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Buying A Horse: Best Advice

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  • Buying A Horse: Best Advice

    Obviously, the best advice about buying a horse is: Don't. But because I'm as insane as the rest of you, I'm trying to spend a fortune to buy a critter who may break tomorrow, despite my best care, and then become a retiree for the next twenty-plus years.

    Anyhow, here's the dilemma: I'd like a jumper that's "going," meaning that he's coursing at least 1.20 with scope for more, at least 1.30. Horses like that run upwards of 85K and, as it turns out, often come with problems, including maintenance issues resulting from their careers. Plus, if you peruse their USEF records, they're often not exactly burning up the world. As my very first trainer muttered years ago when I was a junior: "If they were any good they'd be keeping 'em."

    The alternative is to buy a green youngster, maybe 5 or 6, with a great brain and intimations of a great jump, and then bring him along. But these days, good greenies are going for 50K, with no guarantees that they'll be able to handle a course of big jumps.

    Seems like if you want a sane, sound, proven horse right now--and I'm not getting any younger--you have to be willing to spill bills in the 6 figures.

    I'm hoping somebody will be able to assure me I'm wrong....?


  • #2
    Originally posted by phippsie62 View Post
    Obviously, the best advice about buying a horse is: Don't. But because I'm as insane as the rest of you, I'm trying to spend a fortune to buy a critter who may break tomorrow, despite my best care, and then become a retiree for the next twenty-plus years.
    Yikes, this hits close to home. My life would be so much easier if my passion was, say, tennis.

    I'm sure there are people far more qualified to answer this than me, but I've been watching the market for a while since I'm planning to buy a second one soon and my ambitions far outpace my budget.

    If you want something safe, sound, sane, scopey, and show ring proven at the 1.20+ level, get ready to dip into your trust fund. I would hesitate to say all these horses have "problems," but maintenance does tend to be an issue for many which fit this criteria. My horse competed at Advanced level eventing for years, then transitioned into 1.30 jumpers. He's 25 now, and while he gets lots of maintenance these days, he's shockingly sound considering all that wear and tear. We just showed 3rd level dressage last weekend!

    I'll add that maintenance isn't always bad - sometimes it's more preventative in nature and can result in a longer and more robust career for the horse. And if you end up buying a young horse and bringing it up to that level, you may need to do maintenance anyway, so I wouldn't let this put you off too much. Anyway, I'd look for a horse with solid conformation (and a bit of bone) from a seller/barn with a reputation for good and responsible horse management practices.

    In general you can spend less if you don't mind: something younger, something older, something off-breed, something smaller, something unproven, or something tricky. Your tolerance and ability to handle any of those traits would dictate if they are paths worth considering. For example, if you're a scrappy rider who doesn't mind a challenge, you might be able to pick up a scopey horse for a discount if it's not amateur-friendly, but also isn't quite talented enough to justify a pro keeping it. Or if you're petite, you may be able to pick up a 15.2/15.3 horse that's scopey and handy, but many buyers would rule out because of its size. If you have horse property, maybe you could pick up an older horse that's ready for a step down but still has a few good years left at the 1.20/1.30 height.

    This is a generalization, but by the time a horse is 6, I feel like you typically have a decent idea about its potential as a show jumper. No guarantees of course, but you can get a good sense of its form, reflexes, temperament, etc. while jumping around smaller courses that will give you an indication of how it will handle the bigger stuff. Thus, it's much harder to get a "deal" at that age. If you aren't looking to spend $50k+, have patience, and can handle a bit of risk, I think a green-backed 4 year old is a great option. For a warmblood with decent bloodlines, the price ranges I've seen tend to be closer to $20k - $40k (domestic & import). This is probably the route I will go, but my trainer has a lot of experience with young horses and I'll also have an older schoolmaster to ride as well, so it seems manageable.

    Anyway, not quite sure what you're looking for or are willing to spend, but hope is helpful!
    Last edited by MustangTwist; Jun. 12, 2019, 03:06 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Maybe three months ago, there was a post or two asking about the cost of this type of horse - was that you? You might search back if you’re curious.

      To me, needing maintenance isn’t a big deal for these athletes - I wouldn’t begrudge a horse its four-week shoeing cycle or annual hock injections if it took good care of me over jumps that size. As long as the horse is sound with what one might consider a reasonable level of maintenance (as opposed to barely hanging on or really needing to step down or one thing after another), it’s to be expected.

      I think your price ranges sound right. It costs so much to show now that it takes a lot of cash to get a horse proven (and am-friendly) to that level.

