Since I was a Child I Have Been With Horses
Ever since I can remember I have always been around Horses, and so riding became "part and parcel" of my life with everyone taking it for granted that I was going to follow suite and get stuck in with the four legged animals. And as it happened I gladly took up the role and enjoyed every minute with the Horses, even if it was mucking out the stables. Since I could barely walk I began my life with Horses, I was three years old when I first began riding, by the time I was five and six years old I began competing, and I am still competing to this day being forty six in April and enjoying every minute of it. My life with Horses is fulfilling, exciting and exhilarating, though some people in the Horse world would comment that it is hard work working with Horses. In my view for anybody who works, or has Horses to say that is "Disgraceful" at the end of the day it is a hobby, you can ride, travel to shows to compete, and when your Horses perform well then it is the best feeling in the World.
When I started competing in 1972 things were totally different to what competition is today, everything, in a way, was easier. There was less Classes/Competitions each day, local shows had about four or five classes in any one day of competition, for Horses and Ponies, with Horses and Ponies competing on the same day. These days the choice is vast you have multiple choices daily from five to ten classes/competitions, for both Horses and Ponies and it is a rarity for Horses and Ponies to compete on the same day, unless the Show Organisers have set up multiple Rings/Arenas that is in the UK.
Buy a Horse for Its Temperament Not The Colour
Quality Honest Horses Can Be Found Just Be Careful
If there are people who do venture into reading this and have no idea about Horses, but yet are just yearning to get a Horse, and have had a hankering all their lives for one I will give you some tips and advice.
In the Horse World when you start out you will have plenty of people prepared to give you sound advice, calling themselves experts, and the only expertise they have is fleecing you. Not all experts are in it to fleece, but there are a lot who are, they do not want you to get better than them, so be careful and wary and not get drawn in just because they talk a good job. If you can, ask if they compete, if they do go and watch them, ask around if people know them, what standard they are competing at, and if they do not mind ask if you can go to their yard to see their Horses. Then if you feel confident enough ask if they will help you with your first purchase, in helping you find your new Horse. Always remember, and this is important, it is your money that is being spent, so it is your decision at the end of the day.
For your first Horse this is what you should look for, forget the Horse's age this is a major issue as a lot of people, especially the UK, will advice you to buy a young Horse so as you and the Horse can gain experience together. That is wrong you need a Horse that has gained experience in order to pass that experience and knowledge to you. Not a twenty plus Horse but, one that is aged between ten to seventeen years old, well looked after a Horse of that age will give you years of enjoyment. And more important than anything it will give you confidence, and will teach you with its wealth of knowledge and experience. Now that is something money just cannot buy, an older Horse will help you to develop as a rider as it will have had most, if not all the schooling ever needed and that, believe me, will benefit you no end. When viewing Horses never go for the flashy one, just because it is chestnut with four perfect white socks gleaming at you, and you feel as though it is speaking to you "Buy me Please" stay well clear. When we buy Horses there is one motto we stick to and never ever waiver from, "If in Doubt Live without" and that is true. Go for a Horse that is slightly small for you, instead of going for the 16.2hh go for a 15.2hh, even few inches smaller, of course it all depends on your height. You will feel more in control when the Horse is not to big, and obviously you are much nearer the floor , if you should fall off that is, wishing you never will. Colour is not important, "Stay Clear of Chestnut Mares" is an old wives tale chestnut mares are fine, a chestnut Horse of any sex can be, on the rare occasion be slightly more het-up than other colours, but only rarely. Do not buy a Horse for its colour, as you can end up with a lovely coloured Horse and its rubbish.
When you are choosing your Horse make sure it has a wide forehead with space between the eyes, this shows intelligence, and excellent temperament. Make sure the eyes are deep in colour and not much white is visible when you are around feeling for lumps and bumps, this indicates that the Horse is calm and trustworthy. A short coupled Horse, this being a short back, it is not vital as Horses with long backs can be just as good, but, to be on the safe side try and get a short coupled Horse. Good width in-between the front legs, the chest area, with good depth in the girth for stamina and short cannon bones in the legs. This is the bone from the knee down to the fetlock just above the hoof, older Horses will have small lumps on the cannon bone just under the knee, the term used for these are splints. They are nothing to worry about, as the vast majority of Horses over 6 years old get them, usually associated with stress on the legs, I will explain more in later articles on Horses, it is nothing to worry about though, not a deal breaker. Once that is out of the way check the back legs for "capped hocks" these usually occur when Horses lay down on hard ground, or rub their hocks heavily against the inside of the stable. There are numerous variables to how they actually occur, again they are no major worries and should not put you off. Finally be aware of how the Horse is when being handled by the owners, when they tack him up is he nervous, is there any tension in the neck muscles. Does it seem as though the Horse is fretting, these are quite simple to find is the whites of the eyes showing then you will know that there is something wrong. We once went to purchase a Horse he was as a youngster an up and coming star, as a 5 year old he was jumping 1.25 metre Opens and winning good money. We had seen him around as he was a lovely liver chestnut Dutch bred gelding, his breeding was excellent. Some years later we had the opportunity to buy him he was 9 years old and gone to Grade A, in showjumping that is the highest a Horse can go. But, when we saw him he had changed hands at 7 years old and he had been with his now new owners for about two years he was a totally different animal. As they were putting tack on him he was sweating up and fretting, he was frightened and we felt so sorry for him. We could not believe our eyes, we had seen him jumping at County Shows in good classes and he had a bright future, but, the fact was they had ruined him and were desperate to get rid of him. We just could not take the risk as to start with they wanted £25,000 for him and in the state he was in, being brutally honest they would have had to give us money to take him on. A fantastic Horse with a bright future ruined for no reason, as they did not want to ask anyone for help, that is why I am telling you to watch for signs of stress.
And finally get your new Horse Vetted before you part with your hard earned cash, if you follow these simple steps you should be fine and have a good experience in purchasing your first Horse. I shall be writing more on Horses in the near future so keep watching for tips and hints, as I compete on weekly basis I shall give some inside info too, so please keep reading and hope you enjoy. Many thanks until next time.