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  1. #1
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    Default Tips for Identifying Good Hunter Prospects?

    In an effort to kill some time today, I was wondering if anyone had some ideas on tips for identifying good prospects for the hunter ring. Any descriptions of what you would look for in a 2-3 yr old, or what you might expect in a 4-5 yr old? Does anyone have any "success" stories they can share with pics for reference? For example, pictures (maybe conformation shots) of youngsters, then some pictures or video when they are older being successful at their job?

    What do you think when you see horses advertised that are 6 yrs plus still being described as a prospect (unless maybe they had another career, like an OTTB)?

    This topic may be too broad to elicit responses, but I may be in the market soon for a young horse and am hoping to find a prospect to be successful in the 3' ammies, maybe even 3'6" A/Os and have started "window shopping." I do have a trainer and will rely heavily on her input.



  2. #2
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    I've started window shopping as well, although I won't be buying for at least a yea at a minimum. I'm mostly wanting to educate myself about what's on the market.

    That said, I too have seen a lot of horses described as "prospects" even though they are 6+ years old. If they are OTTB's it doesn't bother me as much since it's clear they are changing careers in a major way. However, if that's not the case, then it depends on whether they are listed simply as a "hunter prospect" or something more specific. If a horse is doing baby greens or A/A and is described as an A/O prospect I think that's quite a different situation from a horse that is simply described as a "hunter prospect". For the latter, the first thing that comes to mind is, this horse hasn't been used for much of anything but is being called that just to get people to look at the ad.

    If a horse is 6 years old, I'd expect it to have had some show experience or a general direction at that point. A general prospect to me is a term more appropriate for something <=3 years or so.



  3. #3
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    I'm also shopping, in a slow fashion since I don't need a horse, but do need a resale prospect. It's not, shall we say, a very inspiring collection of horses I've seen so far, but I guess it never is until you find what you're looking for.
    I don't know if I have tips, but I do have a few thoughts.

    I agree with you, that unless it is a failed racehorse or a failed dressage horse, or unless it's 4 and under, it is no longer a prospect; it's a major project. Usually the ones over that are age, if they are not doing what I want them to do, they are probably wrecked beyond the point where I can ever get them to do it.

    To add to the discussion of ad language, unless I know the person selling it, I'm going to presume that they don't know what a good mover is. So I ignore any declarations of "hack winner" or "10+++ mover". This will save you a lot of disappointment. To a lesser extent, this also applies to "good jumper", which can stand for anything, starting from "he always gets to the other side".

    Looking at the horses, one thing to remember, however much you like the horse, how it is built is how it will go. You may think you can change it, but you can't to any useful degree. Look at the parts and you will see what is going to happen. You can't fix nature.
    Having said that, also assume that most man-made issues are also unfixable, especially if you are looking at a mare or a TB. Once they learn how to do something wrong, it's twice as hard to teach them to do it right.
    A good canter and a good back end are two things that are nonnegotiable. And the brave, bold young horse that goes right down to new jumps when it's just learning how to jump may become dull or strong. The one that stops and weaves and overjumps is usually the better choice.



  4. #4
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    What do you look for comformation wise?



  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses, the descriptions of ad language made me laugh. My current approach for window shopping is typing in my criteria, scanning through the pics to see if anything catches my eye, then I watch the video- usually without reading the text until after. I find the text often doesn't match what I see on the videos.

    I am not good at conformation, but I've been trying to get better. I have actually been studying confo shots of my favorite horses to ride to see if they have similar conformation. I can spot glaringly bad and extremely good, but have trouble analyzing the parts to understand how they will come together and understanding how to analyze a more average horse.

    I would also be interested in knowing more about what to look for in conformation. I seem to be easily fooled by a pretty head and neck.



  6. #6
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    ^^ I've started going through old issues of Practical Horseman that have the conformation analysis articles. I try to rank the horses and then read the article to see how I did. Sometimes it's tough!



