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Thinking of buying my first horse?

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    Thinking of buying my first horse?


    I know I posted previously about looking for a new lease and getting used to working with the head trainer at my barn after the assistant trainer left. I'm sorry this is going to be so long, but I'm extremely conflicted on what to do.

    The reason I was looking for a new lease was because the woman that owned the quarter horse I was leasing was planning on moving and taking her horse with her. (I kind of stumbled into him originally because she was a friend of a friend who boards at the barn and was looking for a place for him to stay for the summer and while he was there figured she may as well lease him out).

    She has now decided she wants to sell him, and the head trainer at my barn, who I am currently working with, is fully convinced that she should sell him to me.

    I've only been riding for a little over a year, and pending on what happens with the horse situation am supposed to start doing some smaller schooling shows with my barn in October.

    Basically, I have the opportunity to purchase a super sweet horse, who I absolutely adore and I have until next week to decide or she's going to take him back and try and sell him elsewhere. She's not interested in continuing to lease him, because she's moving out of state and either he sells here soon or she's bringing him with her.

    I'm hesitating because I wasn't planning on even thinking about purchasing a horse until next summer at the earliest.

    Additionally, even though he's 16.1 hands, he's still a quarter horse and he's only been jumping about six months, he does seem to enjoy it a lot more than the competitive trail riding and roping he was doing before though and has never refused a jump and just listens so well and tries so hard.

    He has great scope and is extremely broke and doesn't have a malicious bone in his body. Plus he's only ten, and has never had any injury issues! The trainers at my barn just keep saying what a great pair we are, and how far we have come together the last few months, and how we need to continue our partnership. I know we have improved immensely and there is still room for us to grow. He's basically the perfect first horse, except for the timing and the fact that he's a quarter horse which I've read don't necessarily do well in shows, which is something I am interested in pursuing if the local schooling shows work out (even though he keeps up with the warmbloods in TBs in our lessons and he looks more TBy despite his apparently "fancy quarter horse bloodlines" according to a barn friend that looked over his papers).

    Because of his bloodlines he is also priced higher than I was expecting, especially because even though we aren't there yet, they don't think he probably doesn't have much potential over three feet / three foot three. I could try and negotiate his price down but I don't even have any idea of what would be a realistic ask for him.

    Despite all of this, every part of me wants to buy him, he's such a little teddybear and I trust him completely, he does wonderfully in our arena jumping and is also great on the trails around the property. I just know in a year or two I'll be outgrowing his abilities and I also haven't been riding that long and should ease into ownership. I also just quit my miserable job and am currently searching for a new one. I have the money up front for him, but know that long term horses and everything else for them is extremely expensive.

    My family aren't animal people and said they are staying out of it, but if I do decide to buy him not to expect any kind of financial help from them with it (not that I was expecting any). My heart wants to buy him more than anything, but the realistic side of me isn't sure it's the right time.

    Does anyone have any advice? Have they found themselves in a situation like this? Did they buy the horse and regret it? I'm just not sure I'm going to be able to handle watching him be trailered away after working together four-five days a week for almost six months.

    Thank you so much and I hope that it's okay I posted this!

    Not to get too personal, but what age range are you? Are you out of college, settled, good job, enough income to afford board/vet/dentist/farrier and the unexpected oops (on top of his purchase price + PPE)? Because if the answer to that is no, then you have your answer.

    If money/security is no issue at all, then you're going to need to go with your gut. If you have any hesitancy, don't buy him. If you're all in, then go for it.
    ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


      Original Poster

      I’m 23 almost 24! If that makes a difference! I’m in an okay financial situation and made decent money before deciding to leave my job and take some time off to regroup find something that doesn’t make me miserable (and with better work to life balance!)

      I have the money for vet / ppe / farrier / board / training / dentist / oops as well as his purchase price, I just wasn’t planning on having to use all of it right now.

