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Buying the dressage schoolmaster

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  • Buying the dressage schoolmaster

    I am taking the plunge and starting the search for my next equine partner. I have been looking at the older schoolmaster type but now I am more confused than ever.
    I come from h/j land where buying a horse in their late teens would be unusual. Paying 30k for an older horse? Ha!
    I know I can't afford a horse in its prime. I am prepared for maintainence to be required and will provide retirement. I was not prepared for the sticker shock that came with it! Also, a couple of the prospects have had colic surgery... Anyone have experience with this?
    Have you ever purchased an old schoolmaster? Any advice?

  • #2
    it depnds what you call schoolmaster ...
    If you want a horse that can easily do 3rd level, then you should be able to find something not to old you your price range.
    If you want an WB that has shown at FEI level with decent scores with that kind of budget, be ready to make a lot of compromises as far as age, maintenance and other little quirks.

    The reason schoolmasters are older is because it takes a long time to train a horse to GP, usually horses reach that level in their teens.

    Comment


    • #3
      My best trainer was a then-16yo (now 25) Hanoverian gelding. I've talked about him before-- not a glorious sight to behold, but an absolute showman and champion. He'd shown up to 4th with a previous rider and had changes to ones, although pirouettes were, in his opinion, stupid. He taught me how to ride halfsteps to piaffe and once, when he was feeling exceptionally sexy due to the mares in heat in the next pasture, gave me some exemplary passage. Not that anything was easy with him-- you really have to earn every step.

      Totally worth his purchase price. Even now, in what should be his dotage, he's teaching new to dressage riders how to hate schoolmasters. Erm, I mean how to ride.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        I am looking at horses around the 4/psg level. My current horse (a lease) can't go higher than second... And we are now schooling all the second level movements. Breed and height don't matter. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how expensive these kind of horses are and second guessing myself. I saw a horse schooling third and thought maybe that is what I should look for instead, but then I don't know the upper level movements to bring a younger horse on.

        Cnm161 - this is just the kind of encouragement I needed, thank you j

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, I bought my PSG/I-1 horse at 12 for upper-mid 5 figures. He's now for sale in the lower-mid 5 figures at 15. He knows a ton, and is capable of teaching it to someone. He's also safe- and can take a joke. That's something most amateurs need if they are going to learn in an enjoyable manner. That is where his value comes from- despite his age. However, he's got plenty of quirks and issues - that come from the years of showing he's done to get the knowledge he has. However, many owners (myself included) are negotiable to the right home because they really care that these special fellows end up in a safe place.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Not going to lie, I am hoping the fact that this will be a forever home will help in the negotiating...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by WannabeDQ View Post
              I am looking at horses around the 4/psg level. My current horse (a lease) can't go higher than second... And we are now schooling all the second level movements. Breed and height don't matter. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how expensive these kind of horses are and second guessing myself. I saw a horse schooling third and thought maybe that is what I should look for instead, but then I don't know the upper level movements to bring a younger horse on.

              Cnm161 - this is just the kind of encouragement I needed, thank you j
              If you have regular (ie, tending more towards weekly rather than monthly) access to lessons and already ride second level, I think you could do fine training up a horse with less experience.

              My first dressage horse was one I started when he was 3.5 with an eye towards the hunters. With regular lessons (even though dressage is only half his job since he has to jump too) he is now 7 and schooling canter pirouettes and tempis. It has been a tremendous learning experience to learn how to build it brick by brick, and he is also a super nice horse that is way fancier than anything I could have afforded with any training on it.


              AND, he is a colic surgery survivor. He twisted an intestine just before he turned 2. They did not have to cut any intestine out (just untwisted it) and in a second surgery the next day they laproscopically installed a mesh that will prevent it from happening again. I would ask, was intestine removed and how has the horse been? Does it still colic? Mine doesn't at all (jinx!) and it's been 6 years so I'm not too fussed.

              In short, if you are having sticker shock, I think you could save yourself lots of money by taking on a fancy, less-trained colic survivor, spend it on lots of lessons, and have a blast and a really nice horse at the end. You are already quite an advanced rider just to be at second so with good guidance I think the doors would open right up!
              The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
              Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
              Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

              Comment


              • #8
                They are special indeed and worth their weight in gold. They take so long to get there and usually very hard to find and the price tag is steep but worth it. In dressage the further up the level the horse goes, there are less horses that can get there so when they do come up for sale they are usually passed to someone the owner knows or go quickly.

                The lessons they teach are huge. I was fortunate enough to sit on one years ago that taught me what an upper level extended trot was and I have never forgotten it. What a rush.

                In the years to come, I think of my guy and can't stand the thought of letting him go.

                As for colic surgery, had one of those too. Mine, I managed the diet and the colic wasn't what got him in the end.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My plan for the next horse was to save my money and wait for an FEI schoolmaster. I wanted to provide a forever home and both understood the maintenance issues and was willing to support them. I was less interested in showing than just riding and enjoying the feeling.

                  There's something about an upper level schoolmaster ... they have such strong personalities and I've never met one I didn't adore, even the ones I couldn't ride And make no mistake, even the ones with a great sense of humor are not easy rides. FEI doesn't mean "comfy and simple"

                  I don't have experience with a colic-surgery survivor, but if I had the opportunity and the funds to purchase a great older horse, would have done it in a second. Sometimes with the right maintenance they can go on a lot longer than anyone expects (gal at my barn won 4th level and PSG ammie championships on a 20-something this season ... they clicked beautifully even though she'd only been riding dressage for 3 years).

