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Buying & riding dilemma

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  • Buying & riding dilemma

    I'm going to apologize in advance for the long post, but here's the story:
    I've been an AQHA w.p. rider for close to 20 years now, and recently retired the only horse I've ever owned. I lived in another state for about 8 months late last year and took lessons at a h/j barn, thus realizing that I would like to make the transition away from WP now that I'm back living at home, in the midwest. But here's where I've run into a wall: I've been looking for a new trainer for some time now, but the 2 trainers I want to train with don't have lesson horses, and I don't feel qualified to pick out a h/j horse to purchase with my limited experience in that discipline. I asked both trainers to find a horse for me to lease, but that has been fruitless so far. At the same time, since neither trainer has ever seen me ride and therefore doesn't know my riding ability/style, and I haven't been around their barns enough to know what they look for in horses, I'm not comfortable asking them to find a horse for me to purchase.

    From January - April this year I was working out on the west coast, and taking lessons with a fabulous trainer at a fancy show barn, whom I trust and still keep in contact with. When I mentioned my predicament last month, she had me try out a horse that was for sale in the barn that she thought was a good fit for my ability/style. I really got along with this horse, and am seriously considering purchasing him. BUT....

    1) He seems expensive, ($35k) but when I mentioned the price to my preferred local trainer, she said that that was on the low end of the horses she sells
    2) It seems like overkill to have that fancy of a horse when I'm only doing 18" crossrails

    I don't have a trainer to assist me in finding anything for less $, since the west coast barn is strictly A-circuit, high-end horses, and I'm also no longer traveling out there every week.

    At home, I'm in an area with a limited selection of h/j barns in the first place, and since I'm still working through my fear of busy arenas (retired horse would have meltdowns when there were more than 4 horses in the ring with him), I don't want to ride at the big, crowded lesson barns

    So is $35k too much to pay for a 9-year old hunter horse with limited show miles? Do I buy this horse that seems a lot more talented than I, in hopes that I progress to his level? I'm miserable at home, not having anything to ride, but at the same time, I'm nervous about plunking down that kind of money.

    Oh and this is an alter - it's a little TMI for me to air as myself.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Omaha View Post
    So is $35k too much to pay for a 9-year old hunter horse with limited show miles?
    Seriously? To do cross rails with?


    • #3
      35K is alot for a horse with limited show miles and for you to do xrails. If it was a packer that has been there done that I'd say great match but if its limited and is new It seems like a gamble. Are you a beg. jumper? Ob. your not a beg. rider. There are lots of horses out there for much less but what circuit are you wanting to show and how quickly do you think you will progress?
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


      • #4
        Dont do it - find something else.. a packer that you can learn on and move up from the crossrails..
        Hickstead 1996-2011 Godspeed
        " Hickstead is simply the best and He lives forever in our hearts"
        Akasha 1992-2012 - I will always love you sweet girl.


        • #5
          These trainer's don't sound like they want to take you on as a client. Sorry to be so blunt, but most trainers won't send you out to find a horse for yourself when you have such limited experience with your new discipline. Unless they don't take you seriously, or they don't have the time to devote to a newbie.

          If I were in your shoes, I would find a lower level trainer and take lessons on their school horses and get into the discipline before you spend $35K on a horse. That is a steep figure for someone who is only doing 18" cross rails! I would get your feet wet and then decide how much you want to spend, or how far you want to go. If you only plan on doing cross rails at smaller shows (or not showing at all for that matter) then you don't need the fancy show horse that has the potential to go further than you plan on taking him. JMHO


          • #6
            It depends. What are your goals -- to stay in crossrails or end up in the AAs at the A shows? Can horse meet those goals? Does Nebraska trainer think the horse is a good fit for her program? Do you have the $$ and like the horse? Will you keep New Horse forever or use it as a stepping-stone to a nicer horse down the road?

            If you have the $$, like the horse, want to show in the bigger divisions eventually, and are the kind of person that keeps horses forever, go for it. If you have reservations about any of these, I would think hard about whether the horse matches your plans.

            Depending on the quality of the horse, $35k could be a perfectly reasonable price for a calm 9 yr. old with limited show miles. A significant portion of that price would be the combination of somewhat fancy with beginner-tolerant, a combination that is worth its weight in gold.


            • #7
              That's way overkill for what you need.

