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How Did You Know?

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  • How Did You Know?

    I'm horse-shopping again (sigh), and I'm afraid I'll miss out on the right one. I know, silly, but I have to worry about something, right?

    So how did you know a horse was THE ONE?

    My problem is that I fall in love WAY too easily. Or I think "they'll get better!" or "they'll stay sound!". This is why I have a trainer helping me now.

    When I tried out Paddy it was after a YEAR of looking. Two horses I tried didn't vet, one was just too behind my leg, etc. Now, I would've bought them all anyway, but my trainer said "NO!". Paddy was the last one I was going to try--if he didn't work, I was going back to my retired boy and just sticking with him.

    I liked how Paddy looked. I liked jumping him. But when I got to ride him a mile back to the stable on my own, and I asked for a canter very quietly and he rewarded me with the most wonderful, lilting canter, I KNEW he was the one! I realized he wanted me to be quiet--something I was trying to learn--and I KNEW I could learn a ton from him (which I have!).

    So when did you know?
    --Becky in TX
    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
    She who throws dirt is losing ground.

  • #2
    hmmm....the short answer? After I sat on him I didn't want to look anymore.

    One clear thing that comes to mind in our first ride was that, despite the fact that he'd already jumped around training level xc at Paradise earlier that day, he was more than game to come back out and do something with me. And, on our first "getting to know you" lap around the ring, he locked on to a skinny. I liked that, a lot. But, really, we just clicked. His back felt like "home."

    A silly moment, that I considered a bit of a sign that he was mine, was that, when I got off, I noticed a few VERY familiar things...a fuzzy girth, flaky skin, the mottled look of a freshly clipped, hivey horse. These were very familiar looking things to me, as that's pretty much what I had looked at for 3 years living with Vernon. I looked at his rider and said "Is his skin sensitive?" She laughed! Yep.

    Obviously, everything added up on paper. He was a good age, in the price range, a nice size for me, 3 nice gaits, a great jump, etc. He had bonus points for having more mileage than anything else, so instead of starting from scratch, I had a horse that I would likely be able to have going prelim by the end of the year (that didn't happen, but that's horses for ya).

    Maybe I don't fall in love too easily. Maybe because, at the time, I got to ride LOTS of horses for a living, so I knew what was nice, what wasn't, and what was just right for me, and that was Toby. (Have I mentioned that I adore this horse?).


    • #3
      I totally clicked when sitting on him (this has happened 4 times. I still own all 4 of those horses despite having turned over something like 20 others over the same period of time). I absolutely did not care what anyone else thought about him (judges, trainers, eventing friends). I knew he was the right horse and that I was going to have fun riding him every time I got on. I don't look at horses that don't fill my basic criteria (good conformation, at least good movers, the body type I like - which is 15.2 - 16.0, short backed, not too fine bonedand athletic enough to know they will have no physical issue eventing through the preliminary level) so that makes it easier.

      Those 4 horses have been 3 OTTB and the infamous spotted menance. I have basically sat on them and then written the check to make them mine (I do vet checks before flying to try, so that wasn't an issue).
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


      • #4
        I often buy off the track so I don't know until a few months in.

        My current guy I wanted based on his CANTER pic alone, I thought he'd have a good gallop/jump, and when I met him he was very engaged, interested in everything going on, seemed like he'd be fun to work with.

        He has been, but I have also chosen poorly in the past.


        • #5
          Probably when I got on and rode better, jumped higher/more intricate excercises with more pace and got off with more confidence then I had felt with previous mount despite being totally unfamiliar with the sale horse.

          Mind you, I have had alot of them and don't try anything that does not meet my basics size, shape, temperment and appearance wise.

          But if I really click with them from the second I pick up the outside iron? That's the one...although I don't think there is THE ONE-not getting married here and there are alot of them out there to look at, few others will also do the same for me but there are others. Price, PPE and logistics have to be right too.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            With my current horse, I did not even want to look at him because I felt he would be too small (he was 15.2 as a 3 1/2 year old off the track). Then, when I first looked at him in his stall, and he poked his nose out to see me...I pretty much just "knew" right then that I wanted him. This was without seeing him do anything at all other than stand in his stall. I've looked at a decent number of horses in my life, and this is the only horse I have ever had this instant connection with. Four years later, I'm still glad I have him. Though he has been a bit challenging at times, he was meant to be mine.


