Finding the Limit

Finding the Limit

How do you know what you can handle when it comes to horses?

I’ve realized recently that I need to break-up with an idea in my head. This is going to sound silly, but for a while I’ve thought Simon was a sort of difficult horse to ride. He’s a little hot and sensitive, and requires a lot of feel and delicacy to bring out his best. That’s a true statement, but hard? No. The horse is point and shoot.

Always the best boy
Always the best boy

Not only is he point and shoot, but he’s kind of a dead head on the ground and under saddle. It takes A LOT to make him spook, and even when he does spook it’s usually a step sideways. He’s a Thoroughbred with the desensitization of a draft cross.

Simon is also the kind of horse that almost anyone can sit on and feel brave. For four years he’s been slowly bolstering up my confidence, and now has made me think that I’m ready for a step-up horse.

But am I ready?


That’s what I’m struggling with today after my first night with mystery horse. Granted, the situation for success couldn’t be worse right now. My farm is getting slammed with rain, and with dry turnout areas already called for there isn’t a lot of safe spaces to let something fresh get the wiggles out on the lunge line. Without going into details, let’s just say that baby mystery horse’s life was very different than the one he would have with me. A drastic change like that has consequences. It was too wet to ride, but hand walking was… challenging. Everything can be explained by logic, but that doesn’t shake the feeling.

Not pictured - bucking, leaping and stallion prancing.
Not pictured – bucking, leaping and stallion prancing.

Can I really do this, or am I confined to the world of easy to ride dead-head horses? How do you know?

62 thoughts on “Finding the Limit

  1. Ugh at rain. We have it here too. But lots of grass, so I’ll take that trade. I’m not trying to get to know a new horse on a schedule though. Hopefully it’ll dry up and you can actually get to know him!

  2. I’ve had experience with super broke to downright nuts and I’ll take the super broke boring horse any day. I have lots of friends that tell me how much they love the challenging (translation: dangerous) ones. There was a time when I thought that was fun too, but I’m over it. I want to enjoy the time I spend with horses rather than constantly worry about when they’re going to blow up.

    1. Totally Agree! When I was younger I loved the “challenging” horses that pushed me to be a better rider. Now though, I love the quiet laid back horses that I can get on and enjoy every ride with. Plus I think as we’re older we realize we don’t recoop as easy when we get hurt, so we get smarter and avoid getting hurt.

  3. Bleh, rain! With the rescues I’ve brought in, I’ve dealt with everything from total dead head to crazy, and I would take a dead head any. day. Nothing wrong with wanting a good, broke to death horse. It’s hard to enjoy the ride and the horse if you’re worried over them blowing up – doesn’t mean you can’t handle it, but sometimes, it’s just nicer to not have to.
    That said, it’s Spring and the rainy weather and moving barns and SPRING can make any horse hot. I’m crossing my fingers that he settles down! My mother’s mare was a total psycho for the first week and a half with us, now she’s great, save for the random spookiness, but that has improved, too.

  4. Let me be the first to say, as someone with a few years on you, that it doesn’t get easier. The ground gets harder, your will to push through the scary and the painful wains with each passing of the calendar. Not sure if you are looking at a WB or not, but they ARE REALLY different. I had a kid shop with me not too long ago (a pretty wise kid) that was confused, everyone told her, “You will know it when you sit on the right one”. She hadn’t had that feeling and was trying to make a smart choice. I told her while she may not know when she sat on the right one, she WOULD know when she sat on the wrong one. Don’t try and talk yourself into something because you are ready for the next phase. Keep shopping if the one you try doesn’t make you feel like a little kid again.

    1. First ride I had on this guy, I had that “oh this is right!” feeling. I’m really hoping with the time I have him on trial and the weather, I can replicate that feeling many, many times.

  5. Question that a friend who was horse-shopping recently found useful: if you tried the horse on the best day of his life and he was just like that for the whole time you owned him, would you be happy?

    Auxiliary question: how hard do you want it to be?

