Buying a ranch horse
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:05 AM
I feel I have to speak up about this. I came across this situation five times already over past three years and NONE of then turned out successfully. I am talking about buying a ranch horse for a child or older amateur rider who wants to do English style riding in arena. At a first glance the idea sounds great! You are buying a nice solid Quarter horse with experience of trail riding, cow working, etc It will be perfect safe horse for your child or yourself if you are not very strong or skilled. And the most appealing quality of this horse is price. You can find one at or below $2,000 sometimes tack is even included with the horse. How great is that!
Now I am going to show you that this is not a great idea. First we will talk about the training and impression of being a solid and safe horse to ride. Second, we will look at a financial side of the story.
Training issues:
Many times (not always) ranch horses receive quite rough training. It is done in a short period of time using round pen, spurs, ropes and lots of punishment when horse does not get the point. The horse gets an impression that her handler is very though person he must be afraid of and scrambles to do his best without much thought put into the matter. When this horse starts to work at the ranch, again, punishment is quick to come and no fine tuning is necessary or even considered. Strong bits and big spurs will do the work. Many ranchers do not have time or desire to really teach the horse. If the ranch horse is old enough, they are usually good at cow sorting and other ranch work because they have learned the routine and procedures through doing them over and over again. Again, the horse was left to his own devices, not much real communication with humans was needed.
And now comes a nice teenage girl, who wants a horse to love and ride in English saddle at the local barn. Parents bought her very inexpensive horse from a nearby ranch, the horse is either old or young, doesn't really matter. When they went to see the horse the horse behaved very well, worked well with his usual rider and did well with the girl. Very often such riding happens in a round pen because that is the only "arena" available there. The horse is brought to their local barn and here things start to become interesting. The horse starts to become pushy, argumental, does not want to walk with the girl, steps on girl's feet, hits the girl with the head, hard to steer, stops and backs up when not asked, pulls the reins out of girl's hands, runs, etc. Where did the nice, solid horse go? Who is that monster?
It wasn't a magic trick. The "nice" horse discovered that this new person is not tough, does not punish for every little discretion either fair or not. This new person is soft, slow, easy to dominate and push around. This new work in arena appears pointless, round and round we go. No cows to sort, no fences to fix, no trips to make. Boring and useless!
Money Talk:
Lets now look at the financial side of a horse buying adventure. Before you even consider how much money you want to spend on a horse count your yearly expenses of horse keeping. You are looking at around $5,000.00 per year (monthly outside boarding $300.00, this is very good price, many places are higher, especially, ones close to cities; farrier, vet, tack, other supplies, extra food, etc). Weekly lessons will cost you from $1000.00 per year, more if they are twice a week or private with expensive instructor. As you can see, overall, you are looking at spending $6,000.00 per year. And it is going to be year, after year, after year... If you keep a horse for 10 years, this is not too long considering horses can be serviceable well into their 20-s, you will spend around $50,000-60,000! Now, one time fee of a horse price doesn't look that imposing anymore. Instead of buying a ranch horse for $2000 and then having so much trouble with it spend a little bit more and get your child or yourself a very nice horse, who was trained in English style from the beginning of his riding career. By bumping price to $5,000.00 you will give yourself so much more options and possibilities. If you go to $7,000 or even $10,000 you can get a very nice horse. You and/or your child will enjoy, learn from and simply love forever. And if you compare $2000 and $5000, the difference is only $3000. It is less than one year horse keeping expenses! If you can afford to keep a horse, you can wait a bit longer. Safe the money you would spent on keeping the horse if you had one already and buy yourself a better horse for a bit more money. You will thank yourself later!
And the last but not least reminder - take with you an experienced horse person you can trust when shopping for a horse!
Happy riding...
 
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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