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Where did all the amateur friendly horses go?

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  • Where did all the amateur friendly horses go?

    It has never been easier to search for horses for sale. If I wanted a top young prospect for a decent price, I would be able to take my pick! However, finding a quality but safe horse, on the smaller side is proving to be quite difficult! Pretty flexible budget and I still can't really find one for my client. The search continues....

  • #2
    They're in Spain, P.R.E. Horses to be exact ​​​​​​

    I'm partially serious about that!

    But I think there are other smaller horses out there with good brains and an aptitude for dressage. They might not be advertised for dressage and/or may be an "off" breed so you may need to get creative or expansive with your search. I find that the problem is when people are looking for the Warmblood that's a 10 mover with an amateur friendly brain. That combination isn't so easy to find, especially without really paying. And even then, many amateur riders can't sit/ride that big movement anyway. I'm not saying that's the case here, but I've just seen a lot or over horsed amateurs with these Warmblood types.

    But maybe, if you haven't already, open up your search to other disciplines as there could be a horse doing ok at said discipline, but also shows strong potential for dressage. Quality, safe, and proven is going to come at a high price tag. In my experience, anyway. Even 2 out of the 3 will. So is the budget really big/flexible enough for the market? You don't have to answer that. Just something to consider.


    • #3
      Define « amateur friendly » in relation to the level of your client.

      ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

      Originally posted by LauraKY
      I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.


      • #4
        Sara Schmitt in NJ imports some very, very nice smaller prospects. She usually advertises on Facebook.
        I'm pretty sure she currently has a 4yrs old and a GP horse for sale both under 16h and super yummy.


        • #5
          Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
          Define « amateur friendly » in relation to the level of your client.

          That is right. Just how much "help" does the ammy need to have from her horse? Is she willing to compromise on extravagant gaits in order to get a horse that's, say, a bit of a pet you can trail ride, too, or easy to sit, or a bit of a push ride?

          I think some of the expressiveness a horse can show comes from some Inner Spice that most people see as the non-ammy friendly mind. Those horses feel safer to ride when they are closer to being finished in their training, But Green Spice, or the horse you will buy with the intention of bringing up the levels isn't as civilized yet and they use all that athleticism their way! Green Spice will give you a run for your money.... ask me how I know.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat


          • #6
            Are you connected with the GRP groups on FB? An oversized GRP runs 15h and the US breeders are breeding to that exact market: nice, smaller horses that are amateur friendly. Small, compact, super easy to ride, great brains and competitive with proper training, what’s not to love? To be fair, they don’t work if you are on the larger size, or imagine that you are the next Charlotte seeking your Valegro.
            Chronicles of the $700 Pony
            The Further Adventures of the $700 Pony
   <-- My Blog


            • #7
              I was also going to suggest an off-breed, PRE, small TB, or even a large pony? Though maybe don’t rule out a larger horse just based on size - I personally strongly prefer small horses, and I’m not short - but there is a 16.3ish Trakehner at the barn where I’m taking lessons that is an absolute gentle giant, and he’s so well-mannered and soft, that he’s quite easy to put together. I really enjoy him and would take him in a heartbeat! There are some little warmbloods out there too, though not as common... The two that I have ridden are very safe, but definitely more spirited than the giant Trakehner.


              • #8
                While "outsiders" don't usually think of Connemaras a "dressage horses", they can be very good. Remember Seldom Scene?

                At this year's ACPS meeting, most of the year end awards that were not already discipline specific went to purebreds and halfbreds doing serious dressage.

                While they do not all have "kids pony" attitudes, MANY of them are amateur friendly.

                They typically sell by word of mouth, not by ads, so you need to connect to the "network". Go to the ACPS web site, and contact any of the officers, and they can probably put you in contact with potential horses/ponies.
                Last edited by Janet; Oct. 15, 2019, 12:45 PM.

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


                • #9
                  I once had a lovely, super safe, 14.3 amateur friendly horse schooling 2nd/3rd for sale for $15k in a pricey zip code and not a single one of the terrified beginner adult ladies who tried him thought he was fancy enough for their needs. They could barely sit and were scared to canter but apparently he didnt have that wow factor...
                  The Noodle
                  Boy Wonder
                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!