  7. #7
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    Mar. 24, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. Owen View Post
    I would also be interested in knowing more about what to look for in conformation. I seem to be easily fooled by a pretty head and neck.
    So are a lot of people on this board!

    I have a "type" I love, which includes an extremely long hip, and every horse I've loved the build of then see move pushes off from behind very easily. What I haven't been able to tell is a horse who will have flat-kneed hunter movement vs. dressagey knee action.

    Sometimes "hunter prospect" will also refer to a breed show hunter. I was nationally ranked in breed shows in hunter hack with a horse I had, but he would have been laughed out of the ring at an A show with his short strides. He was a nice mover for an all-around youth horse, and could jump the moon. His strides were just about 1/2 to 1/3 the length they needed to be for some uses.

    I don't mind a six year old "prospect" if it's a horse who hasn't had much done with it. I see too many horses who are started at 2 and permanently lame by 6, so in a discipline which doesn't take too many years of training I see 6 and barely touched as a possible plus.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  8. #8
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    I'm significantly less turned off by a 6 y.o. horse who has done little to nothing compared to a lot of other horses that have likely been jumped or practically pounded into the ground before they're 4-5 years old. I'm sorry, but I don't want to see a 3 y.o. jumping a 3'6" or 4" fence and I am completely turned off by that. Just because they're big and they CAN do it, doesn't mean that they SHOULD. The possibility of joint problems down the road does not excite me, but thank you.
    "It is not necessary for you to let everyone know everything about you. In fact, it is probably wise that you don't. There are some things that you need only discuss with God."



  9. #9
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    Jan. 12, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBoylen View Post
    the brave, bold young horse that goes right down to new jumps when it's just learning how to jump may become dull or strong. The one that stops and weaves and overjumps is usually the better choice.
    Hi CBoylen, Can you talk a bit about these 2 sentences above? Mostly I'm curious as to why this is true (or why it's a general truism).

    Are we seeing into the horse's personality and thus what his attitude is going to likely be later? i.e. the ones that are brave/bold to jumps when very young have a higher chance of being bored by the time they reach a decent competition age? Like the 3 year old kid you find climbing to the house roof is likely going to end up leaping out of planes over alpine peaks by the time he's 20, if life is to remain interesting?

    The ones that stop/weave/overjump don't tend to keep doing that down the road? I would have assumed that they'd stay "looky" and lack confidence forever (or, at least, at the more stressful moments in life, like at a new jump at a horse show.)

    Any observations/experience on this point are much appreciated, thanks.



  10. #10
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    We raise Hanoverians, primarily conformation horses for the hunter ring. We show in hunter breeding but also FEH and DSHB if the youngster's developing talents point outside the hunter ring.

    The conformation that excites me is a pretty head, clean throatlatch, medium to long neck that ties in fairly high to the chest, short cannon bones, good angle in hock, legs that are clean, medium boned and a plumb line from point of hip to hock straight down the cannon bone, straight mover, good angles to medium-length pasterns, generous feet with width at the heels. Backs not long, more on the shorter side with withers set back, and a strong, strong topline. The topline can be developed through light work on youngsters and good exercise, even good turnout can be enough. I want swing through the back at trot and a long daisy-cutting stride with suspension so relaxation is really important. This is why we get them out to shows. I also like a long hip and not-too-flat croup.

    It's really important to us to expose young horses to as many scary things as we can in a calm, non-threatening way, so they are led over plastic tarps and fed on them, learn about vehicles moving past, umbrellas, loud sounds, etc. We are looking for a good mind and a self-confident attitude. We also try to expose them to show jumps by leading around and over as much as can be set reasonably small.

    We do expose the youngsters, even the babies, to going through the jumping chute for fun, as we have a fence paralleling one part of the pasture fence and have post and rail jumps set up occasionally inside it at anything from tiny X's to whatever height we need to prepare a filly for her MPT at 3 or 4 years of age. Mine will go through the chute for fun to get from point A on their agenda to point B. This is so that we can generally see how they use their bodies over fences at about age two. It's free jumping at the height suitable for the youngster's age and ability.