    (That’s what she said. Ba-dum-tish!)

    Can you do this? Probably, especially if the folks who are there seeing the horse and knowing you in person think you can. We can, with sufficient dedication, survive and do all sorts of things. As you know all too well.

    Should you? Different question. Depends on what you want and what you enjoy and how much challenge you’re up for these days. Green baby lunatics can be very rewarding. I love them to death; they’re a challenge that I enjoy. They’re still green baby lunatics. That’s not fun for everyone. It’s not even fun all the time for folks like me. It’s okay to say that it’s too big a step and too much work in your hobby right now. Or forever. (It’s also okay to embrace it. The point is, it’s your call.)

    And there are a lot of horses in between “dead broke” and “blows up when you lead him.”

    I’m a big fan of trusting my gut feelings. I also know that my gut feelings are pretty reliable. Mileage varies.

    1. Completely agree with you about gut feelings. I had a great one when I sat on him, which is why he’s home. I’ll see about the rest honestly. Good advice and good questions you’ve given me to ponder!

  6. I honestly love having my more spit fire horse now. Ries is a nice dead head and I will never part with him but having Monty actually has boosted my confidence. I didn’t think I could even handle a hot thoroughbred but now I know I am a very capable rider and don’t have to be afraid of riding anything now. I absolutely enjoy making progress on both horses but currently Monty is more rewarding for me. I knew I could ride quiet horses with Ries but now knowing I can get on about anything with Monty really has me riding a ton of different horses I never thought I would be able to or even have the opportunity to ride. Even if I don’t keep him forever (but I am a very attached person) he was so worth it.

  7. Time is how you know! I’m hoping you have this thing for a few weeks because there will be a slight adjustment period for him just being in a new place! The weather- now that is not optimal so fingers crossed you get some pretty days to enjoy!

  8. I think you CAN. But do you WANT to? There is the question. Sometimes hard to deal with is just too much. And sometimes it is a hidden gem. I think you only know by doing. And dealing. And then re-evaluating with a bit more time (if you have it to spend with him). I find pushing outside my comfort zone really hard, but in the end, for me, it has been totally worth it.

    But not to a dangerous level. And having another person/trainer help evaluate can help. I know that I never would have bought my horse (too fast, and scary, though brave and non-spooky) if my trainer hadn’t said “You can do this.” It took a long time for me to believe that, and now I wouldn’t have anything else.

  9. You will probably never love another horse as much as you love Simon, but this second horse is something you should really enjoy. You already sound like you’re not excited about this horse, and I think that is a huge problem. Find something that excites you for all the right reasons!

    We have all been there. Staring at a horse that checks all the right boxed, but just doesn’t feel perfect. Find the one that you know will just seamlessly slide into your life. It’ll be worth the wait!

  10. When I was horse shopping a few years back (and wound up with a totally green Gavin) I had certain parameters in mind (type, age, health, AND personality). Personality/disposition was the one factor that I needed my gut instinct on. I turned down several horses based on not quite syncing up with them. Whether that was they were too hot, too aloof, etc. I didn’t want to be afraid of my new unicorn. And ultimately, that’s how the decision was made. He met all of the stat requirements PLUS he meshed with my kinda-timid horse style. I am SO glad I went with my gut on it. They can meet all of your requirements, but if they scare the pants off of you then I’d say no go.
    But I agree with other commenters. Baby + spring + rain + new place + new person = recipe for crazy

  11. I echo the fear thing. If you’re afraid. Pass. If you can handle it, fine. I also wanna say that going from one situation to one that is VERY different is stressful, so look at this situation as how this horse handles stress. Is he an unmitigated nightmare? Or is he mostly okay with moments of wild stallion. Can you deal with that in high stress moments? Will he adapt to the lifestyle you want him to live once he gets over the “WTF WHERE MY TURNOUT AT?!” problems? Those are the important questions.