      My hesitation is more so based on the timing and short window I have to decide- I’m usually the type of person that plan things out months in advance, and my currently planning timeline said purchase next summer- I’m just worried I’ll regret letting this guy get away.


        Originally posted by AlexxSays View Post
        I’m 23 almost 24! If that makes a difference! I’m in an okay financial situation and made decent money before deciding to leave my job and take some time off to regroup find something that doesn’t make me miserable (and with better work to life balance!)

        So you are presently not employed? IMHO it would not be at all wise to enter into a financial obligation of this size until you are employed somewhere you can stay at long term.

        Does your trainer know you aren’t working? I would find it concerning that a professional is trying to pressure an unemployed person into buying their first horse if that’s the case.


          If you are not working or settled in a career, don't buy a horse.

          Secure your job pathway, then get a horse

          -- * > hoopoe
          Procrastinate NOW
          Introverted Since 1957


            Planning is good - and smart. When I read your first post, it sort of sounded like maybe you wanted to be talked out of buying this horse. Now I'm not sure. Hard to read passion in a one dimensional BB post. So I'll just ask, do you love this horse? Is he a really good fit for you? Do you two get along personality-wise? Does he make you laugh? Is there room to advance and learn and grow together? Those to me are just as important as whether your trainer likes him or whether he's registered/has papers or is the perfect specimen of his breed.

            So, I'll tell you a little story. Back in 2000 I had an opportunity present itself totally out of the blue, to buy my dream horse (and honestly, it would be too complicated to explain how the whole thing unfolded). Anyhoo, at the time I had no full-time job (after full on burnout, left the corporate world the year before and started my own business). I had no plans at that time to be a horse owner. Wasn't even on my radar. I was not in the best place financially, no longer making a big 6 figure salary. I was a home owner, not married (no SO), was 37, and I was sick (though at the time didn't know what was wrong). It was not a good idea to get this horse, and I knew it.

            But I jumped off the cliff anyway. Did everything you aren't supposed to do... Didn't go see the horse in person, didn't have a PPE, didn't have a plan really (other than he'd be stabled at his original mom's private farm - and boy, would that be a good story for another thread! lol). Best decision I ever made. He's my best friend and has gotten me through some really tough times. I was diagnosed with MS about 16 months after getting him. He's nearly 29 years old now, and in my front pasture.

            NOT to say that every story like mine has a happy ending. Not at all. But sometimes, you just need to jump off the cliff.
            ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


              I'd wait until the job situation was worked out. He' a quarter horse in hunterland and it's fall. He may not sell all that fast and he can always be shipped back if you decide to buy him later. Plus if he doesnt sell right away the price may go down. Horses are like men and busses. There's always another.


                You say you have the money to do this but it sounds like you are concerned he is a Quarter Horse. My best friend had a Quarter Horse who was great - she just sold him to get something a bit smaller (she is short and he was big barreled). The Quarter Horse did well at recognized shows and was a puppy dog at home. Don't worry about the breed of the horse.
                Remember you can grow with him and if you desire to move up after a year of learning and showing, he will probably be sold to someone in your barn looking for their first horse.
                Go for it if you have the financial ability to do so.


                  The perfect horses are not like men and buses to me. Reading the threads here on COTH there are so many people who search and search for that perfect horse and it takes them months, years and lots of frustration. It sounds like your needs fit what he does and he's a gem to work with. That is a golden partnership. Quarter horses are wonderful, the running type with enough TB for size and get up and go are a lot of fun. I had my Appendix QH boy for 23 wonderful years and I felt fortunate to own him. Some of the best memories of my life were on him.

                  I say unless you don't think you'll be employed in a few months, go for it. That's my opinion. Good luck.


                    Original Poster

                    Thank you all so much! My trainer does know I’m currently not working but she also knows I am finacially stable and am able to afford the horse and everything that goes with it. The unemployment is currently by choice, and if I decide to accept the offer I will have started another job by the end of the month. (It just so happened I left my job and was told my lease wasn’t going to be renewed so either I buy him or he’s gone in the same week).