                  I think a lot of horse ownership/stewardship depends on your confidence. I'm not the sort of person who wants to have a horse at home nor would I purchase an FEI schoolmaster and expect to keep him or her in shape without a lot of experienced support from someone who had lots of FEI experience him/herself.

                  If, while you're looking and waiting, mr or ms perfect comes along, be flexible and consider options, but no, I don't think it's a crazy objective and wish you the very best of luck.
                  *=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I wouldn't worry too much about previous colic surgeries.... When she was 7, one of my mares colicked and had to have 27 feet of small intestine removed! Many babies later, she is now 20 and happily retired.

                    Good luck in your search!
                    Siegi Belz
                    www.stalleuropa.com
                    2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                    Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WannabeDQ View Post
                      Have you ever purchased an old schoolmaster? Any advice?
                      From watching several people buy schoolmasters for very large sums of money only to experience a nightmare soon after... My biggest advice is get cervical xrays! Seriously. The sellers might think you are crazy but it could save you a lot of money and heartache.
                      On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I can't speak to the schoolmaster part of it, but colic surgery may or may not be an issue. One of the carriage horses I drive had colic surgery as about a 4yo. Purdue removed a record length of intestine from her. She's around 20yo now and still gives the occasional ride downtown. She doesn't look a day over 12, is still boss mare of the farm and hasn't had any issues since the surgery.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I recently purchased a schoolmaster. It took awhile to find him and the first ride I couldn't get more than piaffe and passage and even that wasn't on purpose. He is an absolute saint and I believe that the owner was comfortable with the match as from the start I realized that any mistakes were mine and not his.

                          To me, he is easily worth twice his weight in gold and he is HUGE. I offered slightly less than the asking price, I had to try, but happily paid up. He is a totally different ride from my younger horse and in two months has already made me a much improved rider in that I am so much more precise in my riding. Every ride on him I learn something that helps me with the younger horse.

                          People at the barn are lining up to try to get a ride on him. My trainer rides him for fun. He is simply a star and I am so grateful to have him. I have my younger horse in full training with an exceptionally qualified trainer, but still needed more time in the saddle to bring my skills up to the point that I could help the younger horse. Having two horses is pricey but I feel that I am finally, after years, making rapid progress.

                          If he needs to be retired after a couple of years, I can live with that and will support him to the end.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            When shopping, know that older horses marketed at third are at third for a reason. You'll see a bump in price for a fourth level horse because they've proven PSG + is doable.

                            It also depends on what you're willing to work with. Quirky, and education holes will drop the price. I won't take on lameness maintenance (hock injections, etc) because its been my experience that its an indicator of working beyond their conformational abilities, or front to back training.
                            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                              It also depends on what I won't take on lameness maintenance (hock injections, etc) because its been my experience that its an indicator of working beyond their conformational abilities, or front to back training.
                              I find this a really ignorant statement. Most older FEI horses are getting hock injections and if they are not, they probably need them.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                                ... Quirky, and education holes will drop the price. I won't take on lameness maintenance (hock injections, etc) because its been my experience that its an indicator of working beyond their conformational abilities, or front to back training.
                                My experience is different.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  All of these responses have been SO helpful. I don't have regular access to a trainer (there are no dressage trainers in my area and I board with my h/j trainer that I have been with forever) so I trailer to lessons or pay extra to have a trainer come to me from out of town. Taking this and all the stories of you guys who have purchased older horses in to account, I feel confident that searching for the older schoolmaster will be in my best interest.

                                  atlatl - that is what I am hoping will happen to me! Learn from the older guy (or gal) then use that knowledge to bring along a prospect when they are enjoying that hard earned retirement!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by WannabeDQ View Post
                                    I am taking the plunge and starting the search for my next equine partner. I have been looking at the older schoolmaster type but now I am more confused than ever.
                                    I come from h/j land where buying a horse in their late teens would be unusual. Paying 30k for an older horse? Ha!
                                    I know I can't afford a horse in its prime. I am prepared for maintainence to be required and will provide retirement. I was not prepared for the sticker shock that came with it! Also, a couple of the prospects have had colic surgery... Anyone have experience with this?
                                    Have you ever purchased an old schoolmaster? Any advice?
                                    Look very carefully at the performance/work history of the horse in terms of the injections and the colic.

                                    Unpopular as it obviously will be on his thread, I'm with PSJ on hock injections - conformation flaws, training flaws greatly contribute; it is NOT a given that upper level dressage horses will/should have hock issues
                                    - yes that is my ignorant experience ...
                                    How ignorant to assume that I (or other opposing contributors) am lacking knowledge, information, or awareness

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by WannabeDQ View Post
                                      I don't have regular access to a trainer (there are no dressage trainers in my area and I board with my h/j trainer that I have been with forever) so I trailer to lessons or pay extra to have a trainer come to me from out of town.
                                      Definitely invite opinion from the trainer that you are working with & knows your riding abilities/aspirations
                                      (& may know the horses you're considering & the programs they're coming out of)

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by alto View Post
                                        - yes that is my ignorant experience ...
                                        How ignorant to assume that I (or other opposing contributors) am lacking knowledge, information, or awareness
                                        Talk to any sport horse vet that does the top dressage barns in the country and see how many of the international horses get injections. We can agree to disagree. I feel VERY confident in that what I'm saying is true. How many FEI horses do you think flex 100% negative? Few to none. I've seen PSJ's horse on video and to me he looks like he needs injections...so...there ya go.

                                        Comment

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