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Horse shopping: am I being too picky?!

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    Tell those well meaning friends with questionable expertise if they think the horse is wonderful and sound, you’ll give them sellers number and they can buy it. It is, after all, your money, and your financial and emotional commitment for up to 20 years.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


      Is it possible that your friends are zeroing in on the dressage prospect thing too much? Your budget might get you soundness or it might get you solid training, or it might get you some proven physical talent, but it's a one in a million find that will have all 3 of those things on a 4-figure budget. Perhaps the folks who are steering you toward horses with soundness issues misunderstand your priorities and are thinking you might be able to gamble on fixing feet or strengthening a stifle in order to have a horse that's got the training or movement to go farther than the average horse in that price range?

      I bet people are trying to be helpful. If I were you I'd just tell those people thanks, but to keep your search focused you're going to work exclusively with your vet and trainer in deciding which horses to consider, so you no longer need ads forwarded. And then just keep your eyes open and bide your time instead of lowering your standard or expending energy or money to rule in/out the unsound or unsuitable ones.

      I used to shop for horses in the $5-$10k range somewhat often when I worked at a riding facility, and man does that price range seem to collect everything from the diamond in the rough to the unsound, untrained, and unfortunate specimens with delusional sellers. Good luck finding the wheat among the chaff.


        You're not being too picky with what you describe - a horse should be sound - but what are your other criteria? Training? Age? Breed? Location? You may be being too picky in your friends' eyes on those criteria.


          Original Poster

          xQHDQ location might be part of it. Age range is a 9 year Gap, height 14 to 17 hands, looking at green horses of any breed and gender. But I am looking for something that can school (not compete!!) At least 3rd level so I'm definitely a little picky on conformation and soundness. The budget DOES make this harder so I agree with them on that. But I'd rather keep saving then buy something unsuitable or possibly lame.


            Original Poster

            Full disclosure: the last horse I bought was the "wrong color" my least favorite type. But I loved his build, feet, bone, movement and brain. He vetted the cleanest of any horse in had ever bought. And I have always bought horses with findings on a PPE, I expect that. The sad irony is he had a progressive disease that didn't show up in PPE.

            I'm sure I'm colored by that experience in many ways. On one hand, I found a horse that checked a lot of my boxes (oh I loved him!) So it's hard to lower my standards from that. And on another hand, I am more careful and protective with what I want buy.

            That's just a self analysis that maybe I am being picking but I really do want a sound horse to start off with at the very least.


              As someone who has been in your shoes, you can't be picky enough. And it is unbelievably frustrating the price tags put on horses who are clearly *not*..........(fill in the blank)!

              Only you know what you can live with, and what is a deal breaker. I will tell you, the lesson I'm learning right now is that "you don't know what you don't know" - and that can kick your ass later down the line.

              So be picky. And stay picky. In the meantime educate yourself further on every last little thing even if it's so far fetched you think 'impossible'. Because trust me, it's not.


                You have a lot of room in your description of what you are looking for, so no, you are not being too picky. Probably the coming winter months will reveal some more prospects!


                  If you were fixated with color or height or markings, you might be "too picky".

                  But refusing to compromise on soundness is just sensible.

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


                    A serious vet would not go through with a PPE if the horse is lame to begin with.
                    Or they would stop it at the sign of any lameness.

                    A PPE is also not a vet check for a diagnostic. That would be at the owner’s charge.
                    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                    Originally posted by LauraKY
                    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.


                      Original Poster

                      alibi_18 I do think some owners think that's what ​​​​​a PPE is for!

                      Part of it, is I can see a subtle lameness where I find many can't. I can see 1/1.5 lameness (on a scale.) I have worked for a few vets. Some people don't consider footsore to be a lameness (???)

                      It's always interesting horse shopping.


                        Original Poster

                        I once saw a horse (after traveling out of state) that had a giant, swollen and sore hock. I was shocked.


                          I think if you are shopping for a young horse, you have every right to be shy of issues that come down to care and maintenance.

                          A horse with bad feet may have intrinsically , bad feet, but more likely has been served by neglect and poor standard of care. Not the start you want to buy even if it is considered a low budget animal.

                          The person who likes to get young horses, say from the track, and spiff them up for the sport horse home is out there. They are as caring as you. You will find them.
                          -- * > hoopoe
                          Procrastinate NOW
                          Introverted Since 1957


                            Originally posted by findthedistance View Post

                            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."
                            Yeah, few years ago I went and saw an unstarted Escudo II daughter who was out in a feedlot with a bunch of appies. She could move, looked very sound, but her feet were a mess. I trim my own, but didn't feel confident that I could detect any problems under all that excess hoof. The seller was happy to have me pay to have her feet trimmed to get an assessment. Didn't end up buying the horse for other reasons, but $50 for getting the feet cleaned up and the opinion from a trimmer I trusted was well worth it before diving into a 4-figure PPE.


                              Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post
                              xQHDQ location might be part of it. Age range is a 9 year Gap, height 14 to 17 hands, looking at green horses of any breed and gender. But I am looking for something that can school (not compete!!) At least 3rd level so I'm definitely a little picky on conformation and soundness. The budget DOES make this harder so I agree with them on that. But I'd rather keep saving then buy something unsuitable or possibly lame.
                              I don't know your area, but something in the Morgan, Azteca or Arabian cross realm should be able to check all those boxes and be within your budget and sound. You are not being too picky by expecting this. I hope you find the perfect unicorn soon!


                                Be picky - but the horse has to speak to you, also. Looking for a performance horse, dressage, jumping, etc. is harder because we do not know how hard the young horse has been worked to reach the level...a heavy workload on a young horse takes its toll on young joints, etc. Good luck, soundness is a priority for me - but other things could be a 7 or an 8 if you are not expecting a future GP horse.

                                Good luck - we have all been there, but I am glad you are not rushing into this.
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                  Seeing unsoundness is the curse of developing an educated eye. I see lame and NQR horses everywhere. Thank your stars that you can see these things before you bring a vet in. Trust your eye and take your time.


                                    Original Poster

                                    jonem004 it does sometimes feel like a curse! I try to notice all the details too. Feet, posture when standing ect. Those things can really highlight a problem.

                                    I think the hardest thing is seeing the difference from a slight weakness, imbalance. I can usually see that slight difference from one direction to the other. Sometimes correct work can make a difference.

                                    But if I feel there is something truly off, I usually save my vet money and move on.


                                      Original Poster

                                      One thing that drives me crazy is when I ask about feet, 90% of the time I get told "he has great feet, he's barefoot!" I go out and see that the horse is only barefoot because it can't hold a shoe! And it's very sore with nothing close to "great feet!"


                                        Original Poster

                                        Something I know I'm picky about is personality. I do know exactly the mind I'm looking for right now. What one person likes and what I like isn't always the same. But I want something that I really look forward to going to see at the barn.


                                          Lunabear1988, I could have written your post! I, too, am dressage horse shopping on a similar budget. I have seen so many videos of lame horses and pictures of cute noses.....or she is that one beside the bay, scuse the mud....

                                          I have been told that horses don't actually fail PPE's they just don't meet the buyers need, well, not testing positive on a flexion is one of my requirements!
                                          Like you I only have room for one maybe two riding horses, I absolutely can't afford to buy something and hope it will work out of whatever lameness issue it has.

                                          Having a second pair of eyes to help sort through potential prospects is very valuable if you have it.

                                          Good luck in your search!