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Choosing the young GP prospect?

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  • Choosing the young GP prospect?

    So... let's say you are looking at 3-5 year old prospects. All broke, w/t/c, but nothing more than training level. What do you look at to decide which ones have the goods for the GP? Breeding? Conformation? Feeling? Elasticity? Do you have a particular test or exercise you ask of the horse? Do you look for maximum scope in all the gaits, or do you prefer a more average size canter? Do you buy a walk and canter, or look for a trot that will produce pi/pa and extension easily? Do you only look at 6 y/o and up so you can see the ability for collection and the flying change? What compromises are you willing to make, and which ones are you not?

    I'm in the market, and have been reviewing lots and lots of videos - which has led to many long conversations with my trainer about these questions. I'm just hoping to hear some other perspectives (and try not to drive my trainer too crazy in the process).

  • #2
    Well...

    I personally would ask someone who has found talent from green through GP a few times.

    Following this post will be a long list of things (gaits, mentality, build, breeding,...).

    None of those things you can convey on the internet but they are important.

    When I hear top level riders and instructors speak about it, most often they say they dont even know themselves until the horse is further along in their training. Obviously they do still find something with as close to a certain "type" as they can, but as Im sure you know there are no guarantees.

    GP potential is thrown around like cheap suits at a wedding LOL and when I see that on a young horse or foal I kind of have to laugh. Yes they may be bred to the hilt and they may be excellent as a young horse but GP is a long road ahead.

    There are certain things that can make it more likely but again I would be asking someone who has done it before and hopefully a few times with good results and maybe have them help you actually look at horses!
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Will just throw in something a German friend taught me regarding evaluating gaits on young horses:

      "If you want a successful Y/H candidate, buy the trot. If you want a successful UL horse, buy the canter."

      Same friend also said there are of course exceptions to the rule, with some well known GP horses not having the best canters, but they make up for it with other qualities, particularly ability to sit on the hindleg and work ethic/willingness, including desire to work with the rider and to try the hard stuff.

      Comment


      • #4
        We have made, bred and raised several and have several more in the pipeline. Personally I enjoy a horse with a cheerful attitude, and a lively response to basic aids. An ambidextrous horse is easier and quicker to bring along than a strongly handed (left or right) one. I prefer a horse with a light mouth that is not one-sided, and medium to large gaits which are naturally closed. And as DY said, buy the canter; you can make the trot. I really like to see a youngster loose to observe if they have a natural easy flying change in both directions. Too short coupled is more difficult to make up than a bit long in the back.
        Anne
        -------
        "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist

        Comment


        • #5
          it depends on your riding abiity and level of ambition. If this is your first GP horse, and your intent is to learn to train to the upper levels, then my recommendation is to buy a small tour horse trained in the P's and school them up one level. The horse does not have to be fancy, or even shown much- this horse can be found for a budget.

          If you are looking for a horse of the year or more, it will not be your first attempt at training to produce this horse, even if you are in the SRS. So, that takes some of the pressure off.

          Some of the things you have to have:
          (and you should see the horse free of the rider to determine this)
          * nearly perfect conformation of the neck, shoulders, haunches, legs and hooves. The head can be what you like as long as the mouth is big enough for a double, and it's the rare horse who isn't.
          * uphill
          * ability to sit down and whirl on the hind end
          * expressive trot, tracking at least up into the fore prints
          * expressive 3 beat canter, overtracking into the fore prints

          Under saddle:
          * a comfortable ride- reactive to the aids without being insane, no stupid behavior that stops the horse from listening to you- like freaking out over noise, corners, or sudden movements, or even no movements at all. You are evaluating ridability- the concentration of the horse on the rider and the willingness to work with the rider, and attempt new things. Also, gaits which you find comfortable, since you will be spending the best part of the next 5 years on it's back. You shouldn't be spending your time balancing the horse either- he should have a degree of self carraige out of the box so to speak.
          * connection- the ability of the rider to influence the hind legs through the reins. When you ask for a half halt does he sit? Do the hind legs come under or does he sprawl? The better the connection the more likely the collected movements.
          * activity, energy, hind leg- when you ask him to move forward, does he shoot forward like shot from a cannon? This is desirable. Is the hind leg very active? This is paramount. Does the horse willingly offer to give a little more when you ask? This is the key.


