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Anyone else alarmed at the number of 5 and 6 year olds on the market advertised as suitable for novices?

(51 Posts)
Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 12:08:49

Sorry for the whinge. Just a bit disheartened.

I'm currently looking for a horse for my 14 yr old dd. Owing to personal circumstances , she started riding a bit later in life than I did. But she now has a good seat and fairly good experience in the basic disciplines and her instructor/other horsey folk around us/ (ie not just me!) reckon she is ready for her first horse.

So at a time when most children are buying their second, we are looking for her first - ideally a steady versatile cob sort (looks don't matter just temperament). My dd is very very long in the leg so we are looking for something that is 15/15.2 hh.

Anyway, all of that is a very long rambling way of saying that I am astounded by the number of people in rl and in ads who are offering up their 5 and 6 yr old cobs as "suitable for beginners". (A four year old in one case!)

Am I very naieve to be shocked by this? When did it start happening? In my day (admittedly a long time ago) one never paired a beginner with a beginner. That was a fundamental rule.

I'm looking for 12 year olds who have "been there" and "done that" but that seems to be totally ignored by vendors/dealers.

Most horses in the category we are looking for are of course a bit too advanced for my dd, but we were prepared for that. It's the age thing I am shocked by! I know buying a horse is fraught with difficulties but I am really worried for inexperienced/naieve buyers who think this is ok.

I despair of finding anything suitable tbh... . It has taken years and years for us to get to the position where we now have stables/grazing and to be able to offer a loving home for a horse or two. At this rate, dd will be off to uni before we find anything suitable!

Any thoughts/experience gratefully received.

ReinettePompadour Wed 07-Feb-18 12:25:42

Some of the most novice friendly horses I've owned have been 6 or 7 years old. The worst nutcase I had was 14. A right cantankerous old git he was too. He absolutely was not suitable for a novice.

What you are looking for is a good allrounder with a good temperament and age doesnt necessarily guarantee these qualities.

Younger horses up to 8 or 9 years tend to be advertised as 'allrounders' because they havent got enough experience under their belt to be intermediate+ level at a specific discipline. They have a go at everything.

Does your dd still have lessons? Her instructor should know of suitable horses on the market. How much is your budget? Cheaper horses tend to have issues that are unsuitable for a novice to deal with so maybe look at finding more money to give you more choice. Parents pay a huge premium for novice friendly good quality horses.

Dont just look at 15-15.2hh look at taller more slender horses and shorter more cobby too. This will give you a lot more choice. Decide what you can do without (a horse with years of experience in dressage for example). Pick the temperament over confirmation or experience. Or would you put up with a vice if its good being ridden by a novice?

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 12:38:06

Thanks Reinette for your detailed response. Much appreciated.

Not doubting your perspective and experience about age at all but I would be interested to know if the majority of people share that view about temperament not being dependent on age, and whether or not I am being too fixed in my opinions about this. I was always taught that young (relatively) inexperienced riders tend to teach young horses bad habits, and vice versa!

We are definitely looking for temperament over confirmation (unless confirmation issue is likely to cause health issues of course) but we are looking for experience as well. And we are prepared to pay a good price for the right horse.

We've asked her instructor but he instructs at a very high level (he's a friend of one of dh's colleagues and has taken on dd as a special favour) so the contacts he has tend to be for performance horses; not mother-daughter shares/family horses!

I'll certainly take on your advice about looking for taller more slender animals (I admit to having been a bit cautious about this for my daughter's sake - I don't want to over-horse her) and have already viewed two broad M&M types but they both were a bit strong.

And I'll certainly think about the vice. It depends a bit on which one!

Thanks again.

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 12:38:47

Eugh sorry - interrupted all the time here - wording of that first para very convoluted!

Theresahairbrushinthefridge Wed 07-Feb-18 13:11:35

I wouldn't buy a very young newly broken horse in your situation either. However the age they were broken is key too. I am finding horses that have been turned away until they are 6 so at 8 are like a 5 year old! It's a minefield.

There are so many dishonest people out to get rid of tricky horses.

Whereabouts in the country are you looking?

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 14:55:39

Thank you Theresahairbrushinthefridge

We are looking in Belgium actually but would travel to Kent/East Anglia (although have been advised never to buy in Kent - not sure if that is sound advice or not - don't mean to offend anyone there!! smile)

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 14:59:03

And yes, there seem to be a lot of horses who have had long breaks in their work, or have been "resting" for a year owing to lack of time.

I know finding a horse has always been a minefield but it seems to have got a bit worse over time!

