Horse Shopping - Follow Ups

Back in January we made a second trip out to look at Horse #2. We had liked him the first time, but wanted to try again with English tack. We brought our own saddle, which was a little wide, but wasn't horrible off and we added two thick pads. He already had sore spots on his back from an improperly fitting western saddle. Our english saddle really seemed to fit better than the western, but he was pretty pissed about it even when we were just tacking up. I don't really blame him since he had the sore spots, but it didn't get much better when my husband got on.

My husband was convinced it was the saddle, but I remembered him acting the same way with the trainer last time. The only difference was this time my husband was the first one on him. He did settle down after 10 minutes or so just like last time. I'm not ruling out saddle fit issues, but I'd say attitude was more of an issue here.

We started in the round pen as there were a bunch of people practicing roping a fake calf attached to a  quad in the indoor. When we first got there the trainer said the roping had just started and would be going on for a few hours. Even though this was weeks ago, I'd already started to get burnt out on the whole horse shopping thing and I basically lost it. Why the hell did he schedule us to come at this time if the arena was going to be occupied by roping? We had specifically made an appointment to try him with English tack and try him over jumps. The trainer said some other woman was in charge of scheduling sales and she doesn't come to the barn on Sundays so she wasn't aware of the roping. Increasingly irate, I asked why she was in charge of scheduling if she was not aware of the things actually scheduled at the barn. He tried to suggest that we could put a jump in the round pen, which I was not impressed with.

After I pitched a fit, he went off to ask and it turns out the roping would be over soon so we went off to start in the round pen. The horse really really wanted to just gallop. Getting him to trot or do anything other than leap forward was a struggle. Once we got to the arena and could do circles and other movements, he settled a bit. He was still a handful though.

I set up some trot poles and he wanted to canter them:

We eventually got him to trot the poles though he was pissed about it. Then I set up a little cross-rail and kept a trot pole in front to keep him from racing. That did not work:

I moved the ground pole out to make a trot pole on the other side and we did eventually convince him he could step across the poles instead of jumping the entire thing:

I really don't think he was being any worse than the previous time, but my husband was less impressed. He rode this one after falling off the crazy fb horse so I think nerves may have been a factor. But nerves aside, the horse is a very forward and difficult ride. He was also completely incapable of walking around normally. He could walk on the buckle in a cool down fashion or he could canter or trot/try to canter. The owner actually showed up to talk a bit and said that's why he's for sale. At shows he would never do a flat footed walk. He'd be a nightmare to get through dressage. Our final determination was that he would be good if my husband wanted him as his only horse and could ride him 5-6 days a week. But my husband wants to continue riding Shasta occasionally and really can only dedicate 3-4 days a week to a new horse. He wants something a little easier.

This past weekend we went out for a second visit to Horse #5. Our goal for this ride was to get outside the arena and see how he behaved. When we first got there, we took him out to the outdoor arena to trot him around and he spent the whole time trying to roll. He had just had a bath so I don't blame him, but we were trying to prevent that. At one point he started to go down to roll, we chased him, he tried to jump forward, and then he just fell over. It reminded me a lot of Dijon who is also clumsy. He stood up, shook it off and was fine.

We took him back in and the trainer hopped on first. He was good so my husband hopped on. He was a lot more comfortable on him this time. The last time he had fallen off the Facebook horse that morning so I think his confidence was a bit off. He had thought the canter was too bouncy. I thought it was really comfortable, but I'm used to big, rolling canters. This time he really liked the canter.

Love this canter
After warming up in the arena, we went outside. They don't have actual trails at the barn, so we just wandered down the driveway, explored the parking lot and all around the various barns. He was pretty good. Very looky, but not actually doing anything about it. So not bolting or spinning, but not confident in the outdoors.

We also took him into the outdoor arena and did a bit of trot work. The footing wasn't good enough for canter (as evidenced by the falling down earlier). He was a good boy. I really like this horse's attitude. He's quick and eager, but not crazy. He wants to be a good boy. I don't think there's a mean bone in his body. He's used to going on the bit and I think he could transition to low level dressage pretty easily.

Unfortunately, I just don't love his conformation. His back is so long and his hind end is more upright than I'd like. I also hate his feet, though that's probably fixable. We also don't know if he can jump. They don't have any jumps at the barn for us to even try with. And my guess is that he could probably get over a jump, but he'd knock them with his hind end since it's so disconnected. And he's not a solid trail horse. He wasn't bad and I'm sure regular exposure would help him, but he's inclined to be concerned.

No real decision made here, but more information was gathered. We also looked at some new horses this weekend so stay tuned.