Horse shopping

Wow; talk about complicated!

I was s’posed to get this TB mare, but she’s $1,000 and I don’t have the money right now. My instructor and barn owner - although they want me to get Sabrina - think that it might be easier if I go with another horse. This is the horse that they want me to look into: Gotta Soar. He’s young, tall and bay. I am a sucker for all of those, lol. I’ve had experience training/re-training young horses. He’s only been in training for racing, but I know that he’ll still think go-go-go. Most likely. They did say that he doesn’t have the heart to run.

My instructor went to pick up a mare out there last week and she saw this guy. They tried to give him to her; they were practically pushing him on her. So, yes, he’s free now. I’m going to call today about him. Maybe.

I was just wondering what everyone thought of him. I would give him the winter off and just do groundwork ((Parelli 7 Games)) with him and join-up with him and the sort. My instructor said that he would need it off to grow into himself. I showed him to my friend and she said something about him being low, but he had a TB headset? And also a roached back? I’m asking you all… is that true? Also, what does it mean? :-[ It won’t impair him from jumping later on in life, correct?

I could use all the advice/info/etc I could get. xD

A roached back simply means (in my experience) that the horse’s spine curves up slightly before the point of his hips, giving him a bump.  This is also sometimes called a jumper’s bump I think.  I think it’s supposed to be associated with a horse’s ability to buck and supposedly jump.  Horse’s built like that are apparently supposed to be better buckers and jumpers.  No idea if it’s true or not, but we all know how horse people are with their theories.

I’d be careful about taking a free horse though.  You get what you pay for and you may end up spending a whole lot more due to hidden health problems that you don’t know about.

Well I would suggest that you go look at him. If you really like him get a full vet check to be sure he has no major health or soundness issues.

It looks like he may have slightly long and slightly low pasterns.  Its kinda hard to tell because I dont think the ground he is standing on in the picture is level.  If that is the case, it may make him more prone to developing navicular disease due to weight loading issues, friction, stress on the joint, etc.  Some horses are not built the greatest, though, and never take an off step in their life.

If the horse is free, I would take some of the money that you would have spent on a not-free horse and do a thorough pre-purchase exam.  Especially since he is off the track.  Some of the hard-knockin’ lower level racehorses are tough guys and hide things that you never find until you do some radiographs, etc. :wink:

Official Disclaimer: No one can accurately judge the merits of a horse they’ve never seen based on 2 pictures.  So go look at him in person, bring someone along who’s knowledgeable and able to critique his merits/faults (your instructor or someone else), get a full vet check, etc.

Just looking at the pictures, he does appear to have a very slight “hunter’s bump” (you can see where his back has a slight rise/dip right above his flank in picture 2).  This article describes hunter’s bumps in further detail.  (Contrary to what Andrea said above, I’ve never heard of a hunter’s bump being anything but a fault, and doubt it would be helpful to the horse.)

GS also looks quite ewe-necked, but that is pretty common among racehorses.  (Note: it may not actually change with time away from the track, however)  His back looks exceedingly long (which means it’s also weak, which is a problem for jumping/dressage).  His shoulder looks like it’s steeper than the normal 45 degrees, and it doesn’t match with the “shoulder angle = pastern angle = hoof angle” rule of thumb.

All that said, we’re looking at 2 pictures of a racehorse.  They’re not exactly known for standing perfectly square so that they can be accurately judged for conformation.  Not to mention that, based on 2 pictures, we can say nothing of his temperament, his activity level, his suitability for various disciplines, etc.

You should get a full vet check, including x-rays, before getting any horse.  If he’s at the track, x-rays should be pretty cheap (I’ve been quoted as low as $10/film).  Even if he’s never raced, he could have bone chips, hairline fractures, etc. just from training.

Finally, keep in mind that buying a horse is the easy part.  I spend roughly $600/mo to keep my horse…that includes board, farrier, vet (not a monthly expense, but expensive when they do come out), supplements (my off-the-track TB gets vitamins to help calm her down, and she could use more supplements to put weight on her), tack, etc.  While you may have a deal worked out with your barn for free board, your horse will still need his feet trimmed (and knowing TBs, he’ll need front shoes at least), regular vet care, tack (even if you’re just lunging him), possible supplements, etc.  Make sure you can budget at least $150/mo for the above (plus board/feed/bedding, as necessary).

I’m basing my knowledge of a roached back off a umm, hmm, John Conyers(?) clinic from like 10 years ago where he was talking about the school horse another girl was on, so I’m perfectly willing to admit I may not know what I’m talking about. :slight_smile: I do remember that he claimed that there was a connection between bucking ability and jumping ability.

