Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Did You Find Your Horse?



And is your horse a good match for you? I'm no expert, nor would I ever claim to be. I can only speak from experience and sometimes experience speaks volumes........ I'm going to provide a list of things, I have learned when searching for a horse that suits your needs and that you can partner with. I invite everyone to add to it.
1) Know your limitations. In other words, know what you are capable of handling. I have learned what my limits are. I know that I lack the skills to handle a "hot" young inexperienced horse under my butt. I need a horse with miles and the fact that I do not ride in the winter nor am I a daily rider, I need a horse that is forgiving and can sit for a long period of time and then with just a little warm up, I can get on safely.
2) Unless, you are an expert & know what you are doing, meaning someone capable of training. If you are a casual rider or novice, Do not look for color first....... I thought Misty was the ugliest thing and it turns out that she is worth her weight in gold. All I see now is my beautiful redhead.
3) Take your time. Be patient. Don't jump at the first thing that comes along........Boy, have I learned that a couple of times.
4) Take a trainer or a more experienced horseman/woman that you trust with you when you look. Get their opinion.
5) Look at several and test ride. Show up earlier than expected to the appointment you've made to see the horse. Often people selling get the horse squeaky clean and super warmed up before you show up and therefore may give the impression that this horse is easier to handle than may actually be. Also, a horse with a health issue possibly may have been given meds to mask pain.
6) When you get to the time of possible purchase, I suggest a Vet check and keep your records, if you purchase said horse, those records may come in handy some day for your Vet to refer to. Someone who is honest will not mind a Vet check as it is pretty standard.
These are just some suggestions directed at people more like me. Not expert trainers, riders, etc. I got lucky with Misty and my friends Jess & Gerald found her for me. She has turned out to me my rock. Stephen & I found Kola on our own. I took my time with her when I found her and I have taken time with her here at home. She too is a good girl. The only reason, I worried about riding her is that my past "bad" experience got in the way, my own mind.........Nothing she has ever done and since I was able to get on her last summer without incident, my confidence has grown. That is on me. I now have horrible balance issues because of my MS. I am no longer young and fearless. I need a beginner type horse & a forgiving horse, of which I have. Add into the fact that I hadn't done anything with horses since I was a kid , really until 10yrs ago........ What I'm really getting at, is know what you need and accept that or challenge yourself a bit, but don't get in over your head or more than your experience allows. Now, purchasing a horse with training for you and your horse together with an expert is a different story. But even the most experienced horse people have horrible training experiences. It all is a learning curve. Over the past 10yrs I've grown tremendously as a smarter horse person, but have kept in mind, what I want to do, what I'm happy doing & what I am capable of handling. Lessons learned........many! Now I invite anybody to add their own tips or personal stories. No one needs to brag. I am humble enough to admit my limits.

22 comments:

Gail said...

My horses came to me in a dream. No, really! I was raising miniatures and did some trading. I got my Haflinger and Arabian that way. Then Charme was bred without me knowing it, Magic. Charme was bred again a week before I cut the Arabian, Broken Arrow. So I have four horses that came without me actively seeking them out. Three are trained to ride and one is being trained now.

I will have four horses trained to ride that I don't have the intestinal fortitude to saddle up nor the time to do it in.

Sad, isn't it?

Callie said...

If you're happy, Gail, and the horses are happy than it is not sad. I'm happy enough to toodle around our property on occasion on mine. I was so lazy last year, that I rode Misty just bareback and very poorly at that, LOL! Thankfully she accepts me as I am!

SunnySD said...

Good questions, and I'd agree with Callie.

I "found" my horse because I wasn't willing to see him be sent to auction. I didn't need, or want, an unbroken, relatively unhandled long-yearling - still a stud. But I bought him (and paid more than I really should have for the privilege, too). On the whole, it's been a good experience, although I've questioned my sanity more than once!

Jean said...

No tips here. I have been notoriously "Just go for it" in picking my horses. At least in the past, I didn't worry too much because I had enough skill and experience to take a youngster and bring him along. I lucked out adopting two Boys from a rescue. Chance is proving to be a perfect retirement horse for me now as I am older and no longer quite able to take on a real challenge.


I think, however, your advice about knowing your own limits and with that, exactly what you hope to accomplish with the horse is the primary key. It's really bad when a rider is overhorsed and it happens far too often.

Katharine Swan said...

I broke all the rules when I found Panama. I wasn't even planning on ever owning a horse, and just happened to be in the right place at the right time, so there goes rule #3. I was a pretty inexperienced rider at the time, too -- so much for #1 and #2. I wasn't even thinking of riding him someday, just of rescuing him, which eliminates #4 and #5. We didn't get a vet check, either, even though we paid the vet's bill in exchange for him.

I did hire a trainer when I brought him to Denver over a year later, but from the very beginning it has been a learning experience. He is young and hot, and I am still learning to be a better rider. Green + green = black and blue! But he is also smart and eager to please, and I am equally eager to learn to be more of what he needs. Every day our relationship shapes us both, MAKING us into a better match for one another.

Callie said...

