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Was your Horse what you Expected?

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  • Was your Horse what you Expected?

    I had a great conversation with a friend recently about the early days of having a new horse and the simultaneous excitement and stress. It sparked a larger question of was your horse what you expected?

    How closely does your horse align with the list you mentally made at the start of your search?
    Did the horse that stepped off the trailer match the horse you tried/expected mentally, physically, etc.?
    How many days/weeks/months did it take before your new horse seemed complete settled?
    What was the biggest surprise (good or bad) that came with your horse?
    Were there gaps/holes you did not know about that surprised you?


  • #2
    Interesting question. I've purchased two horses as endurance prospects in the last year

    Horse #1 Freya- 9 year old Rocky Mountain mare
    She was exactly what I was looking for other than 2 years older than what I put as my top age. She was super solid in her conformation, great feet, a little hot and a big want to move out but with a decent brain.
    Yes, she was the same horse that I tried when I brought her home
    We just passed our 1 year Gotcha Day and I'd say it took her most of the year to really settle in and be my horse and one of the herd. Actually a few people have remarked on her recently that she has really started to show her quirky personality
    The biggest surprise was definitely a good one- this mare has exceeded all of my expectations. She went from a horse that had only lived/ worked in flat sandy terrain to one who has now has over 200 competition miles, mostly in the mountains. She's really only done nose to trail type rides and now she rides solo through anything. She completed a super tough 55 mile endurance ride at Iron Mountain in VA and I even used her as an outrider horse for the Fair Hill International 3 Day event
    She had a lot of holes in her training but I don't think they surprised me. It was very typical of gaited, backyard type training horses- they don't stop well, they don't steer worth beans and they have no idea how to use their body. They just know forward.
    Here's a photo comparison of her the day I got her vrs Sept this past year
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Freya comparison.jpg Views:	1 Size:	15.7 KB ID:	10561688



    Then there's my other new guy, Fergus, a 7 year old Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse (or TWH, why oh- we'll get to that later)
    He didn't really match what I was looking for at all. First he was a gelding (why oh why did I think I wanted another gelding???) and a little smaller than I wanted. But I tried him out at Manassas Battlefield on a 9 mile ride and he never put a foot wrong so he came home with me.
    Mostly he was the same horse I tried but I did find out the first night that he was not a fan of being in a stall
    I got him in November- he's nowhere near what I called settled but probably thinks he is. He is a royal ass who believes all that he surveys is his kingdom.
    Biggest surprise- oh about two weeks ago, I stumbled across a previous owner who said that he is really probably a TWH but when she bought him, she thought he looked/ moved more like a KMSH so that's what he became. Other fun surprises- he's an escape artist who is a total bastard to other horses in the field and he will escape into other fields so he has more victims to pick on (my whole 10 acres now has double electric and he is sad that his adventures have been thwarted). He does not like stalls, cross ties, being clipped or being caught, esp when it's time to change blankets. He does not steer, occasionally rears, is ridiculously spooky and only sort of has brakes. He also apparently has Gumby somewhere back in his pedigree because his favorite evasion is twist himself into weird pretzel shapes. Oddly, he trailers beautifully including self-loading.
    BUT..... in just under 3 months, we've done a lot of work. The steering and brakes are being installed nicely. He's begun to understand how to soften his body and the Gumby effect is showing itself less and less. He is learning that spooking and being ridiculous is to no avail and gets him more work rather than less. And he seems tireless and amazingly surefooted. The verdict is still out on whether I'm keeping him or not- I think I change my mind on a daily basis lol. We'll see how the first couple of competitions go this spring.

    This is probably far more in depth of an answer than you wanted lol
    Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

    Comment


    • #3
      My horse is way fancier than I thought she would be. I had lost confidence and bought her as the safe rebound pony. Thanks to her work ethic, we play with 2nd level movements and could do novice eventing this year if not for her age/endurance. The surprise is that she will never be dull enough to me my husband’s trail horse

      Comment


      • #4
        I think I could write a novel about this. Got my mare a little over 2 years ago.
        The good surprise is that she’s got some fancy movement I was not expecting in an OTTB. She also seems to have an aptitude for collected work based on her responses to some of what I do now.
        The bad news is she does. not. clip. Even with drugs and a twitch you take your life in your hands. Just ask my vet....
        She is a PITA to shoe behind.
        Even tho she vetted sound and had fabulous films, she *does* have something going on that was not discernible until after she was put into regular work. Still working on sorting that out.

        She is also the pickiest damn horse I’ve ever rode. You better have ALL your duckies in a row because she accepts nothing less. That’s kind of a good news/bad news thing.

        Another positive is that she is very quiet. She’s also very friendly, gets along with other horses well, and basically wants to be a pleaser. She also thinks thru things, so far has been decent on the trail.

        The point I was at when I came across her, I was ready to give up my search. She was way greener than I wanted too.

        I guess in a nutshell she’s been more good than bad, but she sure has driven home the “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

        Comment


        • #5
          Mine matched, at least in theory, what I wanted (Morgan, mare, suitable for low-level eventing, advanced beginner friendly.)

          Reality... was a little different. She was way hotter than I expected, and super sensitive. I had to put her into training because she scared me and I needed help. The trainer's first task was to dull her response to the aids a bit so the slightest little thing from me wouldn't cause a huge response. The training process was greatly assisted by my not being able to ride her for about 8 weeks after a fall from another horse. (Not his fault at all; I fainted.)

          She was also herdbound, which was a challenge, because I'd come to enjoy solo trail riding. Probably my biggest accomplishment with her -- and it took years of very gradual training -- was to get her comfortable going out alone. When I say very gradual, I mean her first solo ride was about 50 feet along the shoulder of the very quiet road where she was boarded. The next time was 75 feet. Then it rained, and there were scary puddles, and she started getting obstreperous about turning onto the road at all, so I backed up a bit and got her comfortable with just going as far as the road. Eventually I could take her out for a 2 hour solo ride.

          Note: she had evented, and while I never did that with her because of my and her (later) injuries, those who did said she had *no* trouble leaving other horses if the trip started with an XC start box! She was mad keen on XC.

          She has become more herdbound recently, and I'm trying to figure out why.

          Settling took ... 6-ish months. I realize now that I'd turned her life upside down. I took her from a herd where she was out 24/7 to a typical Boston-area, short of land boarding barn -- 6-8 hours per day of individual turnout, otherwise stalled. BUT she came to enjoy the fact that no other horse could get to her food.
          You have to have experiences to gain experience.

          1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

          Comment


          • #6
            In 2003,I moved to acreage and got three horses. Two were from a rescue (Paint mare and pony gelding of unknown breed), and the other was from a show barn (Hackney pony gelding). The Paint mare was exactly what we expected--been there, done that, very sane, very lazy (which was fine for us as she was my husband's horse). The Hackney pony was, as expected, totally nuts in harness (look up "hot horse" and you'll find his picture) but unexpectedly a love bug when not driving. The other pony was expected to be a problem child, and was for the first year. Then our calm handling and clear expectations seemed to penetrate, and he ended up being a great driving horse, although he totally flunked out of his expected career as my daughter's riding horse.

            None of them were young when I got them, so they have all since died off. They all got to advanced ages and gave me and my family a lot of joy.

            Rebecca

            Comment


            • #7
              I was not looking for a horse when I first saw mine, so I cant say if he matched what I was looking for! But I was a bit smitten with his pix and video.
              Once I bought him, he was smart and sensible as he seemed when I tried him. However he was much more forward, especially when the weather cooled! I probably would have been a bit intimidated if he was like that when I tried him. I knew he was green, so that was no surprise. The bad surprise was when his beautiful, big, solid, perfect-appearing feet were found to hide navicular changes. Funny surprise was that he had been taught to stand on a pedestal and immediately tried to climb on the big mounting block when let loose in the ring!
              He is currently sound and his forwardness has given us even lovelier gaits. He also now has lovely lateral work and the beginnings of collection. My instructor and I are happily surprised at how talented he appears to be!

              Comment


              • #8
                I was searching for a trail horse to possibly do endurance, any breed, with trail experience, 10-12 years old, and not tall, 14.2-15 max. Ended up with a 6-year-old Arab who is now 15.3, but with a great mind. He had basic training (but none bad) and just needed consistency and miles. Self-loads in the trailer, and beginner friendly on the ground.

                My biggest surprise was that for the horse everyone thinks is so quiet and deals with everything weird around the stable by wandering over to investigate, he is hot on trail and super competitive. I sure had to rise to the occasion or be left behind! As a very non-competitive person we have a lot of disagreements, especially at endurance competitions. But we compromise and I really feel we're a pretty great team. Plus he is silly, and makes me laugh, but he was that from the start!
                "Do your best, and leave the rest, twill all come right, some day or night" -Black Beauty

                http://trails-and-trials-with-major.blogspot.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Owned about a dozen, leased another 8 or 10 and none of them were ever exactly what I thought on day one. Some better, some worse, some surprises, some disappointments. Even the numerous others I rode or worked with regularly and never owned or leased were never exactly what I thought before ever getting on.