          The amount of movement and the amount that the prospect fits the above criteria is mostly defined by the amount of money you have to spend.

          Most of these criteria can be seen in a foal by the experienced, but it is certainly an advantage to be able to sit on the horse. One never really knows the baseline reactivity oft the horse until it is under saddle, but an experienced trainer can always bring the horse to the desired level of reactivity by correct training.

          Remember, God gave the horse his paces, man can only ruin them. Expect that you will not be able to train a "10" the first time around, so if the horse is only an "8" that might be just fine. If you can train to a "7" that's still a very nice GP horse to show.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DownYonder View Post
            Will just throw in something a German friend taught me regarding evaluating gaits on young horses:

            "If you want a successful Y/H candidate, buy the trot. If you want a successful UL horse, buy the canter."
            I absolutely agree with this. Besides that.... as an amateur (even though I am competent and not a chicken), I would say temperament. An amiable horse who doesn't get too insulted at being pushed around is important. Right now I have a mare who is super-talented but very much a princess drama queen, and while she has the ability I'm not convinced she'll take the work.
            I do also agree that you don't really know until later. We bought my current PSG/I1 horse as a young horse, he has 3 decent gaits, good conformation for collection and an excellent temperament. However, as we've gotten up to this level he finds it very difficult to be through and collected enough. His reaction to achieving the necessary level of collection has me convinced it is a pain issue, and who would have seen that coming when we bought him as a 4 yo.
            But if you are making the decision on a young horse, for me the temperament, walk and canter are important, as is conformation suited to the job.
            Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.

            Comment


            • #7
              I personally prefer to evaluate young horses at liberty, but I tend to lean toward horses with less schooling in order to start fresh with a clean slate. The three things I look for above all else are:

              A) good differentiation of the hind legs at the canter, in both directions and at various speeds - far more important than natural changes, which don't always correlate to changes under saddle;

              B) a natural tendency to lift upward through the back and withers... many horses, especially well-bred youngsters, will show amazing lofty paces with a slightly dropped back. I want to see true athletic paces, and that doesn't necessarily mean flashy. Much extravagance can be brought out in training, if the basic nature of the horse is to move in a way that's physically conducive to engagement and lift;

              Finally, C) I also want to see genuine relaxation, especially in the walk... I like hot, sensitive horses but not ones that habitually express tension physically.
              Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

              Comment


              • #8
                1. Willing attitude
                2. 3 good gaits
                3. Willing attitude
                4. Sound conformation
                5. Willing attitude

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's a crapshoot. All of the above information will help you stack the odds in your favor, but if you really want a Grand Prix horse you have to buy one. A good horse should make it to I-1. After that a lot of other things come into play.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Lineage of rideable FEI horses that stay SOUND, or produce such.

                    Good quality gaits, but NOT super gaits unless you have an amazing seat and are Edward Gal. Buy the CANTER, not the expensive trot. The canter is a wide separation of the hind legs that come under. The front end comes later with training.

                    Buy the MIND. How you tell that in a young horse, not so sure. Look for a lineage of good, rideable minds.

                    Buy a horse raised in really big fields, preferably with big hills and uneven terrain with lots of other horses to run with that wasn't ridden until 4, andf then only lightly. (So they wil stay SOUND.)

                    For GP you need a horse that can sit, stay sound, and won't kill you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lost_at_C View Post
                      I personally prefer to evaluate young horses at liberty, but I tend to lean toward horses with less schooling in order to start fresh with a clean slate. The three things I look for above all else are:

                      A) good differentiation of the hind legs at the canter, in both directions and at various speeds - far more important than natural changes, which don't always correlate to changes under saddle;

                      B) a natural tendency to lift upward through the back and withers... many horses, especially well-bred youngsters, will show amazing lofty paces with a slightly dropped back. I want to see true athletic paces, and that doesn't necessarily mean flashy. Much extravagance can be brought out in training, if the basic nature of the horse is to move in a way that's physically conducive to engagement and lift;

                      Finally, C) I also want to see genuine relaxation, especially in the walk... I like hot, sensitive horses but not ones that habitually express tension physically.
                      Great post.
                      All this plus:
                      Excellent articulation in the hocks and a kind eye
                      "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

                      "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=3WEsZhdpSYU

                        Vallegro at 6. Nice youngster, fitting all the attributes I discussed above in spades. However, there is nothing demonstrated at this age that suggests he's going to be the best horse in the world. 3 good gaits, great hind end, great connection. The rest is training.