      Buy the best you can afford, going as close to the level you want it for, as possible.

      ETA: https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/f...h-ch-ad-jumper

      https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/f...-junior-jumper
      Last edited by Redlei44; Jun. 12, 2019, 02:02 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        As with a doctor or lawyer, you are paying for their education and experience, not the actual job you need them to do. If you want to continue that example with a Green horse that ticks all the boxes, compare that to Admisiions test scores and undergrad GPA that proves them likely to succeed.

        If you get the chance, ask a breeder what it costs them to get one from a straw to a trainers barn at age 3 then add at least a year of board and training bills to get it to the point it’s actually proven at 1.2 ( at shows, not schooling at home) with scope for 1.3+..

        Yes, there are a few options, going off type and Greener. But if you want one proven at 1.2 with scope for more? Going to cost.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

        Comment


        • #5
          Agree with everyone above. I'm actually shopping for one of each and going to Europe this weekend to look. For the videos, I'm seeing some real variety for the 1.30 horses, both in terms of age and experience. For 100K I'm seeing 1.50 horses who are stepping down to 1.35 and doing well or I'm seeing 1.25 horses that are ready to step up. But it's not clear 100% that they'll get there. They all look fairly easy to ride.

          I'm also looking to see if I can find a nice 5 year old to leave in Europe for a couple years to develop with the potential to do the highs. For this, I"m willing to spend about 50k and I've seen some real super stars with nice pedigrees and early results from young horse classes.

          Regardless, while lots of horses can conceivably jump 1.30, not a ton of them can do it with an amateur on their back. Either way you're going to pay for it upfront with a school master or over time with a young horse. I"m trying to cheat and spend less on the development, but I don't get the enjoyment of the horse in the process.

          It really depends on your goals and what you enjoy. I enjoy young horses but I need to develop as a rider to give a good one confidence. The last thing I need to do is burn a quality young horse. But I'm sort of looking at my goals over a 5-10 year horizon.

          Comment


          • #6
            You can make a silk purse out of a sows' ear.. IF you have the chops and trainer.

            Snowman was $80.

            I've bought $1500 horses and sold them for $10k decades ago. You'll see a lot of junk, and it might take a silly amount of time, but open up your search parameters and you'll be amazed what shakes out. Many MANY people simply do not know what they have. Or are incapable of bringing out the talent.

            Comment


            • #7
              There are horses out there for less. I own 2.

              We've discussed this in a bunch of threads already so I will put the short short version here:

              * Ditching the dealers/trainers saves money and working with real people (here or abroad) can be refreshing. (Obviously if you are already velcroed to your trainer you would be best to work with them, but for the rest of the world who just take lessons and know how to select a nice horse, you can do this a bit on your own.)
              * Vet everything within an inch of it's life. ABSOLUTELY GET C-SPINE XRAYS (Neck) There are MANY Warmbloods in the 4-6 yr old range that are proving to have neurologic diseases. Check before you buy.
              * Send the rads and reports to your vet/ or a university radiologist here. Have the seller (or ideally an independent party that you pay) video the ENTIRE vetting with no edits or breaks. (Sure it costs money but it saves questions)
              * ASK the hard questions
              * DON'T ignore your gut
              * Do either ride the horse yourself or have an independent rider that you trust ride it for you.

              Remember that medicine, specifically meds for maintenance are improving and with a smart exercise and rest routine you can look at an older horse. (Cudo was purchased at age 11)

              Em

              "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

              Comment


              • #8
                you are correct.
                i ended up buying a 4 year old this year, because it was hard to find a nice horse doing 3' that had 3'6 potential for 100K. 150k is the number in hunter land.
                i decided i don't have the stomach for those bucks and went with a green bean that is fancy but VERY GREEN. Neon green is a new term that i just learned.

                As they say you can have two of three: Made, Sound, Cheap. The issue is that Cheap in H/J world is completely relative when you compare that to the rest of the world/normal non horse terms.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by phippsie62 View Post

                  Anyhow, here's the dilemma: I'd like a jumper that's "going," meaning that he's coursing at least 1.20 with scope for more, at least 1.30. Horses like that run upwards of 85K and, as it turns out, often come with problems, including maintenance issues resulting from their careers. Plus, if you peruse their USEF records, they're often not exactly burning up the world. As my very first trainer muttered years ago when I was a junior: "If they were any good they'd be keeping 'em."

                  The alternative is to buy a green youngster, maybe 5 or 6, with a great brain and intimations of a great jump, and then bring him along. But these days, good greenies are going for 50K, with no guarantees that they'll be able to handle a course of big jumps.

