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Horse shopping: am I being too picky?!

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    Horse shopping: am I being too picky?!

    So I'm currently horse shopping. I am looking for a Dressage prospect, on a beer budget (mid to high 4 figures.) I am looking after I lost my young horse to health issues that didn't show up on PPE. Which does color my experience.

    I've been told by some friends that I'm being too picky. I don't feel like I am, I know that no horse will be perfect but I have a few things I won't touch. Certain conformation issues, stifle issues, and major feet issues. I also will not vet a horse that doesn't appear sound. That includes foot sore, abscesses ect.

    Am I being unreasonable? I know things can show up on a PPE but I feel it's pointless to vet a horse that's not 100% at the time of the vetting. Maybe they just need to strength their stifle. Or maybe they just need pads on the front. But I don't feel that I should be the one vetting the horse to find out how to get the horse fully sound.

    Am I being too picky for my budget though? It is hard to shop after what I've been through but I also don't want to settle.

    Be picky. I've just lost my beautiful 8 year old in very similar circumstances. I am heart broken. There was something niggling at me when I bought her, but I knew there would be a "but" on my budget and she was stunning, moved well and was so good natured. We never managed to really get going and after a solid two years of lameness issues I've had to call it quits. So be picky, make the "but" be that the movement is less, or the conformation is ok but not as likely to find the upper levels so easy, or whatever, but not lameness questions.


      Always listen to your inner voice. Be as picky as you want. Your friends aren't buying the horse, you are.

      And very sorry for your loss.
      ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


        I agree. Be picky. I've never understood why someone would do a PPE on a horse that wasn't currently sound - it's the current owner's responsibility to do diagnostics on a horse, not a potential buyer's. You may have to give up something to buy a dressage prospect on a budget, but it shouldn't be soundness.


          It may take longer but be picky and don't settle for less than you want. Why in the world would anyone consider spending money on a horse that is currently unsound?


            Since you are on a really low budget you need to be picky. And why would anyone PPE a horse that's not sound given that a vet would call the PPE off as soon as he saw the horse was unsound?

            Are these true friends saying this or horse sellers?

            Insisting on sound is not picky. Even if you just wanted an all purpose recreational horse, sound is non negotiable.

            Too picky is getting too caught up on height, markings, color. Insisting on sound is not.


              Original Poster

              I think part of it is my definition of sound and some of my friend's is different. But my vet and I are in agreement.

              I just see it as a waste to vet horse's when I can clearly see discomfort or they have awful feet. I guess I just need to keep on, looking for what I want. It'll happen. Not quickly but I think I'll find something that feels right to me.


                Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post
                I think part of it is my definition of sound and some of my friend's is different. But my vet and I are in agreement.

                I just see it as a waste to vet horse's when I can clearly see discomfort or they have awful feet. I guess I just need to keep on, looking for what I want. It'll happen. Not quickly but I think I'll find something that feels right to me.
                If a reputable seller has a horse with an abscess they pull it off the market until it's healed because they know the vet can't examine it meaningfully in that case. And claims of "he just needs his feet done" can hide all kinds of long term chronic NQR.

                While you don't have a big budget for a dressage horse you are spending a lot of money by any reasonable standard and there is no reason to spend say $8000 on a horse with problems.

                Listen to your vet.


                  Original Poster

                  Scribbler actually some sellers think it's okay to show a horse with an abscess (I have crossed them off my list!)

                  I do respect my vet the most, as she understands the trauma I've been through as well. Friends are well meaning but sometimes they might be wrong.



                    Maybe if it's a freebie rescue and you have a pasture in case it's permanently crocked. Not for your one and only performance horse.


                      Original Poster

                      Scribbler yes if I had the land, I would love to take in a few! But I don't. And I already have paid many vet bills. I just want to ride and enjoy my one and only horse the best I can, hopefully stacking the odds in my favor.


                        Original Poster

                        Moon River I'm so sorry for your loss.


                          Consider reframing your question and then ask it again:

                          "Am I being too cautious/conservative/careful/responsible?"