                  It really is a journey. Also teaches you not to be judgey about how others ride their horses as you have no idea if that horse really is easy, hard, sluggish, quick etc. or the rider just makes it look so. Can be humbling when you do get on and discover how good the previous rider really was.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I bought a pony at an auction, so that's a little different - was he was I expected? Mostly, yes. At auctions there are rarely trial rides and you consider yourself lucky if you 'get what you see', so to speak.

                    My list of requirements was vague. 3yo+, big enough for me to ride, not lame or crazy, and preferably solidly broke (non-specific discipline) and going.

                    I never actually looked at this gelding before he went through the ring, so buying was an even bigger gamble. With a simple description of '3yo quarter pony gelding', I didn't have any real expectations other than he seemed pretty relaxed and was obviously "broke" in that he was ridden through.

                    When he got off the trailer, I discovered he was quite the ugly duckling. But counted myself lucky, as he turned out to have good manners, had been well handled and settled in immediately. He loads great, takes deworming and shots like a champ, stalls well and gets along with everyone. I also found out from his catch rider that he'd only been ridden once prior to auction day...so not the "solidly broke" horse I'd been looking for, but whatever. I hopped on him for the first time (so 3rd ride ever) bareback in a halter. NBD.

                    My only surprise was he came with a serious bacterial infection and a massive worm load. As a secondary more long-term pleasant surprise, he's grown 2+ inches and gained 300+ pounds and is no longer something I want to hide behind the barn.

                    His general attitude has always been pretty blasé. I do wish he had been further along in his training, but otherwise he is fairly perfect and I am still 100% happy with my purchase, over a year later. Having seriously low expectations will do that, though! 4 out of the 5 boxes checked isn't bad.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My Rocky was everything I was told he was, and even more. I wanted a horse that would help me with my confidence. A horse that would walk if I wanted to only walk, even if the other horses were going faster. A horse who would listen to me and slow down if I needed him to do that. Good manners, good loader, good at the mounting block. A horse who could be tied to the side of the trailer and not melt down if the other horse or horses were out of sight. A horse that would go when I wanted to go, but slow when I wanted to slow. A horse with brakes!

                      I knew I wanted a gelding and I knew I wanted one at least 10 years old. I did not want gray, but any other color was fine and I would have taken gray if I could have found the temperament I wanted.

                      Rocky was 14 when I bought him -- a little older than I wanted, but not too old. He was solid bay, and had the most magnificent mane, forelock and tail. A Tennessee Walking Horse with the most beautiful way of going.

                      From our very first Hunter Pace, when he was still on trial with me, when I became so overwhelmed with fear about going down a really steep hill and then passing a huge whirly-gig and a giant flock of angry geese that I was sobbing -- and his reaction was to put one foot in front of the other and take me down that hill so slowly that I wonder how we didn't somersault all the way down ... to our very last ride this past May on a glorious spring day .... he was just the best. Always honest. He put up with me overcoming my nervousness and fears. He put up with me holding him too tightly and finally learning to let go. He put up with me trying to figure out how to rate his running walk and how to settle in and enjoy his smooth gait. He never put a foot wrong with the farrier, not ever. He was a perfect gentleman always, with the veterinarian. He self loaded and unloaded from the trailer, calmly except for the one time when the trailer was full of hornets. That time he balked. Good reason! Three separate times while trail riding over the years, we were attacked by swarms of bees. Even while being stung numerous times himself, he took care of me. On one ride a 40+ foot tall loblolly pine tree crashed to the ground right in front of us. We had been moving at a very nice running walk down a long dirt road when inexplicably (to me), he slowed and then stopped and would not go forward. I was confused and was just about ready to kick him hard to GO when the ground began to shake. The tree fell so quickly and so slowly at the same time that it seemed like a dream. We could feel the rushing air as the tree fell and I found pine needles in my shirt when I got home. When I think what would have happened if he had kept going instead of stopping... My friend said he felt the tremors through his feet -- probably so. I decided he was doing his Black Beauty and the Bridge routine to take care of both of us so we did not die..

