Shopping for Horses, in Method
By Doug Hamilton
I have bought a few over the years.
This is quick advice given to a friend who was going to go looking for a horse for themselves.
Initially, this was written about traveling to
In hearing news of people, I hear that you are off to
Firstly, in your mind, know what you want and judge against that. You are well educated now in Icelandics and horses anyway, so look for what you want and be clear about that.
When you go shopping for horses, people will bring out all sorts of horses for you to look at. You are not obligated to ride any of them or to buy any of them. If you see a horse coming that is clearly not what you want, be clear that you are not interested and do not bother riding it.
I tend to like to let the sellers start by riding their own horse. That way I can see if it is in the ballpark of training and character of what I want. If I ride a prospect, within a few moments usually I can feel if the horse is okay to the level of training I want. Eventually I want to then know if the horse is independent and able to ride out and away on its own. That is usually a combination of training and character that I am careful to smoke out. If I am interested this is something I really want to know. How jumpy, light and sensitive to the bit and leg? How the horse is mentally? Has the horse been taught to yield to the bit yet? Can it be? How soft or not is it?
In shopping, you will know the horse you want when you ride it by contrast with everything else.
If just from the ground you can see that a horse is not really what you want, you do not have to bother or risk riding it. Just say you are not interested.
Look for the combination of talent and training you want and stick to that. You will not have time to be riding everything nor should you. I know that you want a good horse so it will take some work for you to find it. Arrange as you can also to take some lessons with really good people. They usually will help you network on to good horses for you.
There are always some trainers who just want to sell horses and they can kind of fall over themselves when they smell blood. Once you get going in an area some will try to have you over to their stables and you can waste a lot of time. You have to judge also the trainers as well as their horses. There are a lot of horses and trainers who have little to show.
Really, you need not hurt anyone's feelings when you say 'no' to some horse they want to show and then move on. In process, you have to do this so they will bring out the horse you want. It is part of the process of narrowing down to what you want.
Then also in process look around for trainers or for riders who train horses like you want.
instance, I would suspect that the guy who was the recent head master at
They will network you on to the type
of horses that I think you will really like. If you are only going
to be there for a few days, you have to keep moving so do not feel like you
need to be obligated to be entertained by everyone. Just say thanks and
keep looking. Get up early and keep moving. You can use everyone's
phones and it is cheap to call around
Keep notes on the horses you ride so that you can compare them as you move around. You will know the horse you want when you ride it by contrast with everything else.
Everyone's sense of what is good is different. People's pride can be prickly, a little thick and stupid may be too. Just stick to yours. Keep your eyes open. Because you are experienced and you can ride, you will have a lot of fun with this.
It will be fun to hear your experience when it is over.
Good hunting! Doug Hamilton