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What are your deal breakers when buying a horse?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Outyougo View Post
    Crib, weave, stall walk, does not tie
    You're describing all of my best horses.

    Does-Not-Tie was my very favourite. Broke lots and lots of stuff in his 30-odd years on the planet.


    • #22
      It's going to depend on what you are looking for. A horse with less than great dressage scores but a solid jump record may be the perfect horse for a kid or ammie to learn how to run and jump on, but maybe not suitable if they are very concerned with being competitive. A refusal here and there on a young horse (or early on in it's career) can just be greenness. OR, it may be the rider.

      When I was shopping for Toby, I was looking for a youngish horse with good movement, a willing brain, and potential for one star AT LEAST (this was big). It didn't have to be going, but I tried several horses with at least part of a season at BN and N. Dealbreakers for me were horses consistently scoring in the 40s at BN/N, multiple stops, lots of rails at that level, etc. If I got to the point I sat on the horse things that turned me off of them were lack of rideability (even on young horses. There is a big difference between being green and rideability!). Or the ENTIRE barn of horses that kept being handed to me in double twisted wires (and these WERE young horses...several were coming 4). Or the horse that was very fancy on the video but felt like a major plug with zero scope once I sat on him.

      Toby was top of the list of three very nice horses that I would have gladly taken home. All three were good movers (Toby was actually the least fancy). All three were scopey, willing jumpers. All three had very good brains. And while the other two were much greener than Toby (one had done a couple of novices, the other was just doing his first BN the weekend I tried him), they were game and I could tell there was a lot of horse left to come.

      When I look at records, I do look up the rider's record, too. If a rider gets the same scores on EVERY horse they ride, than I know a less than great dressage score may have more to do with the pilot than the horse. Same goes with jumping.


      • #23
        People get too stuck on the winning thing! Especially if you are just a few years into this game, you have to understand it is a journey that takes a long time to learn! A horse going training level is really not that experienced as an eventer if it is their first year going training. You shouldn't expect perfection. They have to learn! I think people don't always understand that.

        They read about a rider on a flashy young horse that is winning everything and they think they all should be doing that and that is just not the case. You don't read about the ones who have several mediocre yet educational events before they start clicking and become really good. It is a process!

        I have one that is in that nebulous area of being not suitable for a 10 year old moving up from a pony and not going to the olympics in this life time. She is not perfect but is going well and has learned a tremendous amount this year. Not dangerous but not idiot proof either. Not over priced.

        After several months I am still waiting for someone to even come look at her. She has no major deal breakers so I am not sure why no one is interested other than she lacks a bunch of blue ribbons--at the moment anyway!


        • #24
          Well, I have never purchased a horse that has been to an event before, and most are not started. If they are started, they are usually pretty rough. Last one I got was started but quite naughty, and the one before was trashed through a lease/lesson program. Both are super movers and jumpers and were just misunderstood.

          But the only deal breaker for me is cribbing. Weaving and stall walking bother me but it seems that both of those will go away in my barn, as it is quiet, remote, and I've got tons of turnout.

          On the other hand, what do I look for: feet, legs, shoulder, hind end, cute face, uphill build, free movement (doesn't have to be great) and tidy over fences. All this can be assessed from the ground, as long as I can see the horse free jump.

          I tend to shop in unlikely places and have never bought a horse from a top professional. But that's just my style, something I learned from my parents at a young age. My father was a avid horseman (foxhunter) and my mother's family were into horses since the beginning of time. So I look for those diamonds in the rough, take my chances, and hope for some sparkle in the end.

          Sometimes I win; sometimes I lose. But I LOVE the process of finding unlikely horses in unlikely places and seeing where we can go. It is a hobby that is also a passion.... Don't know what I will do when I am too old to ride....



          • #25
            My best horse:

            had a sign that said "CAUTION" on his stall door (he could be nasty/bite)
            had a "wild" eye
            had a weak spot in the hoof wall


            he was a saint under saddle (and always sound)
            he would jump anything you pointed him at
            he would hack out alone or in a group
            he would event or fox-hunt or show jump
            he would grudgingly put in a decent dressage test
            he had zero spook (house under construction in high winds tarps flapping or turkeys/deer under his nose at a gallop - no reaction from him ever)

            He was older when I purchased him for next to nothing
            A member of the local hunt told me, "you know you have the best horse out here" I smiled and said "I know".

            So I no longer have any "deal breakers".
            He is now in his 20s and retired and will probably live forever.


