I believe the greatest tragedy in the horse industry must be buyers who buy amiss.
New and even experienced horse owners purchase for flash far more often than for brains, appropriate age and training level.
I see the older, “brown” horses overlooked every single day.
I understand the appeal of “pretty”, but I think we are at a point that we have to, given the state of the horse industry, start to make smarter choices and start to educate our buyers and selves.
In the 7 years I’ve operated an equine rescue, I’ve witnessed about everything you can imagine. I know the average horse shopper terribly well.
Newbies are sure they need foals, sure they need Palomino stallions or the spotted feral mares only handled well by the best of trainers.
The things I’ve learned are as followed:
- You are never as qualified or as accomplished as you imagine. True experience brings a certain degree of humility. Those who list themselves as “accomplished” or “experienced” riders are usually novices or long time riders who really know little about horses. Almost no one is truly ready to start a green horse undersaddle and do the horse any service, so if you aren’t a long time trainer, pass on the 3 year old unstarted horse, please, no matter how flashy she is.
- Flash and color has no value beyond simply being eye candy. While there are very attractive, well trained horses, I’ve found the more homely a horse, the better a steed you are apt to find. Why? In today’s world, a horse lives on his merit. If a plain brown mare has made it to age 15, there is a reason, and usually it is because she is as steady as the wind blows. The 4 year old tri-color mare who has worn a saddle 3 times might look sharper, but that is probably where her value to the average rider ends. Stop and think about what you really need, and if you’re hoping for a safe riding partner, flash should not factor into a choice.
- Age matters. Most people aren’t really qualified to own foals or very young, green horses. Most people make a big mess out of young horses. Then those young horses become dangerous and end up at auction or in rescue. We then spend a lot of money trying to fix what a previous owner (who wanted a little baby horse or a pretty, flashy horse) did with all kinds of good intentions. Unless you’re an experienced trainer with a proven protocol or can afford many months of real, professional training, please opt for the been there, done that plain horse. There is no shame in knowing your experience level and buying accordingly. The real shame is doing an green horse a disservice by ruining her with your lack of skill.
- Kids do not need “baby horses” to grow up with. I think that is all we need to say there. The very last thing a typical child needs is a “foal” to grow up and learn with, so please, do not do that. If you want to learn more on that subject, read more here.
- Before you spend a fortune on a hot, young and well bred horse, we suggest you invest in training for You. Often, the problems you will encounter with a horse, be it behavioral or condition related, are from a lack of knowledge on your part. We know this society wants to believe we are all the greatest and best in all areas, but knowing horses and handling them with skill can take decades to even kind of master. We have to be willing to be honest about ourselves if we want to be fair to the horse we plan to purchase.
Most of the behavioral or care issues we come across in rescue started with someone buying a horse they were not ready for, and most of those folks believed they knew “plenty,” but in fact, they knew very little. They looked for youth, beauty and were sure they had a lot of knowledge, but they had invested only a little in their own education, and they opted to buy a horse with as little knowledge as they had. They set the horse up for failure or for a poor education, at least.
Be an educated buyer. Take lessons, talk to a trainer. Ask them to help you find a horse that fits your real skill level. Realize that blazes, spots and markings have no value beyond visual appeal, neither does youth, and you can’t ride pretty. Continue to learn even once you buy. Horsemanship is a life long journey, and your horse is counting on you to be the very best you can be.
As a side note, Paisley, as pictured in this blog was only suitable for the very experienced rider, and thankfully, that is the type of home for found.