I am going to preface this post by saying that I've never gone horse shopping before. Wilbur was in barn and I pretty much love anything with four legs- so that was a quick and easy deal with one (I know- in retrospect I was so dumb) ride before purchase.
I'm actually really curious to hear about other bloggers horse shopping experiences! When I bought Wilbur I relied a lot on my trainer at the time- both her opinion on how he'd finished up and what it would take to finish him. Looking back, I think I was over horsed and he was really just too green.
So in shopping for horse number 2 I'm finding myself in a similar quandary. How young is too young, how green is too green, am I going to end up with something I can ride and enjoy? And frankly after being "burned" the first time around how do I trust that Kelly is making the right call for me? Because I do think there is a lot of trust involved in dealing with young horses and amateur riders. I had quite a few friends, experienced horseladies (and Paul) express concern over Ellie. Primarily because, to be honest, we have not done an exhaustive search of the Bay to find the "perfect" horse. Kelly saw her posted, liked her, we went on a whirlwind horse shopping trip, and here she is on trial.
Before we went on the trip I did take some time to examine what I wanted out of this new horse. My budget is such that I knew I was not making decisions on whether I wanted the grey or bay Hunter Derby horse. And inventory is very limited in California. The options are a younger horse with some potential or a teenage schoolmaster that likely needs regular maintenance. I am always going to lean towards a younger horse for two reasons. One: I don't want to be bored. A schoolmaster is great for some but I feel pretty confident in my ability to jump around a course and I like a bit of a challenge. Two: I feel a lot of pride when I see a greener horse win small victories. Like Wilbur at his first Sonoma show. Proud momma! Plus- when I'm paying for training I want to see it as an investment in learning versus just a tune up ride.
|I hopped on this guy for fun (and so Kelly could see for another client). A 25K, 12 yr old, 2'6" horse. He knows his job for sure!|
But what else is important?
Well, as a working gal I sometimes need to ride a little later in the evenings. I feel a big difference in my comfort level riding Polly at night by myself than I did with Wilbur. Confidence that she won't have a meltdown in the cross ties and spook at everything in the ring. I need to feel comfortable riding by myself with this new horse. Tomorrow I will be having lesson on Polly at 4 then riding Ellie in the evening. A good test.
I need a horse with the stride to get down the lines. Ben and I (at Sonoma Horse Park) tried the low (very low jumpers) and with his short stride I never felt confident that he was going to make it out of the in and outs. Needless to say I stuck to the Hunter Ring and added every line. Which was totally fine for what we were doing. But I want to do grids and lines knowing the horse can carry me through so that if we ever do end up showing we can be competitive. I'll be posting some video next week but we know that Ellie can trot in and canter out in the appropriate strides.
Mostly I just want to have fun. Ambiguous right? I want a partnership, a horse that I trust and that trusts me. That I can take to a show, not for ribbons, but to be part of the scene and get out with my barn buddies and their horses. A horse that enjoys their job. And a horse that will grow with me.
I'm curious to hear how other bloggers picked their perfect ponies! Do share!