            • #7
              Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
              hmmm....the short answer? After I sat on him I didn't want to look anymore.
              Absolutely. I was trying multiple horses in one day and after I rode Jack, I had no interest in trying any other horse. He is naughty sometimes, and has soundness issues, but I have never regretted choosing him.
              The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~ Arabian Proverb


              • #8
                Pie put his head on my shoulder and I had to have him! I drove so fast on the way home that I got not one, but TWO speeding tickets during the 5hr drive.

                I knew from watching his at liberty video that I wanted him just based on his 'way'...curious, a little bit silly, full of himself...but not quite cocky...yet.

                Trainer said NO! The scars on his left front mean he's been injured there before! Well, she turned out to be correct...of course!! however I'm still so glad I got Pie. We totally bonded during his rehab..and he has come back better than before.

                Here's a pic of us the day I picked him up... you can see the stupidly elated look on both our faces!!
                Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
                Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
                Take us to print!


                • #9
                  With my first pony, it was love at first sight. I went to a sales barn where she and another pony were located. I was *technically* looking at the other one because my pony was a bit of a witch. Despite the owner's attempts to get me to buy the other one, I bought my pony, and was so happy I did.

                  With my horse, I found myself in a different situation. He was owned by my trainer, so I had the luxury of riding him for months before buying him. I knew he was "the one" (and I wasn't even shopping), when I almost passed out from nerves watching someone else come and try him. I was beside myself. 14 years later, we are still best friends.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    I don't think there is THE ONE-not getting married here and there are alot of them out there to look at, few others will also do the same for me but there are others. Price, PPE and logistics have to be right too.
                    This. I think buyers sometimes let the perfect be the enemy of the good: all horses have some flaws, and it's too easy to get wrapped around a lot of if-only-horse-X-had-Y-he'd-be-perfect or wait for rainbows to shine 'round when you see the horse. I've been lucky enough to have a bunch of very talented horses in my life (as well some who probably should have been pulling a cart), and while I've loved all of them, I'm not sure I'd say that there was a single defining factor that made them "the one". They were the horse I liked well enough when I met them, who had the right physical capabilities and experience for what I wanted to do with them, and who I generally liked being around.

                    Maybe that's it at the end of the day - the right horse is the one you want to see at the pasture gate waiting to come in for breakfast. It's the horse that, day in and day out, you have fun riding.


                    • #11
                      I was looking at two different horses from two sellers at the same time, a chestnut and a bay. I was trying to make a decision and I was heavily leaning towards the chestnut anyways. I knew the moment I went online to search for horse names for him.

                      On top of that, I'd ridden dozens of horses over the eleven years I'd been riding without a horse. Most of them I got along with eventually, but it took a few rides before we really started to understand each other. Only one or two horses over the years had really clicked with me the moment I'd swung my leg over them. The chestnut (who was later rechristened to Dante) was one of those horses for me.

                      So for me it wasn't a matter of finding THE one, just of finding one of those that clicked. Most other horses (even to this day), I have to learn how to ride each individually. This one type, I just get on and do without having to think about it.


                      • Original Poster

                        Yeah, I sound a little "rainbows and lollipops".....but I have four horses, and Paddy's the MAN. I really like riding the others--each time I get on, I recall how much--but with Paddy, it's different. I don't have to be reminded. I guess it's the connection that DV spoke about. I suppose I don't have to have that....but dang, it's nice.
                        --Becky in TX
                        Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                        She who throws dirt is losing ground.


