Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Riddle me this

RANT WARNING: This is not a "sunshine and butterflies" post.

How do you find a horse when your budget is minimal? (and by minimal, I mean 5k or less)

I've been looking and trying horses. All I hear is, "in this economy there are lots of horses needing homes" and "you can find a decent horse for a low price" and "Thoroughbreds are a dime a dozen these days".



Oh yes, there are lots of horses needing homes. The same kind of horses that needed homes before. Old ones. Lame ones. Sick ones. Unbroke ones. Backyard foals. Horses with training/mental issues. And as much as I want a horse of my own, I actually want to ride it. And not just at the walk.

Then, when you find an ad for one that seems within your budget that's pictured with a rider on it's back and hopefully sound and you go to check it out, this is what you get:

- the horse is listed as being 16.2 hands tall when it barely is 16 hands tall and built downhill. Well sorry that just sucks for me because when I say I need a horse 16.2 and up I'm not stroking my ego, I really DO need that tall horse because I'm 5'9" tall and not exactly a small boned gal.

- The horse needs a GPS to get around the arena. That's not just "green" that's WTF is this thing in my mouth and why is this person sitting on me "green".

- the horse isn't up to date with its shots or coggins or hasn't seen a vet in who knows how long. So, how am I supposed to bring it into my barn even if I decide to buy it? I don't think the other boarders are going to be all warm and fuzzy with a case of strangles or God knows what else if my luck keeps it's recent course.

- sometimes I check out horses slightly above my budget and I'm baffled that they are even worse than the ones listed BELOW my price range!

- I find horses in my budget that seem like a good prospect but they are out of state. That will require me taking time off from work, finding a babysitter and spending money to travel to look at them. So unless I am so frickin' sure this horse is going to rock my world I have to scratch them off my list.

- I tried one horse who had gaits so rough that my lower back was hurting by the time I got to the canter. Sorry. No. Whatever years I have left in the saddle, I don't need to live on Advil and wear a back brace to try and ride.

- horse is not traveling right behind and he's only 6 years old. I'm told he is a little stiff today and needs to warm up. At 6 years old? No - how about - his hocks are shot already and you'll be paying for injections until he's burned out in a few more years.

- horse is obviously somewhat underweight when you go to try him and you're told he's been sitting around doing no work because of any number of reasons so he isn't muscled up. You ride the horse and he's kind of quiet if you have REALLY soft hands but gets forward to the jumps. And you think to yourself, as soon as the weight is put on and you add proper muscling I'm going to need a gag to take him for a walk.

- You see the horse is wearing a huge, ugly cribbing collar when they bring him out to be tacked up. Just NO. Monty turned out to be a cribber after I bought him and I HATE cribbing collars and having to deal with that but thankfully Monty was so damn cute and wonderful that I didn't care and he gave up cribbing when I moved into the vet's barn. So, if the horse is wearing a cribbing collar he'd better be a stunner to look at and blow me away with his manners and skills before I'll go there.

- I live in fear of finding one I really like, then having it vetted and paying a bunch of money to find out it is a mess and then I'm a little more broke and still horseless.

See, I have a problem. I know too much. Monty set a bar so high for me to know what a good horse should be that you can't sell me on promises. I wanted to believe in potential when I took on Rugby but after what happened to me with him I'm just bitter on top of everything else. Yeah, I understand no horse is perfect, but I am very aware of what imperfections can be dealt with and which are just NO.

My frustration grows each time I look at a horse and my time is wasted. And it isn't going to get better in my budget.

Am I whining? Maybe, and I don't give a fat rat's ass. This all just sucks. I hate what's happened to me. I didn't deserve it, I can't fix it and unless I win a lottery I won't be able to change it.


Promise said...

I'm sorry you're having so much trouble finding a good match. Are you whining? Nope. And you have a ton of valid points. You know what you want. Don't settle for less. It might take longer than you want it to...but you'll find your next partner. Keeping my fingers crossed for you. :)

Jennifer said...

