchase another untried youngster (assuming all the stuff you'd look for in any horse is in order - conformation, breed, size, etc.):

1. I already have a horse I can ride and continue to work on ME at the same time.

2. I am willing to sell if the youngster and I just don't click.

3. Inexpencive enough, keeping in mind I will have to lay out extra $ training a horse I may need to sell if his personality and mine conflict.

Dec. 17, 2011, 01:12 AM
Well, adding another year to the process & breeding a mare is much more likely to happen in my farm-yard :) I enjoy all aspects of breeding & raising the youngsters, this is something which escalates my equestrian activities from sport or hobby to a passion. I'd purchase a youngster if I was lacking patience, and I thought your mare was spectacular.

But really, from conceptus to 4yrs old, anything can happen. Its extremely risky, time consuming, and bloody expensive to purchase something you might not ever sit on. At least by 4yo you can probably muster one solid ride, before it attempts to self-destruct. Not to mention, I prefer TBs, and the ones I fancy are out of my price range :lol:

Dec. 17, 2011, 08:08 AM
I've done it before; I bought my current main horse, now 5, when he was 9 months old. He just did his first schooling event and is doing his first recognized in February. :)
I'd do it again if -
It was a great deal, a diamond in the rough type or something that was selling for way less than it could potentially be worth.
I had something else to actively ride & compete while baby was growing up.
It was something I could sell easily as a well started youngster if we didn't work well together.
I selected, "if it was a good deal." That's my main consideration, even though I've done it before and would do it again.

Dec. 17, 2011, 08:52 AM
As someone who has done a good bit of breeding in the past, I would like to inject something here. Far too many people want you to take a thousand photos, multiple videos etc, which DOES take a good bit of time and effort and yet want to pay a ridiculously low price. I have been "burned" by "potential buyers" (read tire-kickers) asking me to take the time to provide these things and then never hearing back from them etc. A large part of my business is marketing, and I am used to doing videos/photos. But I like to produce at least a decent video, which requires someone to either video or handle the horse and what turns into an hour or two to 1) download video from camera, 2) edit video and 3) upload video to youtube. Now I don't mind doing that, but not when the buyer wants to pay $1000. It just isnt worth the time and effort. I have a cute 2 1/2 yr old TB gelding that I am not marketing, because people don't want to pay ANYTHING for him. He has never been raced or trained for the track, has been farm raised and will be a nice prospect. But people think, since he is TB, that I should give him away and I am not going to do that. The money i have put into him since I got him a year and a half ago (to help out fellow COTHer that couldnt keep him) is much more than people would pay! Once he really get going under saddle, he will be worth more, but still I probably will never recoup the costs of raising him, and I didn't even breed him! So I would say, buyers need to get a bit more realistic about what it takes to raise and market a youngster, and also realize that generally speaking, you get what you pay for!

Dec. 17, 2011, 10:59 PM
I picked "was a good deal" because that's what I'm currently doing. Thankfully my SO is great at colt-starting, and my little 2.5 yo ISH has no real bad habits because he has been in a field for his whole life. No worries yet, but I WOULD NOT have done it if I didn't have the SO. I dislike starting babies.

Currently, I do dislike not having anything to ride, so plan to start lessons soon....

Dec. 17, 2011, 11:20 PM
Interesting thread and posts. Since I have been a breeder -- and many of you express an interest in a prospect being well bred, well conformed, 3 very good gaits, jumping talent, etc. to go up the levels -- so what IS a "good price" or a "good deal" for all that? What sort of price range would be considered for say a 4 year old that had been thoughtfully started (lunged/ground driven, good ground manners) and a small number of rides and had the qualities you are seeking? Could that be included in the poll? TIA

Dec. 17, 2011, 11:27 PM
I bought a weanling 32 years ago, she will be 33 next month. I bought a weanling because I could not afford a horse backed and in training and there were very few 'eventing' type horses available as they are today.

Would I do it again? - YES.
But I want to know the sire and dam (bloodlines), plus the opportunity to look at full and half-siblings. Success or non-success of siblings is not a make or break item for me as each horse is an individual. Much is determined by the time and talent and luck of the human involved with each horse.

Buying a horse is a risk - everything goes well OR you and the horse don't get along, the horse goes lame, gets sick or you get sick or the horse figures out how to commit suicide.

Dec. 18, 2011, 02:35 AM
I like the idea of a young horse because I think you could develop an amazing bond with it. Also because I like the idea of bringing my own along. That said, I got my OTTB when she was 4- she didn't know much at all and it has been a great experience to get her to where she is now she gets better and better the more we work. I may eventually breed her and start from square one!