I’d like to second Shanthi’s caution about the price of owning a horse.  I’ve got money saved up to buy an OTTB and I’d like nothing better, but I can’t spend $800 or so a month keeping it.  And while some farms will let you put your horse in the lesson program for a reduction in board, an OTTB isn’t a good candidate for this for several months at least.  If you’re parents aren’t willing to give you the money to buy a horse, make sure they’re fully aware of how much it’s going to cost to keep the horse.  If you’re lucky, pasture board is under $200 but even then you should probably plan to spend an average of $400 or so a month on the horse.

Edit:  Also, you should keep in mind your future plans.  Are you heading to college in the next couple years?  Do you have the money/time to keep him where you’re thinking about going?  You don’t sound like you’re interested in a resale prospect, so keep in mind that you’re looking at a good year at LEAST before you have a competative horse and if you’re going to be selling him in 2, it might not be worth the time and heartache of buying a horse and just having to sell him again.  I’m still depressed about the mare I bought as a resell prospect and sold.  She was by far my favorite horse I’ve ever worked with.

I think there is, because both involve bending/torquing the spine in the same way (or something like that).  :slight_smile:

Yet another point that I thought of: Why is Gotta Soar suddenly free?  I understand that turnover at the track is fast, and they probably need his stall if he’s not going to race, but going from $3,500 to $0 seems like a big jump.  Most trainers/owners will send their horse to auction to get something for him rather than just give him away for free.  I’d be curious to know what’s happened in the last 3 weeks to completely erase his sales price (rather than lowering it to $2,500 or $1,500, which’d be less surprising.)

I dunno where to begin. Haha. Too much was said! :stuck_out_tongue:

Let’s see: the long back issue… my trainer mentioned that his back end looks a little weak. But, things may change if he’s given time to grow into himself.

  • I’m not sure why he’s suddenly free. I think it’s because they just want to get rid of him. Yes, they could send him to auction, but there are lots of meat-packers over there. When I call, I’ll ask about it.

  • My father is giving me $500 toward a horse. My trainer said that if we pay her way out there, she’ll pick him up for me. It would be about $200-$300. Also, I planned on getting a PPE, as long as it wasn’t too exspensive.

  • I have tack already and a lunge line. Also, board is $325, but I may get a discount. I wouldn’t put shoes on him; they’re sooo complicated and expensive. I’d only put them on if he NEEDED them. I know plenty of TBs that don’t need them. No supplements or anything like that.

  • I am heading to college next fall. Most likely. However, where I’m going, the board is CHEAP (($150)). I plan on bringing him with me or leasing him out to an individual or maybe my barn for lessons.

I think I got the highlights. Haha. If I missed anything that someone wanted answered, please post it again! :-[

Most pre-purchase exams start at $75-$100…more depending on how in-depth you want to be (x-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, etc.)  But if you consider that keeping the horse for a month (and then finding out that he’s got a torn ligament/fracture/etc) is $500+, it’s a better bet to pay more upfront for a more in-depth/thorough pre-purchase exam than spend more money in the long run keeping/caring for/trying to resell a lame horse.  (Or one that isn’t suitable for what you plan to do.)

There’s no guarantee that your tack will fit your horse.  (Or be sufficient for your horse.)  I had to buy a new bridle, breastplate, martingale, and boots for my horse, and I already had a bunch of tack from owning 2 horses previously.

True, but I imagine those TBs aren’t coming straight off the track.  TBs are notorious for having weak/bad feet, and racehorses are even worse, since they put more stress on their feet (and get their shoes changed a bunch for racing).  Your horse may very well need shoes.  (My mare does, and she’s been off the track for 8 months.)

Again,  your horse may need supplements.  TBs are notoriously hard keepers, so many need supplements to help put weight on.  Sure, you could save $30/mo by not giving supplements, but then you’ll always have an anorexic horse, who’s potentially not strong enough to do what you want to do because he’s 100-200lbs underweight.

Edited to add: With horses, it’s much safer to assume they will need all the extras (thorough pre-purchase exam, full stall board, supplements, front shoes, etc.) and then find that maybe they don’t need that much and you have some extra money each month.  Horses are very expensive to keep, and keeping them long-term just means they’re more expensive (as they throw shoes and need extra farrier work, colic and need an emergency vet visit, step on a nail and get a hoof abcess, etc) rather than less.  Planning to buy/keep a horse by thinking of all the ways you can cut costs on his care isn’t the best way to go about it…if you’re cutting costs by buying less expensive tack, or doing self-care board rather than full-care, that’s one thing, but to just assume your horse won’t need certain food/shoes/level of care is asking for trouble.

(Your mileage may vary, but I’ve owned 3 horses to date, and I’ve always budgeted an extra $150-$200/mo for their care, above and beyond what I knew they absolutely needed to have.  Even with that extra budgeted, some months they cost more than that.)

That may be true, but his basic conformation isn’t going to change.  He’s not going to grow any longer (in the butt/neck to make his back not so long).  He may grow taller, but that won’t change the fact that his back is longer than his butt/neck, and therefore weak.

