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What are your deal breakers when buying a horse?

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  • What are your deal breakers when buying a horse?

    I'm wondering what you all would consider deal breakers when buying a horse. If the horse has been competed before, is there a certain trend you prefer to see (or not to see) on their USEA record?

    I'm sure we'd all love to see consistent dressage scores in the 20s, no refusals, and no rails. But, it's pretty hard to find that perfect horse - especially when you're working on a low budget! So, what are some of your deal breakers (if you have any)?

    i.e. Would you consider looking at a horse with Training/Prelim dressage scores only in the 40s? What about a horse with cross-country refusals? How about a horse consistently pulling rails?

  • #2
    Dealbreakers depend on what you want the horse to do. For a horse to be a kid's first Preliminary horse, I couldn't care less if its dressage is in the 40s if it's got a ton of clean XC goes or the occasional rail with a kid or ammy and wants to take care of its rider. But that horse wouldn't necessarily be one I'd pick for a likely upper level serious contender (at least not based on the record).

    But generally speaking, while I prefer a horse who wants to go clean, it doesn't really bother me if the horse has a couple of letter scores or 20s early on its career or occasionally at preliminary or intermediate, because that's often just a sign of a horse learning its job and/or the difficulty of the levels. What I do flag as a warning sign are horses who are consistently withdrawn before XC (makes me think either soundness issues or a horse who is only suited to a particular type of course) or whose record has a pattern of Es or stops in SJ.

    Other than that, I find the record is fairly ancillary to looking at the horse in front of me. My dealbreakers are far more often likely to be soundness or vice related than having to do with their record, though I do usually look (at least to cross-check what the horse is being marketed as).

    Comment


    • #3
      1. No unreasonable spooking. At all. I want a horse who likes to see new things. And yes, I learned this the hard way. If a horse is spooky, someone else can deal with it. Not me -- that's not how I want to spend my time with a horse.

      2. Horse must be forward-moving and -thinking. I'm not interested in asking the horse to go forward on every stride. I'm really not interested in riding the skin off him to the base of every single fence.

      3. I don't care about dressage scores. I care that a horse uses himself well.

      4. I'd investigate the stops on XC. Not always a horse issue. Same with rails in SJ.

      5. Most of all, I have to like the horse. This one's hard to explain but if I have to spend that much time with any sentient being, I have to like it. IME, it might not be the best horse for successful results or moving up the levels, but it's the horse you like being around. Right now, I ride a giveaway 14hh fat pony whose company I really enjoy, even though all we've done for the past year is work through his mental/bucking issues. I've enjoyed almost every minute of it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Lameness

        As for the record, it's a great resource but you do have to consider the rider, as well as sometimes other factors (weather/conditions). The rider goes both ways, too--knowing that Phillip D got a 22 in dressage and went clean every time might not be a good predictor of my results on that horse.

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        • #5
          Cribbing

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jbonifas View Post
            Cribbing
            Yeah, me too. I swore after building a timber framed barn and purchasing a little over a mile in four board fencing I'd never, ever buy a cribber. I bought the perfect horse a few months ago and he cribs.

            Not sure I believe in the concept of "deal breakers" anymore.

            Comment


            • #7
              Lameness is pretty much the big deal breaker for me. I'm willing to work on dressage if the talent is there and I can tighten up sj(most of the time). A horse that has major cross-country issues(too spooky, falls, etc.) would probably be a deal breaker too. But there are a lot of things that I would be willing to work with/around for a horse that was perfect in every other way!

              Comment


              • #8
                Temperament-- nothing that puts its ears back at you or turns its butt toward you when you go to catch it. Nothing that was raised by an amateur who had never handled a young horse and considered this one to be her baby. Nothing that's too wide for my saddle or too tall for my trailer. No stallions. Obviously nothing that I know is unsound. I can't really afford anything with any kind of competition record even at BN, never mind Prelim, but if I could I would probably give most things the benefit of the doubt depending on how the horse went when I rode it, because there are a lot of rider errors sometimes. Less leeway for a horse competed by Philip Dutton than by someone random who has only ridden one horse at the level or something

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                • #9
                  I thought, for the purposes of this discussion, that soundness was a given, that we are talking about horses that would get a non-negative evaluation from a vet.