                    I think most of my concerns were over how fast everything was moving and how soon I have to make the decison, plus worry that he’s a quarter horse in hunterland even though he is essentially a golden retriever in horse form. Paired with parents that don’t like animals and don’t see why I would want to put so much time, effort and money into one. I started to second guess my gut instinct.

                    I overthink everything and I appreciate everyones help so much. I think I just needed to hear that this wasn’t completely crazy to do, even though my plan was to wait. I just can’t imagine my life without him.

                    Hopefully I’ll be able to negotiate his price down, and his PPE comes back clear!


                      Quarter horses can do fine in hunters, depending on how they are bred/what type and what level of showing you are doing. Quarter Horse in hunters would not concern me in the least.


                        If finances well and truly are not an issue, the breed would not concern me at all (just to chime in with others). A more refined QH can be plenty competitive in the hunters, especially locally. And I know you're worried he may not have the scope to jump over 3'--but you've only been riding for about a year. You're realistically years away from being able to put in a solid (meaning, in the ribbons) course at 2'6", much less 3'. I don't say this to offend--there's just a lot to learn and many skills you'll be acquiring as you go forward, and they generally don't come quickly (especially when you start riding as an adult, for most people). If you do indeed end up outgrowing him ability-wise in several years, it doesn't sound as though you'd have trouble finding him a new home, given his personality (as long as he stays sound).

                        You also have to ask yourself if you're ready to own a horse in terms of your current knowledge level. Obviously you'll be boarding with professionals who will guide and teach you, but I know that I personally wouldn't have felt comfortable owning until I had a good, well-rounded understanding of horse care, health issues that can come up, the skills to handle most situations I may encounter, etc.

                        Also, you're in your 20's--your parents' views about your hobby shouldn't matter if you're paying your own way. Mine aren't horse people either, and I had to wait until I was in my 30's to be able to afford my own (and I started riding as a child). I know they sometime think I'm insane for spending as much as I do on this--but you know, not their money, so not their business.
                        Last edited by Natalie; Sep. 12, 2019, 10:02 AM.


                          If you are 100% sure your bank account can handle it until and beyond you are re-employed (don’t forget the possibility that he’ll have his first accident/big problem the day after you sign the papers, with bills in the hundreds or even thousands), I say go for it. Maybe you won’t cut through your local hunter show circuit with a blaze of glory with a QH, but it sounds like you are a relatively new rider and *probably* wouldn’t be able to do so if you were riding the fanciest warmblood on four hooves. And who knows, maybe you will do really well. You could also try the jumper ring, as it’s not picky about “style.” Say you get him, both get some show miles/experience over a year or five and re-evaluate. Maybe at that time you’ve both done better than expected and you can take him to the level you want and have a room full of awards. Maybe he’s topped out, but you’re happy cruising around at a lower height and picking up ribbons every now and then. Maybe at that time he’s topped out and you want more—a sound sweetheart with good show miles has great prospects to sell or lease on to another ammy adult or child looking for a step-up from the ponies, and then you can buy something with better prospects to go further. Maybe he’s topped out, but you’re not so sold on doing Hunters (or jumpers) for the next ten years, either, and you love him to pieces and decide to take up Eventing, or Dressage, or Mounted Archery. The great thing about horses with a good, kind, smart personality and generically “good” conformation, is that they can do just about anything to at least a middling level. Then you re-evaluate as above.

                          There’ve been a couple horses I’ve leased/half-leased over the years that I passed up the opportunity to buy, and I still kick myself a little about it.


                            What's concerning me is that the OP said that she will outgrow his abilities in a year or that's potentially him being back on the market in 12-24 months....and, with that, I say don't go for it. If your plan was to keep him for maybe 5 yrs, then sure.
                            Also I agree that OP needs to secure a full time job first.