    Pig CAN live in a stall 24/7. I can handle him. He’s fine. He’s much hotter and wilder under saddle, though. The first 5 days in a stall, though? He’s terrifying. He bounces around like a Tigger. He screams and calls and rears. He’s an energetic ass under saddle. But, given some time, he adjusts. Some can’t adjust, though. They are obnoxious stall destroyers who drag their owners around in the turnout and the ring. They turn scary.

    (Obv, I’m not just talking about turnout vs not. Horses adjust or don’t to all situations. So if this horse was good previously, I’d give him the benefit of time to see if he’ll adjust to your situation.)

    1. This is a really good point. How a critter handles stress/change is important if you want them to go horse show or take a joke, etc. Distress tolerance is often underrated.

  12. You have to listen to yourself and look for the flags. If you are the least uncomfortable don’t get the horse. Granted it is not the most ideal situation but life is like that. What will happen at a show without turn out? So if you get lots of rain and minimal turn out you can’t ride it at home? Not ok.
    This is a mistake I watch people do all the time. Unfortunately unicorns have issues. That’s why they are nice cheap horses. I love unicorns but I can ride them. Even when I thought I was tired of problem horses and bought a very expensive unbroken horse to mold I got a difficult horse. If you want to avoid all that you have to buy the broken, trained, and experienced horse. And those cost dollar signs. Whoever said horse buying is fun had no budget :/

  13. If I can’t ride it on my own, unsupervised I don’t want it. Questions I ask myself: Do I feel confident handling it on my own? Do I have the tools on my own to handle this horse in any given situation? Does this horse require more time and effort than I can give on my busiest day aka at this time in my life I couldn’t own a young Carlos, he required work 5-6 days a week, Ramone on the other hand even as a younger him didn’t require that much, life circumstances meant both horses have been fine with my availability. Does the horse need to be in full training? At my best financial level can I afford to have the horse in full training? obviously for me those 2 last answers are no I can’t afford it therefore making the horses ride-ability and handle-ability and my skill being paramount to me buying it. Also go with your gut, your heart might go pitter patter but your stomach may be doing back flips from hell. Or you might think the horse is not that great looking, but you feel at ease.

  14. The hard part is figuring out what you want and what you’re ok with. Just because you can ride something doesn’t mean you should and just because you can’t right now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I’m know you know all this, but be very, very realistic with you goals and finances.

    Do you have the finances to put a lot of trainer rides on this horse?

    If yes, does your trainer think it’s worth it for you to do so?

    What do you specifically want from this horse? Do you want something that can walk in the ring and show right now with you in the irons or do you want to develop something for later?

    Is the horse really upsetting you or is he just different than Simon and therefore weird?

    There is no right answer and there are a lot of wrong ones. Right now, I wouldn’t take on another difficult horse because I have all I can deal with and I don’t need one more thing. Clearly, I thought differently a few years back. 😉 It just depends on what’s right for you right now.

    1. I think this is super well said especially the part about it being different than Simon. We get very comfortable as we build a relationship with a horse and that doesn’t happen overnight.

  15. I’m sure you could do it. I think the bigger question is if you want to do it. I used to love riding hot challenging horses, but I don’t want to go back to that again. At this point in time, I want to actually enjoy the riding experience. I think you should also consider how well a hot horse works into your hunter goals. Don’t get caught up in the love of a fun horse if you’re just going to be upset a few months down the line when you’re not doing well at hunter shows. He is gorgeous though so I hope he settles down.

  16. Similar situation for me when I was looking for a horse just a few weeks back- I knew I COULD handle something hotter and more “jumper-y” and talked about the possibility of going that route with my trainer; we even looked into leasing the jumper mare I rode down in FL. But after discussing we decided that while I do love the jumpers, we go to horse shows once a month TOPS. We wanted something I could have fun on, feel safe with, and learn from the other 29 days a month. I lucked out to get a horse that will motor up when asked but has that draft-cross sensibility (even more so than my ACTUAL draft cross, go figure) so I know I can trust him to meet me halfway.
    So all that was a bit rambling, but in the end I’d say go with the horse that you can build trust with. Hot and sassy versus quiet and easy, whichever one floats your boat as long as you can build that trust.

