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Who here bought "too much horse?"

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  • Who here bought "too much horse?"

    Hi guys,

    Curious to hear from others on their experiences with buying the wrong horse...particularly one who is just "too much" for them to ride.

    Currently, I am seeing more and more amatuer riders extremely fearful and nervous...and quite frankly over-mounted in the dressage community. Over in H/J land, I don't see as many dealing with fear issues (except, the actual part of jumping). But, they tend to be totally fine to w/t/c and hack around their own horse....

    And to the AA riders dealing with fear issues...I can totally see many of the times it is completely justified. They are truly on a horse that is sensitive, high-energy and perhaps reactive. However, they are beautiful movers and will/can be competitive.

    So, I guess my question is- who here is dealing with this type of scenaro and what are your plans? Do you feel like you should work through it? Do you want to sell your horse? Does your trainer do most of the riding? Does this bother you and feel like you are not able to ride your own horse?

    I know these things can be tough to admit and even realize...but would really love to hear others thoughts and experiences on the matter. Dealing with a few fellow-barn mates experiencing this issue and feel quite bad for them but don't know what to say/or if it is not my place to say at all. Just tough seeing fellow friends/amateur riders on horses that truly frighten them and decrease their confidence.

    Thanks all!

  • #2
    I feel so bad for my barn mates who have “too much horse.” My heart breaks for them when I am off having a blast training, trail riding, and just playing with my horse and they are stuck in the arena so nervous to do much other than walk and trot. My two cents to anyone with “too much horse” - life is too short to not enjoy your horse to the fullest! Sell/trade and get something you can truly enjoy.

    Comment


    • #3
      I've seen it happen in h/j land as well.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have seen this over and over. Child gets a pony and it is perfect for them at this stage of training but not winning. Of course they are not winning because the rider is not good enough, not because pony is not good enough.

        So they sell pony and buy a tb and 3 - 6 months later they are out of horses completely.

        These are the same kind of people who laugh at you because you are still having lessons and surely you should know how to ride by now.

        Hubby bought a quarterhorse/stock mare without me. We kept her 15 years and put her down last year in her 20s.

        He never rode her. She was too hot. I did ride her and she bonded with me. My instructor said Hubby would never be able to ride her.

        He was right Twiggy got too old before his skills cane up to being able to ride her.
        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

        Comment


        • #5
          Trainers ambitions often exceed the needs of their clients.
          "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

          Comment


          • #6
            That was one thing that really suprised me when I started my job as a saddle fitter. It makes me sad.
            Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
            www.thesaddlefits.com
            Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter

            Comment


            • #7
              I always feel like I ride my absolute worst when the saddle fitter comes


              I've seen a fair amount of indivudals be over-horsed. I was myself, sort of. My big KWPN gelding was tough and you had to bring your A-game every ride, and ride every step. We got along well enough, but he was tiring. He got along great with my husband who didn't ask much of him. When a pro expressed interest in him (for jumping) I thought about it for a moment, but decided that if we agreed on a price, I'd let him go. Plus I had started riding a PRE stallion and realized that riding could be more fun and easier. So I sold the KWPN. Could I have kept him? Sure. It wasn't a total disaster or anything, but its nice to have my soft, senstive, and intelligent PRE who aims to please. KWPN and I were an ok match, but PRE and I are made for each other.

              As I mentioned, I've seen a fair amount of over-horsed individuals, and many of them let their pride get in the way. In some cases I have watched as these individuals had to have this Warmblood (usually) that was beyond their abilities get hurt. When the suggestion is made to buy a more suitable mount, they usually decline as they don't want to admit they were wrong in buying the horse, cling to the illusion of being able to ride this big fancy animal, or think any other mount - maybe with less movement, or a bit older, is beneath them.

              Riding should be fun, and as safe possible in respect to having a suitable mount.

              Now, in my personal experience I've seen fearful riders in most diciplines, but the most have been in Hunter/Jumpers.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have bought too much horse twice.

                In both cases, they turned out to be a tad more than I thought. But both were smart enough and sensible enough to be trained. I stuck with one of them, my current horse, and have loved the process. But it took me a long, long time to find the right help for both of us.

                The other one- an OTTB bought starving out of a field-- got fed properly and then promptly became too much horse someone who didn't have regular pro help. I was in my 20s and figuring out whether I needed to get a better job or go to grad school. I remember saying at the time that selling her was a huge loss because learning to ride her would make me into a much, much better rider. That was true and some 25 years later, I'm learning what I didn't get to learn from that first one.