                  There are many 1.30 horses out there for sale in all price ranges. As far as ‘keeping them if they were any good’, I disagree. Those horses just haven’t proven themselves to have the capacity to do the really big stuff, hence they are for sale. Owners circumstances change and maybe someone needs out of a horse for whatever reason. Plus, trainers (if they are in the business or buying and then reselling them) figure the horses have now proven themselves and are schooled enough to find a nice amateur home.

                  Pick your budget and then stick with it. There is no shame in inquiring about a horse and saying that the max you are willing to spend is $X. It’s up to the seller/trainer to say whether you should come look anyway. I know many a person who has come away with a ‘good deal’ on a jumper that was initially priced out of their range. Or many times sellers have come back to them a little later, wondering if they are still looking. So as far as spending 6 figures for a going 1.25 Horse with scope to perhaps do 1.35, people may ask that much, but do all those horses sell...probably not.

                  Hunters sell like hotcakes and not until you get to the top level jumpers, is there a significant market for them. Don’t be swayed by what the asking price is. As long as your budget is reasonable, you should be able to find a nice horse without lots of holes. And based on what you have written above, it seems like to have an idea of the market and where a reasonable budget number should be set.

                  Also if you shop at Tiffanys-expect Tiffany’s type pricing. High end barns are used to high end budgets. Focus on some smaller but sucessful barns. Shopping in Europe sounds enticing, but as someone who has been burned by a European sales horse...I now only look at what’s here in the States and going with a show record I can verify on USEF.

                  Best of luck in whatever you decide. Your horse is out there! ;-)
                  Last edited by Elouise; Jun. 12, 2019, 02:21 PM. Reason: typo

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    With some patience and 'flair' you can look out for 2 other types: 1) horse has to be sold quickly due to private reasons, pregnancy whatever. Scan the seller if this is credible. 2) People don't know that they own a high quality horse. E.g. trainer had a broken car, asked a farmer for help. Farmer had a horse (and cattle). Horse became a grand prix dressage horse.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just saying..... it even comes with tack.

                      https://classifieds.horseandhound.co...wjumper-509763

                      $16,500 USD

                      +

                      $2000 Vetting

                      +

                      $8300 Shipping and Quarantine

                      Still is a lot cheaper than some.

                      Em
                      "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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        How many showjumpers are bred in the US?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Xctrygirl I love this game, esp. since I'm browsing horse classifieds all day anyway (if my boss reads this, that was a joke).

                          Looking at Horsequest I'm seeing a good number of horses that seem to have experience at 1.15 - 1.25 that are between $15k - $30k USD. Of course, add on ~$10,500 for import and PPE, but it's still a lot less than you'd pay domestically. I attached a picture of one of the ads for reference, and here's a video of it jumping 1.25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuAM...ature=youtu.be.
                          Click image for larger version  Name:	HQ.JPG Views:	1 Size:	7.5 KB ID:	10410606


                          Here's another one:

                          Click image for larger version

Name:	HQ1.JPG
Views:	2
Size:	16.5 KB
ID:	10410611


                          If these horses fully meet the safe, sane, sound, uncomplicated, proven criteria is unknown, but there are enough of them listed that surely a few of them might.
                          Attached Files

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MustangTwist View Post

                            In general you can spend less if you don't mind: something younger, something older, something off-breed, something smaller, something unproven, or something tricky. Your tolerance and ability to handle any of those traits would dictate if they are paths worth considering. For example, if you're a scrappy rider who doesn't mind a challenge, you might be able to pick up a scopey horse for a discount if it's not amateur-friendly, but also isn't quite talented enough to justify a pro keeping it. Or if you're petite, you may be able to pick up a 15.2/15.3 horse that's scopey and handy, but many buyers would rule out because of its size. If you have horse property, maybe you could pick up an older horse that's ready for a step down but still has a few good years left at the 1.20/1.30 height.
                            This ^

                            I'm breeding my own now, but I've gotten two very nice horses that were a little older but coming out of backyard homes that didn't know how to market them, and didn't have skills or budget to show them and get a decent record. These were hunters, but one ended up super fancy with scope for days, and could have been a 1.30 jumper easily. But I took a chance. And those chances are out there.
                            I have an imported gelding coming back from lease at the end of the year who wants to be a jumper. All he's got is a mediocre record at 3' in the adult hunters. He could do 1.50 easily, but I don't do jumpers, don't have the money to send him out for the mileage, and since he doesn't start to pick up his knees until the jumps are 3'6 or so, he's not what that AA/children's hunter people are going to spend a lot of money on.