  17. I had a similar situation to what you’re having. I had a horse like Simon but was ready for a step up horse. I decided to go the route of a rescue TB. Well the horse I had set my sights on got sold right before I had the chance to get him, so I kept searching. Low and behold the person that got him decided he wasn’t the horse for her and no longer wanted him. So I was told by the rescue, if I want him I could get it. Showed up at the ladies place, got to mess with him and stuff. Had the feeling that it was right, got him home and he went bat shit crazy! I thought to myself, “OMG I made a mistake and this horse is going to be too much for me.” However, I also knew he was a rescue straight off the track and the lady that got him tossed him out in a field in dead of winter in VA and the poor horse was in shock. So when I got him home and got him into a routine he started to mellow out and after a few months ended up being my dream horse and more. He learned to trust me and me him. Heck I even took him to SC to film a show with Julie Goodnight on teaching a horse to jump and he did awesome! She rode him and loved him as well. Before I get super side tracked, my point is…give it time before you start thinking the new guy might not be right anymore. If you’re barn is change from what he’s use too, he’s prob testing the waters and testing you. I bet in no time he’ll be settled in and back to being that horse you sat on and immediately knew was “right.” 🙂 In the meantime, give Simon loads of kisses and hugs from me! He’s such a handsome horse! Sure wish you still lived in NC so I could have someone to get me back into jumping!

  18. Ugh. I prefer a quiet beast any day… If he is young, sure he will probably settle down eventually, but how long do you want to wait to get past the bouncy stage until he is a reliable partner?

    This question is kind of close to my heart … I have a gf that bought a pretty shmancy baby WB as a dressage prospect last summer. She is an experienced AA rider with a Grand Prix record, but she is in her late 30s has a pretty demanding job, and a family. He was a lightly broke 4 year old that had some local show experience. /When she had him on trial he was a lazy sort of bumbling/goofy baby that seemed like the perfect mount for an AA to bring along. The baby lived outside his entire life, and when she bought him she moved him to your typical boarding situation with daytime small group T/O (~4-6 hours/day, weather permitting) and nights in a stall. It took a few weeks, but the baby’s demeanor changed pretty drastically especially under saddle. They evaluated everything – saddle fit, ulcers, lyme, etc., but in the end could only attribute the changed demeanor to his new lifestyle. His spookiness, bounciness, and energy levels are much more than she bargained for… and the facility that is close to her home/ work cannot accommodate a horse living outside full time. So, for now my gf has given up the ride to a pro. She took a few tumbles off of him last fall and her confidence is pretty shaken. She plans to leave him with the pro for the 2016 season to see if he settles, meanwhile she is stuck paying for a horse in training and catch riding on the weekends. It’s no ones fault really, but I know if she could go back she would by something older that is more more of a known quantity… Sorry for the novel…

  19. I have helped a few people horse shop lately, and have seen a few false starts. Here are my two cents, for what they’re worth.

    First, horses are not fixed entities. Any behavior can be changed with enough dedication and effort. As one of my favorite trainers has said, “The horse is always available. It’s the human that has trouble changing.”

    That said, changing ingrained behaviors in a horse can take a lot of time and effort and experience. If what you want is to spend a lot of time and effort working to change the behavior of a horse (a quite rewarding undertaking for some people), then getting a horse that does not behave the way you want out of the gate is no big deal.

    However, if want you want is to do X, Y and Z, the surest way to accomplish this is to buy a horse that will do X, Y and Z (for you) on your very first ride.

    I recently told a student who was horse shopping to make a list of all the basic things she considered essential she be able to do with her horse right away, and make sure she could do ALL those things, at minimum, during the test ride, (including how she wanted the horse to behave on the ground). This was after she’d already had a false start with a horse that was not a terrible animal by any means, but was a little too much for her in that moment. While she stuck it out for a while and was making progress, she was also spending all her time on just working to feel safe around that horse.