                        • #13
                          I don't have a huge sample size (n = 2), but I bought both the same way -- I shopped conformation, then went and tried out brain. Both I knew (one 100%, one 90%, the other 10% came when I swung a leg over) when I looked them in the eye. The first was like a lightning bolt connection, I swear, and almost 7 years later, still is. The second I've only had a year, but his eye did not lie about his excellent brain, big heart, and good character. And both have been sturdy and strong in work since I shopped good structure in the first place.
                          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                          We Are Flying Solo


                          • #14
                            I knew he was the right horse for me when not only did I name him before he ever put a hoof on the trailer to come across country, but also when the cowboy I bought him from said, "He's like ridin' a bicycle in a sand dune." I thought, "That works for me!"
                            In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.


                            • #15
                              When I got tired of looking!


                              • #16
                                i buy and resell off the track all the time and i have one now i'm not sure i want to sell. 4 yrs.old grey sweet, easy,quiet and already showing after 3 months off the track. would never know he's a tb. i sell a lot of horses and love to put the right people with the perfect horse for them.you will know

                                ride it like you stole it! "ralph hill"


                                • #17
                                  I found my (albeit new guy) by accident. I was in a herd of recently imported, skinny and kind-of in shock OTTB's from Hong Kong. I was just looking... I put my hand on the neck of one I wasn't impressed with to steady myself, and felt "it". I chose five to try, and he was the first. I spent less than a minute on the others - I just wanted to be on him.

                                  We're still getting to know each other, as it's only been four months, but every day I find out something else about him that I respect. I'm really psyched for our future together.


                                  • #18
                                    I drove down to KY to look at a farm full of Arabs. The intent was to find something to show and ultimately breed. I had picked two colts and two fillies from the sales videos and pedigrees that I liked. Turned out the black colt I liked the best had been sold the night before I got down there. Oh well. Went out to the colts' field (I wasn't specific enough about which of the 150 horses on the farm I wanted to seriously see/handle and was content to first look at them in the fields). One colt was ALL ABOUT getting the attention from the humans. The others? Meh. The one I liked best on paper refused to be caught (these were coming 3yo colts). The one I didn't like at all on paper or on video had this ridiculous clown personality who just kept poking at the people. He let me touch him all over, just loose in the field and pick up all of his feet without fuss. He was just all about the attention. Then proceeded to follow me around as I tried to mess with the other colts. I REALLY liked him at that point, but didn't want to choose out of the first field.

                                    Next we went to the fillies' field. They were all reasonably friendly, but nobody really stood out.

                                    Then we got the tour of the rest of the farm and got to meet all the babies and the stallions (who live either in bachelor bands or with their little mare herd that they bred that year). All the stallions were gorgeous, friendly, usable animals. Most of them weren't really messed with much at this point, but all had proven themselves either in the show ring in some facet or another or on the track.

                                    The whole tour of the farm, I just wanted to go back to see the first friendly colt. I couldn't get him out of my head.

                                    We went back to the other end of the farm (they had at least 100 acres that just the horses were on....I'm told the cattle were behind the house on even more land we couldn't see) to see that first colt. Again, he came right up to us and was all about getting attention from everyone, but especially me.

                                    I gave him one last pat and we went back up to the office to talk. Signed the papers, wrote the check and brought him home a couple weeks later. He turned

                                    My ONLY complaints about him are that he isn't a challenging enough ride and is a little on the lazy side (which also makes him a safe/relaxing ride) and he stayed smaller than I would have hoped. He'd rather putter around with kids than foxhunt with me, given the choice. He *will* foxhunt/do whatever else I want without complaint and seems to like it better each time we go out, but he'll always be a fundamentally lazy horse who prefers lounging around to actually working. He's such a good boy though and I love him to death. I will NEVER sell him in a million years even if he becomes not my main mount. I'd be perfectly happy to basically retire him to pet and feed cookies to when I get a second (well, third I guess at this point...mare is old and is a long story why I now have her...) horse.
                                    Last edited by candysgirl; Nov. 30, 2012, 09:34 PM. Reason: accidentally hit post too soon


                                    • #19
                                      The first time I saw Tucson I had been riding with my new trainer for two weeks. I was just getting back into riding and wanted to take lessons for about a year before buying a horse, but when we went down to see her and some of her students at a horse trial I was just drooling over all the horses there. One stood out though, and I thought he was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. I am a big fan of color - palomino is my favorite color, but I love white on the face, white legs, etc. He's solid, dark bay. I just thought he was gorgeous!