I had to look, and look, and look, and look some more. I was on a lower budget than you ...

I was kicked
I watched an owner almost get bucked off
I rode horses that weren't what the ad said they were

I understand it sucks. It's hard, and if you're on a tight budget, you're probably going to have to consider the less than perfect mounts. Yeah, the skinnies, and the cribbers.

If you want perfect conformation, perfect attitude, a green youngster or an oldie goldie is what you'll end up with... If you will sacrifice some vices, you might could find a showstopper right now...

Good luck...

Net said...

There are a lot of stinkers out there, but there ARE good horses for little money. As long as you don't want good, show trained, with a lot of experience. I find most of them will have poor steering, drop the inside shoulder on turns, etc. That's pretty easy to fix on a horse with a good temperament and working stop and go buttons.

I think you can ABSOLUTELY find a horse who fits you who is under 16.2. That's your own self-image talking there claiming you need 16.2 or taller, but in reality there are plenty of horses below that who will take up your leg just as well. My 16.3 TB would likely be too small for you, too. You need width and depth of barrel, not height.

Good luck, though. It takes a LOT of tire kicking to find the right one sometimes, but when it is time the right one will come along!

Net said...

(I feel like I should clarify that I'm trying to challenge your thinking if you believe you *have* to have a 16.2hh horse. However, if you WANT a horse who is 16.2hh or taller, that's a choice you are fully allowed to make - it's your money, your choice, your time, and your horse!)

English Rider said...

I think your post was pretty well reasoned. You're right, when you have experienced great horses it is hard to settle. I'm convinced I never again want to own my own as I can't afford to replicate the fantastic horses I rode as a professional groom.
I went for a lesson at a local school on Sunday and rounded the corner to find a Percheron awaiting me. Seriously? He turned out to have some attitude, be very forward-moving and a lot of fun. I'm riding him again in a few days. (Double bridle and all). I don't want to see the image we make together. We're both as wide as we are tall:)

Mrs Mom said...

I feel your pain SM.... You know what though? You and I have had this conversation-- THAT horse is out there. And he *WILL* find YOU. He will. Have faith.

Thinking of you often down here.

SolitaireMare said...

Hey Net!

I understand your point regarding the height of the horse and suitability. I'd be thrilled to find a 15.3 draft cross who was round in the ribs and long enough in the back to look like we belonged together but I haven't come across one of those yet.

From past experience, unless the horse is very fine boned, the taller ones are an easier starting point to find a match to my height and weight.

And of course I don't expect show trained with miles on them. Monty was green when I got him but his flatwork foundation was there. (he could trot a straight line and canter off on the correct lead when asked.) I finished his jumping work and lead changes. His mileage came from me but he had a good head which made the rest easy. Rugby was greener than Monty but had the good head. If he hadn't gotten sick I know he could have been a nice riding horse.

I understand I have to "settle" for what I can afford but if I'm doing this it has to be right because once I commit I'm in for life.

Natasha said...

You should go check out Kate at "A Year With Horses" http://ayearwithhorses.blogspot.com/ ...she did a really intensive horse search a few months ago, spending most of her time looking, looking, looking, and sifting online. She ended up only looking at a tiny portion of those she considered potential mounts. Her process was impressive and her criteria quite stringent, but just as she was about to give up the search for the winter, she found her boy.

I know you will find the right horse for you; I looked for years and, much like Monty for you, had loved a horse who set an extremely high bar. My girl's not perfect, but she's the perfect one for me. (and my budget was about half yours!)

Anonymous said...

I was just about to comment when I saw Natasha's comment - my search was for different criteria than yours will be, I think. I know what you mean about all the loser horses (and sellers) out there that are either misrepresented or the sellers are ignorant. I tried to not deal with agents or sales barns, but with real sellers, and I spent a lot of time - lots and lots of time - on the phone and ended up visiting only a few horses - I didn't want to waste my time on horses that didn't meet my (fairly strict) criteria. I also didn't mind doing some finishing myself.

