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View Full Version : What makes a good preliminary and up eventer?



Nike
Jan. 26, 2012, 09:33 PM
Hi, I was wondering what certain characteristics, conformation and personality, make an upper level eventer. What do you look for in younger, green horses when you are out for such a horse? I'm curious to see what you guys think.

RAyers
Jan. 26, 2012, 09:55 PM
I like short (under 16.1), close coupled, sloping shoulders, a massive back end, neck length that is square with the back. I like attitude in the greenie. There needs to be a bit of "screw you" as well as curiosity/boldness.

yellowbritches
Jan. 26, 2012, 09:56 PM
They come in all shapes and sizes! :yes: This isn't a complete lie, it can be amazing what has made it around some big courses. There are 5 horses in my care right now that have competed at the two star level or higher...and they are all VERY different!

That being said, I shopped for this exact horse last year. What I was looking for was:

A decent, overall conformation. It didn't have to be perfect, but I didn't want to see anything that made me go :eek: or that was just plain unappealing. Of course, what I like (little, slinky, cat like TBs) isn't for everyone, and this isn't the ONLY type that is successful.
Three good gaits, but big emphasis on the walk and canter. I like a BIG walk (the horse I ended up with I say walks like a "big" cat...he just kinda slinks and oozes along), and a big, balanced, uphill canter that feels like it could just go down to anything. A nice, free trot is a bonus.
A good brain. A horse that is both intelligent and willing. I want one that is going to puzzle something out and maybe think for himself a bit in case I do something dumb, but that is also going to settle down and do the less fun work (ie, DRESSAGE!). I don't want a robot...I want a partner.
A good, athletic jump. I don't care if they don't jump like a hunter (prefer they don't, actually!), but I want to feel like they know how to use their bodies or are figuring it out (in the 10 months I've had my horse, his style has improved...green horses don't always quite have it all done pat). I want to feel like they can get the landing gear out of the way well and in an organized fashion. And I want to feel like they've got a lot left in the tank for big jumps (this is a feeling I can't describe and some horses don't have it at first).
And I want to LIKE the horse. I have to like the look in their eye, the way they carry themselves, the feel I get when I sit on them at first...like we're both checking each other out. I like a thinker...a smart horse with a bit of an ego (funny...both my former horse and my current horse are both VERY intelligent with HUGE egos!!!). I want to feel like they think they can conquer the world. Not every horse has that, but it is fun when you find the ones that do! :yes:

ACMEeventing
Jan. 26, 2012, 10:05 PM
I like short (under 16.1), close coupled, sloping shoulders, a massive back end, neck length that is square with the back. I like attitude in the greenie. There needs to be a bit of "screw you" as well as curiosity/boldness.

This makes me smile. I have leased a horse with mileage to gain some experience on while my guy works through some issues with a pro.

He has the biggest ego of any horse I have ever met, is a complete a**hole to lead, looks at everyone like they pissed in his cornflakes and is the most amazing horse I have ever sat on. Takes me to the jumps, doesn't know the word stop, and has enough confidence for a small village.

If he doesn't run off with me we'll be okay :lol:

TheBrightSide06
Jan. 26, 2012, 10:12 PM
I like short (under 16.1), close coupled, sloping shoulders, a massive back end, neck length that is square with the back. I like attitude in the greenie. There needs to be a bit of "screw you" as well as curiosity/boldness.

THIS sounds pretty much just like my boy.
He cribs, makes NASTY faces, tries to bite, threatens a kick (never actually does), but he is the funnest thing I have ever jumped! And he jumps freaking EVERYTHING. Insanely smart, getting a ton better at dressage. 16.1hh OTTB. Not the best trot, but a giant walk and a canter to die for. He's my best friend :yes:

deltawave
Jan. 26, 2012, 10:28 PM
I think in the end the bottom line is a horse that just very willingly and easily commits itself to JUMPING THE JUMPS, no matter what. The ones that act like it's their job, their privilege, their duty, their basic raison d'etre to just go out and leap over whatever is in front of them, period.

With this in place, I could compromise on just about ANYTHING else. :)

ACMEeventing
Jan. 26, 2012, 10:45 PM
I think in the end the bottom line is a horse that just very willingly and easily commits itself to JUMPING THE JUMPS, no matter what. The ones that act like it's their job, their privilege, their duty, their basic raison d'etre to just go out and leap over whatever is in front of them, period.

