I recently went back and read a few of my old blog posts. It has been so long ago that I had lost my critical eye and I rather enjoyed them! Here is a link to a funny, yet helpful article about what to do when you get a new horse. I actually think it is quite well-written, if I do say so myself.
If you ask any trainer what is one of the most difficult things to do for a student, it would be horse shopping. For one, it takes a huge amount of time for both people. Horses don’t magically appear, you have to dig deep in the ads, phone calls and off the beaten path barns to find them. For second, finding the one that fits the bill is SO difficult. There is always some negotiation that will happen within the search, I will explain that later.
I have two students looking right now, so I dedicate this blog to them!
Horse searching is like wine selection for me: it is a very sophisticated algorithm in my head that includes careful calculation of price, grape variety and label design. Then I magically pick the bottle off the shelf, do a PPE at home and decide if my arithmetic was correct. Apply the very same technique to horses.
Price Are we looking at under 5k for an OTTB that will be fun to produce and make ourselves? Or are we trying to find a blend of grapes that might include a little more warmblood jumping style, and thus pay a little more money for it. (and get other added benefits like better feet, less wear and tear etc). People pay the most for potential; prices get jacked up for a 3 year old warmblood who is purpose bred to be a sport horse. Yet, that same horse still will be green in two more years and most likely the price will not continue to rise. That is something to consider as you negotiate the final deal with the seller.
Alfrocheiro or Grk Bejeli? I started to write something boring like Merlot or Sangiovese? But then I discovered the Wikipedia list of grape varieties, an entertaining read and it has vast horse naming potential for said new horse. But, I digress. I am not set on any one breed, we have had everything from mustang ponies to 18 had warmbloods, and everything in between here at Polestar and I love them all for what they are. Whatever breed it is, it has to have the right temperament for my student. I have met so many OTTBs who are dead quiet, and then on the flip side there will be a quarter horse (America’s family horse, lol) who is as difficult as any Shetland pony. You can’t cookie cutter a horse breed, they just love to break every rule we set out for them. For fun, I sometimes look on Dreamhorse and do a search for “western pleasure” and see if there are any horses who look interesting to me. And there usually are several!
Label design I know a vintner who completely understands that you absolutely must have a captivating label. How else do you pick it off the shelf from the hundreds of other wines that are out there? I have no idea how to stretch this analogy to the horse shopping vein. Take it where you want, but perhaps the best analogy is that a horse should be appealing to look at. It needs to have a captivating personality that is useful and productive for my rider’s time and effort. And they absolutely must fall in love with it.
Last week I started calling friends who I know and trust to see whether they had any horses for sale/lease. They are the first place that I always go to when I’m horse shopping. I’d much rather talk to someone I have a relationship with than a total stranger from a Dreamhorse search. When Jo Siefert tells me that it is her favorite horse, I believe it and know exactly what sort of quality the horse is, and vice versa. No mystery, no lies and no misleading information. We might need to take a trip to California this fall to see some horses and I will try to think of a blog that is educational. Message me with ideas if you have them!