    She ended up deciding not to keep the first one, and has had much better luck with her second pick – who was a horse she hopped on and felt ‘right’ with from day one. He has led to much faster advancement for her as a rider, plus a happier and more relaxing day to day experience for her around the barn.

    It’s so easy to want whatever horse is in front of you to be the horse you are looking for. I have made that mistake horse shopping in the past. You want to gloss over the things that give you pause and focus on the things that are enticing. While this is a great way to look at life in general, with horse shopping I have seen it backfire for a lot of people, myself included.

    Lastly, “this horse is a dead-head” and “this is a horse I feel safe with” are most certainly not statements that must be irrevocably paired for someone who can ride as well as you do! My gelding is hugely sensitive, has a massive motor, and will happily jump into a gallop from a standstill. He’s also the most honest horse I’ve ever ridden, doesn’t spook under saddle, and is a doll on the ground. I am safer with him than any dead-head. Sensitivity, heart, and reliability CAN all come in the same package. The idea that a horse has to be hot and flighty and unsafe to have good energy and try and athleticism is pervasive but not always accurate, in my experience.

  20. I bought my “dream” horse green-broke with a single test ride vs. an at home trial, brought her home and two days later got to watch her bolt away down the line of paddocks after sitting back multiple times, rearing, bucking off my saddle and stepping on it, spooking violently and then taking off so quickly that I tripped and was dragged for the few moments it took me to let go of the lead rope.

    I spent over a year being afraid of her; managing her lack of ground manners with a stud chain/rope halter and always having food in front of her when tied so she would stand. We didn’t go anywhere because she wouldn’t load, and even now I get a huge adrenaline rush loading her even when she steps up into the trailer and hangs out like it ain’t no thang.

    It took me a year to separate what was asshole behavior and what was horse behavior (she is a naturally spooky horse on top of her other issues). Before this “feral” baby horse came into my life, I was blessed with an older horse taught me a lot under saddle, but somewhere along the way had picked up beautiful ground manners that stay installed even when spooking, and while it took her a bit due to abuse, trusted me enough to stand through about anything when asked. It took my now husband pointing out the way I was managing the “feral” horse compared to my older horse to realize I was working around the problem rather than fixing it. And it took watching the “feral” horse put her chest up against him and try to push past him, and look totally shocked when he pushed back to realize that I hadn’t ever really tried to teach her what I had realized by then, no one had ever bothered to teach her when she was young.

    Her breeder let her run wild until 4, and pulled her in, popped 6 rides on her and sold her to me. She didn’t know how to be handled, how to stand, how to load. And it took a lot of courage and tears and rope burn to teach her that as a grown horse vs. a youngster. Underneath it all, I really love the horse. She’s fancy, she’s so athletic it’s disgusting, she’s affectionate, she’s good looking… But I don’t think I’d ever put up with that shit ever again. I refuse to put myself in the situation where I’m expanding the risk to my body a thousandfold (the body that makes the money that pays for the horses) – and allowing a hobby I love to suck the happiness from me – because I’m afraid.

    TL;DR – I’d be generous, knowing that the horse is in a new place with limited turn out, etc… but when it comes down to it, fear kills the joy riding brings (at least for me). Fear also kills the drive, kills the ability to show and tries to kill the dreams you have by making you give up. Don’t buy a horse who you’re afraid of.

  21. So Holly was pretty chill when I tried her at her old barn. When I brought her to ours she was more ‘up’ . I blamed wind, new surroundings, etc. But she still jumps at things so while the ‘new’ of your situation may be triggering stuff, I’d still consider it his personality. If it gets better, awesome, but if not, do you want to deal with that every ride/walk etc? Everyone’s said it pretty well, I’d just say think about what you want now, and what you wanna do in 5-10years when you will be more tired, busier, and less flexible. He’s got a sweet face.