With this in place, I could compromise on just about ANYTHING else. :)

AMEN Sister!!!

retreadeventer
Jan. 26, 2012, 10:59 PM
Yes ma'am!
I was just going to say that JUMPING thing. If you've jumped a few five foot square oxers or some downhill maxed out ditches and walls or log oxers or big black tables in the woods....you will get what I mean.

Hevonen
Jan. 27, 2012, 12:04 AM
Yes ma'am!
I was just going to say that JUMPING thing. If you've jumped a few five foot square oxers or some downhill maxed out ditches and walls or log oxers or big black tables in the woods....you will get what I mean.

... or try jumping some of those on a horse known to suck back and stop, and you'll know JUST what you need in the next horse. Amen to the jumping thing! On a budget, I think that's the most important thing to get. You can have all the rest, but if you don't have the jumping brain, ya got nothin'.

If you're planning on buying straight off the track, I would definitely look for a short coupled, slinky, big walking (and talking!) TB. But if you can, I would go for something that's already been let down and restarted, so you can get the brain too.

AusEventer
Jan. 27, 2012, 12:37 AM
I think in the end the bottom line is a horse that just very willingly and easily commits itself to JUMPING THE JUMPS, no matter what. The ones that act like it's their job, their privilege, their duty, their basic raison d'etre to just go out and leap over whatever is in front of them, period.

With this in place, I could compromise on just about ANYTHING else. :)

This!

My 1* boy is not the flashiest looker or mover, but he has a great work ethic, jumps whatever is in front of him, gallops well and tries his heart out.

He's also a 16.1hh TB. Seems to be a popular choice!

Foxtrot's
Jan. 27, 2012, 12:49 AM
Good question - so much is demanded of top level eventers - they have to be the complete package of boldness, soundness, mentally strong, good enough mover to do well on the flat. Lucky is the person able to find such a horse.
Sometimes only one in a lifetime unless you are one of the sponsored riders who can take their pick of horses offered.

Blugal
Jan. 27, 2012, 01:26 AM
I disagree that they need a "screw you" attitude.

I've ridden several horses at Prelim (and 2 above that) and for the most part they were pretty willing. The one I took to 2-star level was a totally meek thing when I got him as a green 7 year old - to the point I worried he'd never have enough fire for Prelim. Turns out he just needed to learn confidence, in the field, in the barn, under tack, out in the great outdoors. He wasn't reliable to water jumps (although we only had one actual stop at water in his career, at Pre-Training level) until he was ready to upgrade to Intermediate - then there was no stopping him.

In fact, if your goal is Prelim, I'd say find one that has athletic conformation and a willing attitude. You'll have an easier time of training the horse to the level you want - and if it doesn't want to play at Prelim, you will have a very desirable Training level horse for sale.

retreadeventer
Jan. 27, 2012, 09:45 AM
Back to the original question...what makes a good prelim horse....a good rider.

Of the replies above, the folks who have contributed, that I know, are superb riders.

wildlifer
Jan. 27, 2012, 11:29 AM
A decent, overall conformation. It didn't have to be perfect, but I didn't want to see anything that made me go :eek: or that was just plain unappealing.
Three good gaits, but big emphasis on the walk and canter. I like a BIG walk and a big, balanced, uphill canter that feels like it could just go down to anything. A nice, free trot is a bonus.
A good brain. A horse that is both intelligent and willing. I want one that is going to puzzle something out and maybe think for himself a bit in case I do something dumb, but that is also going to settle down and do the less fun work (ie, DRESSAGE!). I don't want a robot...I want a partner.
A good, athletic jump. I don't care if they don't jump like a hunter (prefer they don't, actually!), but I want to feel like they know how to use their bodies or are figuring it out
And I want to LIKE the horse. I have to like the look in their eye, the way they carry themselves, the feel I get when I sit on them at first...like we're both checking each other out. I like a thinker...a smart horse with a bit of an ego

Ok, I got a big grin from reading this, because this is what I just bought and it gives me great hope that he can indeed take me to Prelim!:D

california rider
Jan. 27, 2012, 11:48 AM
For me it a horse with a sense of SELF... You can't have a horse so eager to please he is always second guessing. You don't need a jack ass pig headed horse but they have to take a licking and keep on ticking so to speak. Things come up faster at prelim and up and there are some horses who if they take a hit on a fence or you have to be a bit aggressive getting the line to something some of the more sensitive willing types will spit the bit out easer than their I GOT THIS stable mates.

I prefer 16.1 as well as I don't need a mountain of a horse, short coupled is huge for me and I prefer uphill even though I know there are international down hill stars in big jumpers and eventers. I just like a uphill horse with a good gallop.