Thanks for sharing........They aren't rules, they're simply things to consider when actively seeking a horse.I bought my horses with the intent of owning a horse as I had grown up on them, not the intent of rescuing, however, ten years later and although I know alot more than I did then, there are always new things to learn. Any experienced decent horse person will admit that. It's good that you are growing with your recue horse, Katherine. Some of us are in the later part of lives and simply enjoy a short ride here or there or just caring for them, not having the vigor it takes to train and have a safe animal anymore, these are good guidelines to follow when in that type of situation. God knows there are too many people out there who have gotten in over their skill level and cannot handle it. There is nothing wrong from learning from one's experience. I learned the hard way. Frankly at my tender young age of 46 and my marvelous diagnosis of MS, I'm grateful to have two very good girls, been there, done that horses. I no longer have the strength, the tolerance for hot weather that I once had, so this works for me. I know there are others out there that feel the same way.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think that right now the horses I have are perfect for me. Dusty is still very green but I feel she is the safest horse I've got at the barn to ride. Blue is usually safe unless he gets his head in the clouds and doesn't remember there's a rider on his back. Right now with the knee replacement and getting older I need a safe horse more than anything else. And I want to have fun, I doubt I'll ever show again but if I did and that's a big IF, I think Dusty would be a lot of fun at shows too.

If I am honest the best horse I've ever ridden was my daughter's horse Lifeguard, believe it or not I rode him for years and although he wasn't easy he's the only one I never fell off of and the horse I won the most classes on.

So now for more honesty, my horse Erik who was my once in a lifetime horse of my heart was sometimes just way to much horse for me. I'm 5'5 he grew to be 17'2 and was as spooky as they come. He could be a little scary to ride, not just for me but for everyone who did.

You've made a really thorough list of great advice and I have nothing to add. Except maybe don't do what I have done in the past, I'll just take anyone who needs a home or who I feel sorry for etc...

Callie said...

Thanks for honesty, Arlene.......I think for horse people in particular it's sometimes hard to admit you've taken on more than you can handle, Lord knows I did a couple of times. I like having my safe girls and just doing the little bit I do. I would like to get out on the trails again someday, but that will wait until I find a new trailer and can justify it. Until then, riding around my outdoor arena and the farm will have to do....

Katharine Swan said...

Callie, if they are not rules they probably should be! My point is that I took on more than I could handle with Panama and did pretty much everything wrong. He is so important to me, though, that I couldn't ever get rid of him, so my only choice is to try to be what he needs as much as he tries for me. Our ability levels were mismatched, but I've always felt like he is my soulmate, and -- in over my head or not -- I'd do anything for that horse. Even if it does mean I fall a lot. ;o)

Callie said...

First one, I spent ten weeks casted with a broken hand, and I held onto him for 6 yrs, trainer after trainer, and the last trainer he had , he came back worse, not that I didn't feel comfortable handleling him, just that I always had to work to keep him in check, It was a hard decision, but I wasn't enjoying myself nor was he. Next boy took me on the most phenominal 2 hour trail ride I ever had, 1 month later bucked me like I was a rag doll, he was big in my eyes. I spent 8 hours in the ER & that wasn't waiting either, that was scans & pain control, missed 2 weeks of work. I knew I would never overcome that with that big bay. That in the back of my mind, that incident that sent me in an ambulance to the hospital would never ever leave & that everytime I would think about getting on that horse, my mind would block me, both horses went to people who had the skills to keep them. I learned over the years that I get along better with mares. I've learned my skill level. Maybe it was my fault, in fact most of it was probably my fault. And the MS has decreased my skill level. The first trainer I had with the first horse did well, even said I had a good seat, that seat no longer exists because of balance & funny enough that is probably what left the other boy with the bucking rampage, only I did not know it at the time. I thought something was wrong, but I did not know it. Both times were difficult. I'm not one to give up easily either, but I am one who can realize what makes me happy with my horses, If you're not comfortable and worried, than your horse reflects that. And they know it. Not a good way to relate for either of you. If you continue to grow with your horse and train & the two of you are happy learning together, than awesome. I think that's great. I'm quite happy with my mares, over the years, I have gotten to know them well and they me.

Victoria Cummings said...

Very good advice, Callie. One thing I would add is that it's always a good idea to try to lease the horse for a month before you decide to buy. I did that with Silk and I learned everything that I needed to learn about her personality and her health. And here we are, twelve years later, happier than I ever imagined we could be. Also, many trainers have ulterior motives for trying to get their students to buy horses, so be sure that if you use an adviser, that person has your best interests in mind. If you have some questions about whether this horse is right for you, don't let yourself get pressured. It's a buyer's market right now, so there are lots of great horses out there at reasonable prices - or even for free.

Callie said...

Very good advice, Vidtoria, Thanks! ;)

Katharine Swan said...

