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Cheap(er) horses successful in upper levels

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    Cheap(er) horses successful in upper levels

    I'm not in the market yet but will be in 3-5 years as my girl is doing great but is older. Have any of you spent in the $10k range and made it to PSG successfully? Was it an older schoolmaster or a greenie that you brought along yourself or with a trainer? Obviously professionals can bring a horse up the levels but I'm curious as an adult ammy riding 3rd with aspirations of more.

    It can be done.

    I was not looking for a horse.

    i saw his photos and thought no point clicking on him he will be in either Victoria or New South Wales.

    Nope next suburb.

    Also no point clicking as he will be too expensive.

    Nope $1,500.00

    She called him green. Needs an advanced rider as can buck.

    I went to see him. A low level rider so he was being ridden on the forehand but under great instruction. She rode him along the road to get to the arena. She had been jumping him and had been to a cross country school.

    He could do shoulder in.

    He was green because she tiptoed around him and was overfeeding grain. I fixed that in a week. Also never ridden on the forehand again.

    I wanted him.

    My instructor heard this and said don't buy him without riding him again. I had a lesson on him with her instructor.

    He did not care abiut the kangaroos next to the arena.

    He said this horse is great and will take you up the levels. He had told another student to buy him but he had broken his arm and was too slow and will miss out. He was full of praise for the horse. I took it with a grain of salt.

    I stood up and took notice when I took him to my instructor.

    Sue this is the horse you should be riding. Forget about the others. He can take the weight behind. He will take you up the levels.

    He also added that he is not just a good looking horse because of his face. It is his whole body. The length if rein. The length of his back. The whole horse is in proportion.

    He is loved every where I have taken him.

    He is THAT horse that loves people and bonds with them immediately.

    Of course he is not perfect. He is cold backed, has a club foot and a pigeon toed hoof.

    He is also not a hot horse, so I am learning how to train that as I have always had hot horses.

    I am enjoying the journey. I ride my dream horse every day. We trail ride as well.

    I have taken him out and he does have a brain. I went to a clinic on a gale force day and he was fine, with the flapping transparent judges boxes. He went to a caveletti lesson and was perfect. He has competed in an indoor with an audience and was great. He is the tyoe that tries to be good when away from home.

    If we don't make it to Grand Prix I dont think you could blame the horse.

    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


      Yes, but I think you have to get really lucky and either have a pretty good eye for diamonds in very rough condition or be willing to maintain a older schoolmaster.

      My story:

      I went to look at one advertised as a husband safe draft cross. My plan was to buy, work on him for a year and sell. Use the increased cash for a slightly nicer one. Rinse and repeat a couple times. I can't even remember what I paid for him, but it was less than $2k. Once I got the info on him, he was actually a Dutch/TB cross.

      He was not "husband safe" unless your husband was Boyd Martin. Probably had 10 days on him. Looked decent on the lunge line. I got on him and managed to get bucked off in the first 5 minutes. Still ended up buying him.

      Fast forward 8 years and I showed him to PSG and got my bronze and silver medals on him. He unfortunately sustained an injury and then laminitis during recovery so he was retired younger than I would have hoped for.

      So, it can be done, but I think you've got to get really, really lucky on these types of horses. Even more so than the bigger price tag, purpose bred ones.


        Original Poster

        Sounds promising! My current mare I bought at age 11 for $12K, but she was green and spooky and just a hot mess. After 6 years of struggles we finally found an amazing trainer who got us out of the lower levels fast because the horse needed to be put to work. Super hot and forward does not do well in training level LOL!

        Wish I could clone this one! I don't have a good eye and this was my first purchase after years of leasing but somehow I knew she would do well one day even though everyone said NO.


          I have a $1,500 pony that could go upper levels if I weren't such a crappy rider. Does that count?


            My $1 old man won his PSG debut at age 20 this month!


              Not me but I've definitely known multiple people that have. Of course it always also depends on how competitive you want to be too.


                I believe Carl Hester buys "inexpensive."
                Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                Alfred A. Montapert


                  How good of a rider are you, how hard are you willing to work, and do you have access to a quality FEI trainer? Those three factors are all more important than how much you paid for the horse and whether it's purpose bred.

