Responsible horse shopping: Buy a horse you will outgrow



Responsible horse shopping: Buy a horse you will outgrow

Imagine a world where not everyone is looking for a Preliminary horse…

Preliminary is the magic level in Eventing when it comes to horse sales. Many riders will only buy horses that have gone Prelim if they have the budget. Riders without the budget for a proven Preliminary horse want a horse with ‘Preliminary or higher potential’. Although I have not personally sold many horses, I have been in enough sales barns to notice this definite buying trend. Wonderfully talented horses will get imported with no Preliminary mileage and no one will even come out and try them. Then once they have done a few Preliminary events, they are quickly purchased. Did the Preliminary events transform the horses into better rides? Not really, but their prices sure skyrocketed.

Buyers want horses that are guaranteed to jump around a Preliminary event. This makes sense for riders currently competing Training on horses that are at the top of their scope level so they are looking for their Preliminary upgrade. But does an 11-year-old rider competing at lower levels need a Preliminary horse? Athletic horses are great fun to ride when you are capable of handling their ‘horsepower’, however, when riders are just beginning their careers being over-horsed can be a disaster. I personally know all about being over-horsed and it almost caused me to quit riding. I fell in love with a super scopey and flashy 5-year-old when I was 14-years-old and it made for quite the lengthy and painful learning curve (Read the full story here – My life with the Evil Munchkin). The wiser thing for my parents to buy would have been a calm horse that was loping around Training courses.



I’m not recommending you go buy an ancient, half-crippled, Training schoolmaster. There are numerous nice Training and Pre-Training level horses that are NOT so athletic that you watch them canter a cross-rail and know by the way they over jump it by four feet that they will definitely go Preliminary. Many horses are not deemed as future Preliminary horses when they are young but with time and training, they develop into upper-level horses. A horse with a good mind will almost always beat a freakishly talented horse with shit for brains. You can save yourself stress and injuries by purchasing a horse that is suited to your level of riding. Parents need to remember that they would not buy their child a Ferrari to learn to drive. The same philosophy is directly applicable to horse shopping.

I understand that everyone has big ambitions in this sport and we all fall in love with our four-legged partners. There is nothing wrong with buying a superstar lower level horse, gaining the experience you need, then selling it so you can move onto something with the athleticism for more. New eventers are always going to be coming along and they will love and cherish your beloved partner as much as you did. Do not be afraid to buy a horse that you will eventually outgrow. If you plan to keep moving up the levels in this sport you can never marry a horse.

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