                                      It turned out my trainer was riding him and he actually happened to be for sale, which I found out later. I got some photos of him, and thought "I'll never own a horse so beautiful!"

                                      It was the end of the eventing season so his owner took him home from there and I didn't see him again until I went to try him 6 months later. I had totalled my car the day before and was hurting like crazy, and he hadn't been ridden since that horse trial. We were tacking him up and I asked my trainer if we should longe him first and she said "no, I'll just get on him." I think when she said that I knew the stories I'd heard from some people about his personality were a bit misinformed... My trainer had already said she thought he would be my type of ride and that she thought he would be happier as a dressage horse than an eventer. The footing wasn't really ok to canter there, so he came over to the barn for a month trial, and the first time I cantered him was when I knew I HAD to have this horse, even though I'd been a bit in love with him for a long time.

                                      He's been a challenge, and I have been forced to really improve my riding, but even with his sometimes extremely naughty behavior I haven't had those butterflies and thoughts that I want to ride a horse who behaves better; rather I have had thoughts that I need to better learn how to ride through his naughtiness. I'm NOT the bravest person, so the fact that has been my reaction is part of the sign that we are just a good personality match. I have certainly learned more from him than the more trained but less talented horse I thought I wanted to buy!

                                      I bought a two year old filly this summer who just fit every single item on my checklist of what I wanted in a young horse to have coming up behind Tucson. I loved the babies I had seen by her sire who had relatively few foals in the US, but they had all been out of larger dams and were too big for me. I knew I wanted a lot of TB blood, but it had to be quality TB where often folks just take the first TB mare they can get for free to breed. I found her through the Chronicle forums and watched her for two years before I was ready to buy. In that time I looked at hundreds of ads, and saw no other horse who was as ideally my type as far as talent and type. I kept expecting her to sell and wasn't in a rush to buy a baby, but this summer things just came together for me to get her. I planned a trip to Florida to meet her and ride her full sister who the breeder (acottongim on this board) was keeping, and the goal was to buy her on the trip as after two years I had seen enough video and photos I was willing to buy her without even going on the trip, really. In person she was even better than I could have told, and so far I'm thrilled with her. As we're going through green stages when we start training next year I'm sure I'll change my mind at times, but overall I am so glad I got her over any of the other quality babies I have seen out there. She's just my type of personality and I'm pretty sure will be my type of ride, too.
                                      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.


                                      • #20
                                        Ok I am gonna be mean and go through ALL of mine:

                                        1984 Aspen: It was a grey pony with cute ears and he let me ride him pretty easily. Plus he was cheap.

                                        1985 Flow: She was the wrong horse but ultimately taughte me a lot. I loved her off our trial ride. (You know the one we showed up 45 mins early for and she was being lunged in side reins and was already covered in foam. And I rode her in her 'normal' bit of a double twisted wire. Yea she was great that day!)

                                        1987 Catch: She was a nice mare. I loved her easiness and roan coloring.

                                        1989 Patty: OMG Amazing horse. Rode the first time in the field from heaven filled with jumps (Mikey Smithwick's place in MD), he would take me to anything and hope right over. I knew I had to have him! He knew more at 5 and had more patience than anything I have ever had beneath me at that point.

                                        1992 Genie: (Beloved 15 hand mare) True story... As Bruce (Davidson) got off of her from showing her undersaddle for me he said "Oh yea, she's a little small. That doesn't matter right? When a 2 time world champion implies it shouldn't matter to a 21 year old training level rider, are you gonna disagree? I didn't. Rode her and LOVED her. She taught me a ton in 5 years and I still feel her loss to a lightning strike. So many "I wish I had's" with that one..