                In the meantime, I rode a good-ol-boy WB hunter gelding that I bred for myself, specifically interviewing his parents for their ammy-friendly mind, LOL.

                Both of these too much girls were very sensitive about their balance, but forward-thinking. They were alpha and self-preserving such that you have to prove yourself worthwhile to them. Both were exceptionally sound horses who could work all day if that was the job. I wonder if their mental toughness went with the physical toughness.

                There were days when I was scared to get on them. But I was po' folks growing up and I rode other people's horses. That helped me develop the ability to read a horse and negotiate with him/her so that we don't die on any given day and maybe we both improve a bit. I also bring a poor person's DIY mentality to the table. I have always assumed that my horses-- choosing them, riding them and improving them-- was my problem. I could hire the best help I could find, but I still had to figure out how to ride them.

                I understand being scared, but I think part of the problem comes from thinking that someone else should change things. Your horse should just do things that don't scare you. Your pro should make him ridable for you (and they should to the extent they can). You shouldn't have bought him.

                Instead, my attitude with a horse I own that scares me is, "It's just you and me in this round pen, pal. We have to figure out something we can do together." I have a lot of tools at my disposal so I use a mixture of "Figure out how to get my horse trained and tractable" and "Can I just tolerate a little too much speed or lack of balance because that's all my horse has to offer at this point in his development?"

                I also really enjoy the training process and the intimate relationship it gives me with a horse. If you don't like that, or riding your horse feels like another item on your To Do list, the taming of the project horse is going to be a bummer. And, to tell you the truth, when I have lots of Adult Things on my To Do list, showing up mentally as much as my hot mare needs is hard. I either make the choice to do block everything else out and focus on her, or I make that amateur move of doing something easier with her on that day.

                I'm sure folks will be unhappy at the suggestion that scared people buck up a bit and take on some responsibility for the improvement (or heck, the "taming") of their horse. But if you spend time justifying your fear, you will find yourself still in it. I think an attitude change can help, or at least be a part of the solution.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat

                Comment


                • #9
                  My first horse, when I was 13 and had a grand total of one year of riding experience and lessons under my belt was definitely "too much horse" to begin with. He was a 4yo green-broke, backyard hooligan that had suffered some abuse at the hands of ignorant "cowboys" and then just allowed to be a pet when no one could get anywhere with him. He belonged to someone my mother worked with, and they were willing to let me mess with him as much as I wanted, even took him to the barn where I rode. He spent the first several days running through fences and standing on his back legs every chance he got. I was responsible for feeding him myself and taking care of him, and he was a very wound-up, nervous guy. I was scared of him more often than not, but for whatever reason, decided he was my horse and I was going to make it work. My grandmother informed my parents that she'd buy me a more suitable horse if they could get me to go try some others in the area that were for sale. I tried out one, who was a really nice little hunter mare, but stubbornly refused her or to even look at any others. So, I got "Red" and together we eventually formed a great partnership. We started in hunter/jumper, but eventually moved to dressage and eventing. We topped out at training level eventing and 1st level dressage, because he honestly wasn't meant to do even that, but had so much heart and try that he did it anyway. I was soon heading off to college, and eventually I sold him and bought a big AQHA gelding that was professionally trained and suitable for AQHA shows (we were finalists at Congress). He was "too much horse" for a lot of his previous owners, and surely put me in a pickle on a couple of occasions, but because of my experience with my first horse, I was fine with him.

                  The rest of my horses (5 in all) were ones I raised from youngsters and did all of the training on myself. A couple of them didn't work out. I knew I didn't have the ability and confidence to get the started and going well under saddle. I sent the to new homes. But I broke the other three. One of those I rehomed when he was about 9yo because though he was a nice little horse, he wasn't necessarily my "type" and he was a good jumper, so he went to a little barn to pack kids around in lessons and shows. Unfortunately he had to be put down after about a year in his new home due to chronic colic bouts. The first baby I ever raised is one I saw born, and he lived with me his entire life until I found him this past Labor Day morning with his leg broken in the pasture (22yo at the time). He was, and will always be, the sweetest, easiest horse I've ever known...also the biggest, but what a teddy bear. Anyone could ride him, he was just a saint.

