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How to find the right horse?

27 replies

BlueBrightFuture · 24/10/2015 21:04

Can anyone share their horse buying secrets with me please. Looking for a horse to share with DDs but mainly for them.

I'm starting to think that what I'm looking for is not out there. I used to have my own until I was in my twenties but I have no connections in the area where we are now. I'm a warmblood lover, cobs are not really my thing but have also started looking at thoroughbred horses, something I would not have considered a few weeks ago mainly because the ones I have ridden in the past have been very highly strung horses.

The other day we looked at an ex-racer. 10 years old and re-schooled but still very much a work in progress. Also horse over jumped small fences by miles and no competition experience. The asking price was £2950 which seems a lot for a horse that still needs a lot of re-schooling bearing in mind it is 10 years old.

Any advice? We are near Bexley if that helps. Have not looked at "dealers" yet. Maybe that could be an option but ideally would prefer to buy from private person or even ex-school would be good. Please point me in the right direction. Oh and yes have tried local adverts...


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mrslaughan · 25/10/2015 21:02

How are you DD's?
All I will say is be prepared for it to take awhile!
We paid for our instructor/coach to help us find my husband and my horse and my children's was money really well spent , because at diff times in the economic cycle she bought horses , worked to develope them and then sold on - so I suppose dealt, but more at the high end competition horses. Anyway she really knows what she is looking for, for a client, for us the temperament was the most important thing. I went with her to look at a number of horses and ponies and the things she noticed that I wouldn't have paid attention too...... I should say before we made the trip to look at a potential , she would have a extensive conversation with who was selling it, and then would want to see recent video of it.......otherwise we would have wasted so much time going to look at unsuitable horses.
Do you have someone to help you wade through the potentials?
Do you have a list of what you want in the horse - ability, level if schooling etc? Temperament?

mrslaughan · 25/10/2015 21:05

Sorry typed on my phone and am a victim of auto correct.....should have been how old are your daughters

bimandbam · 25/10/2015 21:11

I think you need to decide what will suit your DDS most and look for something for them that you can ride too rather than what you want. Look for the 'weakest' link and find something to suit them. Unless your DDS are very competent I would steer clear of ex racers.

I would also caution against over estimating your own ability. When I was in my early 20's there wasn't much I wouldn't get on. 2 dcs later and 10 years not so much.

Fwiw I have just bought a 2 year old highland for me. I might possibly let DD share her in a few years if she is still horsey. Or I might not. But I decided against a sharing pony right now as what would suit DD won't suit me.

And safe, sane family ponies carry a pretty hefty price tag especially if you want to compete too. Look for riding club s in your area and join their fb pages. Always a good place to start.

ChristinaParsons · 25/10/2015 21:13

Cobs may not be your thing. But a good one is worth its weight in gold and ideal for mother/daughter share. We have one that does all pony club activities with gusto. It is in the showjumping and dressage teams. Loves cross country and games. Yet is still a safe, sensible hack out alone or in company for mother. She is a lightweight 14.2. Lives out all year and doesn't need shoes

ChristinaParsons · 25/10/2015 21:14

Yes agree on price I wouldn't let mine go for anything under 5k. We did buy her for 3k as a youngster and now she is 10

BlueBrightFuture · 25/10/2015 21:53

Thanks all. DDs are nearly 12 & 16. I would like a horse mainly for them something safe but able to take a few jumps and perhaps do a few competitions at the local stable but definitely not a competition horse Iyswim. The type of horse I would look for if it was for me would definitely not be suitable for them, but would like to go for a hack occasionally etc.. Also DDs are tall so realistically no point looking at anything under 14.5 hands. I have seen a few very nice horses but all far too small. Sad

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bimandbam · 25/10/2015 22:14

My dd is a tall 11 year old and I wouldn't want her on much above 14hh. Have a look at some built like a brick outhouse cobs. You will be surprised how much leg they can take up.

My dd is about 5 ft and doesn't look out of place on an 11.2 welsh pony as he takes up her leg nicely.

ChristinaParsons · 25/10/2015 23:08

I am 5'8". My friend has ridden mine and she is 5'11". Didn't look out of place on her at all

swisscheesetony · 29/10/2015 17:16

Not sure who owns mount NASCAR these days, but 25+ years ago when john windows owned it he started importing Belgian wb's. I'd never seen anything like it before and was instantly hooked.

I'm guessing his daughters took over and the mo is still the same (all school horse for sale). Why not book a ride or two and see them being worked - not just the ones assigned to you, but watch the others.

I don't think there's anything wrong with buying from a dealer at all, far easier not to be emotional about it when offered a selection and in addition given changes to trading standard rules they have to sort out the mess. Private sellers are a law unto their own. Caveat emptor and all that - it's not how it used to be!

Where are you planning to keep it? Private for sale ads used to be at frog pool or whatever it calls itself now.

BlueBrightFuture · 29/10/2015 19:46

Thanks, Do you mean Mount Mascal? Have been there a few times. Did not like it there. Horses were totally overworked. Trouble is that if you pick up one of those horses and don't work them every hour of the day most days you may end up with a bomb of a horse.
I do like Belgian warmbloods a lot so will google to see if anyone is still importing them in our area. Also very keen on German warmbloods so perhaps a good idea to start looking for a particular breed and hope to find a dealer. One thing I have learned over the last few weeks is that I'm going to have to look further afield. In terms of where I would like to keep the horse will probably look for a private livery yard. Mount Mascal is too busy and their livery yard up the road is said to be full as well. Slades looks nice but as I understand it they have a long waiting list too. Also looked at Old Bexley. I think they have a few spaces but I have the feeling that all is not well there which is a shame because it seems a friendly place and their school horses are very well looked after. A lot of the horses at the stables that I have looked at in the area seem to have loads of Cobs & TBs. Also was talking to a lady who ended up buying her horse at an auction near Ashford I believe. She said that if she were to buy again she would go back to auction. Although I'm open to the idea of a dealer, if possible a recommended one but I don't think I could go the auction route.

When I bought my horses many moons ago it seemed a lot simpler but in those days I knew a lot of people who worked with horses and now I don't know a dickie bird! So any pointers very much appreciated.


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swisscheesetony · 29/10/2015 19:51

A friend keeps hers at forest view - yo is crackers but harmless.

Yes, I meant mount mascal. As far as a "bomb" goes there is a risk with any purchAse. Even if you buy privately you won't ride the same way the current owner does. In this sense I'd be wary about buying a newly imported (young) warm blood. I bought (years ago) a 4 yo hano - you don't just jump on and go.

A school horse which "knows its job" may actually well be your best option until you find your feet in the horse world again. And... Good luck sharing one horse between the three of you - you'll be horse shopping again before you know it!

BlueBrightFuture · 29/10/2015 20:19

You are probably right that a second shopping trip may be on the cards. Definitely need something almost push button for the girls. Would be so nice to get a youngster to start from scratch again, even if you have to leave it for a year or so before you can start working with it, you get so much more for your money! Not heard of Forest before. Will look in to it, if and when I find something. Perhaps I'm just to picky?

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swisscheesetony · 29/10/2015 21:02

Forest view is the other side of joyden's wood up past what was north cray stables. There's a handful of yards up there.

swisscheesetony · 29/10/2015 21:03

Yes, the girls will want to do rc stuff straight away - you'll have the patience and experience for more of a challenge.

somewhatavoidant · 01/11/2015 21:31

I placed an ad "Dream Horse wanted" in the local horse paper/website listing the essentials I needed in a horse. Spent a weekend fielding calls from all sorts but found the perfect one after a few days. It cost a few quid but I had been looking for 6 months and wasted time and money in fruitless wild goose chases. Even if your budget is small, insist on video before you bother driving too far. Take someone more experienced. Very best of luck!

BlueBrightFuture · 02/11/2015 08:23

Thanks had thought about placing an add but was worried about what calls I would get. It is unbelievable the length people go to to sell a horse which is not remotely what you are looking/asking for.

This weekend saw a 10 year old Welsh D mare, currently on working livery at a school. So sounded perfect for the girls. She was lovely except that when I looked at her when DD was riding her I did not believe for one minute that she was 10. So asked the lady who was showing her to me on the owners behalf if that horse was really 10 to which she replied "oh gosh no she is 16 ".

Kids really gutted as they liked that horse. So lesson learned careful to believe anything people tell you on the phone AND don't take the kids when you go looking.

Also so a TB weaving himself senseless and a horse in Essex which turned out to have been sold in the morning but she seller said it was worth me coming up because he had another one (similar style horse). It was too small for us in any event but had to smile because have seen that particular horse on various websites for months now & for a lot more than what he was prepared to let it go for this weekend!

Horse buying is such a maze. I'm glad you found your horse by placing an add. Will give it a go, now deciding which websites may be best.

Feeling a bit deflated at the moment. It is Monday so a whole week before I can go and see a few more. I work during the week and too dark in the evenings now.

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Booboostwo · 03/11/2015 20:05

Don't feel defeated, it takes a long time and a lot of viewings to find the right horse...that will also pass a vetting.

If I were you I would ignore breeds and focus on what you want the horse to be able to do. From what you say you need a horse that will be

  • straight forward to handle
  • good to hack alone, in company, in traffic, in open spaces
  • capable of doing a clear round and able to do a prelim test

I would suggest you need a horse that is 10yrs plus to make sure it has had enough experience to get it's rider out of a sticky situation. Ideally you want a private home that has DCs that have outgrown this horse and are looking for it's next home while they move to a more challenging horse.