    All of the preparation helps us know how and when to market them and in what direction to point their careers. It's also so gratifying to watch the babies grow and develop. Our goal is simply to place them in homes, and not always show homes, where they'll continue to be developed properly and fairly.

    I just wanted to post as a breeder, as I know some others are also on this thread.
    _____________________
    "laurelleafhanoverians.com"



  11. #11
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    I have all of my horses on my FaceBook page: Diane Halpin if you want to take a look and this is in reference to the original post by M. Owen!



  12. #12
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    I would also be interested in knowing more about what to look for in conformation. I seem to be easily fooled by a pretty head and neck.
    Unless you're looking for a strip horse you don't need to pick it apart piece by piece. Step back and make sure it all goes together, or it won't work together. Beyond that, what's important to me are a long sloping shoulder, a long, level, tapering neck, and a lengthy, strong sloping gaskin. What are deal killers are upright necks, low backs, short or upright shoulders, and straight hind legs. Where the neck and back sit are how the horse will travel and use itself over the jump, the tight shoulder restricts the movement and jump, and it can't do anything pushing off a hind leg with no angle. Pretty much anything else you can possibly overcome.
    I use my Slate http://pets.webshots.com/photo/26286...50057682nRBjlg as my ideal. He's not a strip horse (and unfortunately not stood up like one here, either ), but he doesn't have a single part that doesn't work properly and you can get the overall way things go together even from that picture.



  13. #13
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    Hi CBoylen, Can you talk a bit about these 2 sentences above? Mostly I'm curious as to why this is true (or why it's a general truism).
    The ones that stop/weave/overjump don't tend to keep doing that down the road? I would have assumed that they'd stay "looky" and lack confidence forever (or, at least, at the more stressful moments in life, like at a new jump at a horse show.)
    You want a horse that naturally backs off the fence. The ones that start out taking the rider down to their first fences are usually going to be very hard to teach that inclination. As they gain experience they either become too bold and drag you, or dull to the jump and uncareful, without a lot of serious training and constant refreshers. The natural inclination to be careful about the jump and back away from it is a serious training advantage. They usually keep that inclination with experience, without lacking in confidence once they are trained, unless someone takes their confidence away from them. In that case it's very hard to put back.



  14. #14
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    I don't mind a 6 yo that is a "prospect" for myself b/c unless the horse has been lame, spoiled or badly trained, usually a 6 yo learns faster than a 3 yo. Their bodies are more mature and they are physically more ready to move ahead. That having been said, I would definitely steer clear of a 6 yo that remains a "prospect" due to delays for soundness or behavior issues, or that has been mishandled. A well bred 6 yo mare that has had a couple foals wouldn't bother me a bit. Yeah, I roll my eyes when I see the word "prospect" used for an older horse, but there are a lot of folks out there who aren't equipped to properly bring a horse along. If the horse is nice enough otherwise, so what?

    I guess I'm in the minority here, but I actually probably WOULD penalize a 6 yo off the track TB. A horse that has been at the track that long is likely to be harder to retrain to be a riding horse. I love reschooling OTTBs, but IME usually the less time at the track they have had the better. I'd be sort of disinterested in a 6 yo OTTB unless it was really spectacular.

    I agree with CB that a little squeamishness about the jump can be a good thing. I like a careful, thinking horse, not one that is ready to barge through a jump. I like a little bit of a "wait."



  15. #15
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    Thanks very much for the clarification It's not then lack of confidence the youngster is showing, but a healthy respect type of thing. That they then presumably retain if trained well.



