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Why buy a young horse?
For the right rider, a green horse provides an ideal opportunity to show off training methods and riding style, as he is a clean slate, untouched by another’s training.
Furthermore, the successful completion of a youngster is often the crowning glory of a rider’s career and the result of competent training methods learned over many years of hard work and education.
However, it is important to remember that a young, green horse is more in touch with his natural instincts than a trained horse, and the wrong rider can easily upset or spoil a promising animal through incorrect training methods, much more so than an older horse.
“Don’t fall victim to the romantic notion of a young person and young horse growing up together; it may not end up as you imagine. Green horses and inexperienced riders are usually a recipe for disaster.
“If you are lacking experience around horses, or have had time out from riding, steer clear of young horses as they usually need a little more time with a knowledgeable handler.”
Finding a future star
Assessing a young, green horse is not like looking at an educated horse. He may have only just been backed, or perhaps not at all. But there are ways to tell if a horse has the temperament that you desire.
Despite his lack of experience,there are certain things that a green horse should be:
- Sensible: Perry Wood, author of Real Riding, suggests evaluating the horse’s temperament through touch. “I like to see if a horse will let me touch him all over,” explains Perry. “I find that a horse who won’t let you touch him around the back end will often run off with you when he’s put under pressure. Similarly, you may find that a horse who is funny about his ears or muzzle tends to rear.”
- Willing: If the horse hasn’t been backed, you can assess what he will be like under saddle by hand-walking him. “If he’s nice and light on the rope, then he’ll probably be nice and light under saddle,” says Perry. “If he’s a thug to lead, then he’s probably going to be a thug to ride.”If he’s been backed, make sure he is happy to work and shouldn’t resist your aids.
- Put together well: Spend time accessing the horse’s conformation and way of going in hand and if possible under saddle. Correct conformation and movement, plus temperament, are vital, especially in a young horse.
Don’t get too emotionally involved with a young horse. Be aware that buying a young horse is a gamble, and there’s always the possibility that you will end up selling your horse on and starting again if he doesn’t show talent for the discipline you prefer.
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