How to buy your ideal all-rounder

  • The all-rounder can be described as the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ of the horse world. He is a willing companion who is ready to have a go at just about anything. But with so many adverts claiming the horse can do everything from dressage and cross-country to a sponsored ride — how do you navigate your way around the all-rounders for sale?

    He won’t be a superstar, warns producer and trainer Lynn Russell.

    “He should be able to jump a course, say 2ft 6in to 3ft, be traffic-proof and move reasonably well, but not be in the top dressage or showing category.

    “To me, an all-rounder is the sort of horse who can be ridden by any member of the family, within reason, and has the ability to compete at a local riding club.”

    Safety first

    To find out if the horse is suitable for your level of riding, you must put him to the test. It’s important to try the horse at everything you want to do with him, such as showjumping or cross-country.

    You should also take the following steps:

    • Watch another person ride him first. Horse dealer and trainer Candy Martin, from West Farleigh, Kent, says: “If you find yourself eager to have a go, then that’s a good sign. But if you don’t like what the horse is doing, and you’re feeling apprehensive, stop right there. It is unlikely the rest of the trial is going to improve.”
    • Ride him by some unusual objects, such as a wheelie bin lying on its side, a flapping tarpaulin or a pile of coloured jump poles. Most horses will shy at something new, but his reaction will be a good indication of how spooky he is.
    • Ask to take him out hacking on the road, first with another horse and then alone. Pay particular attention to how he behaves around traffic. Above all, while on the hack you should feel safe and secure.

    So how can you tell if a horse has a good temperament? Here are a few checks you can make:

    • Go into the horse’s stable and see how he reacts when you make a fuss of him. He should be happy with you in his stall and not protective of his territory.
    • Take him out and walk him around the yard. He should walk quietly beside you, not try to barge off. Tack and untack the horse as if he were your own. Is he willing to stand while he is groomed and saddled?
    • Make sure you can lift and pick out his feet, without him kicking or snatching the leg away from you.
    • He should also be willing to be caught from the field and have good manners when you handle him.

    Browse all-rounders for sale with Horse & Hound

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    Finding an all-rounder

    The all-rounder is often the hardest horse to buy, so be prepared to take enough time to find the right animal for you.

    “All-rounders can be like gold dust,” says Candy. “They are hard to find because they can do a bit of everything. Once they’ve found a good all-rounder, most people will keep him forever.”

    Both Candy and Lynn feel that people often mistakenly believe that because they’re after an ordinary horse, they can pay very little for it.

    “When buying an all-rounder, first and foremost, you are buying a horse for his temperament and suitability,” says Lynn. “The temperament of the horse is most important, and you get what you pay for.”

    Also keep in mind that there are all-rounder at many levels, and one with talent is going to cost you more.

    1. By word of mouth: All-rounders change hands infrequently and are usually known for their temperament. Use your equine network and let as many people as possible know what you’re looking for, especially those with good equestrian contacts

    2. Via Horse & Hound: Horse & Hound magazine is the place to sell horses of all types including all-rounders and Horse & Hound’s online search facility makes it quick and easy for you to find horses for sale in your area and price range.

    3. Find a reputable horse dealer: If the horse isn’t working out, a good horse dealer will offer to exchange him or help you find something more suitable. Do your research before viewing to check if a dealer has a good reputation or not.

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