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Made a purchase with my heart

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  • Made a purchase with my heart

    I joined this forum a short time ago looking for recommendations for a dressage barn. At the time, I was also horse shopping.

    Found a good barn and trainer (with the help of COTH, of course). I had some issues with horse shopping... several horses I was very interested in and had appointments to go see were sold right before my appointment.

    After about the fourth time this happened, I found another horse I really liked (at least based on pics, videos, and description) and, worried he would get sold out from under me, I put a non-refundable deposit down on him.

    I had originally planned on getting an OTTB but my trainer initially thought that might not be suitable. After I started lessons, she felt I could definitely handle a project horse, just some of the larger, more temperamental OTTBs. Just after I put the deposit on this horse, she put me up on an OTTB mare she was training for a rescue. The horse was very "marish" on the ground which initially put me off, but she was a dream to ride.

    I went down later on that week to look at the horse I'd put a deposit on. He was super sweet from the ground and really flashy. The purchase price was super low, I'd already put a deposit on him, so I decided to bring him home.

    I knew he had limited under saddle time: just walking and a trot or two on the lunge line.

    I knew he'd had a hip injury in January.

    So, basically, I bought a horse while using my heart, not my head.

    Tonight we had our first training session. He bucked like a rodeo horse when we put the saddle on. We basically worked on saddling and him getting comfortable... slowing down his neck, getting the proper head position, etc.

    All in all it was a good session but it made me realize how long it's going to be before I actually get in the saddle. I started thinking about that OTTB mare, and another OTTB (a gelding) I'd been planning on looking at but didn't follow through in my rush to purchase this horse (the OTTB gelding is still at the rescue and tonight I looked at pics of him and wondered... did I make the wrong decision?).

    There is still some question about my new horse's soundness. A massage therapist is looking at him tomorrow and the vet is coming out on Thursday (he also has some sort of respiratory infection going on).

    The horse (I've named him Eclipse) really is a nice boy... I think I just finally realized how fast I went into all of this. I guess this was more of a "vent" than anything else, but recommendations on how to get in the right mindset going forward, etc. would definitely be appreciated.

  • #2
    Can you return him less your non-refundable deposit?


    • #3
      Did you know he wasn't broke? I too would see if you can return him as it sounds like he doesn't fit your current needs.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home


      • Original Poster

        I tried to negotiate a trial period (my trainer was worried about the soundness issue), but the seller didn't agree to one, so no return policy. The purchase price was super cheap, but it still means I can't afford to board another horse.

        I knew he was very, very green, but figured my trainer would be able to ride him right away, and that I would ride after a few sessions.

        I think what my plan is at this point is to see how things go with training. If he ends up being unsound, my trainer thinks light riding is still likely, so I'll plan on bringing him to my parents' farm for light riding, and look for something else I can board locally.


        • #5
          From one bleeding heart to another, see if you can return the horse.

          Not to be harsh, but this sounds like it is going to go nowhere good, real fast.

          Please be careful, don't get hurt.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


          • #6
            If you're concerned about "proper head position" on a horse this a) green or b) fried ... this is not the horse you want, and you're not the person this horse needs.

            Problem is, neither is the current owner who's misrepresenting him.

            If money's not a huge issue, the best option may be to have him evaluated and give him time off if that will help his soundness, since you seem to have a pasture to park him. You didn't say how old he is?
            "Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense!"


            • Original Poster

              He's about 6-7.

              My trainer thinks he likely wasn't handled a lot as a youngster.

              I don't think she (my trainer) was looking for proper head position as much as relaxation.


              • Original Poster

                Oh, and I don't feel like the former owner necessarily misrepresented him. She said she thought we would have to start from the beginning... I guess in my arrogance/stupidity, I felt with all the groundwork they said they'd done, he was to the point of riding. I did see videos if the former trainer in the saddle.


                • #9
                  I know that others are saying to return him....but I bought my older gelding when he had very little handling as a 6 year old, broke, but not very and he learned very quickly and settled in once he knew I was his girl. His ground manners were not very good but everything was so much better in 12 months. He actually was leased by a green rider within 9 months since I found out I was pregnant.

                  My 4 year old OTTB is taking longer more baby stuff. So the age of your guy may work in your favor. Buying horses is always with your heart, I would not write him off too quickly, you do have a trainer.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nikelodeon79 View Post
                    He's about 6-7.

                    My trainer thinks he likely wasn't handled a lot as a youngster.

                    I don't think she (my trainer) was looking for proper head position as much as relaxation.
                    As someone who purchased a horse with heart, not head, I sympathize with you. I merely donated money to save the horse, but took her on a whim when I was given right of first refusal.

