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buying at the Clifden sales
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krustykittens · 29/11/2020 19:04

Hello everyone,

Does anyone have experience of buying a pony at the Clifden sales? We have had a heartbreaking week, which saw my daughter's beautiful BRP mare put to sleep, very suddenly. She was the sweetest little girl, loved kisses and cuddles and was very talented, her last owner had taken her far and she was teaching my daughter a lot. My daughter is devastated, as you can imagine. She has another, older pony, a Welsh/Cob cross who still has loads of life in her but she is going to miss showjumping. Her older mare isn't really bothered. Daughter has also just started uni and we are trying to get her through it debt free (we live in Scotland) so money is tight. She doesn't want to talk about it right now, but I was thinking of perhaps taking her to Clifden next spring and perhaps buying a filly or a colt that will be doing its growing up while she is at Uni. Has anyone bought at the sales and would you recommend it? I would prefer to buy a native as all our other ponies are tough little natives who spend most of the year living out 24/7 so I would like another pony who can live the same way but capable of competing, even if at a low level. We are not terribly ambitious but my daughter does enjoy getting out and about! Thanks for reading.

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ApplestheHare · 30/11/2020 12:35

Would your daughter want to bring on a youngster? I think sometimes people overlook that what you save in funds you'll need to spend in time.

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maxelly · 30/11/2020 12:58

I'm so sorry to hear about your lovely mare, it's absolutely heartbreaking to lose them isn't it Flowers I would say just give yourselves time to grieve (don't listen to anyone who says 'it's just an animal', 'why are you so upset' bla bla, you have a special bond with a horse and it is devastating when they go, a different grief to losing a person but true grief all the same).

Re the youngster, I guess it depends on whether you have the facilities and time to raise a baby and what you'll do with it if your DD isn't in the position to have it as a riding horse after uni. From my own experience I would say absolutely do not rely on what she says now, young people may be adamant they are definitely doing XYZ after uni but they grow up a lot in those 3-4 years, plans change and it's not really fair to hold them to what they said when they were 18! So if it would be a disaster to be left with a 3-5 year old on your hands with no rider I'd say don't do it!

What is your set-up like, do you have your own land or are you on livery? Do you only have the older mare or other stock too? Unless you can send him/her away to specialist youngstock livery I wouldn't buy anything younger than 2, I'm firmly of the view than from weaning to at least 2/3 they need to live with other youngsters (and at least one 'nanny' to teach them manners) and have plenty of room to roam, a playful/exuberant baby on limited turnout with only one other horse can be problematic IMO (I'm sure lots of people will now be along to tell me that's exactly their set up and it's fine, just my personal opinion so don't flame me!). Plus also if you go for a colt you'll need to get him cut ASAP unless you have facilities to keep him as a stallion (most liveries will only take geldings, and colts can cover mares from the age of 1-2 ish so you wouldn't be very safe having him out with your mare for long either, unless you want to have 3 on your hands come summer!).

I don't know the Clifden sales personally (is that the one in Ireland specialising in connies?) but my instinct would be to avoid sales unless you are very experienced and know exactly what you are looking for as I'm sure if it was me I'd be captivated by a pretty face or a sob story and end up buying something totally unsuitable and/or spending £££. Appreciate you don't have a huge budget but there are lots of studs in this country with nice youngstock at pretty reasonable prices esp if you'd go for a Welsh/New Forest rather than a connie -they can make fantastic sports ponies. Or perhaps something more sporty, perhaps a native X or an ISH, no reason why something with that breeding couldn't live out 24/7 esp if it has a good dash of Hairy in the family tree somewhere Grin. The advantage to buying from a stud, as well as having far more opportunity to view in a leisurely way, take an instructor or sensible friend with you, talk to the owner at length, see the parents/relatives etc and make a considered decision, is that they may be able to 'board' the foal/youngster until they are more able to live out with your mare, or be able to recommend someone who could?

The other alternative is to save up the purchase price and transport, keep costs etc of having a youngster for the next 3-4 years, what with vets bills, farriers, hay through winter etc etc plus the costs of getting him/her broken in (unless you and DD are very experienced you will need at least some professional help), this would probably amount to a nice little nest egg - enough either to buy a nice native 4 year old already broken and ridden away or for your DD to go and travel the world/start a career in the big city/whatever else she wants to do after uni? If you do need a companion for your mare or just are desperate for another horse (fair!) you could take on a little rescue companion pony in the meantime?

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krustykittens · 09/12/2020 18:32

Hello Ladies, thank you both for taking the time to reply to me. Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you both, I have been doing my research and I have to confess I fell down a rabbit hole looking at New Forests! I have to be honest, I had never considered them, you don't really see them around, but we have gone back to Connies as that is the breed my daughter has her heart set on.

I should have explained a bit more about our situation - we have our own land and a small herd of Native ponies, the youngest being six. We have ruled out anything younger than two, as you are right, they need to be around youngstock their own age, so now we are looking at two to three year olds. We have backed and brought on younger horses before as well as re-starting a couple of rescues. We love the whole herd dearly but a few are quirky, to say the least, and this is why we are looking for a youngster as we do get tired of undoing other people's mistakes and in the case of the rescues, abuse!

I talked to my car-mad husband about the sales and he said, don't do it! Things move too fast and unless you are very experienced, it is too risky. So I had a look round at breeders and it turns out there is a lady not far from us who comes very highly recommended. A lot of people were singing her praises on H&H and say she turns out lovely, old fashioned types of Connemara with a bit of junk in the trunk and fantastic temperaments. We gave her a call and it turns out she has two rising three geldings ready to go next year, but they are not letting anyone onto the stud at the moment as she is busy with weanlings and I t the impression that unless she knows you very well, she can' be bothered going through the faff of rounding them up from their winter grazing and getting them ready for viewing with the very short days, in case you are a tire kicker. This gives us time to really think and put some money aside. Her prices are reasonable and after looking at the prices achieved for three year olds at the recent sales, after transport, accomodation and food, we wouldn't be saving much if anything. We're Irish and have family in Galway but I really don't want to stay with them!


A three year old would be great as it would be getting into proper work by the time she leaves uni. If she decides she wants to go to Brazil and save monkeys, she has a younger sister who will more than happily vault into the saddle! I did ask her if she really wanted to commit to another pony and she said, "I'm a horsey girl, this is what I do!". We shall see. In the meantime, she has a few weeks to think about going to see these geldings, as the breeder said to give her a call in January, so we have that in our back pocket.

maxelly thank you for your lovely words about her mare. She bought her for a few hundred pounds as a project from the field. Her old owner had died and her widower had kept her but knew nothing about horses and as persuaded to sell her on. My daughter planned to bring her on and sell her to fund a Connie but fell in love within a week. Not only was she the nicest little person btu she could jump like a stag and was honest and hardworking. She has left a big hole.

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krustykittens · 09/12/2020 18:46

Sorry, I should have made clear, we didn't strong arm the widower into selling, she was standing around in a field for two years, he didn't know anything about horses and when he lost his grazing, he felt overwhelmed. Some friends of his wife persuaded him that it was in the mare's best interests to go to a good home where she could be cared for and ridden and we answered the ad. I think the poor man felt guilty about selling his wife's pride and joy.

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Elieza · 09/12/2020 19:11

If you do this make sure you know that it might fall to you to deal with it. Your daughter may be keen now but things change.

She could fall pregnant.
Or fall in love get married and move to England.
Or flunk uni and go travelling for a year.
Or pass uni and go travelling for a year.
Or drop out if uni to follow her passion for dance or something and move to Spain.

Who knows what lies ahead.

As long as you are prepared for her not to have much time for the Connie and are prepared to do it all yourself anyway it should be fine.

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