When I look at a race horse or other young prospect for me I want a horse that stands across the ground (owns the piece of ground he stands on, not blinking all sweet looking and dopey as he will be responsible in some ways for my life I want tiger to know where his feet and balance are) and be interested in his surroundings. I want them to notice dogs in the yard, a bunny in the field and spot on the ground, a horse that is not going to miss something and over react when his brain finally sees something!

CHEvent
Jan. 29, 2012, 08:37 PM
Naturally athletic but most importantly, very smart! Sound, athletic, and smart, anything else can be worked out

quietann
Jan. 29, 2012, 09:25 PM
Back to the original question...what makes a good prelim horse....a good rider.

Of the replies above, the folks who have contributed, that I know, are superb riders.

Good point. I know one who's qualified for Prelim but his riders have had attacks of Life so he's not actually competed at that level yet. He's done very well at Training and there's no reason he should not be able to move up well.

He's not a "cuddler" (is half-Connemara and has a streak of naughty pony!) but he's the most honest horse. Slightly lazy so you have to know where the "go" button is, but it is definitely there. Very well-behaved, takes care of his rider, brave and bold X/C without being a maniac etc. The only thing that's really phased him in competition is deep footing in the dressage ring.

Hawks Nest
Jan. 29, 2012, 09:52 PM
Good point. I know one who's qualified for Prelim but his riders have had attacks of Life so he's not actually competed at that level yet. He's done very well at Training and there's no reason he should not be able to move up well.

He's not a "cuddler" (is half-Connemara and has a streak of naughty pony!) but he's the most honest horse. Slightly lazy so you have to know where the "go" button is, but it is definitely there. Very well-behaved, takes care of his rider, brave and bold X/C without being a maniac etc. The only thing that's really phased him in competition is deep footing in the dressage ring.
Knowing that horse and having competed him I have to agree. The biggest worry with him was that he wouldn't be fast enough for the upper levels (which was the only reason his former owner sold him). Having gone around a training XC on him and had a hard time making time it would seem that way. Until you make the jumps bigger and suddenly there is a lot more horse (then again, he would happily trot a 3'6" oxer because it wasn't worth any more effort, lazy pony). If I had the scores I would take him prelim myself but I'd not think I have them :no:

ETA: scratch that. I do have the scores and unless disaster strikes, Skippy is going prelim at hitching post this spring. Let's pray I can get myself fit in two months with school and get in an XC school so that I don't wet my pants out there! :D

quietann
Jan. 29, 2012, 11:37 PM
/waves hi to HN, wishes you the best getting to Hitching Post -- you'll have a blast!

purplnurpl
Jan. 30, 2012, 11:02 AM
A horse with:

heart
brains
athleticism

It's easy to find a horse with 2 of those charactoristics. If you can find a horse with all three you are golden and have a super star.

If you have to give up one of them it would be athleticism. Brains and heart can make up for lack of athletics where as brains and heart can't be conpensated for.

Doesn't matter how athletic your horse is, without the heart all the athletics in the world go to waste.

cyberbay
Jan. 30, 2012, 11:06 AM
A horse that can open and shut its stride...

As for good riders, true... But you also need a horse that can dig its way out of a bad presentation, or poor footing, or you name it. That ability has probably saved more necks than anything.

(Not that you could recognize that ability from a photo or sales advertisement, if that is what the OP was asking.)

Ibex
Jan. 30, 2012, 11:22 AM
Depends.... by "Prelim and up" do you mean a horse that will safely take their ammy or Jr owner safely around Intermediate, or do you mean a serious Rolex contender? There's a lot of space between "Above Prelim" and a true upper level horse IMO...

Nike
Jan. 30, 2012, 04:29 PM
Depends.... by "Prelim and up" do you mean a horse that will safely take their ammy or Jr owner safely around Intermediate, or do you mean a serious Rolex contender? There's a lot of space between "Above Prelim" and a true upper level horse IMO...

Yes, that's very true. I was mostly talking about prelim/intermediate.

Ibex
Jan. 30, 2012, 06:36 PM
Ah! See, there's a difference. So my mare has been pegged as a prospect as a P/I horse. Has enough TB should could probably pull off a * or MAYBE ** eventually (with someone else :lol: ). But I wouldn't ever consider her to be a true upper level prospect as she doesn't have that fire, attitude or extreme athleticism that's needed. Which is good, because if she did I wouldn't have a prayer of riding her... :winkgrin: