Planning on purchasing a new steed this year? Perhaps you’re looking to make 2019 the year you step up your competition game with a super-skilled ride who knows the ropes, or maybe you’re in search of a talented youngster who you can produce at your own pace.
Whatever horse or pony you’re on the hunt for, you’re sure to stumble across at least one of these familiar long faces along the way:
1. The ‘has been’
Could also be recognised as ‘the golden-ish oldie.’ He has a glittering CV, an enviable sash collection and was at the top of the game — 10 years ago. His owner, who secured this horse when he was a hot, Hickstead-winning commodity, has been clinging onto the HOYS win he bagged as a five-year-old with his old producer for the past decade. Despite his dwindling show ring status, magazine appearances and championship wins, this horse still maintains the heart and head of a gentleman and knows his job inside out. He’s been dragged round more county shows that you could shake a stick at and he still manages to come home with a rosette, albeit no longer a red, white and blue one. He’s more suited to the local show life these days, certainly holding his own but not with the same gusto he had in his younger days. Still, his advert leads with and will always lead with ‘HOYS WINNER FOR SALE.’
2. The one that’s sold from the field
A bit like that guy who uses pictures from 2011 on his dating profile, this horse is currently in anything but show condition so the seller will opt to use images from a summer photo shoot (and does not specify which summer they were taken). It can be a bit of a shock when you eagerly arrive to see said horse and are welcomed with something quite different than what you saw on the internet; at least two hands smaller, a coat like a hearth rug, more chin hair than Father Christmas and he looks like he could do with a bucket of conditioning mash or two. You actually have to ask ‘is this him?’ when you get to the field and you’re convinced they must have swapped the horse with another. While it most likely is the same nag but just in his off season phase, you definitely feel like you’ve just been catfished.
3. The one that’s over your budget (but you really, really like)
You knew you really shouldn’t have arranged to go and see this one. The price tag literally made your eyes water but this horse sounds like a walking dream and the yard is only a quick trip down the road. If you didn’t believe in love at first sight, you do now. The photographs, which were undoubtedly stunning, don’t do him justice and the way he leans his head on your shoulder when you meet him is enough to have you slyly Googling ‘how to get a bank loan fast’ when the owner shows him off in the arena. He does everything on cue; extended trot, perfect changes and he’s got a serious jump. You’re gingerly legged up; what if I ruin him? But to your amazement, you mimic the same performance he just gave his owner. After a hack, a bit of cross-country schooling and a few more stable cuddles you’re completely sold. You can’t not have him and so sell everything you own in order to fund the four-legged dream.
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4. The one that’s been falsely advertised
This is usually something that is being sold as a bombproof. Alarm bells start to ring when the pony, which has been advertised as ‘the perfect family friend’, starts spinning round the stable at an uncontrollable pace when the owner attempts to put his bridle on. With a crafty look in his eye, this chap looks like he hasn’t been out of the stable in a while, let alone been ridden in an arena in blistering wind, so you politely decline the offer when asked if you want to get on first. You’ll hear the phrase ‘he doesn’t normally do this’ several times before you leave, but you’re pretty sure that the ‘drop-the-shoulder-and-twist’ routine he’s got down is something of a regular occurrence. On to the next…
5. The overpriced project
Perhaps sold by a breeder or someone who’s owned him since he was a foal, this one might be advertised as something with ‘undisputable potential in any sphere’. You’re not told the price over the phone and get told to just come and see what you think. The owner seeks a top home where this horse’s talent will be utilised to the max. On meeting, you’re impressed but there’s not much to see as he’s unbroken and hasn’t been taught to trot up in-hand. He undoubtedly has potential, but this is a long term project nonetheless. You might make an offer you see suitable for a horse with such experience, to which the owner winces and requests three times the money. Raw potential is one thing, but this overpriced project won’t be worth much more once you’ve spent two years getting it going.