                          If your more spontaneous friends want to pay for your next horse, and the upkeep for 20 years, their opinion carries a lot of weight.

                          If not, then trust your instincts, and be patient. And know there are still no guarantees.


                            Your friends aren't the ones with your budget, experiences, or who are spending the money. Everyone has a different risk allowance threshold and that's perfectly normal.

                            Incidentally, I think vetting a horse that's already presenting as NQR is foolish. I'm not spending money to diagnose somebody else's problems. There's no guarantee with horses, of course, but it doesn't hurt to stack your odds.


                              Realize PPE is part of the purchase cost and every PPE you do bites into your budget.

                              On the other hand to save your own sanity in all this start editing who you discuss your purchases with.

                              By now you should have a good idea who can give real advice and who is full of hot air.

                              If you are finding yourself debriefing every step of your horse search with half a dozen acquaintances face it, they are probably getting a bit bored or overwhelmed. That's when they could start saying you are too picky. Especially if you give them an in by asking their opinion.

                              Anyhow I would suggest just stop discussing this except with people whose horse skills you totally trust, that is your vet and coach.

                              Keep the peanut gallery at a distance because honestly even when you know someone's a fool just the act of disregarding what they say takes mental energy.


                                Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post
                                I just see it as a waste to vet horse's when I can clearly see discomfort or they have awful feet.
                                You are not too picky for wanting to only vet horses that jog out sound!

                                I will say, I have an awesome farrier. If a horse is sound on awful feet and the feet look like just a trim issue, that's a gamble I'd be willing to make. If awful feet means hoof quality or some other ongoing problem -- hard pass. But I've gotten a couple nice horses on the theory of, "Well, if they're sound on THOSE feet, they'll be sound forever."


                                  Original Poster

                                  I've had to tell some friends to please stop tagging or sending me horses on FB because it is such a personal thing, horse shopping. And I get people pushing towards certain horses (some who are just not sound!) I appreciate the sentiment but I after with Scribbler that maybe it's best to not have many involved.

                                  findthedistance I agree with the feet thing. Just looked at one who had feet that worried me..I rode him twice and second time he was very ouchy... I had to pass. If he had been really sound, maybe I'd deal with it!


                                    No! You are NOT being too picky.

                                    An unsound horse is ......not a dressage horse. Also, not a show hunter, not a field hunter, not a cutting horse, not an eventer.

                                    An unsound horse is (possibly) a pasture ornament, if it's not painful standing and grazing.

                                    Stay patient and wait for the horse that can do the job you want it to do. This is not being picky, it's being practical. It sounds like you've got a good vet on your team.

                                    Also, you have the best user name ever 😂.


                                      Stay picky, cross off horses that are questionable, have poor feet, and all the things you mention. You want a horse to enjoy, hoping for a lot of years ahead together. Those old horse books with a list of basics to check, make sense even now. Better built bodies, pretty straight legs, big hooves under it, tend to allow horse to work easier in his job, stay sound with use.

                                      Are you looking at any young horses? If unbroke, they don't have wear and tear on them from being trained to be decent riding horses. Lots of hours on soft bones and tissues. We let our young horses get some age on them before starting training at 4yrs. They also have a brain in their head to accept training, short sessions are easier on young legs. Then they get turned out for winter, back to work in spring with a good attitude to learning. They do last well, stay pretty sound into their 20s.

                                      I have a hard time sympathizing when people post about buying horses with issues, then horses breakdown with use! Not fixable. I want to yell "start with a sound horse!"

                                      You need to be able to enjoy the new horse, so disregard other folks comments and just smile. Getting a GOOD horse takes a lot of looking in most cases, not like buying shoes!


                                        Original Poster

                                        My thinking is good bone, good feet. As good as conformation as I can find. Sensible mind, trainable. And if it's a good mover that's a perk but geez it needs to be sound. I only can afford so many PPE's!

                                        Thanks guys! I'm just going to keep looking and the stars will align (especially while saving more for my budget!)