  16. #16
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    I seriously think the best place to go look for hunter prospects are at the dressage breeders! They always have ones that don't move the way they want them to and are all bred out the wazoo and most are athletic as hell and CHEAPER then "Hunter breeders". I bought two from Iron Spring Farm as 3 year olds and both turned in to solid 3' Child/Adult citizens. They didn't turn in to what I personally needed (3'6 horses) but they both vetted clean and sold for at least double or triple what I paid for them.

    I think you will have a pretty good bet if the youngster has walk, trot and canter sanely at 3. The two I bought were about to be 4 so we popped them over a few small X's just to see what they thought.

    The good thing, OP, is you are looking for a 3' or 3'3 horse and not a 3'6 horse. The ones showing real 3'6 potential at 5 years are usually already pricey. If a horse is a good, cute mover with a decent step and can actually jump, chances are it will at least do 3' or 3'3.

    Good luck on your search and have fun!
    My Pictures! http://community.webshots.com/user/estieg12
    *Harbour Town* 2002 Hanoverian gelding "Otto"
    *Sahalee* 2002 mare "Flower" but who knows what breed she is!



  17. #17
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    Some things we look for in our Hunter prospects: do they have a sloping shoulder, clean straight legs (look out for winging when they trot towards you), harmoniously put together (proportionate), medium to longer neck, overtrack at the walk, which usually lends itself to a nice ground covering canter. Clean throat latch connection. As far as temperament goes, quiet, yet confident.

    Free jumping we want something that has an even pace through the chute and over the placement poles, no rushing. Look out for its attitude going through the chute, is it expending more energy trying to get out of going forward through the chute, does it get faster and faster as it goes through? Look at basic form and use of body and neck over the fence (Bascule).
    Last edited by RyuEquestrian; Nov. 28, 2010 at 07:26 PM.
    Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
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    Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. Owen View Post
    In an effort to kill some time today, I was wondering if anyone had some ideas on tips for identifying good prospects for the hunter ring. Any descriptions of what you would look for in a 2-3 yr old, or what you might expect in a 4-5 yr old? Does anyone have any "success" stories they can share with pics for reference? For example, pictures (maybe conformation shots) of youngsters, then some pictures or video when they are older being successful at their job?
    Here is a link to a few pics of a Rio Grande, she is now 6 years old and competing in the Adult Hunters. It shows her jumping with a rider and conformation shots of her at 2 1/2, yearling and as a foal. Her trainer says she could easily do the 4' hunters, her rider is an adult with a FT job.

    Rio S
    Last edited by can't re-; Nov. 28, 2010 at 09:58 PM. Reason: spelling
    As is our confidence, so is our capacity. ~W. Hazlitt

    Visit our website: Gift Hill Farm and on Facebook



  19. #19
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    The horse above is a great example of a yearling that (no offense!!) isn't beautiful to look at but matured into a lovely mare that also sounds very athletic.

    I like the saying "Pretty is as pretty does". Like Chanda said, unless you are looking for a "strip" horse, conformation flaws can be tolerated as long as the horse has all the other right qualities.

    Chanda can attest to this as she lives in Keswick, but the Hunter Breeders of all hunter breeders, The Wheelers have a pasture full of stunning beauties who turned out to be flops in the show ring.

    I buy for 1. Soundness 2. Althletic Ability (jumping style included) 3. Temperment 4. Movement 3. Beauty/"perfect" conformation.
    Last edited by EMWalker; Nov. 28, 2010 at 11:58 PM.
    My Pictures! http://community.webshots.com/user/estieg12
    *Harbour Town* 2002 Hanoverian gelding "Otto"
    *Sahalee* 2002 mare "Flower" but who knows what breed she is!



  20. #20
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    Yes, I left the yearling pic exactly for that reason. I thought she looked great at the time, but she was in a transition stage. Weanlings to 2 years of age can be hard to judge, especially if you aren't use to babies.
    As is our confidence, so is our capacity. ~W. Hazlitt

    Visit our website: Gift Hill Farm and on Facebook



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