                  • #10
                    I don't think it's difficult to find any kind of horse if you have enough money.


                    • #11
                      Funny, I actually thought I'd been seeing an upsurge in ammy friendly mounts since it's the end of the show season for many and many of those have been 16 hands or under. A couple that caught my eye are in Canada. It also seems that many have been mares so I don't know if that has narrowed your search or if 'quality' and ammy friendly is turning out to be mutually exclusive in this particular situation. Everyone I've seen has shown up in my Facebook feed since I'm on actively horse hunting and I will absolutely echo what meupatdoes shares.
                      Ranch of Last Resort


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                        I once had a lovely, super safe, 14.3 amateur friendly horse schooling 2nd/3rd for sale for $15k in a pricey zip code and not a single one of the terrified beginner adult ladies who tried him thought he was fancy enough for their needs. They could barely sit and were scared to canter but apparently he didnt have that wow factor...
                        OMG, that is what I'm dealing with now... A lovely, 15.1 hand mare, solid 2nd level (scores to70%), all of 3rd level except late changes, and people who could learn SO MUCH from her want a horse that will get them their silver medal (but they don't even have first level scores, and WHAT PSG horse will you find from under $10k???). So there seems to be a disconnect - because the horses are out there. I actually know a few people selling nice, easy horses that would be ideal for the lower level rider, and are struggling to find buyers. While the fancy young horses (not even Training Level yet) are selling for 3 to 10 times the price, often to the rider who would really be better off with the less fancy horse with training...

                        OP, kind of depends on what you are looking for - finding a nice, quiet, FEI horse is a whole 'nother market from the nice, quiet, mid-level horse.


                        • #13
                          Regarding amateurs who buy too much horse...

                          I wonder if the reluctance on the part of some to ever sell a horse is a contributing factor. I know that describes me. After having recovered a horse after selling him to what I thought was a forever home only to see him sold down the road, I just don't ever sell them. Every dressage horse I've bought was bought to be or as an FEI horse although I was nowhere near FEI at the time, with the exception of the one I bought last year. I'm talking 3 horses over close to 20 years.

                          If you don't have unlimited funds and are looking to buy a forever horse, then I can easily see how some will want to buy a horse to "grow into." It rarely works out as planned, but I can understand the thought process.

                          It's hard to inject reality into dreams, mine included.
                          Last edited by atlatl; Oct. 15, 2019, 02:48 PM. Reason: Clarification


                          • #14
                            That hasn't been my experience. I have two of them in my barn right now. Both purchased from the same agent, actually, but selected by me (a middle aged amateur) and purchased on my own. They are lovely quality and have very good brains; I'm not a particularly talented rider and they both (have to) live in my backyard... they are out there.
                            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                            • #15
                              It depends what you mean by quality and what you mean by safe - and also where you are looking geographically. I've seen a lot of these advertised in the northeast in the 3rd levelish range, and a lot of these in the southeast in the PSGish range.


                              • #16
                                they are in Texas. Check out Walkabout Station. That's were I got my young horse. he is a perfect gentleman. The breeder prides herself on breeding sane, athletic horses for amateurs and professionals alike. Her horses are really starting to make an impression in TX and on the national scene. She is a USDF Breeder of Distinction.
                                "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
                                "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
                                Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!


                                • #17
                                  I bought one this summer - though she's 5 and a WB and I wouldn't say appropriate for a complete beginner because of her age alone/ the fact she has enough spice to not be a complete kick-ride. Very safe for what she is though and exactly what I was looking for to get confidence back - I went looking with my coach and most of the "super safe, amateur friendly" young horses we went to check out, she wouldn't let me get on after she tried them first. This horse instantly felt different from the others I tried and gave me zero fear, but also didn't fall into a halt if I stopped kicking.

                                  Just yesterday I rode and my coach said "careful, she's fresh" because she had a couple days off, wind was blowing, and she was tossing her neck in an excited way at first - and I said to coach "yeah she's excited but zero percent feels like she wants to actually take-off or buck". And she doesn't. And coach said "yeah that's why we got her".