                            So I'm saying, there are deals like this out there, but you have to willing to look at a lot of frogs before you find the prince. Look for private owners selling their own horses out of a backyard or private farm. Avoid going through trainers or dealers who know the market and are slapping on a commission. Find the ammie who doesn't know what they have, or the horse isn't suited for what they want to do. You can find some pretty nice horses over in eventer-land (where I got my two 'great deals'.) If the horse doesn't love cross country, you can get scopey brave honest horses who have a big jump and all the buttons on the flat, but no jumper record, for a song. Especially if you're willing to look at TBs

                            A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

                            http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Read and re-read everything xctrygirl posted.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
                                Read and re-read everything xctrygirl posted.
                                You're too kind. Thank you.

                                Em
                                "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

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Xctrygirl View Post

                                  You're too kind. Thank you.

                                  Em
                                  Well Em, I think you are a testament that it can be done 1) without spending a fortune 2) without 100% reliance on a trainer. I did it too.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thanks, all, for the advice/reassurance. Several responders mentioned shopping in Europe. Certainly some people have acquired wonderful horses at very good prices, including import costs. I suppose one rarely hears from contented buyers, but still...stories abound of horses who arrive NQR or turn out to be more difficult to ride than first thought, even when the buyer has personally tried the horse in Europe. It's impossible to hold anyone responsible at that distance, or even ascribe "blame" for the bad result. At least the regional US market does hold sellers accountable in terms of their reputation, because word spreads.

                                    And while it's sometimes desirable to deal with owners directly--as opposed to dealers--owners frequently wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to dear Dobbin, which makes realistic negotiation difficult. In my region there are a few dealers who are regarded as clear-eyed, honest, and knowledgeable about the horses they're selling. Those qualities alone may make it worthwhile to pay the premium added to the purchase price.

                                    I wholeheartedly agree with the advice about ditching your trainer. Of course you have to be confident in your own abilities to assess a prospect, and it does help to have a second opinion. But I've observed some really, really bad purchasing decisions trainers have made on behalf of clients who have trusted them over their own inclinations, because the trainer is supposed to be the expert. The commission arrangement sets up a conflict of interest situation that's not fair to clients--or to trainers. So in the end, you have to trust your gut. If you pass on a horse and regret it later, so be it. There are many horses out there.

                                    As to a comprehensive PPE: Yes and yes. I plan to x-ray the heck out of everything, the whole "drive train." The advice about videotaping the PPE is new to me, however, and excellent. Asking the hard questions is a topic I started in a different thread, about how to manage the discovery of something--in that case, a raw spot caused by poor saddle fit in a horse I was trying. I got good suggestions for diplomatic ways of broaching such topics without coming across as scolding.

                                    So again, thanks--and back to shopping.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      It all depends on what you need today. We imported a 12 YO 1.30 horse for far less than you mention but he's on his way down and I wouldn't sell him as a 1.20/1.30 horse (and really, he wants to be a hunter anyway I've got a 6 YO who just started 1.20 for sale for with plenty of scope for more who is less than the numbers you're mentioning but he's just starting out in the 1.20. If you're looking for a amateur ready, safe horse that is confirmed and a winner at 1.20 with scope for the 1.30 with an amateur, (which really means its a 1.40 horse), well, those are expensive. You absolutely can shop overseas - we bring clients to Argentina a lot where they can try multiple horse over a several day period. But what you're looking for is a bit of the golden grail depending on your skills and abilities to work around quirks

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        See and I think from what nycjumper is saying I benefited from not having a whole lot of faith in myself and my own future abilities. I had hoped to get to 1.20 so I bought a horse with up to 1.25 experience. And then somewhere along the way this horse helped me to learn more than I expected and I became a better rider (again this is in my own head, not necessarily in the objective outside world) that could tackle more and dream of doing more than I was planning on.

                                        I really thought it'd be a miracle if I could do a 1.25 class. But I was doing 1.25 within 6 months of Cudo's arrival. This year we're already at 1.30 and eyeballing 1.35 and have even schooled some 1.40 at home. In and of itself this is a fantastic turn of fate and the reason I mention this is that one should make sure that you are getting something that has the ability, either on it's record or in it's actual doing jumps, to go to the level that you aspire to. But if you long to try a little beyond your stated goal then I would encourage you to make sure that any potential purchase also has the ability to grow with you.

                                        Em
                                        "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

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