                  And that leaves me with my current guy, who I've known since he was born but owned since he was a yearling. He's always been a good guy, though not the bombproof saint that my older gelding was. Still, I broke him and trained him and showed him a few times all on my own. He was always a handful at shows, but I could get the job done and he did quite well in his classes. He basically became a pasture puff with my older geldings for the last few years, and then they both passed away, so now at 12yo he's become the only horse, has been moved from his lifelong home to a new place that is quite different, and I'm riding him a lot again. It's produced such a change in him that he's become "more horse" than I thought he was. But, in a way, it's kind of fun. I feel like a teenager again with my first wily critter, bound and determined to make something of him. And while his newfound exuberance and wide-eyed approach to life has been a little unsettling for me now in my mid-40's, I do think my very first horse, who definitely scared me in the early days, is actually the reason I've rarely felt over-horsed over the past 30 years.

                  I will say that I hope my current guy lives to a ripe old age and by the time he's gone, maybe I won't even want another horse. But if something were to happen to him and I found myself in the market for a new horse, I'd be looking for something quiet and dependable that I can enjoy without worrying about shenanigans. I can handle shenanigans, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I for sure had a horse that absolutely terrified me, and I unfortunately ended up with him because my trainer at the time, with whom I had a very unhealthy relationship, insisted that it was the best thing for me. Now, when I say unhealthy relationship, I mean that I knew little and assumed she knew much, and she used that against me to utterly terrorize me. She convinced me to trade with her for my very talented (but hot) 3 year old (another long story) for an allegedly 'made' 2nd level gelding who would rear from the canter with zero warning. This horse regularly walked on his hind legs. I spent every ride terrified, and spent the time getting ready to ride being literally sick to my stomach.

                    The day I got rid of both of them was the best moment of my riding career, to that point. (The horse actually went on to become a great performer for another rider, in another discipline, to my happy surprise.)

                    Many of us may not have the knowledge to make best choices, and end up being guided by people who are, in a word, not working in our interest.

                    I have since owned some great horses, including my current boy, who I have owned since he was 6 weeks old. I've been involved in every aspect of his training. He is a very fancy, bomb proof horse, and much of that is because I was careful about his training, and trainer, and found the best that installed confidence and willingness - in both of us. I've never felt unsafe on him, even when he was a three year old with no steering or brakes.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Once. I had a 30 day trial. Got him new shoes after be pulled one. Sent him back within the week.

                      In some barns being over horsed is the norm not outlier. clients are all scared of their horses. I blame trainers.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I did.

                        Twenty years ago I bought my first horse, having part boarded most of my riding career.
                        He was not the right horse for me. I endured a couple of very serious injuries trying to ride him. There were times I would shake in fear on the mounting block. I eventually found out that his owner (a pro) had ended up in the hospital, before she decided to sell him.

                        The first month I had him, I found a list in the feed room. People were placing bets on when I was going to get rid of him. I kept and rode him until he died 13 years later. He broke his neck jumping out of his paddock, 3 days after moving to a new barn.

                        Yes, I lost most of my riding confidence –– which I didn't have a lot of to begin with. I'm a weenie, but a stickler for correct riding. I resisted giving up on him because I felt he was a good, kind, soul who happened to be high strung. I dedicated a lot of time learning to overcome my fear by training him to be confident. I followed my trainer's program religiously; made sure he was in ample work; did calming meditations pre ride so that at least I would be cool before getting in the saddle; even tried herbal supplements. Essentially, every step with this horse was to ensure a positive outcome. Simple things like leading him from the paddock were potential hazards.

                        At one point I seriously considered giving him up. I had let a barn mate ride him in a lesson... and my horse tossed him, resulting in a compression fracture. People were chattering about my horse being dangerous. But I stuck with him and made sure that every moment we had together was a training opportunity. I don't recommend this approach. It worked for me and he turned out to be the perfect packer –– for me. He was much less generous with my part boarder or my coach.

                        As everyone says: Riding is supposed to be fun.
                        My current horse is confident and safe, but I still have moments of fear... no doubt from ingrained memories of bad experiences. Being over-horsed made me a better rider and horsewoman, but there are safer and less expensive ways to get there.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've raised a few that were difficult, but like having at least one challenging horse on the place and end up spending most of my efforts on that one because that's what keeps me interested. That, and the more difficult ones are the ones who need the most time, so between my interest and their needs that's where most of my horse time goes.