            • #26
              Cribbing is a deal breaker for me as I buy almost all green horses and have seen some of the long term issues it can cause. If I were shopping for a going 2* horse and the only hole was cribbing, not so much a deal breaker. I'm a bit with ahb on this as I always buy green and have bought several with "issues" On the other hand, the one I am riding now, I bought from a top professional very shortly after she got him from CANTER (he wasn't even officially for sale yet when I bought him, but I sat on him and fell in love). I am a big believer in the connection for my personal horses, but I also buy enough horses for other people to ride or as sale projects that it doesn't always enter the picture. I also keep telling my (incredible) farrier that it is his own fault that I have quit worrying about the condition of the feet I buy as he has fixed everything I've brought home
              OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


              • #27
                Deal breakers in the past have been bad joints, bad hooves, totally behind my leg, too small/narrow for me.

                I'm looking now, and I agree I want CONSISTENT dressage, and good jumping. My last horse knew more than I did, and he was SUCH a fantastic teacher. I would love to have that again.

                Now I'll have to add brain/personality to the list. I know there are horses like Paddy out there. Life's too short (for me) to deal with a nasty, mean horse. I want a partner that I can spend time with in and out of the saddle. At this point in my life, I want to learn from the horse and learn with the horse. In return, I'll give it a great forever home.
                --Becky in TX
                Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                She who throws dirt is losing ground.


                • #28
                  The absolute major dealbreaker, as someone mentioned earlier, is if I simply don't like the horse. And by like I mean REALLY enjoy. I've met very few horses that I have absolutely NOT liked, but if I'm going to buy one, spending a good chunk of $$ as well as time and effort, I HAVE to enjoy working with the horse. It's definitely not a slight against the horse if I don't... it's like people... some you really like, some you love, some you tolerate, some grow on you and some people you simply do NOT get along with. I have 2 right now, both resale projects, as well as a friend's gelding that i've been riding this fall that I REALLY am enjoying. They all have great personalities, some degree of atheticism (varies with horse but all can be considered athletic), good brains and a willingness to learn.

                  Beyond that... obviously soundness is an issue (must be sound for the job I'm asking whether that's 1* work, lazy saturday trail rides, or w/t lessons a couple times/week). Soundness for me covers mental as much as physical.

                  Cribbing, etc. isn't necessary a deal breaker... but it does stack the deck against them IMHO.

                  I do have a question for the masses though. How much do you count an old set bow against a horse? Valid reason for the bow (run off the track at speed... approximately 6 years ago).... brought back sound (to the point of able to race again but mentally was no longer interested -- LOL Smart horse didn't like to be jostled I guess as she started letting others break out of the gate before she would) with no current soundness issues.
                  "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                  "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by tle View Post
                    I do have a question for the masses though. How much do you count an old set bow against a horse? Valid reason for the bow (run off the track at speed... approximately 6 years ago).... brought back sound (to the point of able to race again but mentally was no longer interested -- LOL Smart horse didn't like to be jostled I guess as she started letting others break out of the gate before she would) with no current soundness issues.
                    If she were out eventing at the level I wanted I would probably consider, but if she is just coming off the track I wouldn't bother.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for all the great responses! I've been horse shopping for a while now, and I agree - I think you have to really like the horse. Also, perhaps this is unreasonable, but I just can't bring myself to buy a horse with small eyes. I want to see an intelligent, inquisitive expression.


                      • #31
                        Y'all know I don't Event but I think the biggest honest to gosh deal breakers/run away points in any discipline are pretty much the same.

                        We all have things we like and things we don't as far as conformation (assuming it's basically built for the job), temperment, color, appearance and size are concerned. We are entitled to our predjudices, horses are expensive and it sure eases that if we like them and what they look like. Easier to stay motivated to work with them if you like them too-even when they hurt you.

                        My other biggest flashing red light in a broke and going competition horse is unexplained gaps in training and competition schedual. I know there are a million things that can create gaps in that backstory and sometimes claims made to explain them are legit. More often it's an ongoing soundness problem discovered after purchase...BTDT and have alot of friends who have also gone down that road.

                        I don't mind of there is little backstory/history, long as the performance is there. But hearing claims the horse sat out in the field due to financial issues, divorce, just didn't have time etc? Only to find some chronic soundness issue or other was the culprit?

                        NOPE, I am out on that one.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • #32
                          Keep in mind that everyone's dealbreakers are going to be different.

                          I was hounded for a couple of months by Toby's trainer to come try him. At that point, she'd known me for 8 or 9 years, knew my type, knew my ability and knew my goals. When I finally got to sit on him (almost by accident. I was in Aiken horse shopping but not for me), one of the first things she said about him (other than "You HAVE to try him") was, "He's not an amateur's horse." I didn't really understand that when I tried him or even once I had him home, at first.

                          Well, the beast is wild. He's got a spook, he acts like a goon, he's kind of snarky (he's actually EXTREMELY sweet and charming, but I say he's crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle). He's an ass, basically. The standing joke this time of year is that I sometimes have to warn people to clear the area when I climb on because he will just...LEAVE. He's mellowed a bit, but, yeah, he's not something I would just put anyone on (unlike Vernon, who was PERFECT for ammies and kids).