                                        1994 Willie: I loved him but I had my doubts too but there was just something about him... He had plenty on the vetting to be concerned about. I forever thank my mom for prepping me before I called and tried to haggle on the price a little mom told me, "If you get in trouble tell them you'll call back but you have to consult with your financial backers." Boy did I get in trouble. No price change was gonna fly. So I used mom's line and hung up. Barely slept but decided "oh hell with it. It's either gonna be the best or stupidest move ever." Bought him at full price and he took me to Intermediate. I was kinder to his buyers from me. I gave them my price + $500 for them. They gave him a permanent home and we all grieved when he passed.

                                        1997 Punter: Remember how I said about Willie... "oh hell with it. It's either gonna be the best or stupidest move ever." Yea well Willie was the right move, Punter was a lesson in humility. After him I vowed never to pay more than $5k for a horse ever. (He was way more. Lesson learned)

                                        1998 Gryphon: He was just magical. I waited a month for a foot issue to sort out and enjoyed a lot of success with him. I must have seen something correct because he went on from me to be a top 3 star horse who ran three 3*'s with no jump faults. Now if I had just gotten paid for him.... (More lessons learned)

                                        2000 Nick: It was all in the ears. Sitting at a backyard horse auction in NC and heard them announce it was an IRISH Tb in the ring. Yea that didn't take much thought!! Great horse. He had the cutest small ears inside that silly bridle they had on him. Got to ride him up and down the sales chute area. That was it. No vet. $800.

                                        2004 Kaymin: It was an act of valor was buying him. He was half starved, his teenage owner was afraid of him but he was a nice big horse that had potential to do something. I couldn't ride him, he had no back muscles and his spine was sticking up. I free lunged him in a pen and he actually laid down. When he saw I wasn't afraid he warmed up. It was more about getting him away from his owners than anything. And he was great and he got a forever home after me and sadly passed this year. And again we all mourned together.

                                        2004 Lad.... How do I explain this? Well..a friend said he had a horse that wasn't running well and should be a sport horse. Can you take some pics and spread the word. I say sure. Lad comes out of the barn and I actually fell in love. Heart skipped a beat and all that. I took pics, and groomed him after he came in. He bit me like 6 times. (He's still mouthy) I had 2 horses then so I just left it to fate. When I sold Nick in October, I called and said I wanted to buy him. Hadn't seen him since that day in August. My friend asked if he could run him one more time, I said sure. I went and watched the race live. He finished a beaten 6th. I called him 45 minutes later (allowing time to cool out) and my friend said "Are you gonna take this f***in horse off my f***ing hands?" I said yes. And that was that. I didn't believe in heart horses. I do now. Lad will stay forever.

                                        2012 Petey: This ones been told before. He had been out of training 2 weeks already just standing in a stall, He was curious and in my pocket in the stall and when asked to jog in the shedrow, in sixteen degrees, after no work he jogged flat footed and nice. He bucked once when a horse reached over and bit his ass. Next time around jogged just as flat footed and nice. I looked at John and said "I love this horse." He felt the same. I said "I want him." So we got him.

                                        I agree overall it's not just about feeling this is "the one" there are many as we all know after suffering from a failed vetting and searching after you think you've found the right one. But as often as not even the bad or mediocre horses will teach you and enhance your abilities as a rider. Aspen bucked... a lot. Flow was a dead run away on xc, Catch had a brain tumor and suffered seizures in the form of sudden rears or stumbles. Patty hated water jumps, Genie could PULL on xc and was lazy with her front end at verticals, Willie needed to be ridden 150%, Punter had "issues", Gryphon was tense in dressage, Nick could be temperamental if I pushed for too much on the wrong day. Kaymin had hind end issues, Lad is his own world of stuff. (You had to make him think things were his idea. Honest, but sometimes demanding that he be the boss) And Petey is a saint. So that's nearly 30 years in I find my saint... and I am selling him!

                                        I think beyond ignoring major soundness or temperament issues, there aren't really 100% right or 100% wrong horses. There are horses that will allow you to grow quickly in your talent, and ones who will develop your coping skills.

                                        Last edited by Xctrygirl; Dec. 1, 2012, 12:58 PM. Reason: Internal Spelling Nazi Revolt
                                        "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries