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Buying 2 year old hunter prospects

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  • Buying 2 year old hunter prospects

    Do you think it's realistic to be able to foresee the potential of such a youngster to be suitable for the hunter ring? I want something fancy, but with my budget I am going to have to go with something that hasn't been started. I don't have an issue with this because my trainer has started plenty of babies, and I am somewhat of a capable rider.

    My question is-do you think you can really get a feel for whether or not a horse will make up to a fancy hunter at just 2 years old? Also, what do you look for (what is most important) when looking at such a prospect? Any advice?

  • #2
    I love two year olds! You can start to see what they're really going to look like as adults. Their personalities are becoming much more "who they're going to be." They are old enough to free jump so you can see what sort of style they have. You can definitely tell what sort of movement they'll have.

    I picked my mare out of a field as a two year old. I was drawn to her personality as much as her movement. She seemed very level headed then, and she has not disappointed.
    The rebel in the grey shirt


    • #3
      Yes, you can get a pretty good idea for a hunter type in regard to their personality, willingness to learn, movement, etc and jumping aptitude in the chute. And prices increase for a good 2 yr old v. a yearling, but the more substantial jump is as a three yr old going under saddle.


      • #4
        Absolutely! Conformation and movement should be readily apparent. Then, putting them through the jump chute a few times will show you many things. Watching them in person will give you an idea as to form, scope, problem solving ability, etc. most love it and figure it out quickly. A few don't like it and never do it well. That doesn't mean they can't or never will, but it will take a rider's help. But most will give you a very good idea of their future potential.


        • #5
          Yes you can.

          I raised my now 5 year old and I knew early on that he would be a hunter. He free jumps slow in the air and is extremely laid back with a huge soft canter.

          No way he would get anywhere in the jumpers!


          • #6
            I agree with the above posters but just wanted to add that of you aren't confident with evaluating young horses don't be afraid to ask your trainer's thoughts too if he/she has done the young horse thing. Having an idea on bloodlines that have produced what you are looking for never hurts either.
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            • Original Poster

              Thank you for all of the responses! My trainer is making all of the contacts and has a good network. I wouldn't do anything without him and we will be looking at prospects together in person. I am glad to know that you all think that by 2 they are showing you what they really will be and how they truly move.

              I'm just so nervous because I feel like I am taking such a risk buying something so young. I trust my trainer wholeheartedly with his training abilities, and I hope we agree on what we like. He has a jumper background, and so do I, so I am a little afraid that we might like the jump of something that won't be the best hunter.

              Any other advice? What is most important to you? I like the flat knee movement, but feel like sometimes the daisy cutter doesn't jump as well as one with a little more action. I tend to look at the shoulder and like to see a big free step through it.


              • #8
                I find that to be way less true with the warmbloods than it used to be. I also never really believed it. But the key is to evaluate the movement from the shoulder, not from below. And remember that after you add a rider and the horse learns to drop his head and use his back, ANY movement will only improve.

                If your trainer has experience evaluating young horses, you will be fine. Many trainers don't have a clue...


                • #9
                  Tish Quirk gave a presentation at the American Hanoverian Society annual meeting a few years ago on what to see in a young hunter free jumping vs. a strong show jumper candidate, and I've been studying videos ever since as well as watching my own youngsters go on to successful careers as show hunters or show jumpers. If I can find a video from the presentation, I'll post the link.

                  Diane Halpin / Laurel Leaf Hanoverians: both on Facebook


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dianehalpin View Post
                    Tish Quirk gave a presentation at the American Hanoverian Society annual meeting a few years ago on what to see in a young hunter free jumping vs. a strong show jumper candidate, and I've been studying videos ever since as well as watching my own youngsters go on to successful careers as show hunters or show jumpers. If I can find a video from the presentation, I'll post the link.

                    Diane Halpin / Laurel Leaf Hanoverians: both on Facebook
                    I would love to see that video Please share if you find the link.
                    Worth A Shot Farm
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                    • #11
                      I think that there are certain unknows buying a two year old that you have to watch for. I bought one for the same reasons you did and the things I bought it for: jump, movement, looks improved with time. The horse was a beautiful mover, very attractive and jumped well. It seemed very sensible, willing to go through the chute and good in new situations as a two year old. What was never apparent in that 2 year old year in the chute or in handling him was the rideability to come. The horse had a spook that was prohibitive to showing for anyone but a very good pro. Eventually went on, after years and thousands of dollars in training and showing to be a dressage horse.
                      So I agree with the others that you have a very good idea what you're getting as far as looks and movement but are rolling a dice somewhat with the rideability over those fences. Sometimes their real self doesn't show until they are strong and confident at four.


                      • #12
                        there's always a risk in buying a horse, and more so with a prospect. but be optimistic about it and take your time. it's good you've got your trainer helping you out

                        my advice would be: look for the ride you want. watching a horse on the ground isn't entirely indicative of how it will be under saddle, but it gives you an idea. i do a lot of window shopping online at prospects. watching the videos with them either free lunged in an arena or going through a chute gives me an idea of who i'd be going to see (if i had the money, haha!).


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by dianehalpin View Post
                          Tish Quirk gave a presentation at the American Hanoverian Society annual meeting a few years ago on what to see in a young hunter free jumping vs. a strong show jumper candidate, and I've been studying videos ever since as well as watching my own youngsters go on to successful careers as show hunters or show jumpers. If I can find a video from the presentation, I'll post the link.

                          Diane Halpin / Laurel Leaf Hanoverians: both on Facebook
                          I would love to see the video. I will try and find it as well. I have watched so many videos of prospects that I feel like my head is going o fall off! I do understand the rideability will not be known in a prospect, but I can't worry about that too much. My trainer is so kind and patient with horses that I think that I will be ok. My jumper was a nut and is now a completely made safe big jumper packer. It just took patience without man handling or drugging.


                          • #14
                            Go for it! I absolutely love young horses. They are so much fun to be around and you can shape them and teach them what you want. And, if you trust your trainer all the better! Young horses typically don't have any baggage which is also a plus. I built such a great bond with my two year old before I got on her at three and it was a seamless transition. Ground work is key! I honestly don't think I will ever buy an experienced horse again. I suggest you spend some time with which ever horse you look at and really get to know their personality. And, if you get the chance to meet their mom or older siblings that can tell you a lot how they will turn out.

                            Good luck!


                            • #15
                              Like everyone has said...Yes!!! We have a 3/4 TB - Irish Sport Horse filly by our Touch of the Blues ISH stallion, Seattle Blues and she was born a hunter!!! Looks and moves like a fancy TB with a puppy dog personality. She won't be two until late June, but already has the movement, balance and clean changes of a hunter. You just KNOW when you see a good prospect...even at 2. Good luck.
                              Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma