Searching for the right horse for you.
O.K so now you are looking for a horse properly. Armed with the knowledge that you have somewhere to keep it, and my previous notes, you can phone up and make appointments to view a horse advertised for sale.
You have decided that you want to buy a hunter. This is so described because years ago a particular type of horse was used for that purpose – hunting. A horse distinct from the race horse. Slightly heavier in build and with a more powerful shoulder as this is where your hunter needs his strength. A racehorse needs speed to win, therefore he is built slighter and with more sloping shoulder to throw more weight in front, his quarters will be slightly higher than that of his shoulder, to give that impulsion and speed which will make the whole move more easily and faster, so necessary for a racer.. A hunter on the other hand, will be lower on the quarter and higher in the shoulder. . He should be deep in the girth, strong behind the saddle.
His feet must be excellent in conformation and condition. A shorter pastern. And less slanting than that of a race horse.
Usually they stand at around 16hh to 17hh. Big boned, clean limbed, substantial build, roman nose and an honest eye. A snaffle bridle horse.
Not a Shire or a cross shire, or a Suffolk Punch or anything with feathers. These are cold blood horse and years ago were work horses used primarily on the plough or cart/carriage etc. Now they are seen as calm, kind and generous natured riding horses. (Please don’t cut off their feathers, they are there for a reason)
So you have looked through the advertisements and found one or two that seem to fit your requirements. Please bear in mind ..................................................
Viewing the horse. Part II.
(Forget the advertisements that say ‘showjumper/allrounder’ ‘Eventer’ ‘Grade A’ ‘Dressage Prospect. ‘Advanced this and that’
What you want is the ad that says the horse is a competent and an uncomplicated ride, suitable for novice. )
The advertisement reads:
Perfect Horse! For the Novice. Done all PC. Would suit a RC family home. 14yrs old. 16hh. Gelding. No vices. Open to vet. Sadly illness forces sale.
Loving home only. £3.500.
Tel; 0000 1111222 evenings.
This could be for you. Ring up and talk to the person selling him, find out the reason. Could be a number of things as people’s circumstances and needs change. Unfortunately for horses they may change hands several times before they die,
(Unless you’re like me--!!)
unlike a dog, where we give a dog a home and keep him until he dies.
So the horse sounds just what you think you would like. 16hh isn’t too big, and hopefully you will have had some experience of riding before you get into this decision. You make the arrangements to go and visit them.
Weekends are always a good bet, as most people have much more time to spare. But a quick visit in the week, prior to riding him can sometimes pay off. Get directions and make the date.
Dressed in our riding gear, a nonchalant attitude and an adviser, off we go.
Approaching the yard where the horse is, is quite simple and the directions were good. Look around the area and see whether there are many horses in and around here. Look at the grazing and especially look at his stable.
These all indicative to whether the horse is cared for in a loving environment or it could indicate the person is a dealer. Too many horses on not enough grass and not too many stables for the number of horses should tell you something is not absolutely right.
However, we shall assume that all is well and the yard is good and friendly.
Look at the horse in the stable first of all. See how he is when you approach. Are his ears alert? Or are they flat against his head. Are his eyes wide and honest that look at you? Or are they wild and showing the whites? If his ears and eyes suggest that lurking beneath the exterior is a devil waiting to get out, be careful. Go into the stable and look at him closely. The owner will most probably hold his head and be pleased to chat about him. Then ask for him to be led out of the stable. Try and go out first and watch him coming out.
Following the previous instructions I have outlined for you, you can then ask to ride him.
Now you may find that 16hh is quite tall, especially if you have only been riding 15hh or 15.3hh. depending on the build of the horse that is.
If this is a thoroughbred then he will be of slighter build than say a shire horse, or a Cleveland bay cross. Always ask about the breeding. It is important.
Too many horses are lost to the breeding organisations, as their papers have been lost, or mislaid, died and no one knows, or just forgotten about. When a foal is born, nowadays there is a system whereby it has to be registered on the National Database, (I believe that DEFRA are now the ones who will issue the registration documents) it has to be identified, by its markings and whorls (will explain later about those). Colour, mother and sire. And their breeding.