  22. I also think maybe you just get use to your own horses. Wiz couldn’t always be easy but then I’d deal with other horses and be omg give me him back! Now I’m getting use to new horse I’m riding and learning his quirks. But still, if it’s not fun, don’t do it

  23. My understanding is that you are looking for a show horse, one to complement Simon who is your heart horse.

    Take this horse to a show during the trial even if it is the simplest setup you can find. I do not get the impression that you want a made horse, but you do want something that can change leads so that is not a green horse either. I am guessing the horse needs to be fairly chill at shows to excel in hunters. I consider that a personality trait and not something that will change a whole lot with training, which is why you need to know how this horse responds to the show scene before you commit.

  24. Honestly for me it boils down to familiarity. I’m way more likely to be tentative and hesitant around something I don’t know very well, vs something I know inside and out. More often than not, those kinks get worked out as I get to know the horse better tho.

  25. It’s a little tough to answer the questions since he is a mystery to us 😉 If he’s a wild man walking on the lead after a day or two off and he’s 4, that’s understandable. If he’s 7 or 8, that may indicate he’s a bit of a hot head. But something to consider: should you have a dry place to lunge, can you lunge him down relatively quickly? If yes, then probably not much of a problem. If it takes two hours and he’s still breathing fire? Red flag.
    Also, do you have the assets to get the help you need? From what I’ve read, you have a competent trainer available so that’s a yes to some of that. Can you afford training rides regularly should you need them? If yes, then move forward. If no, red flag.
    My personal experience: I’ve had Jamp for six years now. He’s the spookiest animal I’ve ever ridden. I don’t feel like I’ll fall or get hurt when he spooks, but it’s really freaking irritating when it’s a constant thing. There are days I can’t even ride him to the far end of my ring. Which isn’t very far, my ring is small. And honestly, if I’d known that about him I wouldn’t have bought him. I think having the opportunity for a trial will help you answer all the questions. It’s a big deal for a young horse to move to a new place, be kept in, and deal with terrible weather.
    I hope he settles in and proves to be your unicorn! But if not, don’t feel discouraged. And don’t buy just because you’re frustrated with the process. I’ve done that, and wound up having to give the horse away. (To a school where she was cared for and given a great life, fear not, I’m responsible!)

  26. When I bought Bridget she checked most of the important practical boxes (sane, sound, affordable, low maintenance) on my list of needs, and sadly none of the ‘dream’ horse qualities (talented jumper/dressage, lots of miles, tall, dark, handsome) I wished for. I admittedly didn’t feel any sort of connection, or feel overly excited. It felt more like an arranged partnership, but it did feel like one that could be comfortable and successful.

    Just my experience, but I’d choose that again over the one that made me excited for all the possibilities, but a little apprehensive over the day to day logistics of managing them. She’s obviously grown on me – it’s very easy to fall in love with the horse you feel can do everything with and trust you’ll have a fun time.

  27. Is he by Devil His Due or otherwise from the Halo line of horses? If yes, I can give you a lot of insight.

    PS – long time reader, first time commenter.

  28. I know it’s super hard right now, but try to give yourself some time (which you have). Let the weather change (and it will!), continue to listen to your gut, and your trainer. <3

  29. I think the way you know is the moment when you get through to him. That moment most definitely won’t be the first few days the baby horse is in a new environment. But once he settles in a bit, will he trust you? Will he listen to you? Will you get over being a little intimidated of him and trust him? These are questions that you won’t be able to answer immediately. But give him time and see if the right answers present themselves.

  30. I just went through this! Super confident after my very reliable older horse and I bought the baby horse thinking that I could handle it and… nope. I’ve got a good situation now (well, when he comes home from rehab) working with a trainer I completely trust to get him rideable for me, but realistically he might be for sale if he doesn’t improve enough. For me it’s mostly his flightiness that isn’t working though, I feel confident in my ability to bring him along in the sport. I just want to assure that riding is (almost) always fun for me. It’s too expensive not to be fun. And having a fancy horse is fun, but having a fancy horse that you can ride is FUNNER lol .

