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Is what I am looking for reasonable?

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  • Is what I am looking for reasonable?

    I am thinking of buying a horse in the next 3-6 months and I'd appreciate thoughts or advice based your experience with buying, or helping others buy, horses. It's a rather long winded post....

    I am a beginner rider of average ability but I am comfortable with horses on the ground. I had a horse and rode as a teenager. I started taking 2-4 lessons a week in November after 25 years away. I am definitely improving, but I am also realizing how little I know.

    My riding goals are focused on profiency at 3 gaits and capable of trail riding alone or in groups. I could envision going to a couple of fun/local/schooling shows and maybe jumping at some point. I know I want to ride english and think eventing looks neat but probably a stretch from athletic/age standpoint. Either way, I would only want to compete for fun, but I want to be good. I rode saddleseat as a teenager, and now I take lessons from a dressage instructor. Pretty sure I am not actually doing dressage.

    I would like a horse between 15-17 hands and with strong (not fine) bones. I am 5'7", 170 trying to get back to 155 so big enough to carry me comfortably and without looking funny. I would like the horse to have a distinct, ideally funny personality and like people. Not spooky but not lazy, and be fit enough to ride 4-7 hours a week. Reasonable conformation, good health. No dangerous vices, good stable manners. Nothing green, well trained or close to it, with a kind disposition. Cute would be a plus.

    Breeds I think about are full or part Morgans, Saddlebreds, Arabians, Thoroughbreds, and I think draft horses look neat but I know nothing about them. I have a soft spot for animals in trouble and I would love to adopt; however, I have no experience with abused horses and would not want to be in over my head.

    I can't really see myself spending over 8K unless I was absolutely crazy about the horse. In my current job, I can afford training board but I would like to be working toward 2X a week lessons within 6 months. Weekly lessons in a year. I am financially stable, but not wealthy.

    Does all of this come in one horse and how hard is it to find? How and where should I look? What age should I look for? Do you rely on your instructor to help you? If yes, do you pay them or give them a gift? Who helped you make the decision? How long should you ride before buying?

  • #2
    It's reasonable and definitely out there.

    First things first tho, cut out the specifics as far as personality and cute.

    You have a reasonable budget so I don't think it will be too hard to find something for you. I wouldn't limit yourself to only having your trainer look but inform them and keep them up to date. If you find something yourself, see what they think.

    Sounds like your bet bet is to look for a all around horse with a solid mind and good temperament! If your curious check out equine.com ..they're always a good place to start and see what's out there.


    • #3
      Your ideas sound realistic. It sounds like you want a horse to "play" with and have fun with while being safe, rather than be a specialist/champion.

      Be open minded about breed, but stick to your guns about being safe.

      Talk to your instructor, and see what their thoughts are on your goals and if they will help with the process, and in what manner. Some of my students want me to do the work, but most like to look up ads and whittle the list down, then bring me out when they think they found something suitable.

      How your trainer bills for this will vary, and may be they have a set rate, a "per try out" rate, a percentage, or?

      Your instructor may have valuable insights on the local horse market, what barns to be wary off, and may be more analytical/realistic about your skill set/abilities.

      For ages, it depends on if you are comfortable retiring a horse in a few years, or would rather a younger horse you can sell on down the road. From what you posted, something "mature" (6 or older) would likely be what I would suggest, as sometimes personalities can change with maturity.

      Also, if trail riding is important to you, make sure you try the horse out on trails!
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      • #4
        I think your riding goals are very reasonable. My neighbor got into horses probably five years ago now and is now pretty confident and competent riding the horse she bought after many months of lessons. I would start by having this discussion with your trainer, since you see her/him several times a week anyway. She may have some really good ideas for you. It sounds as if you plan to board, which would be what I would suggest for a new owner.

        The thing I would not do is limit myself to any breed. I believe you will be able to find what you are looking for in terms of rideability and skill set. It just may not come in the package you think you want at this point. Be open to that.

        Have fun and keep us posted!


        • #5
          Definitely reasonable. But remember, horses personalities do change and evolve as they interact with different people/places, so don't get too wound up about that. Clearly you do not want a nasty horse, but you'll be able to figure it out pretty quickly when looking if a horse's temperament is that extreme. Make sure you groom and tack up after the 1st ride if you really like the horse, because it sounds like for you behaviour on the ground is as important as U/S.

          Also don't get too obsessive over breed. For the type you want - a solid all arounder - you'll see all the breeds you mentioned above and many more in between. You're not looking at doing breed specific competition, so it really wont matter if the horse is registered or grade. FWIW, the first breed that popped to my mind given your list was Quarter Horse.

          If you're able to ride 3-4 times a week I wouldn't get something you'd have to put into training board. The point is for you to ride the horse, right? Not your trainer. Definitely take lessons at least 1-2x a week at first, but considering what you want to do (meaning not intense recognized competition or anything) you really should feel comfortable riding the horse without trainer supervision when you try them, otherwise it's probably not the right horse.

          Good luck! Definitely take trainer w/ you when you look - you'll need the help of a professional who wont be as emotionally invested as you are.
          "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
          "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


          • #6
            I would say, keep taking lessons, as many as you can, on as many different horses as you can get on, before deciding what you like.
            The best way to learn to ride well is to experience all kinds of horses and learn to adapt to them all, not get comfortable with just one kind, one horse and not progress as a rider as much then.
            Maybe eventually one of those same horses will be a great fit for you right then, as the rider you will be then and help you keep advancing, when that time comes.

            Your trainer/instructor is really who should be advising you there.

            As far as light boned horses, remember that many smaller bones are really more dense and so stronger than bigger bones.
            It is not the size of the bones that makes a light horse strong, but how it is put together that does.

            While there is too light bone for a specific horse's conformation, if all else is proportionate, not extremes, that any one horse may be lighter of bone, another coarser, that would not be in itself something to pass a horse over.

            I expect from now until and when you finally get a horse, you will have changed your mind about what you want several times.

            With you now starting over, you will have the best time learning all there is to learn about horses, so much fun ahead of you.
            Grin and get after it and good luck.


            • #7
              I sold just what you describe back in 2010. 8yr old Solid-Bred Paint. Lots of chrome (just not enough!). WELL trained in English Pleasure, Western Pleasure, and did low level dressage and jumped very honestly, although without a TON of talent . He preferred the English Pleasure to the WP... never had a good jog. Quiet and a little lazy but good work ethic.

              15.3/16hh, BIG boned, big bodied, and BIG feet. Not the typical tiny footed QH type.

              HUGE personality and super cute. No vices.

              $6,500. Was sold to a good home that I knew or else I'd have asked for 10k so I had room to negotiate. He was sold to an adult amateur who wanted to trail ride and do dressage and maybe learn to jump. He's happy as a clam and she loves him.

              They are out there. Keep your mind open and look for things outside of your discipline or preferred breed. This particular horse was sold via word of mouth.... mentioned him to a friend who happened to be the trainer of the person who bought him. Good luck!


              • #8
                Originally posted by twostinkydogs View Post
                Does all of this come in one horse and how hard is it to find? How and where should I look? What age should I look for? Do you rely on your instructor to help you? If yes, do you pay them or give them a gift? Who helped you make the decision? How long should you ride before buying?
                Depending on which part of the country you're in, you should be able to find a good fit well within that budget, especially if you're flexible on 'cute' or 'fancy'.

                Two cautions: You're in a great position to get ripped off on soundness or suitability, and have your heart totally broken. Set aside part of that budget for a good PPE and trial period (in your situation, definitely a trial/lease period, of 3+ months). Secondly, you're in a position where your needs and abilities are going to change a lot (relatively speaking) over the next year or two. Think about it--you effectively started riding a couple months ago, and consistantly riding 3 or 4 times a week in the future is going to see both your fitness and ability improve fairly dramatically from where you are now.

                I know you probably really want to buy your dream horse, but have you considered leasing for the next a year or two? Or, even better, leasing horse(s) you could potentially buy? You'd probably end up a lot happier, and with a much more suitable partner, if you were to spend the rest of the winter and spring on an old campaigner and then move though at least one more, younger and a bit quirkier, mount before you start shopping.


                • #9
                  You didn't mention Irish Sport Horse - while some would give examples of difficult ISH's, by and large, they are very level tempered. Mine was born broke and has never pulled a stunt even when very green. All round great guy, in a 17 hh package.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                  • #10
                    Oh for sure what you want is reasonable! And I agree about saving some for a good PPE. Can't help with English disciplines but you could certainly get a nice gelding, mid age (10-14) who is reliable but also fun adn will grow with you. I also wouldn't get concerned about breeds - go for reliability and personality. I am far more interested in "will he load?" or "does he need to be sedated for the farrier?" And obviously make sure he will do what you want - if you want safe trail guy, make sure he in fact IS a trail guy, ride him on trails!

                    As far as availability, for example(I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH THESE PEOPLE AT ALL) here is a great, great place out here to get nice horses (trail horses, which they note, so you would have to train for your discipline).But most of these horses already have the miles on them (so you don't have to) to give them steadiness ..http://www.montanahorsesforsale.com/

                    Have fun with the process! I looked at over 20 horses before buying one ( ) and most of them would have been fine! Ilearned a lot (hint: sometimes a buckskin might be called "Bucky" for reasons that have NOTHING to do with his color ) Finally, looked at one and just knew he'd work! And 13 years later, he still is! Yes, I have others but he has been fun, interesting and reliable.

                    Good luck!


                    • #11
                      It's definitely out there and it's definitely available for less than your price range.

                      When I decided about a month ago that I was ready to buy a horse, I became a weekly fixture at the local huge sales barn that deals in a lot of western pleasure/trail type horses. I knew what size I was looking for and what traits I was and was not willing to consider. I looked at everything, every sunday afternoon, for weeks, and I still go since I am still looking for the perfect horse.

                      there are tons of good-moving, attractive horses out there for not a lot of money. I'm a little more experienced than you but I have not ridden seriously in almost a decade at this point. However, the best moving, most fun, sanest horse I ever had was a failed WP horse, and now I go there first with the expectation that I am not going to find the next grand prix winner or 3rd level dressage horse but I am likely to find something slower, safe, and reasonably cute. Most of the horses I see are $2500 or under.
                      Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                      you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.


                      • #12
                        What you are asking about is certainly out there. I agree with being sure that you do a pre-purchase vet exam and be sure they take blood for later testing, should your quiet horse suddenly have a change in demeanor.

                        I agree with the idea of riding as many horses as possible and perhaps leasing before you buy. You will see your skill level improve dramatically in the next few months as learn. You don't want to find yourself "wedded" to horse that by summertime might not suit you as well.
                        Be sure to let your trainer/instructor know your goals. They might be considering the purchase of a new lesson horse (at your level)put putting it off because of cost. If she knew that you might be looking to lease, she might step up her search. If she understands how dedicated you are, she might offer you extra rides or a chance to try different things. My trainer friends just LOVE finding students that REALLY care and want to work hard, even of their goals don't involve shows or fancy horses. They love having students that want to be horsemen!
                        F O.B
                        Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                        Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                          Also don't get too obsessive over breed. For the type you want - a solid all arounder - you'll see all the breeds you mentioned above and many more in between. You're not looking at doing breed specific competition, so it really wont matter if the horse is registered or grade. FWIW, the first breed that popped to my mind given your list was Quarter Horse.
                          OP: You described, almost to a "T", what I was looking for a few months ago. I was a TB person through and through but hadn't ridden for 8 years and developed fear issues before I stopped riding. I ended up with a 5 year old APHA gelding for half of your budget. I'm having a ball with him! Keep an open mind about breed and focus more on the individual. Good luck!
                          "Crazy is just another point of view" Sonia Dada


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RegentLion View Post
                            I bought just what you describe. Lots of chrome (just not enough!). WELL trained in English Pleasure, Western Pleasure. Quiet and a little lazy but good work ethic.