Given that he’s 3, he’s likely almost done growing…he may put on an inch or two, and hopefully away from the track he’ll put on 200-300lbs, but he’ll still have a long/weak back…he’ll just not be quite so greyhound-looking.

Thoroughbreds mature pretty quickly…“growing into himself” just means that he’ll fill out a bit, not that his bone structure will change.

I just have a question for you- is the person selling Sabrina willing to let you make payments?  It will depend on if they need the money now, or are willing to take it over a few months.  It seems that there are probably a lot less variables with this horse, even if you don’t have $1,000 to buy her now, she might end up cheaper for you in the long run.  It seems odd to me that the price on this gelding would go from $3,500 to free.  It might honestly just be that they need to get rid of the horse ASAP, but it seems shady to me.  With the mare, ask about payments or a lease-to-buy program (the money you pay to lease her every month goes towards her purchase).  Or, maybe you could work out a deal to make a downpayment on her to get her, then pay a certain amount every month.  Be careful to get any of that in writing and signed if you were to make such a deal. 

If you’re looking for a cheap way to have a horse of your own, I highly recommend looking into leasing a horse.  That’s actually my current plan.  Full lease where you’re basically the only person riding the horse seems to run $100-$200/mo.  That’s less than you’ll spend on board, typically you’re not responsible for vet/farrier expenses (at least in half-leases, full leases you may be asked to pay these).  But you’ll avoid the initial expense of buying a horse if that’s your concern.  You’ll also be able to know what you’re getting into and if you don’t like the horse, you’re not stuck trying to sell a half-broke, potentially dangerous animal.

I agree, you might want to do payments on the better horse.  I went for the first colt I found in my price range, and basicaly I paid for an expensive saddle (he came with one)  He was more than crazy, he needed all kinds of things.  None of my tack fit him either (I have 3 saddles, multiple bridles, tons of bits, you name it, I got it)
I wish I had either leased again or made payments on a local lesson horse that wouldn’t have been cracktastic.
A free horse is almost never a good horse, thus, Never look a gift horse in the mouth.  Sometimes you can find a good one, but a horse who was expensive and is now free might have behavioral problems.  I applaud you on wanting to use natural horsemanship techniques, but even someone experienced with re-training might have issues on a really really bad horse.  My trainer had been using these tehchniques for years, bad horses, wild horses, but she couldn’t make the one I bought safe.  She reccomended i put him down.  In the end, I was way in debt and now I have a huge phobia. Heck, even Jei has nightmares about this colt and she never met him.  Not worth it. 
Please be careful.

Romeo! -screams in terror-

any way cheap horse + Yound horse = Bad idea.  infact any price that sounds too good to be true is a bad choise… trust me i’ve done this twice…-sighs- though i’ve made the better out of it…let me tell you a story.

I was an an auction. had a price limit, found a horse, and bought him. $900. i was like… aww look i got a nice old riding horse. he was maybe 15. 2 years were ok then one day he just snapped, nearly killed me. never could touch him again. He was me second horse ever. Thired horse i’ve ever had my current horse. 2,000 dollars trained for western, bathes, clips, trailers… unregisterable…“no parents”. He was good for about a year…then he started getting stupid. 3 years later, and i’m sending him to horse boot camp and to be sold. Don’t cheat out on horses… the only way i’ve made money on my two dud horses has been to fix up their tack (that i boguht …used… for them) and re sell it for a profit.

I’ve leanred my lesson. I’m not cheating myself anymore. even if it takes a few years i’m going to save up, and get a good horse. The only way to get a good horse is to Spend good money. I know from experiance… a free horse is the last thing you want…but thats just my opinion…

Unless you know the circumstances, with most horses going from $3500 to $0 I wouldn’t bite. What do you want to do with the horse you buy? Our big client with all the nice racehorses, I imagine you all know by now, but they are extemely rich, extremely nice racehorse owner’s that have a bunch of their horses where I work. Later this year they said they have at least four geldings that they need to find homes for, all sound, all EXTREMELY good looking, all of them with amazing pedigrees and if they wanted could sell for $50k+ but won’t because they have one rule 1) The horse is never to be sold and if you no longer want it, you give it back to them. They love their horses too much to see them go off and end up in the slaughterhouse somewhere down the line. They’ve owned god knows how many horses over the years and to this day they keep tabs on EVERY single one of them.

If your interested let me know, they are REALLY nice horses.

A roached back is not good, and makes a horse unrideable.  It’s not the jumpers bump.There was a Sifounas son that ended up with a roached back, course his was due to an injury.  I remember going out to check him out and check out his foals before breeding to him. 

They dropped his price from $3500 to $0 because that’s what they thought they could get for him. But, anyway, he’s sold.