    I’ve always been told when shopping for a horse: buy the horse you can ride now. I also recommend to my students (who ride in lessons, not training) to get the horse who you could still ride even without a month of lessons/trainer rides. I don’t like the idea of being bound to a trainer in order to ride my horse (hence TC going up for sale if he doesn’t improve, do not want to pay training fees forever).

  31. Honestly doesn’t sound like this horse has gotten a fair chance yet. You said yourself he’s in a much different living situation and everyone has been cooped up inside. It’s possible that just a different way of horse management (quick spin on the lunge line right out the gate, no grain, etcetc) will make this horse the one. He’s adorable btw. And hey if he doesn’t end up working out-resell. No horse has to be a forever horse.

    1. Oh I also wanted to add that how I feel about what I want/could ride changes daily. What has helped A LOT is getting to ride all different types of horses in relatively quick succession. It’s given me a very good idea of what I want in my next personal horse.

  32. Soo many insightful comments here but I want to add my two cents – I whole-heartedly agree with however said ‘yes you can, but do you want to?’. Also, buying for conformation & temperament is best, knowing that you can always add training. My first horse was a foal who has always been easy to handle simply because he has an A+++ temperament. One of my mares who is older & obviously more experienced, is inherently more sensitive which is challenging. I’ve learnt from them that you can’t train a better temperament into a horse. You can certainly make them happier & get better at dealing with their quirks, but at heart they will stay the same horse.

  33. I wouldn’t be too put off by his antics yet. When we first imported my mare (who was a been there done that jumper), I went visit her in quarantine and tried to hand walk her. She was NUTS. Literally, I was thinking that my new horse was crazy and might possible kill me. Luckily, once we got her home and on a regular work and turnout schedule, she was a totally different horse. Anyone can handle her and she’s not spooky. So, they can certainly change with work and turnout. He’s a gorgeous creature though!

  34. Loved the pics of Simon at the show, looks like everyone had a great time! And I agree with “trust your gut.” Which is why trials are excellent. And asking yourself these questions is completely valid & the right thing to do. There’re often fireworks & strange behaviour when horses change environments, but you have a good feel & instinct for what’s reasonable in a reaction.

    Can I handle hot, sensitive, handful horses? Yes, without hesitation. Is that how I want to spend my time on my already bizarre hobby of expensive accident-prone heartbreakers? No. So while I shopped by conformation & ability to do what I wanted, brains trumped everything. Because I want to be able to wander (or canter) through the woods on a loose rein, sit cross-legged & hand-graze, take it to a busy venue, or hand it to a more timid or less horsey friend without requiring more valium than normal or apologizing to everyone.

    I have good friends who love a hot, quirky horse & it works out great, they can grin while it flails in mid-air & as long as everyone is happy & safe, win for all! But I’m a person who’s so glad I chose the brains I did — the energy is there when I want it, but chill when I don’t; it never hurts to play it safe, since I need my body to do my job & cats suck at paying mortgages. That said, a week is a good period of time to feel things out & I’m a strong believer in “if he doesn’t make you smile when you grab the halter, there are so many horses out there & even though shopping is hard, better to go find one that does while you can still change your mind.” And maybe in a few days of new routine, he will – Marissa worded it very well with “when & how does he respond,” that is very much a telling point. All fingers crossed for you!

  35. My old guy was very quiet, never spooked… but could be a Macy’s Day balloon if he wasn’t on turnout EVERY day. Some are like that.

    Hoping the conditions come round so you can get a more accurate picture of the mystery guy’s temperament.

    Being put off by a psychopathic episode doesn’t mean you are not ready for a step up… it just means you want a step up that’s not a psychopath!

  36. You’ve gotten some really great advice here. I know you have great guidance with your trainer and your support system as well. Listen to what your gut tells you. The only piece of advice I can offer is that it is always much, much easier to get into horse ownership than it can be to get out of it, if it ends up not being the right match. Evaluate the individual as he/she is, not who you think they could be. Certain personality traits are fixed, and you may or may not want to live with them. Doesn’t make you less of a rider or a horsewoman.

