Early Days

Picking a Partner


How do you select a horse to be your partner?

About 1 year after I adopted Bohemian, I started to make some decisions about future horses I would have years down the road.

For example, I decided that my next horse would already be trained in eventing, jumping, or dressage. As much as I love Bohemian and wish that it worked out for us, there is a valid case against OTTBs (by SprinklerBandit, one of my fav bloggers). OTTBs are not green horses – most have excellent training – but learning a new job can be challenging at times, and there’s no guarantee they’ll end up being suitable for you or what you want to do.

At this point in my horsey life, I am looking to find the right partner. So how do I do that? By having a clear idea of the qualities I’m looking for, and deciding what is non-negotiable and what is a preference.

Here’s the list of considerations I’ve come up with – do you have any others to suggest?

  • Age
  • Height & Conformation
  • Attractiveness
  • Price & Purchase Terms 
  • Breed & Breeding
  • Temperament & Personality
  • Level of Training & Experience in Chosen Discipline
  • Show/Competition Experience & Record
  • Goals (what you want to do, and when you want to do it)
  • Health, Soundness, Injuries & Vet-Check
  • Vices, Feed, Stable Management/Lifestyle concerns
  • Name
  • Evaluation Ride (by self, friend, or trainer)
  • Registered with breed or discipline associations
  • Reputation or referral by friends or trainers
  • Je ne sais quois? aka X-factor

Hannah is a lovely mare and so far everything is going great, but nothing is official at this point and I’m committed to finding the right partner, whether or not it is her.  Thank you in advance for comments and suggestions!!

7 comments on “Picking a Partner

  1. I think your list looks great, and I love the open, honest way you are approaching this. It's interesting that while I adore my mare and think we are a good fit, having her has definitely pointed to a few things that down the line I should consider on my next horse. Always learning more in this sport.

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  2. Here's my list:

    1) BRAIN
    1) BRAIN
    1) BRAIN
    2) not a mare (ymmv)
    3) heels on all four feet
    4) preferably not shitty feet
    5) a face i like to look at
    6) conformation suitable to the task at hand
    7) soundness

    I guess I lump age/height/training into the group that determines fair pricing. Obviously, a 16.3 bay gelding that's coming 7 is going to be hella more expensive than the 15.2 16 year old mare who's coming back down the levels.

    Best of luck!

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  3. I agree –> brain and work ethic above all else. That being said, I like your list a lot. Take your time and the right answers will come to you!

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  4. Another two things I always look for – standing for farrier and ease of loading in the trailer. No experience with either is preferable to bad experiences. :0)

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  5. Brain, size, and soundness to do what I want to do. However, if I didn't work with a trainer, already seasoned jumping, flat work, trail would be a must. Getting training rides and lessons allowed me to buy a greener horse. HOWEVER I would never buy a horse again without a pretty lengthy trial period. I had my green TB (not ottb) for a month on trial to make sure he really is as quiet as he initially seemed. I tend to get caught up in the excitement and want the horse to be MINE right away, but it always pays to take the time.

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  6. i have yet to go down this road, so all my ideas are purely hypothetical… but i expect that when the day does finally come, i'll get a heaping dose of advice and input from my trainer too…

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  7. I don't really have anything to add because I have no experience horse shopping, but best of luck with finding the prefect partner!

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