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First horse blues

(17 Posts)
norfolknights Tue 04-Oct-11 11:59:29

Not quite sure what my question is - think I’m just looking for some encouragement, cheering up, advice?! I’m looking to buy my first horse. I’ve been riding consistently (weekly lessons plus some hacking) for the last 2 years. Have always wanted to own my own and so have just completed an NVQ in horse care so I could find out more about the stable management side. I’ve found a lovely local livery yard where the owner has been very receptive and encouraging to me being a new owner (she allows both part and full livery). So now what! How do I find my perfect horse?
I’m told there are loads of good horses out there so what do I look for and where? I’ve been scouring Horesquest, Horsemart, Horse and Hound, local ads. I’m looking for words like ‘bomb proof, ‘would suit a novice rider’ , ‘family friend’ etc. I’m steering away from TB or ex-racehorses or competition horses. Is that right??
Have been to see 2 so far. The first was at the stables where I ride. He’d just been brought over from Ireland. He seemed lovely and was very well behaved on both visits (I caught him, tacked him up, rode him in and out of school, hosed him down etc) but we took a knowledgeable friend the second time and she said his feet were awful and he wasn’t worth what they were asking (they were not willing to negotiate on price). 2nd one I went to see was nice but very ‘plodding’. He was a heavy looking cob and although people tell me a cob would be good for me, I’m not really that keen on the cob types I’ve seen so far.
So (finally - sorry!) what do you think I should be looking for, where shall I look, will I ever find one! I live on the Norfolk/Suffolk border if anyone knows of someone suitable (I’m 5ft6 and about 11st). Thank you!

marge2 Tue 04-Oct-11 12:28:30

I think you should consider loaning or sharing a horse before you take the plunge. If it doesn't work out you can hand it back easily and try another. Look on local riding club website, tack shop notice boards, at the vets. These places always have horses for loan or share on them in your area.

By the way - I hope you 've got deep pockets!!

Callisto Tue 04-Oct-11 13:07:02

There are an awful lot of horses on the market right now, that's for sure, and you do sound like you have done your homework and can provide good care. I think you need to make a list of what you want from a horse - just some hacking, hacking and a bit of jumping, hacking/hunting or whatever. When you know what you want to do it is much easier to decide what sort of horse to buy. Personally, I think you should be looking for a native cross. You want something around the 15-16hh mark I should think, with a bit of bone and fairly low maintenance. Something like a connemara x TB might suit you really well.

Your best bet of finding a good horse is word of mouth. Who do you know and trust in the horsey world that can look out for something suitable for you? Also, look on the pony club for sale pages in your area.

Mirage Tue 04-Oct-11 19:19:08

Horsedeals is pretty good as is Equineads,also check boards in local saddlers,feed stores,country stores ect and tell everyone you know that you are looking for a horse.There seems to be a lot about atm and as soon as people need to start feeding hay,a lot more will appear on the market.

Good luck!

frenchfancy Tue 04-Oct-11 19:52:56

Just wanted to offer my support. We are looking for our first horse too. I think it is such a big decision that once you make it you want it to happen straight away.

I am trying to work on the basis that the right horse will come along at some point.

And remember a horse is worth what you are prepared to pay for it, so if he does everything you want him to, and has no health problems or behaviour problems, then think about whay YOU are prepared to pay. It isn't like a second hand car where you can look up the list price of a Ford Modeo with X on the clock, all horses are different.

But bear in mind I'm just a novice, so my opinions may not count for muchsmile

Earthdog Tue 04-Oct-11 20:34:09

I'd either start with a share arrangement, which would be less scary to start with, or if you do want to buy you would be safer going to a reputable dealer. You would then have a good selection of horses to try out, probably get a warranty and would be covered by consumer protection legislation if anything did go wrong. Cobs are usually steady, but not always and they are generally strong pullers when they get going. Connemara xTBs are rerally smashing but as a rule can be too sharp for a novice. An Irish draught or heavier native x might be a better bet. It would be better to get something on the smaller side as being over horsed can be very scary. Good hooves and legs are a must. It is a better bet to get something ploddy as they can always be 'fired up' whereas its often not possible to quieten down something fizzy! Dont buy anything sharp and think it will improve because normally they stay sharp.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Tue 04-Oct-11 21:09:00

Native. You are small enough to ride anything over 13hh or so, and ther are nice and low maintenance generally. You can probably get away with no shoes, and they live on fresh air!
If you have a good experienced person helping you, Dragon Driving is quite good, but it is quite popular with traveller types and youd need someone who knows what you are buying, and keep an eye on the animals age as they often break early.

olderyetwider Tue 04-Oct-11 22:28:52

I agree with Saggy about a native. I love my 14.2 Fell mare (even though I fell off tonight) and she's very low maintenance. I bought her from a friend so knew her before I considered buying her.

GD's new pony (8 year old Connemara x TB) came from a good dealer near Stratford on Avon and is lovely but not a novice ride because she's a bit green, having bred a couple of of foals, and very forward going.

I wouldn't consider anything under 10, at the youngest given that you've only been riding for a short while, and remember that any private horse is likely to be more forward than a riding school horse. Something dependable, that will give you confidence would be my advice.

Booboostoo Wed 05-Oct-11 21:18:53

Think about what you want to do with the horse as a horse is only any good if it fits the purpose for which it was bought. Will you be hacking? Alone, in company, off road, in traffic? Will you be riding once a week or daily? Do you want to jump? Are you interested in flat work? Will you want to compete in the near future?

Then think about what type of horse you enjoy riding, but remember that this won't be a RC horse which will be in a lot of work and whose problems will be sorted by the RC. Do you want a forward, fast ride or do you prefer a safer, slower ride? Would you be put off by problems handling? Would you be put off by a bucker, rearer, napper?