                    I ended up with a green 7 year old TB mare, and thus our story began.

                    I spent six months on the ground with her before I even thought about putting her under saddle. A decision I will never regret because it gave me and my trainer lots of time to get to know her. At first her ground manners were horrible, it was obvious no one had worked with her, hence our time on the ground before going u/s.

                    I took my time with this horse, and it has paid off. She is now in the ribbons in eventing, jumpers and dressage, but it has been no walk in the park to get her there. However, I would not trade the journey for anything.

                    You haven't said where you are in your riding career, but if you like this horse, and have time, stick with it. Time on the ground with a horse is priceless. I wish many of the people I board with understood this!

                    If you want to chat, feel free to PM me. I totally understand what you are going through.
                    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                    • Original Poster

                      I've actually been riding Western for over 20 years, but recently took about four years off when I retired my geldings.

                      I guess you can say I jumped back in with both feet.

                      I used to work with "problem" horses and trained my Arab (came to me as a recently gelded 17 year old that had never been ridden) myself.

                      I've been struggling with some confidence issues lately. I feel like everything I've done in the past has been "backyard stuff" and I never really knew what I was doing before. I'm just very glad to have a good trainer to work with. Right now I'm going to be paying for a "training package" where we work him together 2x per week and she works him alone once per week. I can obviously work him as many times per week as I'd like on my own, too.


                      • #12
                        Calculate how much you're going to pay out in board & training in the next 12 months - & then drive him back to his previous owner & return him:

                        I did see videos if the former trainer in the saddle.
                        If you can't place a saddle on him & have your trainer repeat the actions in the video, then it's misrepresentation.

                        If you were more experienced with difficult horses, I might counsel you differently BUT this horse sounds as if he needs to be handled by a trainer for the next several months - not by someone that is likely to give him mixed signals.

                        It may also be that his behavior is pain related - have you had a vet do a thorough work up? Paying a 2K vet bill (Xrays etc) will be less costly than broken bones.

                        I knew he'd had a hip injury in January.
                        Did you see the vet records from this?


                        • #13
                          It sounds like he needs a break, honestly.

                          I know, I know he's 6 and not started. My mare was 7 when I got her, had been started her 4 year old year, then got hurt, then had a baby, then had colic surgery.

                          Just because she hadn't been in work doesn't mean that she didn't need time to decompress, KWIM? She'd had a lot of 'stuff' happen to her over the past few years and once she found her own person, she needed time to process the fact. It took her time to chill out.

                          When DH and I were driving home after I worked her for the first time I was in tears because I wasn't sure if I made the right decision. She was nuts. She still can be nuts, but I've learned to love her for it. We do a lot of backtracking work with my trainer. She's taught me a million more things than the horses I've started in the past, and she's managed to weasle her crazy bay self into my heart.

                          It's easy to feel that "Omg my horse is 6 and not doing anything" pressure. I posted here about it, and recieved a lot of good advice about just enjoying the process and learning as much as I can from it. I took that advice to heart and it really changed my perspective.

                          My advice would be to let him chill over the winter. Figure out what's wrong with him soundness wise and let him just have a person of his own. Start fresh in the spring.

                          All that being said. If you don't feel safe or your gut is telling you that this is a bad idea, said horse needs to move on. Even if you take the loss of the purchase price. There is no shame in recognizing that fact! Even the best horsemen have horses that just don't work for them.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nikelodeon79 View Post
                            I knew he had limited under saddle time: just walking and a trot or two on the lunge line.
                            Originally posted by nikelodeon79 View Post
                            Tonight we had our first training session. He bucked like a rodeo horse when we put the saddle on.
                            Originally posted by nikelodeon79 View Post
                            so I'll plan on bringing him to my parents' farm for light riding.
                            Originally posted by nikelodeon79 View Post
                            I've been struggling with some confidence issues lately.
                            Ummm... OK


                            • #15
                              Looks like you may be overmounted with that horse, never mind all the other issues.
                              Not good for someone with confidence issues and not really a safe situation to be for anyone.

                              As for the seller lying, the last several horses I have bought the sellers have lied, a bit to a lot.
                              People that generally would have been honest in representing their horses, in today's market sellers are very desperate to sell and sadly kind of become fuzzy with their ethics to get the horse gone.
                              One of them was a veterinarian, from all people.

                              Sorry you are in that situation, but that happens to the best of us at times.
                              Now, I don't think anyone here can help you decide where to go from this, you and your trainer will have to do that.


