Yesterday I went to look at a completely different type of horse- an unstarted three year old warmblood gelding.
Looking at babies varies from looking at horses under saddle. It requires channeling your inner tween, in that you have to look past the horsey equivalent of pubescent pimples and gangly legs and envision the future Brad Pitt within, but also be very adult about the process, in this case stuffing the “ermahgerd baby poneh” response temporarily into your back pocket.
When looking at youngstock, brain still reigns king. A tractable disposition is everything to me, and so its even more important to see those ground manners and basic abilities- being caught from a field, lead around, cross tied, picking up feet, etc. In addition to this, I also want to see how the baby reacts to new and different stimuli. Yesterday, we used body clippers. I’m watching carefully to see what the horse’s instinct is- is it turn and flee? stomp this dangerous buzzing beastie to death and human be damned? or stand still but do its best dragon impersonation? Especially because I want to compete at new venues, and event, a bit of bravery, or at least sensibility, is key.
Besides all these little but important tests, it’s also helpful to see them move. Sweet and smart and sensible is nice, but there are plenty of other scores in the collective section besides “Submission”. So getting the baby out and trotting, watching them walk, and seeing their canter is all going to indicate whether or not a young horse is a suitable prospect for any sporthorse goals. The trot should have active hocks, the canter should have a reaching hind leg, and the walk should be 4 beat and true. Moving like a junkyard robot is probably not the best attribute for your future dressage horse.
The last thing to consider, and this applies to looking at any horse, is your gut. As silly and sentimental as it sounds, I put a lot of stock in this. When I look at a horse, does my heart go trip-a-trap? Do I feel in my gut that this is a good match? If I’m going to pull out my checkbook, being a bit twitterpated is a must- goodness knows there will be plenty of good and bad days ahead as you learn and grow together, so always best to start from a place of love and gushy good feelings.
Overall, the process of horse shopping is a balance of emotion and logic. Not unlike dating, you’re looking for a longtime partner that you will invest your blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention a hella lot of money) into, so you do your best to choose the right one.
All excellent points, here! I also rely HEAVILY on following my gut instinct – it’s never steered me wrong. Yes, a horse has to check all the boxes on paper and be suitable for its intended use, but if my intuition says “no”… I ain’t buyin’ it! In the same vein, an animal that maybe isn’t ideal on paper but my gut says “go for it”… I’m going to give that one some extra consideration. Gotta tune in to the Holy Spirit with these big decisions!
Yes yes and yes!
You’re brave with an unbroke baby! So exciting though, because you can get a lot of talent for the same $$ with something started.
That’s kind of where my brain is at- I can get a lot of talent, but it will take time and a lot of effort to see the results 🙂
Great points 😀 excited to see what comes of all this 🙂
Eek.. Crazy to think it will all end in a new horse!
I like how you look at the collective dressage remarks and apply them to a baby horse. Very smart!!
That’s the trying to adult slash be logical part… emphasis on *trying* 🙂
I don’t know if I could buy a prospect without *knowing* what they’d already be like LOL.
It’s a gamble but a bit of a fun one!
Lol so on day 1 you explicitly said your pocketbook came out unscathed. Was that a purposeful omission here or just an oversight?!?! Curious minds want to know lol. Also tho, yea great points
Oh, you are quite the sleuth! Currently checkbook is intact. For how long though, who knows… 😉
Yay for horse shopping! What fun!