                        Many more horses than riders can make it to GP

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                          ...What do you look at to decide which ones have the goods for the GP? Breeding? Somewhat Conformation? No Feeling? Elasticity? Do you have a particular test or exercise you ask of the horse? Do you look for maximum scope in all the gaits, or do you prefer a more average size canter? Gaits must ALL be "uphill" - horse can still be growing - thus downhill- but must move in an uphill manner. Do you buy a walk and canter, or look for a trot that will produce pi/pa and extension easily? I look at all the gaits, realizing that the trot is the easiest to improve. Do you only look at 6 y/o and up so you can see the ability for collection and the flying change? No - when I purchased my mare as a 3 MONTH old she was doing flying changes every stride in the field - was moving uphill despite being in a growth spurt. What compromises are you willing to make, and which ones are you not?
                          Being am ammie temperment is my #1 - I will not own an unsafe horse (at least not for long). I break and train my own horses so I need them to be reasonable in all of their nehavior - on the ground and under saddle.
                          ....
                          See red font responses above but to summarize:
                          1. Temperment that compliments mine
                          2. Uphill movement even if horse is built downhill
                          3. Ability to handle pressure - ask horse to do something it has never done before and see if it tries, halts in confusion (both OK) or blows up (not OK).
                          Now in Kentucky

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            HSS I think the only thing particular to note other than obvious natural rhythm and good movement is that he is VERY STRONG for a young horse, even when they showed him at four he looked very strong over the back from the start. His own horsey planet but still very light.

                            I think there is something to be said about some of the horses Ive seen being "too" modern and refined in an effort to find freak movement and I dont think that is all that will make a GP horse obviously.
                            ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                            http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HSS View Post
                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=3WEsZhdpSYU

                              Vallegro at 6. Nice youngster, fitting all the attributes I discussed above in spades. However, there is nothing demonstrated at this age that suggests he's going to be the best horse in the world. 3 good gaits, great hind end, great connection.
                              Nice video but I think maybe you meant to post the second half instead... the one above shows Charlotte on Winston, with no real footage of Valegro in action. Here is Part 2, with Carl on Valegro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgx6IBewcU4 Interestingly, you can really see his headshaking issue here, which he very successfully overcame!
                              Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Lost_at_C View Post
                                Nice video but I think maybe you meant to post the second half instead... the one above shows Charlotte on Winston, with no real footage of Valegro in action. Here is Part 2, with Carl on Valegro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgx6IBewcU4 Interestingly, you can really see his headshaking issue here, which he very successfully overcame!
                                Oh, you are so right!! Thank you for the link.

                                Well, personally, I DO think this video DOES show that he has the charactoristics that could make him the best horse in the world. The power of his gaits, his overall balance is really quite exceptional- for 6 quite amazing. So, for me, this is the defining "top of the envelope" GP prospect. Wish I had a budget that would fit a horse like this!!

                                And, for a little perspective, there are many layers of GP.
                                * There is the backyard/stableyard GP horse, that can do the movements, but is not able to string them into a test.
                                *There is the locally competitive GP horse, who can do well in local shows.
                                *There is the state/regional compeitive GP horse- CDS horse of the year placings
                                *There is the nationally competitive GP horse- can take USDF awards, H of the Year awards
                                *There is the internationally competitive GP horse- can make the Pan Am games, maybe World Cup, maybe qualify for Olympic Games.
                                *Then there is the true Olympic horse- one that can win, or come very close to winning against all comers.

                                So, first you achieve the GP, then you find out how good you and your horse is at that level.

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