                                  Anyway - I think it depends on the perspective/trustworthiness of the seller too and their own definition of "amateur safe". Coach really liked/trusted Jhesika Wells (now Jhesika Hansen I think) - she's in Washington and really starts the horses well/ is very trustworthy.

                                  I'm surprised you're having trouble - I felt like I saw a fair many <16 h horses out there, especially if the budget isn't limited.
                                  Mr. Sandman
                                  sand me a man
                                  make him so sandy
                                  the sandiest man


                                  • #18
                                    Interestingly I seem to have the opposite experience of the OP: I am seeing an abundance of modestly sized horses with correct (but not super expansive) gaits who have been specifically bred for good temperament/good mindedness, with an amateur rider in mind (ranging from a spectrum of "complete kick ride" to "forward minded within reason") - and this is within warmblood circles.

                                    Different breeding programs have different goals. There are some really well known ones here in North America that have a specific goal in mind (along the lines of "young horse finals competitive") that I probably would avoid recommending someone who is looking for an amateur friendly ride, but there's a fair few out there that do focus on producing for an amateur audience.

                                    Alibi has the right point though. "Amateur friendly" can mean many different things. A horse that doesn't need to stay in a program, a horse that is super forgiving of a rider, a horse whose gaits don't require extreme degrees of athleticism to ride properly, "smaller" (which means different things to different people), etc. Clarifying what component of "amateur friendly" is being looked for would probably help.


                                    • #19
                                      Simply paging through FB sales pages can be frustrating and huge time suck. People write advertisements and present things the way buyers want to see them, which is often not reality.

                                      I'd recommend networking with breeders you respect... (or chatting with your trainer, etc. to see if there's a breeder they'd recommend). Competent breeders will know their sales horses and know which ones might be suitable for you/your client's needs.

                                      I was lucky to work with a trainer that also worked with a breeder here in New England. My trainer knew me, my strengths, my hesitancies as a rider... When it was time for me to find a new mount after losing my gelding last Winter, she had a coming 5-year old in mind. He was young, but his brain was there. He was a fancy mover and has great breeding... but more importantly, he had the temperament that an amateur, with the help of a Pro trainer, could bring him along up the levels. And I couldn't be happier with this choice. He's talented, athletic, sane as we taught him how to trail ride, agreeable when we taught him how to load and travel happily. No unnecessary explosions, no ridiculous spooking. Respectful, attentive, and open to learn. Will we go to the Olympics? Nope. Can we get to FEI? I sure hope so. And I've found that breeders, not sales barns, want to stand behind their horses and form a relationship with the buyer and their horse.

                                      Really making connections with those that breed prospects -- PRE, Warmbloods, even German Riding Ponies (15-16hands-- little powerhouses!) ... would be a great way to go!


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                        I think some of the expressiveness a horse can show comes from some Inner Spice that most people see as the non-ammy friendly mind. Those horses feel safer to ride when they are closer to being finished in their training, But Green Spice, or the horse you will buy with the intention of bringing up the levels isn't as civilized yet and they use all that athleticism their way! Green Spice will give you a run for your money.... ask me how I know.
                                        If the Spice Girls are being reconstituted in equine form, my mare would like to audition. Move over Baby, Ginger, Sporty, and Posh. It's time for Green, Sensitive, Explosive, and Flashy Spice.

                                        I've been looking at horses with a friend who's shopping right now, and the thing that has struck me about the "ammy friendly" horse ad is that some subset of sellers (esp. on the lower end of the price and training spectrums) use that term as a code word for kick ride, and others don't. And some buyers at various points in the budget spectrum definitely use it as a euphemism for wanting a kick ride, yet others who are looking for a solidly amateur-appropriate horse (straightforward to ride, forgiving enough for an ammy to learn new things under a trainer's guidance, capable of mid-levels maybe but not FEI prospect, not necessarily dead quiet) don't.

                                        Seems to be a factor in some of the situations I've seen where a timid rider takes the words "ammy friendly" to mean "dead quiet babysitter" and assume that the expressiveness they are attracted to in ads/video will somehow not show up in sensitivity, sit-ability of gaits, or a small measure of training-civilized "inner spice" when they visit the horse in person.