Most breeds i.e: Thoroughbred, registered with Weatherbys and will be in their General Stud Book, this is produced every 5 years. Thoroughbreds will receive a passport which shows their parentage, their identity markings, and any racing history. This is charged for. It should also follow the horse throughout its life. Whenever it changes ownership these papers go too.
Cleveland Bay, Welsh Cobs and ponies, Arabians, Irish Draught, will all have their own breed papers if bred correctly. Part breds = one parent of pure breed and one of parts of other breeds will also be eligible for part-bred papers. These are similar to full papers, showing their identity and breeding.
Above are mentioned but a few of the British and Irish breeds. A more comprehensive list may be found elsewhere in print.
Warmblood breeds have papers, and they undergo a very stringent breeding programme.
Only the best horses are bred from, and they have to undergo a testing programme from when they are born, until they reach maturity. This ranges from selection as potential breeding horses as a foal, to two years old where they are presented in hand and shown in hand, free schooled over a range of jumps (albeit small and not too tasking – without a rider). Obedience, talent, correctness of conformation and their breeding does come into it a lot.
When they are selected as potential stallions or mares, they can then go on to performance testing at 4yrs old. Mostly it is the stallions that complete this phase of their selection, as mares were never considered necessary to undergo this training, although nowadays, it is more popular.
A young stallion has to perform in hand, over jumps, dressage, be in a group of other stallions and must be absolutely well behaved.
It is a costly business, so progeny bred in this manner should be expected to reach realistic prices.
I bred Trakehner horses, and had a most wonderful time doing so. Along side my thoroughbred stallions, I found the Trakehner horses a delight.
They are graceful and kind.
Within all breed there are mavericks, and they may not always be obvious in the beginning.
When buying a horse, don’t expect him to go home with you and not have a personality change. He most probably will. It is a big thing for them to be taken away from something they know, into a new environment, new people, different surrounds and goings on. New horses to mix with and different routine. It takes a while for them to settle, and you with them. You have to get to know him, and with love and understanding this can be achieved in a short space of time. Then you will get that enjoyment from being around horses and riding them, that thousands of other people get to enjoy.
Imagine importing a horse from another country, like I did when I bought Trakehners over from Germany. There was a learning curve initially, but we soon got the gist of each other and never looked back. It was harder for them I think, after all English wasn’t their first language and some people laugh when I say they had to learn it as I learnt German. They really do understand what we say, although the tone of voice helps I am sure.
To buy a Mare or a Gelding? A matter of personal choice. Geldings are usually kind, understanding and do what you tell it to. Like I said before, there are exceptions to the rule. Never buy a stallion, they can be an awful nuisance, and unless you are used to them and you want to breed horses, let someone else have them. It is unusual to see a stallion in the hands of someone who isn’t going to breed, as most yards and grass facilities will not have them on board. They cannot mix with mares, for obvious reasons, they have to be turned out alone, geldings and stallions don’t mix and neither do stallions and stallions.
In some countries colts are never gelded, so you very often see stallions being ridden in a working situation, but they are used to this, over here, we tend to geld them. Of course stallions are competed and raced to show their ability.
Only the best colts are kept for stallion material. It is a complicated issue for this edition so I have only touched on the subject.
Mares are kind and sweet natured; they come into season every three to four weeks, for a period of 5 days. Sometimes a mare can become fractious during this time, but usually you will have a job to know as they are very private creatures, unless she is a flirtatious mare, it will be only obvious to the vigilant observer. Some stud grooms miss this occurrence. Mares generally are able to perform in every kind of sport associated with horses that there is. There is nothing that makes them different in this ability.
Personally I like mares, but please don’t put them in foal just because you fancy it. Or because she won’t be ridden for a year and it seems like a good idea. In foal mares require attention and proper feeding. When she has foaled the foal and her require special attention and feeding. You can’t just expect them to wander around a field all day and eat grass, the foal has to be handled, and not played with. You have to think of its future prospects.
There are thousands of foals born into this world every day, in 1992 for instance, there were 23424 thoroughbred mares put to stud, out of that there were 12437 thoroughbred foals born.
Take into account the other breeds and we have a saturation point of new births each and every year. Where do they all go?