                  If you can pick a horse with three clean gaits, reasonable conformation, and some athleticism, and keep it sound, (combined with the factors above), you can get it around a rated PSG.

                  You do have to have reasonable expectations though. If your horse doesn't blossom into a diamond and develop his gaits in a way that no one anticipated, you may be in the crowd that has to ride a darn near perfect, accurate, clean, test to break 60%.

                  I know someone who did this at GP: took her two years and many rides to get those 2 above 60% - she rode a lot of 58s in between those clean, accurate tests that broke 60.


                    @joiedevie99 is spot on in my opinion. My local BNT thinks that my ex-carriage DHH that I purchased for under $5K has the potential to go FEI. Will it be a long and arduous road since I (AA) am doing the training myself with her assistance? Absolutely. Do I have to challenge him 5-6 days per week when I want to go on a quiet hack? Yup. But I'm loving this journey with him. I love that each week my trainer gives us a challenge and we (generally) can perform said challenge in our lesson the following week. Super rewarding.

                    Not dressage specifically, but my old coach took her $1 OTTB to Rolex (when it was still Rolex) in 2 years.
                    When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.


                      We have a free former Amish driving horse in our barn who has scored in the low 60s at Grand Prix, and a Clyde / Hackney cross who was purchased as a 2yo for well under your budget, with mid 60s scores at I1 and still moving up.

                      And I know several very nice but sensitive / quirky horses that were unsuitable for their current owners, sold in your price range and excelled at FEI levels with the right rider.

                      I have an older schoolmaster who could probably still do a solid PSG with my trainer. I’m learning Third Level on her currently and having a blast.

                      The three options in your price range seem to be:
                      - Buy young and train up the levels
                      - Look for quirky / sensitive / imperfect xrays but still sound and talented
                      - Buy an older schoolmaster knowing your time together may be short, but it will be fun!


                        Yes, I paid $5k for mine out of a field as a long 5yo, green broke but clueless. He's proven to be eminently trainable and he has all th PSG, we are just developing the 4s right now.
                        Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                        you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the long as its in a conservative color.


                          Bought a 2yo, Irish Draught sporthorse for 3500.00. Tons of lessons, and 11 years later, we are training PSG, getting ready to make our 4th level debut. Mare does not score well, we need a mistake free test to break 60. I am good with that though. We are training two tempis, and some half steps. I am confident she will get to PSG and the I-1.

                          Bought a 3 yo unhandled Irish Draught, she has schooled through 1st/2nd. If she could get a change, no doubt she would go through 3rd. The lack of a change is directly related to me not training one. Loved her natural movement, and bought her sight unseen off of videos. Paid about the same as the other horse. Mentally she isn’t as solid, she is slightly quirky. I hold her back, she could be much further along. Physically she’s a 7 mover and could be a high scorer. She easily broke 70 percent at A shows. She’s bred this year, for a hopefully great moving, better minded prospect.

                          Warmblood gelding, 5 yo. Paid less than 10k as a fugly yearling. Bought him off of temperament, gaits, and pedigree. He had a small blip in the vet check, and I bought him anyways. Coach says he’s green, but would take mid five figures to buy one as nice as him now. He’s grown into a fantastic mover, with tons of ability. I am slowly training him as he was tiny as a 3yo and at 4. He’s behind on his education, but I think I did him right by giving him time to mature. He is definitely FEI material. Hopefully everything lines up for us though. It’s a long slow road, and fingers crossed it works out.

                          if you are going to buy, look at the brain. If it can handle the mistakes and the pressure, that’s huge. Next, I bought the walk and the canter. I don’t care about the trot. You cannot Improve the natural walk and you need a canter with some sit and jump. Most importantly get a coach that will work with you. My coach has trained lots of horses through FEI. He just keeps working with what I bring him. Good luck, and have fun!


                            My friend happened upon a pony (Welsh Cob section D) that the owner wanted "gone" as quickly as possible (said she was selling him to the Amish if he wasn't out by the end of the week). My friend thought he deserved good home (wasn't looking at the time but a friend looked at him) and offered her 1K. The owner said that was fine, how soon can you come and get him? My friend thought she would work with him a bit and then sell him after he was in better fitness and confirmed. He turned out to be a really great pony. He is competing at 4th level and schooling PSG (and working on his 1's now). He has an amazing collection of giant ribbons from all of his USDF breed awards and has won the Dover award (highest scoring amateur at 2nd level) several times when he was showing 2nd. Needless to say, she has not sold him on and I'm pretty sure he has a home for life!


