I know, I know, I'm still skipping #4, but I will get to him. I want to skip ahead to #6 though as he's the other possible candidate.
This is JR. That's not actually his name, but doing the number thing is annoying me so I'm using this pseudonym. He's a 6 coming 7 year old 15hh purebred Arabian gelding. He's been in western training for about 1 year. He's done the arena, trails, cow work, been trailered, been to the beach, and had lots of other experiences.
We arrived and the trainer pulled him out of his stall for us, groomed and tacked him. In a shocking twist of events, he actually had tack that fit him. He's barefoot with nice hoofs. He did have a swelling on his hind left fetlock, which I pointed out to the trainer. He was slightly stiff on it, but nothing too bad and the swelling had actually almost gone away when we were untacking so I'm not too concerned. Conformation wise, he's a little over at the knee and little cow-hocked.
The trainer hopped on first. No lunging, though he did walk him around a little first. He dropped the stirrup after tightening the girth and JR jumped sideways. He fidgeted a bit at mounting, but he was good at going around nicely. The trainer kept up a running dialogue as he was riding. Which was interesting because it was a bit of a weird style of riding. He uses leg and rein pressure on the same side. On the plus side, the horse was actually being ridden on a contact. Not quite on the bit, but at least not dragging around on his front end like a lot of western horses. Turns out the guy used to train and show english Arabians.
I liked that he could be ridden on contact and that he knew how to bend. I think he'd be pretty easy to transition to dressage. He's a little on the forehand, but he even had a pretty balanced canter.
My husband hopped on next and he had a bit of a spazz at being mounted. Something to do with the flapping stirrups. He didn't take off bucking, but he spooked and jigged a bit. They walked off and did some w/t/c.
He was a good boy so I asked if we could do some trot poles. We went down to the other arena to get some. They were wet and practically being grown over by grass, so they don't see much use. I put them out and when my husband came around to them, JR threw on the brakes.
It wasn't a bad spook and I was actually kind of glad it happened as it gave us an opportunity to see how bad a spook from him would be. And it wasn't bad. After a few times going back and forth, sniffing them, and walking over them, he trotted right through.
I was a little concerned about getting on since my back issues making mounting really hard for me. I did not want him skittering away or spooking as I awkwardly climbed on. The trainer grabbed the other stirrup and my husband took his bridle and he stood for me. I did some w/t/c and asked for some lateral work, which he gave me a bit of.
I think I may have mentioned a time or two (or a million) that I am not good at keeping my leg on the horse. And this horse likes leg to be on. Apparently the trainer even commented to my husband about it while I was riding. He was a good boy and not lazy, but not my type of horse. I really don't like having to use my leg. That's not JR's fault though; it's mine.
My husband hopped back on after and hacked around in an empty pasture. There were puddles (to avoid like the plague) ditches to jump, and hills to climb and descend. It was a good test of outdoor skills.
We talked afterwards and the plan is to have them bring him to a park near us the next time it's not raining (so probably never) and we'll bring Dijon or Nilla and do a bit of real trail riding to asses his skills. He's a little pokey, though not actually lazy so I want to see if he'll keep going when he's tired. I also want to see how he reacts with a stranger riding him in unfamiliar places.
The main cons for him are the hocks and the lack of jumping experience. He'd never been over poles before us, let alone jumps. He's never even had an English saddle on. All things that might be overcome, but no way to know if he might absolutely hate jumping. Some horses do. He's also a little shorter than we'd like, though he takes up leg and has nice thick bones.
We have one more horse to look at that keeps getting delayed because of rain so JR and the pinto are our two main contenders at this point. Any thoughts from readers would be appreciated.
Labels: Horse Shopping