                      I had him for 12 years and every year was better. The last seven years were near perfect. I enjoyed him so much. I had learned how to relax and enjoy everything. I trusted him and he trusted me. I used to joke that we had an agreement in writing -- no riding when it was too cold, too hot, too windy or raining. We also had an agreement about jumping ... why would we do that if we could go around. He was tall enough that he could hop over things or step over without losing his rhythm. In all the time I had him, even in the beginning when I was trying to overcome fears (from having the wrong horse for me before I had him), I never had a bad ride. I never got off of him wishing we hadn't gone out to ride that day (well, maybe the day we both got stung by bees!). He was seriously the horse of a lifetime.

                      I really miss him.

                      SCM1959

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I confess to never having gone looking for a horse.

                        ​​​​​​That said, the older of my current two couldn't be closer to what I wanted if we could tick off little boxes for the characteristics we want when ordering. Seriously - even his white markings are what I wanted. While I can't take any credit for that, I can take credit for his training as I got him as a days-old foal.

                        The surprise? That would be his three diseases/health conditions (PSSM, PPID, and heaves) all of which have been quite manageable so far and even considered all together are a tiny price to pay for the brilliant horse that he is.

                        I would not hesitate to do it all over again even knowing about those surprises.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I was green as grass when I bought my first horse. Had ridden as a kid, and became a re-rider at the age of 26. Was at best an intermediate rider.

                          Bought a very underweight (starved actually), out of shape OTTB. Trainer should have advised me better, was looking for a sale. But it was ultimately my decision, and "Caveat emptor".

                          Once she gained weight and became fit, she was way too much horse for me. However, I persevered. I learned a lot from her, and loved her.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've had 17 horses in 55 years --but I'll just address the question with the last one I bought --William Tell. I bought him at a ranch horse auction. He was sold as a w/t/c, unflappable, loads, clips, bathes. He checked all the boxes on my "want list." (except color --I like grays). I brought him home and it took me over a year to really become comfortable with him --because he is SO WELL TRAINED. It helped that I contacted his previous owners (4). Each was glad to hear he was with me --all spoke highly of him. He'd been sold due to his age (he was a cutting/sorting horse and at 8-9, they are getting old for the game. He came through the auction at 10 years old.

                            Anyway, Will is much more than I expected. I use him for fox hunting and mounted archery. Although we have been invited up to first flight, I have just recently moved back to second flight. Let's face it. I'm almost 70. Will CAN do those big fences, but I think I don't want to any more.

                            Best surprise --I thought I'd have to train him for mounted archery only to find he was already well schooled. One of his previous owners did mounted shooting with him.

                            He's a good horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yes and no. In the list of horses I have, some were greener, one had severe kissing spine, a friends "quarter horse 17 hand sound 15 year old" auction save is a 16.2 twh mid 20s and not sound, the baby would be 17 hands, is 15.2, the future foal that was going to be a gray colt was a bay filly, but all in all, I am ok with what I have.
                              My show horse is a LOT nicer than I imagined. A LOT.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I've owned 8 horses although two were more rescue type situations.

                                I don't tend to look much for a certain type although lately in life I've grown a huge fondness for Thoroughbreds. So I will say that while I was "open to most breeds" my friend pointed out that I really want a TB and that's okay!

                                Beyond that, the first thing I wanted was a good mind. I'm getting pretty good at judging that, because some really quiet horses can seem like they have a great mind, but be really poor choices for Dressage if they have no work ethic.

                                Of course I wanted a nice enough mover within my budget.

                                I ended up with a young TB. I'm surprised that I bought a TB that wasn't ever on the track, honestly. And I'm really surprised that I bought a Chestnut!

                                He's more dominant type of personality than I have had in the past, but does remind me of a QH gelding I had. Big personality, a bit cocky at times, very friendly and smart. Pretty level headed and the work ethic so far is great.

                                There is a little bit of spook in there (not much) but he comes back so quickly which is one thing I always like to see. I'm enjoying him.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'll be honest, I had absolutely no idea what I was expecting my horse to be. I know what I was hoping for, but considering that I bought him off of CANTER with nothing but a few extra videos from the assistant trainer, a super basic vet check, and a gut feeling from looking at his ad that I was going to regret it if I didn't pursue him to the full extent of my ability, I didn't have much to base my expectations on.

                                  Fortunately he's everything that I was hoping for and more, so... I'd say that it worked out pretty well in the end.

