Top Tips When buying an event horse from Paul Gaff
It can be really difficult to know where to start when looking for a new horse, and it is a real mine field of horses and sellers out there too!
Hopefully these tips will help make life a little easier and the whole process less painful!
Before you start looking it is really important to have a clear idea of the type of horse you are after – ideal breeding for the job/level intended, size, age, experience etc. But to still remain open minded! As part of my job eventing it is sometimes required of me to help source horses for clients and I can’t tell you how often people veto a horse purely because it has ‘too much thoroughbred’, or it’s a mare, or even occasionally the ‘wrong colour’!!
If the horse sounds suitable bar one or two glitches such as the above try it anyway, it might be ‘the one’!
Here are some of the things I personally look for in the modern event horse.
* Since the introduction of the short format, event horses have changed from your typically thoroughbred types more towards TB x warmbloods and even pure bred foreign types. For me the most important thing is attitude! The horse no matter what age should have a keen willingness to move forward and be willing to listen and learn along with a slightly cheeky spark of intelligence.
* Their Looks –I like a horse to be longer on the fore leg than the hind so he is naturally uphill to help with strength and ability to use his body correctly when both jumping and dressage. A nice round rump, not too long in the back, a big shoulder with their neck set well onto it – preferably not too high or too low, and an attractive head set well onto the top of the horses neck with a kind eye and good size nostril to help with their breathing. Strong legs not too upright or long in the pastern with nicely concaved naturally well balanced feet.
* Their jump must be scopey and careful – You shouldn’t be wasting time with horses who aren’t naturally careful, modern day eventing cant be won on the xc anymore and to be competitive they have to want to leave the poles up on their own. Also very important that they are straight, honest and brave and understand the concept of jumping whatever is in front of them! Once a horse has learned there is a left or right that can be very difficult to correct.
* Lastly the things I would look for on the flat – these days the horses have to move like a dressage horse on the flat but still vital they can open up their stride and gallop well. (to teach the horses to gallop I find it really helpful to speak to a local race trainer and see if possible to ride out with the point to pointers).
* Back to the dressage though – I like to see an expressive flashy uphill movement with a good over track in the walk. Usually a good walk signifies a good canter! They have to be able to accept pressure to understand how to work from the leg into the hand, come up in their backs and work truly over their top line.
Hopefully this is of some help and happy horse hunting!!
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