I promised some big news in last week’s riding recap, so here it is: after a few months of leasing and some serious thought about the direction my life is headed in (plus the support of my lovely parents, who are kind enough to provide me food and board even though I’m at the ripe age of almost-twenty-one), I’m in the market for a horse of my own!
Over the past couple of months, I’ve come to realize that the amount of money I’m spending on a lease and lessons is actually comparable to the cost of board at my stable. And while I intend to continue with my lessons (at least once a week!) and I know that there are other added costs to horse ownership (supplements, trims, vet bills, tack, etc.), I also know that it will be worth the increase in independence that comes with having a horse of my own.
Here are some of the things I’m looking for:
Things that I Need in a Horse
- Healthy. No soundness issues, no arthritis, etc.
- Athletic. OTTB, APHA, Appendix Quarter Horse, warmblood cross, etc.
- Friendly. I want a pocket pony! Good-natured, always interested in people, and does its best for you.
- Jumps. Confident over cross rails, at least. I want something that’s about where I am (or better).
- No spooks. I can handle a horse that bucks, but unpredictable spooking is something that scares me.
- Longevity. The horse doesn’t have to be super young, but I need to be able to jump for a few years.
- Budget. We can’t break the bank.
Things that I Want in a Horse
- Good age. 7 to 12 years old being the optimum range, though a few years more wouldn’t be terrible.
- Handsome. Bay, chestnut, dark brown, black… typical Thoroughbred colors with clean markings (if any).
- Gelding. Because as much as I’ve grown to love Belle, I usually gravitate towards geldings.
Tall. We’re talking in the 16hh+ range, a horse that looks at 2’6″ and sees a cavaletti.(Trainer says 15.2hh max 😛 )
- Trail experience. A horse that won’t kill you when you’re five miles away from the trailer is always a plus.
- Registered. Alright, I’m going to be honest: this one’s a point of pride, that’s all.
Of course, one of the first options that came to mind when I realized a horse of my own was within the realm of possibility was purchasing The Pony. After all, she checks off all of the traits that I need in a horse. Plus there’s the added benefits that come with purchasing a horse that you have experience with: I’ve adjusted to her riding style, I know what kind of care she needs (she’s an easy keeper with strong feet), and there’s no chance that I’ll find out we’re incompatible a few months down the road. Not to mention that she’s just so darn cute.
And yet, as much as I love The Pony, she meets only one of my wants (she’s 8 years old, right between my optimum age range) and, more importantly, there’s a definite limit to the amount of growth I can make as a rider while I’m with her—not because of her height (though 13.3hh is pretty small for the hunter/jumper ring), but because the ideal horse for the disciplines I want to pursue is a hot, energetic horse, and The Pony’s pretty much the opposite of that (athletic she might be, but she’s more stubborn and belligerent than sensitive).
Still, if she were just a hand or two taller…
But, ultimately, I want to get to the point where I feel confident riding high caliber, responsive horses. After a long talk with The Trainer, I realized that owning Belle might teach me a lot about jumping, but purchasing a horse that’s a midway point between Belle and my dream horse will improve the very foundations of my riding. In other words: I’m due for an upgrade, which is both sad and exciting.
I plan to have a horse of my own within the next few months. Ideally, the Trainer and I are on the look out for something taller (but not huge) that combines Belle’s steady, nonplussed personality with some of the responsive aspects of a sport horse. I’ve got my eye on a more TB-type APHA, an Appendix Quarter Horse, or a hot/cold blood mix that will have a Thoroughbred’s knack for jumping combined with a stock horse personality.
In the mean time, I’ll still be spending my weekly riding time with The Pony—I’m not looking forward to the day that I have to say goodbye to this sassy little mare that I’ve come to know and love.