                                  He stepped off the trailer a bit off in the hind, so that was a shock and a bit terrifying because he vetted fine, but it was just due to the fact that he's got a slightly sticky stifle and hadn't been doing much other than sitting at his trainer's farm for a couple months before I bought him after doing next to nothing on the track - once he got regular turnout and I started doing consistent walk work he built strength pretty quickly and has been sound ever since (even with somewhat extended periods of time off here and there because of my job). My trainer messed with that stifle a bit when we had our first lesson with her (she's a former vet tech and used to work for our current vet) and said that it's barely loose at all and I should just ride him like I would any other horse and not let it dictate what we do because he's only going to get stronger back there and it's not like we're aiming for the Olympics, and that strategy seems to be working out pretty well so far.

                                  He can definitely get a little frustrated when we're learning new things (which we do a lot, since he's not properly four until May and I've only really been riding him since June, which is about when he really settled in after coming home at the end of April) and he doesn't immediately understand them, but he's honestly a very intelligent horse and has got a good head on his shoulders otherwise and I just take it slow whenever we're introducing new concepts so that they're broken up over a few rides. He's pretty brave and he's only ever really spooked with me once and that was after he had a week off when the weather was yoyo-ing all over the place and everyone was keyed up. Usually his "spooks" are slowing down and looking and that's about it. He's also a total pocket pony, which wasn't a requirement but was something that I was definitely hoping for, so that was a pleasant surprise.

                                  There's still a lot I don't know about how he'll handle certain things (like jumping) since we've been taking his training pretty slowly, but my trainer likes him and I like him and he's game for pretty much anything as long as we don't throw too much at him too fast, so I think we'll be alright. I like to joke that he has the sticky stifle because the world couldn't let me have a completely perfect horse. I know there's that saying about how you should never buy the first horse you see, but I'm happy that I listened to that gut feeling that I had when I saw his ad because he's a great horse and I think we've got a solid future ahead of us.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    no, never met any of our Desired Expectations..none

                                    But she was a most wonderful horse who taught us a lot. She was to be our four kid's English Pleasure horse.... her heritage was solid English... her parents were each from a long line of English Pleasure mounts. She was at a farm that developed English Pleasure stock into national champions

                                    Bought the horse as a long yearling, put her in training and she developed into an outstanding Western horse.

                                    we learned from her that is not our desires that paramount but what is best for the individual which we used in raising our kids

                                    (ended up leasing an English Pleasure horse for the kids)

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                                    • #19
                                      The last horse I purchased was a starving Navajo mustang. He was a 5 year old stallion that had wandered off the rez with his band of mares and foals. I took notice of him when the State first confiscated him. I was looking for a level headed trail horse that I could put anyone on and needed something a little taller than my welsh cobs but not too tall. I looked at a few local prospects but they all had sketchy conformation issues. I saw that the mustang had landed with a TIP trainer 'wanna be' who had not even enough money to keep her personal horse fed. She had him for a month when I noticed she had put him up for sale. He measured 15 hands and likely has some draft in his background based on his build. He had been saddled and haltered but knew not much else when I went to look at him. He was a good 250-300 lbs underweight and this was after being 'rescued' to be gentled (all part of a long story). I paid more than he was worth in terms of pounds on the hoof but I immediately knew he had a good mind. I got him home, put weight on him and started riding him. He settled in well once he realized he had enough food to eat. I then gelded him a few months later once his body condition improved enough to safely perform the procedure. We've never looked back. I swear I could leave all the gates open and he wouldn't leave - I think he knows he's got a good deal going LOL. He is the best trail horse I could have asked for and more. He is sweet and smart. He is a survivor. None came as a surprise. Ace has a home for life.
                                      Ranch of Last Resort

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                                      • #20
                                        Here was my wishlist
                                        4-9 yo
                                        15.2-17.2
                                        gelding
                                        My dream was to get an Irish sport horse but fully expected to end up with a throughbred due to budget
                                        good natured, brave, laid back
                                        for eventing

                                        here is what I got
                                        9 year old 16.3 stunning ISH gelding with an absolute heart of gold. Talented at dressage and pretty good jumping. He is the definition of good natured, but brave and laid back? Probably not hahaha. He also had a minor issue come up in his pre purchase, but I decided to take a chance on him as he checked all of my other boxes and I adored him. I got a significant discount on him b/c of the issue, but you can bet I spent every penny of that on vet bills related to the issue. Ultimately, he is still absolutely perfect for me even if he is turning out to be quite an expensive bugger.

                                        He has taken a long time to settle in and learn to trust me, it hasn't been easy. He is not typically hot or crazy, but definitely has that button and sometimes gets very worked up. He is 16.3 but very chunky and it has really made me buck up and learn to handle him when he is all puffed up. Also, I was told he was gelded at 2 but have a theory he was gelded late, as he acts quite studdish around mares.

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