                            15.3/16hh, BIG boned, big bodied, and BIG feet. Not the typical tiny footed QH type.

                            HUGE personality and super cute. No vices.
                            I changed it some but I bought it but for 1/2 what you sold him for, 10+ years old, sat for a long while, can still cut a cow as long as you can hold on. Ask around they are out there esp in my area.
                            “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


                            • #15
                              Yes, it is absolutely possible to find what you are looking for. You should certainly work with your trainer to find a horse appropriate for your skills and able to do the things you would like to do. Different trainers bill in different ways, so you will have to ask yours for specifics, but often you will pay about 10 - 15% (of the horse's sale price) additional commission to your trainer for their assistance in finding your horse. Take your time and shop around. Don't fall in love with the first thing you see. And I agree that you should have your final selection of horse vetted before finalizing the purchase.

                              If you like the idea of a rescue, there ARE some good rescues out there which put training on the horses in their care and may have something you would like. Not all horses from rescues have been abused or neglected or are difficult. You have to consider that there will be an adoption contract and some rescues have rules about what you can do with the horse (and some technically retain ownership.) There are plenty of bad rescues too, so do your homework if you choose to go this route.


                              • #16
                                First of all, BRAVO to you for taking 2-4 lessons a week. I can't tell you how many people I see take up riding, who would improve 400x faster if they would follow that plan. There is truly no better way to develop your skills and riding ability, and it is a terrific investment. That said, if you don't have a pressing need to buy a horse (lack of availability of school horses, etc), I would postpone it for a while. Riding multiple horses will make you a much stronger rider, and also give you a sense as you advance of what type of horse you like. And, like others have said, you may quickly advance beyond the skill set of a horse you buy today.

                                I do think that what you are looking for is absolutely reasonable. I would revel in the fact that you are not in a rush to buy, look at a LOT of horses, get familiar with what's in your area, and wait patiently for the perfect one to come along. And no matter what, I would have your trainer either help find the horse or at least evaluate one you get serious about, and I would have a vet you trust do a thorough pre-purchase exam.

                                And, the only other piece of advice I'll repeat from previous posters - obviously you don't want a meanie, but don't stress too much about the personality factor, because with the amount of time you will spend with the horse, it could change drastically. My current horse had absolutely no personality when he came to us, and is now a complete ham, attention/cookie whore, and acts like an overgrown puppy dog.


                                • #17
                                  Depending on your area, maybe look into leading a riding camp horse.

                                  I have worked and volunteered for one for years and a lot of older reriders have leased the horses (free lease). Several, the lessees have loved so much they purchased. They know the personality, their abilities, etc. the overall workload going into a private home is way less too so often the horse is happier. .
                                  Semi Feral


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by lilitiger2 View Post
                                    As far as availability, for example(I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH THESE PEOPLE AT ALL) here is a great, great place out here to get nice horses (trail horses, which they note, so you would have to train for your discipline).But most of these horses already have the miles on them (so you don't have to) to give them steadiness ..http://www.montanahorsesforsale.com/
                                    OMG they have a FJORD!!!! I want!
                                    Draumr Hesta Farm
                                    "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"
                                    Member of the COTH Ignorant Disrepectful F-bombs!*- 2Dogs Farm


                                    • #19
                                      "I have a soft spot for animals in trouble and I would love to adopt; however, I have no experience with abused horses and would not want to be in over my head."

                                      A great number of horses that find themselves at rescues have not necessarily been abused. Especially right now, we see a lot of owners surrendering their horses because they cannot care for them. Many have nothing wrong with them, though of course I would recommend a PPE, just as with any horse purchase.
                                      "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                                      • #20
                                        I sold a horse like that in the price range absolutely bomb proof to a ride who sounds just like you....but here was the rub..Do you know what the cost to board/keep a horse is and all associated as in feeding shoeing vet costs etc....riding and brushing the horse are but a fraction of the pie.....