                          A lot of the stuff that makes me giggle about Toby would be major dealbreakers for others. Everyone's got their "things." So, just keep that in mind when asking opinions!

                          btw, I don't like small eyes, either.


                          • #33
                            For people who say lots of stops on a record is a deal breaker, do you care if it's actual stopping or 'ammy owner can't steer' type glance offs? (ie, horse has no idea he's supposed to be jumping).


                            • #34
                              Same as over in H/J land...the horse can pick up habits you cannot get rid of from bad riding. Whether it can be fixed or not is going to vary with each individual horse and situation as well as the ability of the perosn who will be schooling it after purchase.

                              I would probably pass for the show ring and would definately pass for CC where you would really not need old memories cropping up when things don't go perfect to something big and solid.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Big_Grey_hunter View Post
                                For people who say lots of stops on a record is a deal breaker, do you care if it's actual stopping or 'ammy owner can't steer' type glance offs? (ie, horse has no idea he's supposed to be jumping).
                                It would depend on the horse and the person it was intended for.

                                If it's a horse being marketed as an ammie packer type, and I was looking for an ammie who may forget how to steer on occasion, then I wouldn't even consider it.

                                But if it is a green horse being considered for an experienced ammie or a pro, and all else was equal, it may be worth considering.

                                There are a lot of variables in horse shopping and selling!


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by eponacowgirl View Post
                                  I have a T-total training packer for sale who ALWAYS finishes in the ribbons at training but usually has low 40's dressage. Apparently it is a deal breaker for everyone in the planet because I cannot move her.
                                  Don't feel bad! There is a young pro in my area that has the cutest horse on the planet (IMO) that he hasn't sold yet. Was priced fairly early in the summer when he had it on one of the sales website (no price on his own website). Dressage scores are 10-15 points worse than his other rides, but his sj and xc are always perfect. I guess ammies are thinking if a pro gets those scores then what chance do I have? (Of course this is pure speculation on my part since maybe the horse has other issues).


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Yellowbritches - I'm with you. My heart horse was the one no one wanted to ride because he was "crazy." They told me he'd never event; he "didn't have the right mind." Well, with some hard work and determination, I turned him into an excellent event horse. Of course, the old spark isn't gone...even in his 20s, I still can't trust him with inexperienced riders.

                                    I'm a little torn with my horse shopping because I recently started working with a new trainer (still board with old trainer, she just retired from teaching). New trainer thinks I should get an older horse with prelim/intermediate mileage so that I can get some upper level mileage without having to worry about the horse. I've competed plenty at training and schooled bunches of prelim stuff, just never competed at prelim. Old trainer who has known me for 20+ years says that while that may be a sound way to go, she knows I'll get bored without much of a challenge. She's not suggesting I get something troublesome, but just something younger and more interesting than a old packer. Sigh...what to do, what to do.


                                    • #38
                                      Yellowbritches - I'm with you. My heart horse was the one no one wanted to ride because he was "crazy." They told me he'd never event; he "didn't have the right mind." Well, with some hard work and determination, I turned him into an excellent event horse. Of course, the old spark isn't gone...even in his 20s, I still can't trust him with inexperienced riders.
                                      Well, my catch phrase for Toby is "He's good when it counts." And he is. He can be a complete loony bird sometimes out hacking or on the way back from the ring or just going out to the pasture, but when it's time to work, he WORKS. I am very lucky in that respect!

                                      Practically speaking, a good campaigner is worth it if you have the budget.


                                      • #39
                                        She's not suggesting I get something troublesome, but just something younger and more interesting than a old packer. Sigh...what to do, what to do.
                                        I would vote the in between ground of a younger horse with a packer mentality. My guy is just about to make the move up to training level (has done some derbies and CTs at training - I have in the past done a lot of prelim on a couple of horses, one an OTTB very like this guy). He came of the track as a 6 year old, is now 7. I am an ammie with a great trainer and a very busy job, so not as consistent as I have been in the past, but this horse has the total packer brain. I miss, he fixes it. I totally fail and he stops safely, then gets it right at the next approach. I run him through a fence and he happily jumps a little more carefully the next time. He takes a joke, doesn't hold a grudge, is willing to do dressage (above average, but not stunning mover), and is always trying to figure out how to jump what he is pointed at, plus he's great in the barn, on the ground and is the same horse at shows as at home.
                                        OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                                        • #40
                                          If it won't load willingly. Seriously. I have picked up 100's (yes) mostly from the track; and loading has always been my measure of what we're in for. I have walked away from horses I have already bought because of this issue, with no regrets. My newest guy jumped right up into the trailer, and I've been in love ever since.