Callie, with the stories of your falls and repeated training for your first horse, you bring up an important point. You said you "always had to work to keep him in check" -- that is certainly not the case with Panama. He's still a bit green, true, but he's not "bad" or "mean" by any means -- he tries, he's just a baby and spooks sometimes, and my seat wasn't always good enough to hang on. (It's getting better, though, because recently I sat through a spin and bolt -- and was able to pull him up after 3 strides!) It sounds like your horse was a real handful, but Panama is pretty willing. I say I was over my head when I bought him because I hadn't learned how to handle him yet, not because I couldn't learn.

Unfortunately, as you pointed out you didn't know at the time. How DO you know? That's the kind of thing that only time will tell, so again, probably shouldn't do it my way -- learn first, and then get the horse. ;o)

Midlife Mom said...

The worst story that I hear on occasion in the horse world is someone saying they are buying a really young horse for their kids so that they can 'grow up together'. It NEVER works. The kids get thrown and the horse ends up in the pasture until it's sold again.

JeniQ said...

Great post Callie - thought provoking.

I've had several horses as a kid/teenager but they were bought for me so I'm not going to comment on them.

The two I have now - Bonnie and Rosie. I've known Bonnie longer than I've owned her as a great friend of mine had her before me. He rescued her, rehabbed her and made her into the most bomb proof horse I'd ever met. When him and I would go riding (before I bought Bonnie) I would always ride her half brother Clyde (same dam). I LOVE Clyde - wanted to buy Clyde. My friend talked me into Bonnie - I trusted his decision to match us. I'm very thankful that I heeded his advice. Bonnie is to me what Misty is to you.

Rosie - she is the first horse I've ever researched and bought on my own without help. I talked to her previous owner quite a bit about her, then went to test ride her. Owner did not have a saddle or bit that fit her, so I asked her to ride her first. She put a side pull bridle on her, kicked off her flipflops and vaulted up onto her back - took off at a trot across the yard. Fist of reins in one hand, and fist of mane in the other.

I grabbed a helmet and looked for some place to get up on Rosie. I did not want a leg up -- I wanted to climb up something and get on anyway I could. Ended up on a kids jungle gym. The way I mounted I fully expected to be thrown. I climbed taller then Rosie and dropped down on her. Not even a flinch. The rest is history...

I still have some confidence issues when I think about getting up on Rosie just cause she's so darn big. Standing on my tip toes I can't reach the top of her withers, but once I'm up there I'm fine. She's turning out to be my choice for a trial horse, over steadfast Bonnie.

But honestly I never would have bought her if I didn't already have a great trainer around to help me as Rosie lacks in ground manners.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I think those are excellent guidelines Callie.

I have had some pretty scary experiences selling horses. People who misrepresent how well they can ride and what they want to do are obviously the biggest problems from the seller's end.

I always tried to spend a bit of time visiting with people before I even bothered to get a horse out, but some people sound pretty good and then they get on and...W.O.W. I have feared for them. Ummm....maybe you should get off my horse now...P.l.e.a.s.e!!

I have been very fortunate that I have never had to sell a horse, I just had a horse for sale. Made it pretty darn easy to turn down offers when I didn't think it was the right nick.

Callie said...

That's awesome, BEC, from the seller's point of view. When I sold Dakota, the first person to look at him, was a Grandad, grew up down south , but now was an older man looking for his grandkids, and funny when I advertised Dakota, I was honest, and basically NOT reccomended for children. Needless to say, I did not sell to him, in fact I convinced him, that buying Dakota from me would be a mistake. Dakota was AQHA, but went back to Go Man Go & Azure Te, He was hot and loved to run. That was my biggest hurdle with him on the trail and it took constant correction and he still would "POP" & take off. I never came off of him & was able to get control, but I wasn't enjoying my trail rides. It was exausting. He was just too much horse for me and he knew that.

lopinon4 said...

Howdy, neighbor! Great blog today! I have had so much luck with listening to my gut. I use it to match horses with clients, too. So far, I haven't made a bad match. YAY!

BTW, you've been tagged, my dear:
http://lopinon4.blogspot.com/2010/02/ive-been-tagged.html

photogchic said...

Live an learn right? I was shopping by color and gender when I bought Maddy. Pretty stupid...things have worked out, but I was a pretty naive horse shopper. I can admit it:-).

Pony Girl said...

Legs "found" me! Truly just lucked into him. He is a perfect example of what can possibly happen if an inexperienced rider is "overhorsed". His previous two owners were scared to death of him. Legs is an OTTB who raced until he was 10. Because he had never had anything but pro riders on his back, he was extremely intolerant of a rider who was unbalanced - it freaked him out! He got a reputation of being a bolter. Turns out he just lacked reschooling. Now, I am by no means an expert rider, but becuase I have worked with many OTTBs, I was very comfortable with him, and he with me. We clicked immediately! He will probably never be suitable for a beginner though - lucky he has a forever home with me!

Tammy said...

Every horse I found that was safe enough for myself, my kids ended up riding. I felt I was always looking. When I had a chance to buy back a mare that we had foaled, then a 3 yr old, I jumped at the chance. There was just something about her. She was green, I was green - not a good combination, but we overcame that. She became a better horse, me a better rider because I had a horse that was the equine version of my "soul sister". Certainly not the process I would recommend, but worked for me!

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