If you want to look at what I did, go to my blog and use the label "horse search" - there are a fair number of posts and start with the oldest ones - those set out my criteria and then the ones after that detail all the (many) horses I investigated.

You'll find the right one for you if you just stick to your guns and keep looking. Looking for a taller horse can be a challenge - I was looking for smaller (even though I'm 5'10") and that probably made my life easier.

Good luck!

Akhal-Eventer said...

Horse shopping is difficult and risky!!
have you tried looking on Craigs List? It sounds backwoods but I recently checked out the horses for sale listed in my area and was surprised at what I saw on there! The ads are free and you could even try posting a "Horse Wanted" ad and see what happens.
My other suggestion would be to contact all of your local stables, trainers, farriers, and veterinarians and tell them what you are looking for and your price range. Many of the best horses are sold via word-of-mouth! Also... don't be afraid to contact owners of horses that are slightly over your budget. Most people market their horses at prices higher than what they ever actually sell for. It never hurts to make an offer!

Jean said...

Oh dear. I haven't horse shopped in a while because I adopted my last two. But my criteria were not strict, as in both cases I adopted young horses with no training. AND in the end, it didn't really matter to me what they could or could not do as far as competition goes.

My friend spent nearly two years looking for the right horse and she had money to spend. My trainer was in the same situation. So even having the $ does not necessarily make it easier when you have a set of requirements to meet.

I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any horses I hear of for sale.

You could check some of the adoption places that train and ride the horses they adopt out. Might be something at one of them.

OnTheBit said...

You know I always have an eye out for you. I don't blame you at all for being pissy at this point...IT SUCKS!!! I have never had the pleasure of horse shopping (I think it would be fun) but since you know what you want it is going to take a little longer to find it. If you find a good one by me Marissa and I are always up for a field trip and could try it out before you came all the way out here.

Annette said...

I was in the same place as you a year and a half ago. Don't give up. I thought I needed a horse that was well over 16h as well. I'm 5'9" and it's all leg -- 34" in seam. But the horse I ended up with is 15.2 (shocking to me) with a large barrel. I don't dangle which was my biggest fear. He was well under your price limit. He has a great mind but he was green, green, green. Walk straight? Not a chance. Canter from an aid? Say what??? But he wanted to learn and he was sound. You can teach a horse with a good mind. ...and it can be fun. I'm much happier with my 15.2 Paint than I ever was with my $$$$ 16.3h Friesian. I'm not saying you should settle for less than you want - and vices are never worth it. Just look at the horse's eye and its attitude before writing it off.

Rachel said...

i experienced the same thing while helping my best friend horse shop. She had a under 5k budget and all we found were a bunch of green horses or back yard out of work horses. shes 6ft tall, so the height thing came in to play too. EVENTUALLY (after purchasing a horse that broke multiple bones in a few months and re-homing him) she found a great match in a unbroken 4 yr old Morgan who is now going nicely under saddle.

Anonymous said...

I don't know alot about horseshopping, I found the lease I'm in on kijiji, he was the first and only lease I looked at, (because I wasn't really looking). Sometimes things are meant to work out. You just have to keep on searching.
You've probablt checked them all out, but try craiglist, dreamhorse, equinenow, horseweb.com, equine.com, horseandtacksales.com, and if you are willing to consider a cross-border trip, kijiji.ca. I know you aren't in Canada, but should you ever come this way, you'd be surpirsed whats on there. Try petfinder.com too, they are a rescue site *BUT* they actually have some decent horses on there, last time I looked.
Good luck on your search. That's the best I can offer, other than a virtual hug.
Oh, if you feel like a distraction from all things horsey, check out Hyperbole and a Half, its really quite funny.

Amanda said...

