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What Do You Want in a Horse?

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  • #21
    Rideability... willing, forward, happy in it's work, 3 good gaits, sound. Not balky under saddle, preferably safe to hack alone or in company. Reasonable ground manners, so that it's safe to work around and the farrier doesn't hate me, though I'll sacrifice perfection here if it's nice to ride.

    Has to load. I will never, ever, ever buy another horse that is a problem loader. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Don't want to deal with re-training it ever again. I'm too old, and too breakable, and I think it's usually indicative of other giant holes either in training or personality that are beyond my desire to deal with.


    • #22
      So physical attributes change. What my trainer does which makes it worthwhile for all of us, is he is consistent with the horses so they understand what is expected of them - and simultaneously trains US to give aids which make sense to the horses. He may hold off on advanced movements with a training horse if a rider isn't ready for it, because enabling us to ride and enjoy our own horses is most important to him. For example, he held off on changes for one (retired) owner who wouldn't have been able to handle the sometimes exuberant reactions until she was going to have him riding for a couple months straight without her riding - so he could have her horse cantering around quietly again by the time she was back in town. Another adjustment he made was for me when my left leg didn't function almost at all (as in, at times I couldn't walk on it much less use it while riding) he got both my horses absolutely electric off the left leg - because just very slight muscle twitches had to get responses since it was all I could give as an aid.

      In general, though, I can get on and ride any horse he has trained because they're all pretty consistent and steady about responses and acceptance of the aids. Some are hotter, some are lazier, some have movement I'm not nearly fit enough to ride. But all have the same general buttons.
      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


      • #23
        I know you are asking for behavior/temperament issues, but the first thing I look for is a strong loin connection. I don't want to spend years trying to develop gaits to make up for the weak loin connection. I am not talking short in the back, as I prefer a bit longer, but naturally well padded on the loin to bulge up a bit. I want easy going, curious, but not looky. I want that cross ties nicely, and will stand at a mounting block. I want one that gets along well with a group of horses, and not herd bound. I don't want one trained at all in a round pen, as I especially do not like the mental issues created with a predator-prey system.


        • Original Poster

          Strong through the loins is certainly a plus in conformation. Standing is a frequent issue as is loading. I do use a round pen but I wouldn't describe my use as trying to work on a predator/prey model. For me it's simply a convenient small and safe space for horse and trainer to learn to respect and be comfortable with one another. Chasing a horse round and round in circles does not equal training. If I were to describe my approach I'd say it is more oriented on how horses communicate with one another than anything else. It's why if I have a horse that's been on its own for an extended period of time or kept in a stall most of its life, the first thing it gets is a life outside in big paddocks with other horses. It's a bit of a cheat really as the other horses will give the new horse the fundamentals I expand on.


          • #25
            A horse that I love.


            • #26
              Originally posted by Ride Your Horse View Post
              Strong through the loins is certainly a plus in conformation.
              I was at a clinc once, that the breeder, who happens to be a Hann inspector, brought in an incredible moving horse. Gerd Zuther was teaching the breeding clinic. He asked if anyone thought the gaits were not a 10. Nope, except for me, as I was focused on the weak loin, and wanted no part of her. Later the same horse came back under saddle, and now the gaits were clearly a 5 at best. Gerd was telling us that what the breeder breeds for, the rider does not have to spend years training to overcome. The mare was only 3, but a strong loin connection the gaits would have been the 10 without any work.


              • #27
                Round pen work is more predator - prey as the horse is moving until tired and stops, giving up to the predator. Lunging is more the natural communication between horses. Move from my space, stop now, etc Lunging teaches them to be controlled with rider aids.


                • Original Poster

                  I get where you're coming from I just don't agree that a round pen is necessarily predatory. It's a tool. It's as easy, but again not necessary, to be aggressive with lunging - with a whip or even the tail of lunge line and there the horse is denied any means of escape from the pressure. My horses go from round pen to lunge line, to arena on a lunge line, arena without a lunge line and then to open paddock with ground work and the pattern is then repeated in the saddle. We start small and quiet and move outwards. That's the idea anyway :-)


                  • #29
                    We always started horses just lunging in the large 150'x250' arena - the first day or 2 without tack, then introduced tack. Almost all by around day 5, we could leg up a rider on a lead, at the end of the 15 minute lunge session. The next day, they w/t free in the arena with rider - about half stepping into the canter once or twice. By day 7 most would be cantering down one long side of the arena, each direction, and often by this time, we would stop the pre-lunging. A couple of days later, we were trotting 6" cross rails. To make backing more interesting, my arena was in the middle of a 28 acre turnout field with 20-25 horses. We probably started 50-60 babies like this with no bucks at all, and never any drugs. If the herd decided to entertain themselves running, we would quickly get off and wait until the fun was over though! haha

                    The few that were not comfortable and easy were also the ones hard to sell, in spite of their talent and ability.


                    • #30
                      Sound, polite on the ground, 3 good gaits, naturally forward, reasonably well put together and athletic.

                      My little mare checks all those attributes, she doesn't have the best conformation (a bit downhill, a bit over the knee, neck set a bit low) but it doesn't prevent her from doing what I like, which is a little of everything (dressage, jumping, trail riding, hunter paces...).
                      The ONE thing that I would change about her is that she can (still!) be quite hot at times, and is difficult to ride when she has meltdowns.

                      I am so used to her now (bought her at the track 15 years ago and retrained her myself) I tend to take her for granted, and it's always a shock to me when I handle / ride other horses who don't have what I have in her. For instance, my mare...