                            My daughter is also 23 going on 24 in a couple months.....she was also offered/presented with purchasing the current horse she's leasing and she's wavering on it. She has a stable government job, but isn't a homeowner yet and this is why she's not making the move to buy the mare she's leasing just quite yet. She wants to buy her first home before owning a horse. It's just too risky, otherwise.


                              I would not let him being a quarter horse hold you back at all. A lot of QH has thoroughbred in their lines, if you know his registered name we could look at tell you, but even without a lot of TB up close a lot of times people can't actually tell unless they are quite obviously the classic QH build. Not to mention if you so chose, if he is registered AQHA you could always get into the hunter/jumper shows there too for fun. If you have a job lined up, lots of money saved up and extra for emergencies, get along well with him and he can do the level that you are currently at right now, I would NOT worry about it. If you get to his max height and decide you want to go higher, you can always sell or lease him out to someone he can teach the ropes to, but you could also be pleasantly surprised at how far he can go.

                              From what you have said, I see absolutely no reason not to go for it.


                                No. I hate to be downer, but setting unemployment aside (which I think is a reason not to make a purchase until you are well established in your new job), you have been riding 1 year, so you are a beginner. This horse has just started jumping, so he is green over fences. Beginner rider + green horse does not sound like a good recipe for you to continue to advance in your riding ability. If you are interested in jumping, you will need a "been there, done that" horse to continue to show you the ropes as you advance up the levels. His bloodlines would seem to be irrelevant for you if you aren't planning to show him in AQHA shows. At hunter/jumper shows, what will matter is how well he is able to do the job you are asking with a rider of your level. You haven't showed this horse. You don't even know how he will react to shows. Sometimes green horses get to a show and really need a confident ride over a course of jumps in a strange new place that they aren't used to. For a rider of your level, you need a horse that you KNOW can do the job you want because it's been out there teaching other riders to do that exact job. It sounds like this horse is a nice guy, but there are tons of "nice guys" out there. My advice is not to leap into this. If you have determined that you want to own a horse, and have established a budget for horse shopping, you should be out there seeing what else your money can buy. You mention not knowing if his price is reasonable. You really need a trusted, experienced professional advising you here. I question your trainer's motivation if she is pushing you into this purchase. Seems to me like she is about to have an empty stall and having you pay board so that doesn't happen solves her problem. In general, someone riding for only a year should be able to find very nice school horses to lease and show at lower levels. Not sure where you are located but that is true where I am in zone 2. Horse ownership doesn't become more of a necessity until you are a bit more experienced and want to start doing bigger jumps, etc. Be careful, and don't rush into something just because the horse is sweet. Good luck,
                                Last edited by westie55; Sep. 12, 2019, 11:12 AM.


                                  I don't think you should buy him, for all the reasons already stated by others. Taking on this financial responsibility without having a well paying job just doesn't make sense. And you are too early in your riding career to be purchasing IMO, I think you need to get more experience riding other horses first. The fact that you know you will outgrow him within 2 years is another reason for not making such a large purchase at this stage of your riding education. Based on your comments he also has limited ability (not a 3'6" horse) too. I know its hard to pass him up, but there is always another horse you can love just as much who will be a better fit as you gain more experience. The fact that your trainer is pushing you so hard when s he knows you are unemployed really turns me off as well. Maybe she is more interested in her commission than your best interest.



                                    As said before good horses, and good men are not like buses. There is not another coming along any minute.
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                      Honestly never rush into buying a horse, I've been caught up in the rush of buying a new horse and feeling like there's pressure to make a decision and regretted it. Take your time with making a decision, if he sells before you decide oh well, there are lots of other horses out there. (Plus as someone else mentioned it's fall, most people like to buy in the spring) On the other hand if you think 3 foot is your max and your planning on keeping him long term then he's a good choice. But if he's just to move up and learn on it would be better to learn on a schoolmaster who know his job well.


                                        I vote no because you don’t have a job. Also good horses are not hard to find because you are a beginner. What’s perfect for you now won’t be perfect for you later. Get a job then shop.
                                        Don't try this at home.