                              • #16
                                As another person, who has a barn full of horses, but only one that I can actually ride regularly, I hope you can cut your losses as soon as you can and get the horse that is right for you. I will never, ever make the mistake again - so many years (and so much money) have been wasted on tending to issues and injuries....my heart is only heavier because of it .


                                • Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                                  Ummm... OK
                                  I'm not entirely sure what point you're trying to make... snipping portions of my posts and quoting them? A more instructive post would be appreciated. I realize it's often fun to "bash"/make fun of people on COTH, but please at least use a few paragraphs to do so. I haven't made it terribly difficult to do... I've already admitted that I screwed up and made a poor decision.

                                  I'll explain my statements:
                                  "I knew he had limited under saddle time: just walking and a trot or two on the lunge line."
                                  I knew that the former owner and her trainer had done mostly groundwork. They had, however, ridden him a few times, mostly just allowing him to go his own way at a walk with a rider, and had trotted him twice with a rider on, but that was while the horse was on a lunge line.

                                  "Tonight we had our first training session. He bucked like a rodeo horse when we put the saddle on."
                                  This was a bit of a surprise to me, because I didn't expect him to buck like that with just the saddle on, considering all of the groundwork that the prior owner said they'd done. If it was his first training session EVER it would not surprise me at all; however, it was not his first training session ever, it was his first training session with me and my trainer.

                                  "so I'll plan on bringing him to my parents' farm for light riding"
                                  IF he has a continuing soundness issue that means he'll only ever be sound for light riding, I will bring him to my parents AFTER he's trained (I have an excellent trainer and I won't get on until she and I are both comfortable that he's ready for me). Basically, we'd be doing walk/trot stuff... mostly walking on trails. The only cost to me for keeping a horse at my parents is feed (if they need it.. most of the horses there do just fine on hay and grass only), vet care, and farrier. We have over 30 acres of pasture and an additional 140 acres that we use for hay, so there's no cost for hay.

                                  "I've been struggling with some confidence issues lately."
                                  I used to be a fearless rider but at some point I realized that I'm breakable. Until recently, my butt hadn't seen a saddle for four years. So... yeah... it wasn't a smart move for me to buy an untrained horse but my plan all along was to have the trainer work with him until he's to the point where I can ride him. My frustration/anxiety is because that time seems further off than I originally thought.

                                  I'm going to see what the massage therapist has to say today, and what the vet has to say tomorrow. I'll also have a serious talk with my trainer about what she thinks... I really, really should've slowed down and thought things through before I put myself in this position. My trainer was upset when she heard I'd put a non-refundable deposit on him and I don't believe she felt he was the right horse for me. I wish I'd just decided to eat the deposit and put the brakes on, perhaps leasing a horse at her place or taking more lessons on the OTTB rescue mare, but I didn't. Let this be a lesson to others, I guess.


                                  • #18
                                    Since it sounds like you can't go backwards by returning him to the original owner, may as well go forward with him. I'd keep working with the trainer and if you are sure this horse isn't for you or you don't have the time/money/inclination to find out, start advertising him for sale. But who knows, maybe he'll turn into a nice horse while you guys are working with him.

                                    Good luck!
                                    *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Originally posted by shiningwizard255 View Post
                                      Since it sounds like you can't go backwards by returning him to the original owner, may as well go forward with him. I'd keep working with the trainer and if you are sure this horse isn't for you or you don't have the time/money/inclination to find out, start advertising him for sale. But who knows, maybe he'll turn into a nice horse while you guys are working with him.

                                      Good luck!
                                      Provided he's sound, my trainer thinks that once he's trained, he'll be very sell-able just based on color/looks. He's big and beautiful... flashy TB-like black & white paint. Someone else might buy him for color like I did.

                                      He IS a sweet horse, though... really respectful from the ground as long as you don't try putting that horse-eating saddle on him. Even then, he "makes good decisions," according to my trainer.


                                      • #20
                                        I'm confused - when you went to look at the horse, did you not have them tack it up and sit on it? If not, why not? And why didn't you take your trainer with you to evaluate him?

                                        I'm also confused by what you say you worked on this first training session. "Getting the head in the proper position"? 20 page rants about headset aside, why was this what concerned you during this training session? From your posts, this horse has never even cantered undersaddle. You have bigger problems than where he wants to put his head.

                                        I'm not trying to be mean here, it just sounds like there have been a lot of missteps in a fairly short period of time. And if what your trainer was concerned about during that first training session was where to put the horses head, I question her level of expertise as well.

                                        We've all made bad choices in horses. In my experience, it's usually best to sell the horse and get one more suitable. You want to be able to enjoy this process of bringing along a project, not be terrified because you're hopelessly overhorsed.
                                        "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
                                        -George Morris