When you’re looking to buy a showjumper it’s easy to get lost among the endless lists of adverts promising the next jumping superstar. So to help you sort out the wheat from the chaff, we ask successful riders what they look for in showjumpers for sale and what amateurs should prioritise when they’re looking to buy.
Whether you are looking to buy a showjumper to compete at the highest level or you are starting out in British Showjumping Club or British Novice classes, our experts agree that a good temperament is vital. A horse with a trainable brain and the right attitude towards his work will make life easier and more enjoyable for his rider at every level.
“First and foremost, look for something that enjoys its jumping — that’s half the battle,” says Helen Tredwell.
Georgie Crumley agrees: “A genuine, willing temperament is extremely important. That’s one thing every special horse has in common. They are willing to try their hardest and give you everything they’ve got when it matters.”
While having a horse that wants to work with you is important, William Funnell highlights the importance of suiting the horse to the rider.
“Having a horse with a tricky temperament is not a problem for an experienced rider,” he says. “Talented horses are often tricky as youngsters, but come right in professional hands. You have to have the right mix between ability and temperament.”
So when browsing showjumpers for sale, it’s important that you assess your abilities and circumstances honestly. A horse that is jumping at top level with a professional rider will not necessarily suit an amateur rider with a small set-up at home.
Our riders agreed that while they would happily take on a talented and possibly quirky young horse for themselves, they wouldn’t advise that route for an amateur or young rider looking to step up the grades.
Helen said: “I am happy to go for something with potential, as long as it shows that it is careful and has a willingness to go. I don’t mind if they are tricky to ride and I’m happy to play around with them.”
But for a young rider or amateur, Helen would look for something with more experience that is perhaps stepping down a level to give that rider a good feel over bigger fences.
“An amateur’s horse has to have proven it can jump well at the level the rider wants to compete at,” she says.
Laura Renwick agrees that an amateur’s showjumper must be more than capable of doing what it’s being asked and be willing to help the rider out.
“The horse must know its job and make the rider’s life easy,” she says.
Some of the world’s best showjumpers have less than perfect conformation, and riders will often overlook some conformational weaknesses, if the horse is sound and has the desire to do the job.
“It wouldn’t worry me if the conformation wasn’t perfect,” says Helen, “although it can be a problem when you are selling the horse on.”
The key here is to avoid anything that might compromise the horse’s ability to remain sound long-term. When looking at showjumpers conformational weaknesses should be discussed with your vet to avoid problems in the future.
There are no hard and fast rules as to where to buy a showjumper, but the classified pages of Horse & Hound magazine and horses for sale on Horseandhound.co.uk are great places to start.
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“I’m a believer that horses find you if they’re good enough,” says Helen. “You never know where you’re going to find your next horse. You have to be open-minded and just put your feelers out.”
Georgie bucks the trend of looking on the continent for top showjumpers, believing that England is the best place to buy horses.
“You generally know the people who you are dealing with and you can easily find a record of what a horse has done,” she says. “We have bought some exceptional horses from England including Wonderboy III, Blue Angel, Webalia G and champion American hunter Cruise.”
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