10 Simple Steps for Finding that Perfect New Reiner
Question: I am a novice rider and want to purchase a reining horse on a shoe string budget. I'm getting all sorts of advice from friends but I'm not sure if I should purchase a green horse or a finished horse.
Answer: Looking for the perfect non-pro reiner can be a daunting task if you are not properly prepared. Take some time before you ever saddle that first horse and make a checklist on paper of exactly what you are looking for, your short and long term goals. Evaluate your current skill level, being honest with yourself.
- Create your pre-purchase checklist and rank it order of importance: conformation, mind, ability, pedigree, looks, color.
- Buy skill and ability not color, looks or pedigree alone: Everybody wants to own a pretty horse and looks are important, but I would rather ride a horse that is a little plain looking and full of talent and ability than a pretty horse that can't get out of his/ her own way; Look for a good minded horse who WANTS to stop. A rule that I always remember is that; you buy the stop, the rest you can train.
- Avoid: Horses that are bad minded, pin their ears, or ring their tails. These are all signs that the horse is hurting or hates his/ her job.
- Conformation: Straight legs, short backs, low hocks, low headed/ necks, clean throat latch, moves smoothly and pretty while loping are all attributes that a horse is born with and can't be changed. Conformation is important when looking at the longevity of your prospect. Having the horse vetted with a pre-purchase exam will help ease your mind. Horses are like people, they all have a little something wrong, so don't pass on the near perfect horse just because of a small problem. Consult with your vet to see if the issue is something that can be easily maintained.
- Remember: There is no perfect horse, they are flesh and bone with a mind of their own. They all come with their own set of personal issues, the key is finding the issues that you are willing to live with and maintain.
- Ask: Ask around about a horse that you're interested in, just because he's winning doesn't mean that he's not for sale. Friends and trainers are also a good way to network in the search of a new ride. Ask for the health history report of the horse from their owner and vet. Ask to show once, if possible, before you buy. This will allow you to see and feel first hand what you are looking to buy.
- Watch: Watch the horse being shown by the current owner/ non-pro. Trainers make their living by keeping the not so perfect show horse going run after run. The biggest problem with buying a show horse, is "ring sour" or "show smart" they ride well at home or at the trainers's barn, but new issues crop up in the warm up pen and show ring.
- Price: Price can be the biggest factor in your search. Bsically, the more the horse has won or done the larger the price tag. If you find a horse deal that seems to good to be true, it probably is. With the economy in the dumps and the price of hay going through the roof, there are good deals to be found, but buyer beware! You don't want to buy someone else's mistake. You get what you pay for.
- Don't: Don't be pressured into buying something that you wouldn't want to own for the rest of your life. Try to find a horse that hasn't been over shown, but is finished enough to go to the show pen without spending extra money on more training. We all want instant gratification, but buying a green horse just because he is cheaper at the start will cost just as much as the higher priced horse when you factor in additional training, hauling, and entry fees to get the horse seasoned.
- Enjoy: Enjoy the search for the perfect new horse. You have a chance to ride a ton of horses and get to take a sneak peak into the training programs of some of the successful trainers and non-pros that you have seen in the show pen. The bonus is that you will learn more about yourself and your riding abilities, the more horse you get to try out. Just remember always be respectful of the seller or trainers time since you are just trying the horse out while you are there, not taking a free lesson.
Spending the time and effort to research your perfect horse, will make you confident in your purchase and the price will be less of an issue. A good minded, well broke, willing show horse will always be a good investment.
As Always; Ride Hard, Be Safe, and Have Fun - Steve Kutie