                              Originally posted by Chestnut_Mare View Post
                              I'm not in the market yet but will be in 3-5 years as my girl is doing great but is older. Have any of you spent in the $10k range and made it to PSG successfully? Was it an older schoolmaster or a greenie that you brought along yourself or with a trainer? Obviously professionals can bring a horse up the levels but I'm curious as an adult ammy riding 3rd with aspirations of more.
                              I am and always have been an adult ammy holding a full-time job, raising kids and maintaining a small farmette/ranchette operation. The first horse (welsh cob) I took to PSG I purchased for $4000 as a two-year old and trained him up through the levels. He has now earned his third person their silver medal at 22 years of age. The second welsh cob I took to PSG was given to me for free because no one could ride him and he was dangerous when he even saw driving equipment (the original reason he was imported at 3 months of age). He also was 13 hands on his tippy toes. I trained a third one up through PSG and he was the third generation out of my breeding program so I can't put a price on him. All of these guys were at best considered a '6' mover. All have three pure gaits and a willingness to work and please their rider. I never put any of them into training with someone else though if I had I'd probably had reached these guys' true potential and sooner. I did, however, work hard and took weekly lessons, sometimes two to three a week. I am currently bringing along one from my fourth and final generation of my breeding program. He is solid second level at 6 years old. Another one that I cannot put a price on but his dam was another one that was given to me for free and his sire is the last one I referred to; so, the point is that it is definitely possible. I'm going to put in another shameless plug and say that while the program was going on I earned a plethora of Dover medals with my herd of welsh cobs though as those who know me will attest to, I am in no way suggesting that welsh cobs are the ticket. They are not a breed that fits everyone's taste or desire. The point is that it's possible on a less expensive beast, an unconventional choice in beasts as long as the beast is sound with three pure gaits, is willing and you are willing to work your arse off (harder than the horse) and take the lows with the highs (persevere).

                              Ranch of Last Resort


                                Yes. FEI generally have more “purpose bred” horsss than the national levels, but it’s possible. Many spend the money for nice lovely horses though bc it’s easier to fit a round peg into a round hole. Not to be said your <10k Arab, thoroughbred, etc could not get to FEI, just may take more training and investment over the years to get there.


                                  The real expense to get to FEI is the cost of training imho.
                                  but something that is sound a at least has 3 clear and balanced gaits which can be found at a reasonable price. The regularity and frequency of training will be the most important factor.


                                    Ugh it won’t let me edit. *buy*


                                      [QUOTE=joiedevie99;n10679700]How good of a rider are you, how hard are you willing to work, and do you have access to a quality FEI trainer? Those three factors are all more important than how much you paid for the horse and whether it's purpose bred.

                                      If you can pick a horse with three clean gaits, reasonable conformation, and some athleticism, and keep it sound, (combined with the factors above), you can get it around a rated PSG.[00/QUOTE]

                                      This × 1000.

                                      I got my bronze and silver on a thoroughbred that was given to me for free.

                                      Other students of my coach have gotten their bronze ( and some their silver) on a number of under $10K horses.

                                      They were generally bought young and/or green and brought along by their owners with regular, frequent lessons and consistent riding. We are all AAs.

                                      Some transitioned from other disciplines, (racing, jumpers, combined driving, trail riding) they are a variety of breeds and breed combinations.

                                      As Joiedevie99 said, the quality of the training you get, your work ethic, and three clean, reasonably athletic gaits are far more important than how much you spend.


                                        Yes it can absolutely be done! I’m an ammie that started riding later in life (30s) and earned both my Bronze and Silver on an Arabian that I trained from a 3 year old, taking only once a week lesson and clinics. Solid gaits are essential, but I will say my horses solid work ethic, can do attitude, and plain old heart made the journey that much sweeter. We are schooling piaffe and passage so who knows...maybe a gold medal is in our future. I also feel that riding the upper levels requires as much dedication from the rider in terms of maintaining fitness and core strength.