Dec. 18, 2011, 03:37 AM
I just bought a wee one.... was pretty sure I was going to but him at birth, put a down payment on him at 10 days old, and brought him home at 4.5 months. I'm SOOOOOO excited!!!

However... I also have Flecky to ride and play with and I have my own farm so I'm not boarding and I don't have upper level expectations.

So far though.. I'm having a blast!!!

Oh... and... my breeders did an amazing job with pictures and video. I will agree.. .I looked at a LOT (and granted, mine were all spotted) and very few had good photos. The breeders of my baby got back to me quickly, cleaned them up and got them sparkling before photos, and took good photos with minimal background distractions. The videos showed all three gaits, were good quality, and also showed their pedigree. They weren't long but it was there! She did an excellent job with the marketing :) It definitely helps.....

Wits End Eventing
Dec. 18, 2011, 09:19 AM
Interesting thread and posts. Since I have been a breeder -- and many of you express an interest in a prospect being well bred, well conformed, 3 very good gaits, jumping talent, etc. to go up the levels -- so what IS a "good price" or a "good deal" for all that? What sort of price range would be considered for say a 4 year old that had been thoughtfully started (lunged/ground driven, good ground manners) and a small number of rides and had the qualities you are seeking? Could that be included in the poll? TIA

We agree that "good deal" is very vague, but the poll was put together that way on purpose so this wouldn't become a thread about price. This poll came out of a discussion about would eventers even consider buying horses 3 and under (basically unbacked) or not. Price would be an interesting poll as well.

Dec. 18, 2011, 12:24 PM
...could afford to have it, plus something to ride.

This. Not afraid of bringing up a baby, but I'd hate to be out of the saddle for a year or so getting rusty and then having to "remember" everything when it was time for baby to be sat on for the first time.

I wish this was a poll option. I wouldn't buy any horse that wasn't a good deal, but that wouldn't be the primary motivating factor behind my purchase. It would be a matter of timing, available resources (not just $$), and some special spark within that youngster. And honestly, as a member of the Wit's End FB page with access to your videos and pics--*IF* I was actively looking for a youngster, I'd be coming to y'all first because yours are beautiful AND smart. ;)

Dec. 18, 2011, 12:25 PM
I would do it if the deal was a good one...good brain, steady horse and clean legs. Bring it along and if the horse doesn't like eventing you sale to a dressage or stadim jumper. If the horse doesn't even like that find a home where it will be happy.

Dec. 18, 2011, 01:39 PM
we bought a 3 yr old upper level event prospect this summer - for my older son - she was a good deal, has exceptional breeding - her dad is a gp show jumper and her mom is related to cool mountain (grand daughter of primitive rising).

Although we do have a couple we have bred they aren't ready yet and I was looking for a 4 yr old, but since my son is still in university and has one more year to go - in environmental science - a pretty intense program, she has time to grow up - she is under saddle, ridden about 2 times a week and hacked now and again.

so I would do it again, but hopefully won't need to while our babies grow up - but then again, we have our own farm so it makes it a little easier to watch them grow up.

Dec. 18, 2011, 01:52 PM
I am happy to buy yearlings, even. I watch them play in the pasture first, then turn one or two out in the arena watch them more.. buy if I like it.

One of my customers just purchased a colt in utero, not sure I would do that with my own money but she liked the pedigree enough to take a chance.

2 or 3 year olds I would prefer they haven't done much but I have had a few TB's with the "slows" from my Mom's track trainer so I knew all the health info.

A million years ago I would go to the feed lot with friends, pick project horses (young TB's) .school them up and sell them into the show ring.

Young horses are not for everyone, the time,money a patience involved in bringing one along is huge.. not to mention a bad step out on the CC can end your dreams.. If you can do it, I feel its a less expensive way to get a very nice horse. But it also can be a money pit, just like any other horse commitment.

Beam Me Up
Dec. 18, 2011, 02:44 PM
I guess never say never, but it's hard for me to imagine a situation in which I realistically would.

I love OTTBs--I like being able to see their adult conformation, having them already started and exposed to so much. For my purposes/goals it's hard to imagine spending 5-20x as much for something not ready to be ridden being "worth it."

I do think breeding has some predictive quality, but eventing, unlike other disciplines, you really have to get out there and do it before you know something is suitable.

I guess if it were really promisingly bred and really affordable and on the older end of that range I would consider it, but I completely understand that it's not feasible for breeders to offer/create that.

Also, totally understand, and regret, that this attitude is part of the catch-22 that keeps event breeding from taking off relative to other disciplines. I understand that the eventing community's general reluctance to pay more for quality purpose-bred prospects for any level rider prevents them from being created and available to our team, etc.