The other thing to consider is your budget. You want the kind of fun and safe horse everyone wants so I would say a 5k budget would be appropriate. It is coming up to winter, you may find a seller who genuinely wants a good home over price but you'd have to be very lucky to get a valuable horse for less than its value.

As for where to look, do you have an instructor? Are you involved with the pony club? Word of mouth in these circles will get you a viewing of the best horses before they are advertised. Alternatively you need to call private ads and spend ages on the phone trying to weed out the misdescribed ones.
RatherBeRiding · 04/11/2015 17:19

Do you have a local Facebook equestrian group - all things equestrian bought and sold? There is one local to us and people use it to sell horses. Personally I wouldn't buy a horse again without a personal recommendation of either the horse or the person selling it. Is there a horsey network you can tap into? Local riding club? Local Pony Club?

Also wouldn't touch an ex-racer with someone else's bargepole - you can get lucky and find one that is sane and sensible but I have seen too many accidents/near accidents with stressy TBs. Plus far too many out of work because of leg/foot issues. Plus they need that extra care in winter etc etc. And I say that as someone who already owns a 3/4 TB and have sworn on many an occasion "never again"!

I would also second forgetting about a particular breed. My other two are both native crosses. Hardy, good doers, well grounded, good temperaments and versatile.

And if you don't need a "competition horse" then avoid them - a lot of them are fine when they are out competing with confident competition riders but are definitely not suited to taking several backward steps and hacking, pootling around etc.

NHSisfubar · 06/11/2015 00:03

I really don't agree with the above comments about ex racers. Yes; for an unsupervised novice they might not be a good idea but there are plenty around that compete in pony club teams etc and totally out of the racing mindset after several years of retraining and if you are competent and your daughters have good instruction and supervision (like you'd want with any horse) and are relatively competent then please don't discount them all as 'crazy'! They can also live out quite happily. Some are even quite lazy! If you watch some RoR showing classes at large agricultural shows you will see the 'all crazy' myth turned upside down.

Mine was 4 when I got her and I had the same 'you're crazy' comments especially as my novice ex intended to learn on her but do you know what? By the time we split up he'd gone from a total novice to cantering confidently in the school in a decent outline and able to ride a dressage test on her. He fell off once in 2 years which was due to him off balancing in canter and was a gradual slide out the side door and nothing to do with her. She wouldn't be for a total novice now totally unsupervised but in a few years time along she will be. She's a little green still. At 10 most will be have been reschooled for a while.

Another to consider might be a larger New Forest? They can be quite fine and useful, sensible types.

BlueBrightFuture · 06/11/2015 15:59

Thanks for your responses all. I Have meantime placed ad add and managed to find 3 to look at this weekend? Fingers crossed

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backinthebox · 06/11/2015 20:24

Once again I agree with Booboostwo's advice. I would be much more focussed on looking for a horse who can do what you want it to do rather than a specific breed. It is perfectly possible to find a decent fun horse who is both sensible for your daughters and also very capable, but you will have to look hard for them and be prepared to pay for it too. Don't discount anything if it does the job - I've known native ponies and ex-racers all make fantastic riding club sorts.

The key is finding one where someone else has put in the groundwork, especially if you want something you can share with your daughters, and that more than breed is what dictates the price these days. To give an example - I went out looking for an experienced hunter and came back with a green but keen cob. He has been the nicest and easiest horse I've ever had, yet when the dealer brought him out after I had not got on with the first horse I tried I realised I had seen his advert and completely discounted him as being too little and too young. I sat on him out of politeness and have never looked back.

I would go and look at a few horses to get your eye I n before buying. I wouldn't go to an auction unless you are very experienced (and with 35 years of horse ownership I don't think I would have the experience either!) and don't write dealers off - you might pay a bit more for a horse from a good dealer, but they have a reputation to uphold and it is not in their interest to mis-sell you a horse. My 2 best buys have come from dealers - bothe will stay with me to the end of their days, and they are exactly as the dealers described them to be when I first enquires about them.

NHSisfubar · 08/11/2015 23:52

How did you get on with your trials? My farrier has just put her horse up for sale due to not being able to afford 3 as they are saving for a house deposit. She's 5 and 16.1hh so maybe a little young/tall but a lovely safe calm type brought on very slowly and hacks out etc safely. Has done some RC SJ, hunter trials and placed well at her first dressage. Very chilled and a middleweight smart type who has been fine for nervous riders apparently. Let me know if it sounds of interest and I can pass details on if you are still looking.

BlueBrightFuture · 09/11/2015 16:02

Hi all,

Thanks for all your kind support and tips, all very much appreciated.
Saw a safe little mare, 15 hands who the kids adore. Deposit paid, stable reserved and hopefully delivery for next weekend. Now shopping for rugs, tack etc... what a difference a week makes!

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Booboostwo · 09/11/2015 18:58

Brilliant, well done...but please tell me you are having her vetted?!

BlueBrightFuture · 09/11/2015 19:46

Vet been this morning, all good Smile

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