Buying a Horse for our Mature Years

I work with a lot of people at Just Equus who are not novices when it comes to riding.  Many of them are returning to riding after a hiatus of 10 or 20 years and are finding that the carefree gallops of their youth have been left behind in the dust of those passing years.

It’s best not to set any hard and fast rules regarding colour, breed and size.  Instead make a choice based on temperament; far better to have a horse that gives you confidence than one that sends you running in fear.  There is no point in having an emotional attachment to a horse that chases you across the paddock; far better to have a relationship based on trust and respect.

Finding the right horse is not unlike finding a life partner; it takes time, energy and patience.

I know I spent almost 6 months looking for just the right horse in my Quarter Horse mare, Chilli.  I didn’t choose Chilli for her bright chestnut coat or her long full tail.  It wasn’t because she was a bargain or because she was expensive, and therefore had to be good!  No, I chose Chilli because of her gentle nature above all else.  She is well bred and her good confirmation was also a deciding factor, but for me, temperament is the number one priority.  So when I returned to riding after 18 months of recovery from a badly broken leg, it was because I had complete trust in the maturity of my horse.

It’s not uncommon for many of my clients to find they have lost the confidence they once had. Re-entering riding at middle age can be a daunting thing.   The responsibility of parenthood has a lot to do with this new found sense of self-preservation that wasn’t present in our youth.  It’s only reasonable that the horse we choose now meets our new criteria.  But what concerns me is that many of the problems my clients are experiencing could easily be avoided by just choosing the right horse for their more mature years.

Your new entry level horse is not going to be the horse you rode as a bullet proof teenager so consider the size of the horse.  A big 16 hand horse looks magnificent in the paddock but you may need a mounting block to get on him and what happens if you need to dismount on your ride?  It’s also worth considering how far it is to fall from a 16 hand horse!

Choose a horse that suits your abilities; one you can comfortably be around.  A green 3 year old is going to be a challenge if you’re not a horse breaker!  I’ve seen too many clients think that if they start a young horse there will be a special bond between them; a time of ‘learning together’.

You are the leader in this partnership and your horse needs to learn from you.

Unless you have the very specific skills to train a young horse, you are probably going to have a very difficult journey.

Don’t rush your decision to buy a horse; get a second opinion from someone you respect and take it on trial for 6 to 8 weeks.  Beware the advice from riders who always have their horse at the trainers to be ‘fixed’.  The problem there is more likely to be the rider and their lack of knowledge than a ‘problem horse’.

Lastly, let me just say if you have a horse that does not suit you, you are not required to keep him.  He’s not adopted!  He’s probably the right horse for someone else, just not for you at this time.  So move on, find the horse that suits your needs and your level of ability and rediscover the enjoyment of riding and owning a horse that urged you to return to riding in the first place.

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One Response to “Buying a Horse for our Mature Years”

  1. Kate says:

    Great advice! Will take it aboard when I start looking for a horse after 20 years of not owning one. Thank you

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