                          The good news is that what I've learned about fearful horses over the decades is what has made it possible for me to continue riding through my sixties, and hopefully into my seventies and eighties.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have had horses that were "more horse" than I could handle at the time. One spooky guy put a big dent in my confidence before I sold him on. Others were just a bit more than I thought I was getting and that worked out okay. There is something to be said for stretching your comfort zone, but if the horse is too far outside of it, it usually doesnt get better. And over the years I have learned that it is not being a "wussy" or a bad rider to recognize that there are some types of horses you just dont want to ride (much less own)

                            My current guy turned out to have more "go" than this retired ole lady thought she was getting. But he is sensible and I am not afraid to ride him. He turned out to be one of those that stretches me but without ultimately being "too much".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                              Trainers ambitions often exceed the needs of their clients.
                              You know, I've seen trainers do this and could name a few in my area who are notorious. But I see an equal, if not greater, number of ammys ignore their trainer's advice to buy the trained, non-exciting horse that may move for a a 6 that would be an excellent teacher for them.

                              I've even talked to some of my fellow amateurs about how they SHOULD buy that TB or QH or Welsh Cob or Arabian that isn't an exciting mover but does have a great brain, and good training, and is good enough to go earn their Bronze on while becoming a way stronger rider.

                              Then they could maybe consider the more exciting moving WB or young horse. I know even speaking for myself and I'm a pretty competent rider, I am SO GLAD I listened to my trainer when I bought the horse who got me my Bronze and most of my Silver. He wasn't exciting in a lot of ways, but he was WHAT I NEEDED. And I learned a TON, and then felt confident enough to buy a 5yo Dutch mare who I'm training on my own, at home (with lots of trainer input).

                              She's essentially a kind horse, with an excellent mind, but she was still a 5yo MARE when I brought her home. And we've had plenty of sketchy moments in the past couple of years. Without the foundation gained on that "boring" horse, I wouldn't have the knowledge or the confidence to bring Halle through her fits and starts and young horse antics.
                              Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                I have bought too much horse twice.

                                In both cases, they turned out to be a tad more than I thought. But both were smart enough and sensible enough to be trained. I stuck with one of them, my current horse, and have loved the process. But it took me a long, long time to find the right help for both of us.

                                The other one- an OTTB bought starving out of a field-- got fed properly and then promptly became too much horse someone who didn't have regular pro help. I was in my 20s and figuring out whether I needed to get a better job or go to grad school. I remember saying at the time that selling her was a huge loss because learning to ride her would make me into a much, much better rider. That was true and some 25 years later, I'm learning what I didn't get to learn from that first one.

                                In the meantime, I rode a good-ol-boy WB hunter gelding that I bred for myself, specifically interviewing his parents for their ammy-friendly mind, LOL.

                                Both of these too much girls were very sensitive about their balance, but forward-thinking. They were alpha and self-preserving such that you have to prove yourself worthwhile to them. Both were exceptionally sound horses who could work all day if that was the job. I wonder if their mental toughness went with the physical toughness.

                                There were days when I was scared to get on them. But I was po' folks growing up and I rode other people's horses. That helped me develop the ability to read a horse and negotiate with him/her so that we don't die on any given day and maybe we both improve a bit. I also bring a poor person's DIY mentality to the table. I have always assumed that my horses-- choosing them, riding them and improving them-- was my problem. I could hire the best help I could find, but I still had to figure out how to ride them.

                                I understand being scared, but I think part of the problem comes from thinking that someone else should change things. Your horse should just do things that don't scare you. Your pro should make him ridable for you (and they should to the extent they can). You shouldn't have bought him.

                                Instead, my attitude with a horse I own that scares me is, "It's just you and me in this round pen, pal. We have to figure out something we can do together." I have a lot of tools at my disposal so I use a mixture of "Figure out how to get my horse trained and tractable" and "Can I just tolerate a little too much speed or lack of balance because that's all my horse has to offer at this point in his development?"

                                I also really enjoy the training process and the intimate relationship it gives me with a horse. If you don't like that, or riding your horse feels like another item on your To Do list, the taming of the project horse is going to be a bummer. And, to tell you the truth, when I have lots of Adult Things on my To Do list, showing up mentally as much as my hot mare needs is hard. I either make the choice to do block everything else out and focus on her, or I make that amateur move of doing something easier with her on that day.

                                I'm sure folks will be unhappy at the suggestion that scared people buck up a bit and take on some responsibility for the improvement (or heck, the "taming") of their horse. But if you spend time justifying your fear, you will find yourself still in it. I think an attitude change can help, or at least be a part of the solution.
                                Excellent post. This is almost word-for-word my story, with the addition that later in life I was able to work with some really good trainers (one international) who gave me even more tools in my pocket. I have learned much (but admittedly broken a few bones in my life) from working with challenging horses.