Dec. 18, 2011, 03:57 PM
Option 1. Done it--twice--and would do it again. Although I've got some criteria that would need to be in place first, namely a going, fun horse.

The first was a 2 year old TB that had been to "training camp" and was so disinterested even that early in the game his owner redirected his career before he could break on the track. I practically gave him away 3 years later because I had 3 horses boarded at 3 different facilities and no time. Keeping him made zero sense as he was not the type of ride I enjoy. He was nice to look at, but the most ungraceful horse I've ever been around. He went on to be his state's eventing association horse of the year at both Novice and then Training. Lovely dressage, scrambled around XC hanging his knees. Didn't regretted giving him up for a second--not my kind of ride.

The second I got just before his 3rd birthday and he is still a work in progress. Even at now 5 I don't know if he's got 4 start potential or if I'll ever get him around BN. Absolutely drop dead gorgeous, lovely mover, easily as athletic as my old UL horse and when he is compliant fun to ride. I'm just not sure if his little alpha brain is going to get in the game--or how much finding a bone chip (and the subsequent removal) had effected his sporadically unwilling nature and temper tantrums.

Interestingly this second horse did a YEH class. He scored very well, but was 4th out of 4 in a tight grouping (all with in less than 3 points) of which he was the only TB. Dinged for "lack of muscling over his top line" and "gaskin could have more muscling." No joke, he's a TB. Looking at the class, if I'd've been given my choice of horses as an UL prospect I still would have returned home with the one I came with.

In both instances I didn't/don't have another horse going so the frustration and tension between training and wanting to compete has been difficult. Neither experience was financially rewarding so while I'd do it again I'd still be pretty hesitant to spend the kind of money most breeders want. Although I have to confess I could have sold the sport bred TB in Florida last winter to a hunter barn at hunter prices, but stupidly turned it down.

Dec. 18, 2011, 04:35 PM
I bought a long 2 YO last year, from a rehoming group. He'd raced half a dozen times and, although he enjoyed life at the track, he couldn't be persuaded to be competitive. His breeder thought he was too young, because he comes from a very successful racing family (dad, mom and all six siblings are winners), and he's plenty fast at the gallop.

This is the only horse I've ever bought without seeing him move at anything other than the walk. I decided I liked his attitude and his metrics -- dark brown, over 16hh, good bone and conformation -- suggested he'd be a desirable horse. The plan was to have fun with him for a year or two and then find him a permanent rider by the time he got too big for me. (He's somewhere over 16.2hh now.)

So far, he's proven to be quite a horse. Smart, preternaturally calm, and good with his feet. He's the most balanced young horse I've ever seen.

I have no desire to compete my own horses myself but I do like working with the young ones. I also have my own farm, so having a young horse here is not a big deal.

I would pay real money (not rescue money) for a young horse if it was (1) a mare and (2) had the bloodlines I was looking for as a breeder.

Also, what does 'a good deal' mean to most of you? A quality, young, purpose-bred horse is not cheap to put on the ground. If a breeder wanted to earn their costs back, that youngster wouldn't be, necessarily, a good deal. However, in light of $30K price tags on a 5 YO Novice horse, it would be a good deal.

Dec. 18, 2011, 05:03 PM
The other aspect of this is that most people do not have aspirations to ride +Prelim. I think most horses can make it to training, the fences aren't that big. There's this stuff aboout being competitive & dressage at the lower levels, and needing a fancy mover...in theory a WB-type makes that much easier, but you don't need them to get that low score.

So, that's a lot of waiting, money, and finger-crossing for a horse that is a Joe.

Elizabeth callahan on this board seems to have the best approach to the market. Breed quality horses, for eventing, but are fancy enough for h/j/eq land.

Dec. 18, 2011, 06:23 PM
I certainly would be interested in a young horse -- I managed a TB breeding farm for the last four years, and I've learned quite a lot about babies. I enjoy watching them grow and develop, and I love the bond you create when you start them under saddle, to their first jump, first show, etc. Definitely would consider a youngster.

BUT... a successful eventer is defined more by his phenotype than his genotype. So while I may keep my eye out for certain bloodlines, or think "Oh, that one's worth looking at," pedigree would never be a "YES" or "NO" deciding factor for me. It's solely about the individual in front of me; and the more information I have to use, the more likely I am to buy.

This is why OTTBs (in particular) are so popular-- you can readily assess the phenotype in front of you. You don't have to "guess" if that downhill yearling will even up later. You don't have to raise an animal for a number of years before you can even start riding it, to see how it behaves and moves under saddle. With a 3+ year-old, there are less variables to predict. And with the plentiful (cheap) supply of OTTBs, purpose-bred future event horses will have a tough time competing in the market place.