  37. This is such a difficult question to answer for others let alone yourself! It really comes down to what you’re comfortable with. Challenge yourself, but don’t hate it or be afraid.

    I recently had to take a look t eventing in that light. I loved it. Past tense. I do not love it anymore, in fact I am terrified of XC. I literally shake thinking about it. Therefore, not the sport for me anymore. Sure, it sucks I never made it to the AEC’s but life changes. And once I admitted that to myself it was like a sigh of relief for me.

    Find your relief! Find what you love and what challenges you and you’ll be great!

  38. It sounded like you were wanting a straight forward, hunter-ring ready mount to have some show ring success on, something ng to give your mind a little r and r. If the jumper ring was too stressful, a green bean may be, too. My budget allowed for either a green or senior hunter, I went with green and years later NOW have a very nice horse, but it was hard with a big H. I The progress tragectory e of a baby can be more like heart monitor screen, less like boat ramp. If you feel ready to tackle some ups and down and adjust your goals down if you need to, than green horse can be a good way to get the horse of your dreams, but there’s always a risk with green horses – it’s hard to tell what behavior is green, what behavior is just personality.

  39. Everyone has given really great advice so I don’t have much else to add, except that if you can keep him for an extended period of time try to just let all the stress and decision making go for a little while and see what you end up with.

  40. I’ve been told it takes a solid 6 months to form a relationship with a horse – the first few rides are ought to be messy as you two figure eachother out. Like a new relationship, it takes time!

  41. A lot of good things to consider in all of the comments above.

    One thing I like in a horse is that while they may be reliable, they are not exactly a ‘dead head’. They are calm, but will liven up when asked. I’m not so much a fan of a ‘hot’ horse because in all honesty that shit gets old. At this point in the game I am no longer looking to ride anything you can strap a saddle on (been there, done that), because I don’t need to prove myself to anyone that I can stick with it when the horse loses their mind.

    I used to always end up with the hard luck, underdog, tough nut to crack horses that didn’t get along well or play with others. Those horses were the ones who drew me in and I found a way to not only turn them around, but to make them shine. It’s not for everyone and it’s not something I looked for in horses when choosing my string, let alone shopping for new ones to bring home. And while dealing with the greenies is fun and rewarding, it’s nice to climb on the tried and true, ‘go to’ horse that isn’t going to pull any crap or give me guff either. Besides, it is on them that I can work on ME and fix my issues, so when I get on a green horse, I can focus on them like I should.

  42. I’m not able to read all of the comments so forgive me if this has been mentioned already, but I really need a horse just like Simon. Would he like living in Missouri? I’m starting over again after a 20 year break at age 50(+) and ride at a wonderful top notch hunter/jumper barn with THE BEST school horses (and trainers!) but I know after awhile it’s going to be time for me to move on and I’ll be needing a horse like Simon. Whether or not you choose this particular ‘mystery horse’ I think it behooves (ha ha pun!) all of us to pass on our wise horses to the next generation coming up – even if they are ancient like me. LOL. Best of luck!!

  43. If this horse is young and you know who his parents are you could inquire with the breeder to find out more about them. I’ve brought up lots of young horses; QHs, a TB and now a WB. Breed obvi has an impact on what you have, but knowing how parents and full or even half siblings are is tremendously helpful. My 4yo WB filly’s dam is currently showing in the A/O Low Jumpers and was a dream for her ammy owner to show at only 7yo. Her sire was a Grand Prix jumper on the Mexico Olympic team and he was super easy to be around but had some steam. My filly has been consistently most like her dam. I haven’t ridden her yet, but have my fingers crossed this great disposition continues and backing her goes smoothly.
    I much prefer the youngsters because I know how they are brought up, but you have a lot more time to wait and they do change a lot over the years as they mature.

  44. It may not always be easy and you may need help along the way. But of course you can! Even the dead-heads can have their moments.

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