                  It's hard to qualify lameness as a 'dealbreaker.' Would you really buy a lame horse?

                  (I do understand people taking on horses that need rehab. But one does not go horse-shopping for these types.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.
                    Big Idea Eventing

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JER View Post
                      5. Most of all, I have to like the horse. This one's hard to explain but if I have to spend that much time with any sentient being, I have to like it. IME, it might not be the best horse for successful results or moving up the levels, but it's the horse you like being around. Right now, I ride a giveaway 14hh fat pony whose company I really enjoy, even though all we've done for the past year is work through his mental/bucking issues. I've enjoyed almost every minute of it.
                      I'm with you! Of all the things that could be dealbreakers, the most important thing is to actually LIKE the horse.

                      As my trainer says, "You have to be able to make excuses for it!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.
                        People crack me up:

                        "Yeah, so I want a totally safe packer for my teenager to go training on. But HAS to be in the ribbons after dressage and I only have $15K"

                        Been there. Done that. I would put my inexperienced kid on a safe jumper that will carry them around XC and stadium but has mid-pack dressage scores ANY day of the week.
                        Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                        The Grove at Five Points

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For me, dressage scores become more and more important as the horse climbs levels. I prefer to see improving scores or consistent scores rather than scores that fluctuate a whole lot (an indicator of an inconsistent horse). I will happily consider a horse with dressage scores in the 40s so long as it is going at the low levels and shows improvements (a 48, then a 47, then 44s and 42s, for example).

                          Deal breakers for me are horses who have a lot of refusals. Most important to have, in my opinion, is a brave horse. Not only are refusals a lot of points going cross country, but most importantly, they can be dangerous. A horse who is a little careless and occasionally knocks down rails in stadium can be taught to be a smarter jumper, but it's hard, if even possible, to train a horse to be more brave. After a certain age and a certain number of miles, given the horse is not jumping anything new or before unseen, a horse should not be refusing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                            People crack me up:

                            "Yeah, so I want a totally safe packer for my teenager to go training on. But HAS to be in the ribbons after dressage and I only have $15K"

                            Been there. Done that. I would put my inexperienced kid on a safe jumper that will carry them around XC and stadium but has mid-pack dressage scores ANY day of the week.

                            Worst part? THAT WAS HER PRICE!! I actually just raised it a bit because the only calls I was getting on her were "I want to learn how to jump?" and she will not be happy trotting cross rails for months on end. Now? Nothing.
                            Big Idea Eventing

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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.
                              Yep, everything that is a deal breaker for me. Ya got one that scores in the 50s, jumps like a freak of nature on XC and stadium and has enough attitude to tell me I suck at riding? I buy those.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                JER - I liked your post because I agree with you.

                                Take my points with a grain of salt because I'm not sure how pertinent they are to your situation Prince, I have only ever bought one horse that was doing something - ie had a record. (my first horse) Everything other horse I've bought OT.

                                So biggies for me, assuming soundness, quality and athletic ability:

                                1) Demeanor. extreme hyper-reactivity is great for pure show jumping, not so great for eventing. (ask me how I know lol !!!)

                                2) Temperament. Don't want evil, or evil streak (not talking about naughty). For example, I looked at a lovely grey 4 yr old, 16+hh, sound, ran every week in the money. Good mover, had suspension. But, had a real hard, mean look in his eye. I passed.

                                3) Confidence. Horse must be confident. IME, timid, soft tempermented horses do not sit on the bit and gallop down to a jump. Yes, some of that can be trained in, but its much better to start with a horse who is naturally like that.

                                4) Feet. Must have good feet with heels.
                                Unrepentant carb eater

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                                • #17
                                  Ill tempers or poor work ethics are quick ways to send me running. If I'm going to pay for his meals, the least the horse can do is be agreeable and like having me around.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Crib, weave, stall walk, does not tie

                                    on the plus

                                    Moves like a butterfly
                                    Jumps like a Flea!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Judysmom View Post
                                      Feet. Must have good feet with heels.
                                      This! Bad feet are a total deal-breaker for me. No hoof, no horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Good conformation is a must. I also really, really dislike eyes with white rings around them (white sclera). I call them "crazy eyes." I just have never liked a horse with that type of eye. I just won't buy one. I realize this is unreasonable!

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