That's not to say I'm against breeding event horses at all-- I plan on breeding my upper level mare in the very near future. But as someone mentioned earlier...we don't have a really solid mare base here in this country. How many upper level mares are in the US breeding herd? How many upper level producers are in the herd? I've learned enough from TB breeding to respect "Blue Hen" mares (like Better than Honor, for example). But I've also learned there are a lot of "one hit wonders" too. Breeding is a total crapshoot, and if I'm going to play at all, it better be one heck of a mare bred to the right stallion. Even then, you have a slim chance of getting a top-level horse.

Is that chance any greater than starting with a good-looking, good-moving, good-minded, sound four-year-old straight off the track? There is risk involved in buying any horse, it's just up to the buyer to decide what they're comfortable with.

Dec. 18, 2011, 06:48 PM
I would only do it with an ottb because the cost would likely be lower than a bred for eventing tb, and quite honestly, I'm totally dedicated to ottbs : )

Dec. 18, 2011, 10:14 PM
I think this is interesting because it comes from both sides...someone who wants an upper level horse...fine...a great proven mare would be fabulous. I looked up EventerAJ's mare...a great mare, absolutely should be bred...she has a full sister out there too incidently...but from what you say she is not one to suffer fools...there are many more more of us fools out there than upper level riders. Most of us should not be looking for the offspring of upper level or upper level producing mares even though we have big eyes when we go shopping.

Then there were the people who confess they don't plan to compete at the level that a truly well bred eventer may need to be entertained at.

It really shows a pretty unrealistic mindset yet about breeding eventers...or rather buying eventers.

I have now sold an eventer... sold as a 4yo competing at lower levels as a 5yo. Very well thought of locally. I have had a few people ask about buying one just like him. He is a purebred Irish Draught who is 17++ hands who to most people looks like a warmblood(with over 10 inches of bone I don't know what warmbloods they have seen). His owner is taking his future very seriously and he has gone for the winter to a pro down south to learn to gallop and to think at the same time. It is a problem for really agile talented athletes to pay attention when the small jumps are so easy for them.

No one would have ever looked at him except he was in training at a big eventing barn with a lot of traffic and he was very impressive and people asked about him. I could not have gotten them to come look at him from my home barn.

Now people are starting to ask about more offspring from his sire and they are weanlings, 3yos and 4 yos with a few older 5yos around the country who were sold as foals by the farm who owns the stallion. They are from an assortment of mares from QH type to elite warmblood. Short of the gelding I sold most are between 4K and 7K. Now this same farm has another bunch of babies from a different stallion of another breed...not eventers...most will be dressage horses of the pretty color or black, hairy, tall, showy from non purebred mares. They all sell as babies in the same price range. We are slowly developing demand for the Irish Sport horses but it is an educational project as well as a marketing project.

The issue with these Irish Sport Horses is trying to get people to look at the right candidate for their purpose. A rare competitor with modest ambitions probably mostly needs a good citizen more than a competitive candidate. They need the good Irish guy who can stand at the competitions held by a family member called into service as a groom. The mid level person might really need a very nice candidate with a very forgiving temperament who likes the job but is okay with a less ambitious rider. The upper level rider should look at a hotter, more eager ambitious horse. Less tolerant perhaps, self fit perhaps...there are horses bred for that level too. It does this breeder no good if the right horse goes to the wrong rider. The nice thing about these babies is they can be resold to the right home. They can be prepared to their talent and if it is not the riders they can go to the right home IF they are properly started.

It is interesting to watch this farm over time. PatO

Dec. 19, 2011, 10:35 AM
I have been trying to think of a scenario where I would purchase a youngster and in every scenario I would think of, I would go for OTTB instead. My plan is Prelim (although if the horse wants more, options are open).

I don't really want to put the money into a horse that I can't really assess under saddle and at least point it at a jump and know about its trainability when I have 10,001 OTTB's to choose from and there are avenues where I can get a lovely one, restarted under saddle and ready for me to finish for less than $3,000.

So, FOR ME, no, I really am not interested -- especially given that from a sport breeder, it would not be fair to ask them to sell the youngster for $2,000 after they presumably put serious time, thought, effort, and money into producing said youngster.

The only exception I could think of is if I had a couple horses going and someone had a yearling I liked to give away and I could throw it in a pasture for a while. But I still think I would prefer to fill that pasture with a ex-racer.

So, another perspective as to why I personally don't look at youngsters.