              I would think you could find a safe, fun horse for cross rails in the $5k range, and if you want a really solid beginner horse that will get you going around a bit higher, maybe to $15k ish. This may not be the fanciest horse and he may not win all the time, but this will get you safe, fun, and a good start into a new sport. You could go less if you don't mind taking on an older horse with maintenance needs.

              Especially in Nebraska.

              It might help to take some of that money you might spend on a horse and find an intensive riding vacation - travel and take a week or two with an instructor who does have lesson horses available and get some significant miles in your new discipline. You might even be able to find one who is a bit off the beaten track and who you might trust to help find you a horse.
              If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


              • #8
                Are you located near Omaha? If you are willing to drive a bit, there are some decent h/j barns in central and eastern Iowa that I am sure would at the very least be able to help you find something to purchase. I used to live in Sioux City, so I know what a dead zone that area is, but I thought that Omaha had it a bit better?

                I am an eventer so I know very little about h/j prices, but $35K sounds pretty steep to me for low show miles and 18" crosspoles regardless of discipline. PM me if you want the names of a couple of Iowa barns.


                • #9
                  I do want to show at some point, but that of course depends on how well I progress. I'm not a beginner rider by any means - been to world, congress, and more breed shows than I care to mention - but at the same time, I'd never touched a polo wrap in my life prior to a year ago.

                  And I agree that the trainers don't seem super-excited to have me as a client, but that seems to be the rule vs. the exception with all the ones I've talked to. At the same time, though, I really do not want to ride at a super-busy 60+ stall lesson barn that's an hour drive from my house, after having spent the past 12 years at a smaller, high-quality QH training facility where the owner/trainer is even more OCD about care and cleanliness than myself. It's mostly adult riders also, which I prefer. The two h/j trainers I've been speaking with both have very similar facilities - less than 30 stalls, a mostly adult client base, within a 30 min drive from my house, and a professional style.

                  I know there are less expensive horses out there, but I wonder if I'd be worse off buying one of those without some guidance or anyone to assist me in evaluating them. It's like the chicken or the egg - I can't find a horse because I don't have a trainer, and I can't find a trainer because I don't have a horse.

                  I have to say that I'm a little ashamed at even considering a $35k horse when I barely have the skill to clear a crossrail.


                  • #10
                    PM me if you'd like more info...but I MAY know of a horse out my way (close to Ogallala) that may be fitting to you.

                    I'm also surprised you're not having luck in Omaha finding trainers. Karen Cudmore is out there...and Jeanine Carhart I think is her name....Those are 'bigger' trainers though. Lots of small 'local' schooling type barns too.

                    I understand the horse hunt though....I get my horses shipped in off the track from CA cuz I couldn't find anything out here.
                    Horse Drawings!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Omaha View Post
                      I have to say that I'm a little ashamed at even considering a $35k horse when I barely have the skill to clear a crossrail.
                      This might sound stupid, but have you looked into leasing at all? You're probably not going to get something super-good, but it seems like you should at least be able to get something good enough to get you going with lessons and give you time to really find something that suits your needs.

                      A part-lease type situation with a horse already with one of the trainers seems like it could work out very well if there's a suitable horse/owner - save some money and time for the owner, keep the horse in work but supervised by the trainer.

                      ($35k just sounds absurd to me - I know h/j horses can go for a lot, but spending that much on what's basically an entry-level model when you're not even 100% set on showing and being extremely competitive? Ouch.)


                      • #12
                        What about your QH connections? Could they find you a AQHA horse thats been doing the hunters or equitation at the AQHA shows?
                        As for the 35k horse, if you like it, feel safe on it, enjoy riding it, and feel it can teach you the ropes, it is money well spent. This is especially true if you trust the trainer who is offering it. I'd rather pay a little more and buy something from someone I trust, then take a gamble on a lesser priced horse with someone you don't know.
                        Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA


                        • #13
                          If you plan on riding with one of these trainers, it really is ideal if you can work with that trainer to find a horse. That way you avoid the problem of buying a horse, then taking it to the trainer, trainer doesn't like the horse and encourages you to get a new one.

                          Maybe you should call the trainer you want to ride with and tell them what you told us -- you would like to ride with them, but need a horse, can they help you horse-shop? That is easier than asking them for a lease. You may need to beg, borrow, or steal a horse to take a few lessons on so that the trainer will know what kind of horse is appropriate.