One positive thing is that people tend to be a more upfront and direct about their horses's drawbacks over here, but that is counter-balanced by the fact that we are more out of the loop ifyswim.

DiseasesOfTheSheep Wed 07-Feb-18 16:15:17

I agree with you, OP. It's not about temperament - some horses will never be kind or genuine enough for a novice - but more about level of education. Even the nicest five year old is (or should be) green, lacking in experience, education and exposure. I currently have a rising 5 y/old who is one of the nicest, most genuine horses I've ever met - but she is not suitable for a novice, because she is still one herself. When she's spent a couple of years learning about life, tidying up all the buttons, getting out and about and seeing the world from different angles, I reckon she'd be a lovely horse for a novice (though I'll probably rev her up and give her a more fun job!). All my youngsters have been this way.

In terms of finding a horse for your daughter, I wouldn't dismiss everyone in Kent. Jason Webb, for instance, is based in Kent, and you'd be mad to dismiss something that had come through his yard for training. However, there are also some very low end cob dealers, so it really is a question of knowing who you're buying from, and finding out their local reputation. If I were you, I wouldn't be looking at cobs specifically, as they're often very poorly bred and trained quickly (and barely) by dealers who are looking for a quick flip, and selling to novices who don't know what they don't know. A nice, old fashioned native x tb type, or similar, or even a QH bred might be a safer market to buy in. There are nice horses out there, it's just finding them which is tricky!

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 17:03:04

Thank you so much for those wise words Diseasesofthesheep (memorable nn btw! grin).

Particularly appreciated are the tips about who is best to approach in Kent and what sort of horse to look for.

I would absolutely love a M & M but they are not as numerous over here but I think on reflection you are right and it is not a good idea to focus solely on cobs. Certainly, the good ones we have seen have been too strong; mainly hunting types. And the poorer ones were, as you say, not particularly well trained or had been "rehabilitated" on the cheap. I will seek out Jason Webb and his website too.

Thank you again!

theHitcher Wed 07-Feb-18 17:18:18

Green plus green equals black and blue?

Yes I agree OP. I can think of some good dealers in Kent, and also some bad ones. Are you on the Facebook Rogue Dealers page? ( think it's called something similar)

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 17:23:11

oooh no Hitcher thanks - didn't know there was such a thing ... (intrigued)

knew about a certain cob lady near an airport of course

Will go trawling ... .

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 17:32:52

can't find it atm ... but thanks anyway

lots of groups about strangles etc but not about rogue traders ...

DiseasesOfTheSheep Wed 07-Feb-18 17:35:56

I will seek out Jason Webb and his website too.

Sorry, I wasn't very clear above - he's not a dealer, he's a trainer - but a horse who had come through his yard for training and breaking would be well done, certainly. He does sometimes have horses for sale, and I'm confident they would be honestly described.

For your market, I almost wonder if it would be worth contacting DCs of any Pony Clubs based in Kent / the east and asking if they know of anything around. Usually you would only contact them if you were a member of the PC in that area, but as you aren't based in the UK and don't have a DC of your own to turn to, they may be able to recommend a horse known to them.

I'm not actually based in Kent, but I am in the East of England, and if I hear of anything suitable sounding, I'll let you know!

PoshPenny Wed 07-Feb-18 17:41:51

I bought youngsters for my daughters, they hadn't been "corrupted" as 6 year olds. There is no way on earth I would put a beginner on our darling 18 year old now, he is an angel for us all, but he can get a glint in his eye and off he goes with no chance of stopping him if he's in that sort of mood. After 12 years we can read him like a book, and he is a local legend. He never did that as a 6 year old, but that's what happens when you've had loads of fun, gone hunting, eventing, show jumping and racing (as well as dressage) and don't want to go back to basics agaIn. Perhaps some of that decision, which was the right one for us, was down to an aged been there done that section A who could be absolutely evil and didn't care two hoots about dumping his rider. Our lovely boy is really upset if one of us falls off him.
So, I would say go for a sweet kind youngster and it'll probably be all right. I don't think it's any more a risk than starting with a been there done that sort. They are just as likely to frighten a child e.g. Jumping when they know what they're doing, but leave the child behind.

theHitcher Wed 07-Feb-18 18:41:13

Dodgy Horse and Pony Dealers I thInk is one Facebook group.

Steamcloud Wed 07-Feb-18 19:52:09

Thanks theHitcher I'll take another look!

That's an interesting way of looking at it Poshpenny I've not thought of it like that before; although have had experience of course of riding oldies with "idiosyncracies" a long time ago! The trouble is, I am not very confident in my skills to bring a youngster on any more. I'm much fatter/older and haven't done it for 25 yrs! I'm not too confident about it tbh!

Thank you again Diseasesofthesheep! Yes, I saw he is a trainer and is a very good resource to know about! I have a few UK RDA contacts we have been keeping in touch with it but will consider contacting pony clubs too. Also, thanks for keeping an eye out in the East! Much appreciated! I have family in Suffolk so am often there!

Moanranger Thu 08-Feb-18 18:13:20

Hi,,
I agree with you about 5-6 year olds. You probably want to look at the schoolmaster market. They do exist. PCs a good idea, esp the market where the teenage rider is off to uni, and has to sell her horse. That scenario is pretty common. I would look at Horse Quest in your situation.

tattychicken Thu 08-Feb-18 18:20:20

The Pony Club has ponies/horses for sale on its website. No guarantees obviously but if it's being sold as a PC pony you can check with the DC if the pony is as described. They're normally happy to speak to you IME.

Gabilan Thu 08-Feb-18 20:13:43

I would be interested to know if the majority of people share that view about temperament not being dependent on age

I think as horses age they become more like themselves - kind of a caricature of themselves really. My old warmblood matured from being slightly quirky into being extremely quirky. I learned to sit quite well to caprioles. Whereas my current IDxTB has gone from Mr Sensible to Mr Horizontally Laid Back.

I think most 5/6 year olds will lack the kind of competition experience you might want. But that said some traditional cobs are just very, very easy right from the get-go and take everything in their stride. Also, some novices might just want to hack and for that, a six year old that's had 2 years of hacking out and done a bit of hunting and local shows might be temperamentally more suitable than a 10 year old with a lot of competition experience.

HebeJeeby Fri 09-Feb-18 12:23:02

Have a look at Chilvers House Farm in Norfolk - they have some nice horses at the moment.

Steamcloud Fri 09-Feb-18 13:57:34

I've just seen these further responses - thank you so much for them!

Funnily enough Hebe I have poured over a few Chilvers ads recently and wondered if they were trustworthy because they seem to stock the type I am looking for. I even contemplated asking on here about them. Do you mind me asking if you or anyone you know have had a good experience with them?

Another interesting post thanks Gabilan. We are definitely after a Mr Laid Back! DD wants a reliable sort mainly for hacking, and occasional riding club stuff (fun days, charity rides) and the odd very local show and v low level cross country jumping.

Steamcloud Fri 09-Feb-18 13:59:12

Thank you Tatty & Moonranger - I will definitely try and look at the PC sites and at Horse Quest.

HebeJeeby Fri 09-Feb-18 17:51:06

Hello, we looked at Chilvers House 18 months ago when we were looking to buy a pony for dd. I rang Chilvers and spoke to the owner who couldn’t have been more helpful. She even offered to speak to my dd’s instructor to discuss her ability and what the best type of pony might be for her. We seriously considered going up there to view 2 ponies but in the end a pony became available locally and we bought that one. I liked their approach and I found good independent reviews of them, not just the ones on their fb page.

I would look at them again and will do so when dd outgrows this pony. There’s One called Poppy which looks good but might be too small for your dd at 14.2hh.

Steamcloud Fri 09-Feb-18 17:56:15

Thank you again Hebe all that info is much appreciated! I have just been looking at Poppy as it happens! smile. Might be too small but worth checking out perhaps ....we're going for 15.2 ideally ...

Frouby Fri 09-Feb-18 18:09:15

The most difficult, quirky pony I have ever sat om was 23! And broke a lot of ponies/horses in for the local riding school. A well done, well backed youngster with the right attitude might be green but will be kind if it's a kind pony to start with.

An older pony might have more experience but might also have learnt all the tricks too. Are you going to continue with tuition for your dd? The right pony or horse might be green but if she is having decent tuition she shouldn't cause any damage. And if she is going to cause damage she will just as easily do that to an established pony as a novice pony.

I like my dd riding green ponies if I am honest. I learnt more teaching ponies than what I ever did sat on a schoolmaster. As long as it is kind and not got any horrendous habits or quirks she should be starting to think about becoming a rider who gives a lesson to the pony rather than riding the pony.

And be prepared for some shoddy schooling too and a lack of basic knowledgeable. When I was a kid we knew lots of stuff about flatwork from lessons from a variety of instructors at the riding school.

Now lots of folk don't know what a diagonal is, or a 3 loop serpentine, or how to ask for shoulder in. They might be able to do a ridden show though. Alternatively they might be dressage divas and know how to ride a decent test but will look at you like you have 2 heads if you ask if it hacks out or will live out without rugs etc.

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