Have you thought about adopting from a rescue? I recently came across a draft (Shire) gelding (who's never had any dressage training) and was asked to show him for the rescue at a dressage schooling show... Gosh darn it if he wasn't the only horse in the place who was truly on the bit and rounding up into the saddle!

Just saying that rescue horses aren't necessarily old or crazy or broken down, and that many people turn rescues into really good show horses... and they generally cost less than $500 to adopt.

Anonymous said...

My horse died in August - see my blog for details.

I had been kind of looking since February (I knew my horse didn't have long). But started looking in September. I looked, and I looked, and I looked. And I sort of had a budget, but not *really*. Like if I found the best horse ever, I could cough up an extra thousand or two.

I looked, and even vetted a horse for pre purchase.

It was all very depressing. But when my vet figured out I what I was looking for, he connected me with another one of his clients. I wasn't really interested in what they had for sale, just a 2 year old, but I went to talk with them anyway. Long story short - so impressed with their operation and with their horses, that I started to consider the 2 year old, and ended up buying her. Totally not what I was looking for - but delighted with what I have gotten.

So you never know. Put the word out. To everyone. The people I bought my new horse from sold her to me for less than half they had as the minimum price at the horse sale a month before. Because I was a "great" home (endorsed by the vet).

Tammy said...

Around here, they can be found if you are willing to take a chance if you are paying little or nothing. It's harder to find the finished horses, but I've known a few people who have. A friend ended up with a nice finished show horse that was retired for breeding but would not take. So the owner was trying to unload her.

There is racing in Nebraska so a lot of throw away Tbreds, it seems. We are more QH & paint country, so TBs don't get much of a second look. But I LOVE them. When I was shopping, most of the tbreds I found had been on the track & I don't have the skills for retraining.

Last month or so, I was at the local horse sale. Mainly looking for tack, but can't resist walking thru the pens. I stumbled across a big black bay TB. Gorgeous. He was in the "loose stock" pen -meaning his owner just dropped him off & he would run the ring without anyone showing him. In most cases, the kill buyers bid on these horses. Tbreds - especially loose stock tbreds - bring hardly any money.

I slipped in the pen with this big boy. He greeted me, stood next to me quietly. I picked up his feet all around and he stood quietly. Turned up his lip & no tattoo. That means he hadn't been raced. I found a halter & lead in another pen & slipped it on him. I took him out and lunged him. He handled nicely. An acquaintance walked by & told me he knew that horse. That the owner was getting out of racing - sold all this race horses & this was his pony horse. He said he was a nice horse. Said papers were in the office. He was 7 or 8 yrs old. And I believed him. Another buyer stopped & watched me work with him. They asked if he were my horse & I said he wasn't but I thought he was too nice of a horse to get on "the truck" to Mexico. They agreed.

I had not bought a horse for almost 5 years, but told my husband that if the Killer Buyer had the bid on this horse, I was going to out bid him and bring him home. A gut feeling. When the bidding started, I saw the couple who was watching me work with the gelding started to bid against the killer buyer. I watched & waited. If they (the couple) got the bid, I wouldn't bid against them. They did. The killer buyer stopped & the couple got a nice tbred for around $250.

Certainly I didn't need another horse but for $250, I would have loved to have brought him home & taken a chance.

Chara Lynn said...

Im sorry to hear you are having such a stuggle. Do I think you are whining, heck no. My advise is NEVER settle! It may take longer than you think is ideal, however good things come to those who wait. Sounds silly, but it is very true, and I speak from experience in my own life. I was becoming impatient in my career, almost ready to give up. I had people telling me all the time, just be patient. I was like, seriously, this sucks. However they were right, I finally achieved my goal, and I am glad I was patient.
Stopping by to say hello after I was gone a short time. I have had a lot of changes in my life for the better, including my career. Hope all is fabulous with you. Make sure you swing by my blog. Everything will be back up and running in its normal fashion very soon.
Stay Fabulous