                      - is perfect on the longe line. I can longe her in a hater, over fences in the field, no prob. (But I took the time to train her properly.)
                      - self loads and trailers great.
                      - is great for farrier, vet, chiro etc.
                      - loves attention, grooming etc
                      - is easy to bend and has comfortable gaits.
                      - is willing and seems to enjoy what we do as much as I do

                      Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                      • #31
                        As I struggle with my mare and the fact that she may never come back from what's wrong I'm trying to put my finger on why she's so special.

                        Someone up thread said the horse just understands how to stay under you. YES my mare just knows when you're weight shifts what is expected. Now that I know that is a thing some horses have. I will never get another that doesn't just have that feel.

                        I want them to be forward, reactive but not so much so it's not fun. I want to be able to take to the trails just as well as work on perfecting a circle. I like a thinker. And I want them to enjoy my company.

                        Also my mare will drink water anywhere. Seriously that's a lifesaver on long journeys and when we do competitive trail rides.


                        • #32
                          Good feet, good ground manners, good brain. It's usually a "pick two" scenario for me with those. I don't think I've ever looked at one in my price range that fits that bill.

                          I'm not too picky with conformation. I wouldn't buy a horse with extremes obviously, like being very post legged or very butt-high downhill, but I kind of like taking a horse that isn't necessarily built for dressage and having a go and watching them transform.

                          But if we are specific... I tend to buy 16h chestnut Paint mares that are heavily halter bred but show no sign of it, with the tenacious alpha mare personality. I have a type
                          Fancy - My 1998 APHA mare.
                          Chloe - My 2014 solid APHA filly. AKA Baby Dragon.


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by sabinomare View Post
                            I have a type
                            Me too hot little (15 - 15.3 h) OTTB mares that nobody looks at, since everyone seems to want a nice tall Tb gelding lol
                            Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Ride Your Horse View Post
                              I get where you're coming from I just don't agree that a round pen is necessarily predatory. It's a tool. It's as easy, but again not necessary, to be aggressive with lunging - with a whip or even the tail of lunge line and there the horse is denied any means of escape from the pressure. My horses go from round pen to lunge line, to arena on a lunge line, arena without a lunge line and then to open paddock with ground work and the pattern is then repeated in the saddle. We start small and quiet and move outwards. That's the idea anyway :-)
                              Totally agree! Not everyone uses Parelli methods in a round pen. And honestly, a good natural horseman trainer doesn't use predatory methods either. We start them in a 60x80 small arena, almost a round pen, because it sets up boundaries and helps a young horse find their balance. There is comfort in a rail, especially with the first few rides, it provides a physical line of travel while adjusting to new things such as going in a circle (not natural!) or carrying a rider. We don't chase them, they learn in a very classical way, but every trainer that has been to our place over the years (I've had a few boarding young horses here) has loved that tool.

                              I find it it is comforting to the young horses, not at all predatory. But then I develop a relationship on the ground with my youngsters long before they go under tack. Maybe that makes a difference? Most of my horses take comfort from people. I inherited a couple of young horses who had not been handled for their first few years, and I do notice a difference in how the view people. I'm not sure if that is lack of handling in formative years, or just personality ? But we still didn't use a round pen to scare them into submission, I really don't think that is an effective way to teach horses.

                              I personally love love having a small fenced ring/round pen for starting youngsters. And know several very successful trainers who also use them Slightly off topic, but relevant too. I like a horse to be nicely started, and a round pen would not be a turnoff for me. I use to think good lunge manners were necessary, but my latest project is SO naughty on the lungeand had issues loading, and was way behind on his training, and was naughty under saddle, and had a dicey walk. And I got him anyway, so go figure. Sometimes they tick all the negative boxes And I'm having a blast on him, and have some 70s at Training level. You just never know...


                              • Original Poster

                                Hi Mystic :-) Thanks. If you are able to work with your horses from a young age in conjunction with their mares until weaning and then on from there then it is a good way to begin. A lot of horses I get to work are OTTB that have been bought cheap, who have not been started beyond being backed sufficiently to run on a track and who are with owners who just don't realise what they have got themselves into. It is easier to start a horse from scratch than to re-train most OTTBs. It's not the horse's fault of course, they have been raised and worked with one goal in mind, in a volume-minded context - so many have to fail to find a winner - and it doesn't require manners or anything but the crudest of aids.

                                But I LOVE working with these horses. The reason being is most horse simply would not survive what your average TB typically endures - and yet with the right work after the track most of them will give you themselves heart & soul. Sadly, because I see a lot of them, there are always some that will never be properly rehabilitated and while someone like myself could ride them, there are very few such as me who are both willing and able. My own horse is one. He was not sacked for being slow but for being uncontrollable. You wouldn't recognise him as the same horse but, at the same time, I wouldn't let anyone else ride him - for his sake and theirs! :-)


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Ride Your Horse View Post
                                  Hi all, I'm a horse trainer (not a riding instructor). Imagine you are considering a new prospect to buy. What behaviour attributes you would ideally like your horse to possess? Calmness? Good ground manners? Basic knowledge of and obedience to the Aids? Good at loading on a float (trailer)? What in particular would YOU like a new prospect to possess? Thanks.
                                  My #1 consideration after health and soundness, of course, is safety. Calmness when confronted with unexpected situations, both under saddle and on the ground. Good manners, respectful, pleasant disposition.

                                  #2 Would be a willing attitude and high tolerance for rider mistakes.


                                  • #37
                                    oh yes and I have a type! Bay, mare, big butt short short back, gorgeous head.