Then take an instructor with you to advise you on whether the horses you view are suitable for what you want to do and your abilities. You will have to pay them for their time but it's money well spent and much better than the nightmare of buying an unsuitable horse.

Make sure you get any potential purchase vetted.

norfolknights Thu 06-Oct-11 15:40:10

Thanks to everyone for their replies, very useful.

I did do a share last year but as I did feel very much the 'junior' partner and didn't feel I could relax and do my own thing with the horse.

I've been back to the first horse I saw from my local riding stables. They've had the farrier out too him who's said that, yes his feet are over grown and in bad nick but within 2-3 shoeings (sp?) he'll have the feet of any other horse. I really like him from a temperment view point. He also seems forward going (but not too much).

One negative - I rode him in my group lesson yesterday. He's obviously not as well schooled as the riding school horses who do this day in day out. My insructor said that if I buy him I should continue to have lessons on him but should get an experienced person to school him once per week/fortnight as well.

Plus vetting - should I definitely do this? I guess its expensive (£100 for basic).

Thanks all - you're being realy helpful!

ExitPursuedByaBear Thu 06-Oct-11 15:45:17

Yes yes yes to vetting. As someone said up thread, you need deep pockets and, without wanting to be rude, if you are baulking at a basic vetting cost then you could be in for a rude awakening when the other bills start coming in. smile

If you like him then ask if you can have him for a few weeks on trial. Otherwise keep looking, ask around, ask your instructor to go with you for advice.

Good luck - and how exciting. Wish I was just starting out again rather than winding down.

MitchiestInge Thu 06-Oct-11 15:45:29

are you near Diss? Just sticking my nose over the border from Suffolk, not being exactly helpful but hello anyway smile

ExitPursuedByaBear Thu 06-Oct-11 15:48:49

Also, why has the horse just been brought over from Ireland - was it to sell? In which case they sound like dealers so be careful.

Booboostoo Fri 07-Oct-11 09:29:42

Echo the importance of the vetting! It's not a guarrantee that you won't have health problems down the line (best to have insurance for that) but it can save from huge mistakes. Get a full 5 stage vetting done by a specialist equine vet and be present while they do it.

Just a word of caution. With all due respect I would not characterise the majority of RC horses as well schooled (not their fault, just a by-product of being ridden by a large number of novice riders), so if this horse is not schooled even to an RC level it must be terribly green. On the whole it's not a good idea for novice riders to take on green horses, hence the old saying green and green makes for black and blue! Ideally you want a horse that 'has been there and done that' to help you learn. Lessons are a cost you should factor in the purchase of any horse, but schooling rides on top of that may end up being extremely expensive.

MuddyMare Fri 07-Oct-11 09:58:03

Depends on what is meant by 'well schooled'. I would say that my horse is better schooled than your average riding school horse but in a group lesson he could appear as less schooled, especially with a less experienced rider on board, as he would be less 'automatic'. For example, my DH takes lessons at our local riding school and has no problems with the school horses as they know their jobs so well, they canter when the instructor tells them and stop when the instructor tells them, yet at home he can't get my horse into canter and if he manages that, it sure as hell doesn't resemble anything controlled! ;-). I agree that professional schooling does not always come cheap but it can be an effective way of getting a horse to a good standard fairly quickly, and, if the horse is otherwise ideal, would be something worth considering, IMO. OP, with any new horse you need to put in a fair bit of work in the beginning and if you have someone experienced helping you, you can avoid a lot of trouble (and cost) later on. Ideally you would get the same person schooling the horse and give you lessons, and maybe give you advice on other stuff as well (tack, feeding etc). I also wouldn't worry too much about the feet, a good trim by a good farrier can do wonders. And as regards to cost of the horse, as said before, a horse is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, if you really like a horse a couple of hundred pounds are not worth losing it for, you will pay that thousand times over for livery, tack, farrier, jabs and all the other on going costs over the years that you have the horse for. You shouldn't be feeling blue at the moment, you should be getting excited about buying a new horse! :-)

Booboostoo Fri 07-Oct-11 11:38:50

I completely agree MuddyMare, the OP couldn't spend her money any better than to get someone to help her with lessons/advice no matter which horse she buys. As for the 'well schooled' comments, I also agree it depends what one means. I took it to mean 'works from behind and in an outline appropriate for the age of the horse'. RC horses tend to be hollow and unbalanced (like all generalisations this admits to many exceptions. I am sure that if you book an advanced lesson at Tallant for example you would get a lovely ride) so I took this horse to be even greener than that. Considering it takes about two years for a horse to develop top line and self-carriage if ridden correctly every time, it would seem to be that OP is better served by finding a more experienced horse than in trying to bring this one on. Aside from anything else unless one has a bit of experience of what a well balanced horse feels like, it's almost impossible to bring on a green horse to this feeling.

Mirage Fri 07-Oct-11 13:26:26

I'm going to echo what Muddy mare says about lessons.We bought a pony for our dds,one of whom had been having riding lessons for 3.5 years.We knew that riding a school horse is nothing like riding your own and had arranged for lessons at home.It has paid off 10000 times over in terms of confidence and technique.Without lessons they'd be struggling to get the pony to listen to them and not enjoying it at all.Their instructor has taught all of us little tricks of the trade regarding pony care,tacking up ect as well.It truly is worth every penny and I'm a dyed in the wool skinflint.

Also agree with getting an older,more experienced horse.Young or inexperienced horse and rider is a bad combination.

Good luck-we are looking at 2 this week and I'm prepared to be quite tough and walk away if need be-prices are dropping by the week at the minute so you can afford to be choosy.

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