                                it is nice to have an easy horse in the herd to help keep your confidence up, if you are lucky enough to afford more than one.
                                Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by aband12 View Post

                                  So, I guess my question is- who here is dealing with this type of scenaro and what are your plans? Do you feel like you should work through it? Do you want to sell your horse? Does your trainer do most of the riding? Does this bother you and feel like you are not able to ride your own horse?
                                  Been there and know many riders living it.

                                  If someone has access to a good trainer there are a lot of opportunities to work through the parnership or leverage the trainer's connections to help the horse find a new home. If the horse is well bred and/or a very nice mover, there are always competent riders with small budgets willing to take on an older green horse.

                                  The really sucks space is for the majority of these horse/rider pairs who don't have access to a good trainer and/or the horse is a very average mover. Why would someone want to buy your 9 year old green OTTB when they can buy a 3 year old OTTB? Why would someone want your still greenbroke American Mutt who needs his hocks done and is mid way through his career when for a few grand more they can find one who is half the age?

                                  Short of giving away an unsuitable horse to a local trainer and hoping they invest enough to make the horse a good partner AND find a really good home, a lot of us keep our unsuitable horses. I kept mine out of a sense of responsibility . If I couldn't find a trainer able to help us as a pair, I certainly wasn't going to trust them enough to place them with someone else.

                                  It is really hard to accurately discern the disposition and long-term fit in just a test ride or two. I think most people are poorly matched despite trying really hard to find the right fit.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    People don't know what they don't know. Meaning they may not know a horse will be "too much" until they have one.

                                    Those horses at the top of their levels are generally not easy rides. A little on the hot side, big movement. A lot of people don't realize this and buy the fancy horse thinking training (of the horse, the rider, both) will fix everything. And some trainers contribute to this thinking.

                                    It's also hard to know (by both rider and trainer) if a horse will be "too much" if you've been doing well with current, but less talented horse.

                                    How ever the "too much horse" comes to you, it's so hard to make that decision to sell. Our relationship with both the animal and dressage in general, is very emotional. You end up loving the horse on the ground. You doubt your self-worth because you can't ride the horse like you were riding your other horse. There's a lot of money involved...etc.

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                                    • #19
                                      Me right now.

                                      In my youth, I green broke and flipped horses all the time. Nothing I had was ever "made" and nothing scared me .I was the teen everyone sent their "problems" to in the spring to get the kinks out before the summer show season. Literally paid for my college with the money I earned starting & restarting horses. My arab I started myself as a 4 year old back in my 20s and we had a great run, even if she wasn't built for dressage and topped out at 3rd.

                                      But I decided I wanted the next one to be purpose bred, great moving and on a budget so yeah, I bought a lovely 2 year old who is now a gorgeous 7 year old that can move like wow ... but also has the brains of a hyperactive puppy and a naughty spook & spin when she's bored. Add to that the fact that she's huge, 17+ hands of OMG, RUN AWAAaaaay and I'll be the first to admit, she can intimidate me. And I'm now closer to 50 than 20 and I have neither the guts nor the athletism I had during my girl's stupid stage. Young horse is the "ride every stride and keep'er busy" type which, okay, I'm learning but damn it's a lot more work than any other horse I've ever had and some days I watch how she's acting on the lunge and just go "nope, not putting a leg over that today".

                                      I keep telling my husband "this is my last baby" - when I have to retire this one, I'm buying a well trained, solid 4th level plus pushing 20 year old schoolmaster who can hack out on the buckle and NOT run screaming from the chipmunks.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                                        Trainers ambitions often exceed the needs of their clients.
                                        ... and this goes back to the Steinberg article. Agreed. Many trainers are thinking of their own careers when buying horses that are too much for their clients. No beginner or low-level rider necessarily needs an imported horse. This country is full of amazing horses that need homes, horses that are suitable for all levels of riding.

                                        When a Trainer buys warmbloods in Europe, he or she can make an incredible profit. The horse he buys might be priced at 15-20K Euro, but he can sell that same horse in the same month for twice as much here, or even more. Imagine that. Someone is being taken advantage of...... and it‘s the low-level adult client with means. Trainers all know this and have zero incentive to make changes. And so it continues.



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