Little by little I get closer and close to what I’m looking for out of a new horse. I have not quite got it down just yet, but I’m almost there.
I had a very “close” eposisode with a quarter horse I looked at the other day. He was advertised as a bay 16h 7 year old gelding that needed finishing. After talking to the owner, and since they were only about an hour away and I had time to kill, I went to see him. He really didn’t sound that bad at all. The owner bought him at 2 and trained him herself. She used to show professionally with Arabs and did Arab breed shows and all. She knew what she was doing and what she was talking about (at least for the most part).
So I headed out to see the horse. 16 hand my butt. This horse was like 16.3, maybe 17. Which is GREAT for me. I want a big horse. He was about twice as wide as most of the 16.2 hand thoroughbreds I ride now a days, too. GIANT, WIDE, CALM, and sweet. He was really nice. Despite his massive size, he really looked Quarter Horsey… know what I mean? I mean when they get that big, they usually look more drafty or warmbloodly.. but this horse really just looked a whole lot like an overgrown Quarter Horse. He had total QH build, just bigger.. bigger everywhere.
He was in great shape (physically). Awesome weight, shiny coat, good sturdy feet and legs. He was also very well started. This woman really did a good job breaking him, but he definitely rides like he hasn’t had any consistency. She said he was ridden about 8 times this year for 20 minutes or so on trails. He knew how to be ridden though… he stood for mounting, walked when asked, trotted slow or fast on cue, and cantered right off. He was exactly at the point of his training that I want a horse to be at (that or better, of course). He needed a little refresher on which lead to get, but he went right to each transition with no problems at all. Once I played with his mouth a little, he also gave with his head and for a few strides, looked like he knew what he was doing. I think either he’s just that willing of a horse, or the lady put a whole lot more training into him when he was a baby than she said and it’s buried in there somewhere. She said he’s never been ridden English until I got on him.
He was a very, very nice horse. Age, HEIGHT for SURE, breed, training, gender, price, too… everything smack dab on the money for what I’m looking for in a new horse.
Those are all the plusses.
But, no horse is perfect… and so far I’m having issues finding my own perfect little horse. This horse came with a whole heap of negatives, too….. I looked him over in his stall while he ate his corn and the first thing I saw was the unusual build to his back legs. His whole hind end was a train wreck, but his hind legs in particular… this big gelding had the biggest gaskins I’ve ever seen. He was like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of gaskins… on steroids times a hundred. He had very very very straight back legs with these bulging muscular monstrosities, a very sloped dropped off croup and a set under hip and tail, and a high “hunter’s bump”. The tip of his hip bones were actually level with the tip of his withers, and then his butt sloped nearly 45 degrees to the ground, with legs coming up straight out of the ground under him.
I flexed his feet all around and didn’t hear any creaking or cracking nor did I see any signs of issues with tendons, etc.. but HE COULD NOT BEND HIS HOCKS. I sort of got his left hind hock to flex, but there was no way he was going to be bending his right hock for me without a crank vice grip or something to force it.
So, given his huge bulking muscular build and horrible back end conformation, I immediately thought of a young Impressive bred colt I knew that was over pumped grain as a baby to bulk him up quickly for halter. I really thought this horse looked a lot like a halter -pumped up Impressive horse. I asked the owner if anyone like his breeder tried to show him halter as a baby. She didn’t know. I couldn’t find any show information about the horse, and his pedigree is not online. So, I went on with my initial look over of this quirky looking horse.
And that’s when I looked in his mouth. Two for two. I’ve never quite seen a horse with such a poorly built back end and over sized gaskins in my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mouth that looked as bad as his. I stuck my hand way back there to check for points and damned near cut my finger on teeth that had clearly never been floated. Owner admitted to never doing his teeth before. But that wasn’t the worst of it…. because of those points, the horse doesn’t chew properly , and thus, all the incisors in the front of his mouth paid the price for malaligned jaws and trouble chewing. He was missing 2 teeth on the top, with a 3rd one chipped in half, he had a huge “bubble” of gum popping through between all the missing teeth, and the remaining incisors all made a lovely S curve due to poor wear on teeth desperately in need of reshaping. His mouth condition is far beyond what a typical float could correct… he needs serious care and now, or in a few more years, his jaw will be so arthritic it will probably dislocate. It was really the worst mouth I’ve ever seen.
So, then I get on the badly conformed, straight legged, sloping croup, arnold gaskin, worst-mouth-ever horse. I have a really good ride. I was VERY pleased with how he rode. Comfortable, surprisingly easy to bridle despite his horrible mouth, and even more so – amazingly responsive to the bit, easy transitions (correct lead or not). He was a nice nice horse. And then I was just about done… trying to walk him a bit to cool him off and he decided he was done. So after 20 minutes of battling with him while he went backwards, sideways, and up, while doing lovely sidepassing while trying to run me back into the barn to his buddies, his owner just had to get back on him… I gave up. I wasn’t going to fight with this horse because he didn’t want to walk away from the barn. His owner used a crop and he started going up more. She finally got him to ride off to where he was refusing, but I’m not one looking for a fight. I fought with Spyder, and I’m not interested in fighting more.
Oh.. and then, she says come up to the house and I’ll show you his papers. So, I go up… remember what I said about his conformation and how it reminded me so much a halter bred Impressive horse….. she hands me his papers and BAM… there’s Impressive on his papers… And his breeder was a big halter show barn in Central Illinois… oh, and there’s a leeeetle tiny line there that says HYPP: N/H.
The owner said she didn’t know anything about that. She said Arab owners have different issues to worry about. She’s not into QH or Paints. That sort of sounds like a valid excuse, I guess. Honestly, for all I know Arabs could suffer from some terrible genetic flaw and I wouldn’t know a damn thing about it…. So after a brief discussion with the owner all about Impressive and HYPP… It’s safe to say, my horse shopping continues.
I am not bashing this horse, really – he was a very very very nice animal. Just HYPP N/H isn’t going to hold up to my lifestyle, and neither is his conformation. He had a very nice mentality to be someone’s super great trail horse (with his buddies to follow). But working 4- 5 days a week for 1/2 hour to an hour, eating grain, and being a hunter horse is not something this horse will be able to do. He will really be a nice trail horse for somebody. Anyone looking for a large, quiet husband type horse? I think light riding would suit this big fellow, and he’s certainly nice enough to take out for a relaxing trail ride.
In the mean time my horse hunt goes on. Feel free to visit my photography blog.. there’s a few pictures up there from the zoo the other day! Photography practice really needs to get back on track. Now that hubby has been certified cancer free, life can move on, finally!!!