                          If they say no, I would look for a different trainer. If they are looking but it takes a while, that is to be expected. Sometimes it can easily take 6 months to a year to find the right horse -- but the trainer should be showing you something much sooner than that (within a couple of weeks).

                          It is very uncommon in the H/J world to shop for a horse by yourself unless you are a trainer or very, very experienced.


                          • #14
                            I would definitely lease, and one trainer had a horse for me - a great been-there-done-that horse whose owner was trading up. Would have been perfect, but the owner leased him to someone else the day before I had an appointment to go try him out. I've had both trainers on the lease lookout since January - no luck, though (I'm not convinced they're actually looking...)

                            And just to clarify on the pricey horse - it's not he that is doing crossrails, it's me. He's shown in the green hunters and has points, but was put out to pasture a year and a half ago when his owner stopped riding.


                            • #15
                              I'm with Luvs2rideWBs. Why not look for a QH that has done some jumping? You are familiar with the breed and probably have lots of contacts. I would certainly NOT spend $35K on a horse. Sorry, just too expensive. And since you did QHs for so long, you obviously like the breed. TBs and WBs are a different type of ride.

                              Good luck,

                              Edited to add: I wouldn't be buying a $35K horse that's been out to pasture for a year - sounds funny to me. Why not sell him before or lease him out?


                              • #16
                                Good point on the "just call the trainer and explain the situation." Sometimes the most obvious answer is the one most easily missed.


                                • #17
                                  When I rode in college, I saw several riders make the transition from Western or Saddleseat over to the Hunter Jumper world. I found that if the riders had a good, solid base, they transitioned rather quickly. They got used to jumping, did cross-rails for a while, and then once they got the hang of it, moved up at lightening speed - winning equitation classes left and right, and pointing out of the lower levels.

                                  If I were you, I would consider my amount of natural ability - these riders were very good at what they did and had either a very good natural feel for the horse's movement or had cultivated it over a decade of riding in other styles. You may be doing cross-rails right now - especially if you are only taking lessons once or twice per week. But once you have your own horse and are devoting more time to practice, you might find that you "get it" really quickly and are ready to move up before you know it. In this situation, it might be best to get the nice horse now.

                                  If you think that you have little to no natural ability, but a strong work ethic (me! me!), then you might want to look for a horse that will be more appropriate for sitting at a lower level.

                                  Now, IMO, if the horse really has been sitting for over a year, I would try to negotiate down from 35K.

                                  Have you tried an eventing barn? If you are starting to prefer jumpers over hunters, then perhaps you should look into eventing. You will get a really good base in dressage. And even if you eventially decide to go back to HJ, as long as it has decent form and a good stride, a horse trained in eventing can be really versatile and valuable for low level hunters and equitation.


                                  • #18
                                    The 35k represents the horse's probable market value on the west coast where your last trainer is. That and the east coast are the most expensive areas for any kind of horse.

                                    You are moving into a much more reasonable area where 35k would get you a much more finished horse with a decent show record at second tier type shows and enough quality to pin for the bigger ones with good trips. Or a fancy greener type.

                                    I'm thinking the new area trainers don't know you that well yet and may not realize you got your checkbook ready-if you get my drift. West coast trainer knows you and knows you got the money.

                                    Follow up with the new area trainers and be specific about your needs and price range plus let them know you can and will pay for it.

                                    IMO your best route is a 1 year full lease on a packer until you get your feet wet, so to speak, in the whole H/J world. Then you will have a better idea what you want and which direction you would like to go in.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                    • #19
                                      Wouldn't Glen Cudmore (Karen's father in-law) have something you could lease for a year?

                                      or does the Nebraska hunter/jumper association have a website where you can list a "wanted for lease" ad?


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Omaha View Post
                                        At home, I'm in an area with a limited selection of h/j barns in the first place, and since I'm still working through my fear of busy arenas (retired horse would have meltdowns when there were more than 4 horses in the ring with him), I don't want to ride at the big, crowded lesson barns
                                        Now would be an excellent time to deal with this - on a safe schoolie who's used to crowded lesson rings. Get thee to a lesson barn to get over your phobia and keep yourself in riding shape.

                                        If you plan to show hunters, all the hack classes are in busy arenas with many other horses, not to mention the warm up areas for all classes. The other trainers will still be around when you find the horse you want to purchase and start to get serious.