Life has rules that universally apply to all of us. For instance, take the game of football. A football fanatic can spend about 5 minutes talking with one of us and discover we know little about the game. We know even less about how to go about choosing the best players that it takes to win. If some college or university were to ask our help in selecting a team, there are foundational basics we know like a receiver without good hands in catching the ball is going to result in a lot of interceptions. Speed and stamina are your friends, especially if you’re the guy carrying the ball with the other team running after you. But, even though we could make a list of the things we know, there’s a reason the University of Oklahoma hasn’t sought us out. It’s because the coaches they hire have considerably more insight into details that completely escape our knowledge and observations. It obviously relies on experienced coaches that are far more capable of selecting a winning team than we ever could.
Choosing horses is a lot like selecting football players. It doesn’t take brilliance to know a large frame person needs a big horse. People who show require a horse that trailers easily. A roper isn’t going to do well with a horse that spooks when a throwing a loop. A barrel racer better have a horse that can make a tight turn around the barrel. Cutting horses that are afraid of calves aren’t the big winners. Just like football, a lot of people could point out things to look for when making a purchase. In fact, we see the results of their selection of the “perfect” horse pretty frequently. Often it’s not “exactly” the horse they wanted and definitely not the horse they thought they were getting. Yep, it’s a beautiful horse alright, but it’s just a little too high-strung for their level of riding experience or it bucks just a little. Like every time they put their foot in the stirrup to climb on. Many times they wind up not riding it at all or sending it to a trainer and spending a lot of money they hadn’t budgeted.
Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with buying a horse and sending it to the trainer if it is what you want to do. But if you are looking for a trail horse to ride now, here’s a few things you might consider. We like to think our years of owning, riding, and training horses has taught us some things about what to look for in a horse that the average horse buyer doesn’t know. If nothing else, hopefully some of the mistakes we have made over the years have provided lessons in the type of horse and qualities to avoid.
When we select a horse for our two-year training program, it’s a careful choice with countless considerations that can’t be easily put into words. Just like a coach who sees attributes or weaknesses in a potential player, there are horses we pass over because of small details we notice that may not be easy to explain. It’s not to hard to say we need a horse that is healthy, athletic, and has a good mind. It’s a little harder to spell out all the qualities that go into choosing a horse that will have all the attributes to make a suitable trail and family horse. One that can be ridden by nearly anyone and will provide years of fun and good experiences. Frankly, the decision on any given horse often feels more like a gut instinct that has developed from the many years of experience and mistakes in buying horses.
Sometimes we still get it wrong and 45 – 60 days into the training determine the horse doesn’t have what it takes. It may not have the right disposition or may not be capable of the physical demands. It may look pretty, but just not have the feet and legs to carry you all day on the trail. Other times there can be a ornery streak or a stubbornness that will not be fitting for the type of horses we want to graduate from our training program. These horses are sent down the road for more appropriate uses or for riders with the skill and experience it will take to handle them.
In short, if you are looking for a calm, quiet, well-broke horse that you can ride right now, give us a call. We will be happy to see if one of our horses is the right fit for you. If not, and if we know of a horse someone else has for sale that might be the right horse for you, we will be glad to point you that direction.