Buying the perfect horse for show jumping is an art that has to be learned in a scientific manner. Show jumping has become exceedingly popular in the last few years both in terms of the number of events being held every year and the number of people taking up the sport. More riders are getting to prove themselves at a five-star level and taking a shot at big prize money and the enticing opportunity of being ranked globally. But buying the right horse involves an assessment of one’s needs and resources.
Quick Tips for Buying the Right Show Jumping or Training Horse
1. First, ask yourself what you really want. You may want a baby that you can nurture and teach. Or, you may want an experienced thoroughbred that doesn’t need breaking-in. You could buy young stallions to breed more thoroughbreds. Be very specific, chalking up what you really expect to get out of your horse.
2. Familiarize yourself with the best equestrian breeds that are good for jumps and leaps. Jumper horses are different from racing horses. The Holsteiner, the American quarter horse, the Dutch warmblood, the Hanoverian, and the Trakehner, are some pristine breeds that have proven themselves to be reliable jumping horses.
3. Find out what you really need: Needs are different from expectations. You have to take into account whether you’re tall or short, slender or well-built. Buy a horse that you can control easily. Show jumping is about precision and form – not about swiftness or strength.
4. Assess your resources: Wants and needs have to be balanced with how much money you have for the horse buy. When you go out to a sport horse barn, it’s simply no use looking at horses you cannot afford. On the other hand, there may be warmblood horse imports that can be cheaper than domestic ones. Take note of the breeding and equestrian season. You may find an old rider may who’s willing to unload her warmblood horses for sale at going rates.
5. Narrow down your choices to no more than 3 or 5: Getting to a decision faster is key to progress. You can’t expect to hit the bullseye every time you go out to buy a horse. Be careful not to pick the best of a bad bunch. These can lead to huge expenses over the long run.
6. Check for injuries that could hamper performance and be aware of feeding and care requirements that you’re going to have to invest in over the long run.
7. Don’t go for one-shot wonders: Some horses may have outlived their usefulness as far as performance goes. These may be good for breeding if you can find a suitable mate. However, it’s easy to be mistaken by listening to the exaggerations of the seller.
8. When looking at jumper horses for sale, always check whether the horse is good enough for at least 3 or more years. Doing so will help you take advantage of its resale value. “This may seem harsh, but it is routine practice to resell horses to new learners for lesser rates and recover some value,” says Happy Comly, owner of Comly Sport Horses, one of the leading horse training and boarding barns in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas.
9. Don’t go for looks and tricks: This one is meant for those who are very familiar with show jumping as an equestrian event. Show jumping scores are based on both the ability to leap clearly over fences that could be 5.25 feet high. But judges also score based on how well the horse is able to maintain style and poise. Don’t let other tricks such as two-legged trots fool you into thinking that this horse will be suitable for jumper events. Similarly, a horse that jumps too high is most likely pitching. Experienced show jumpers will be aware that if this horse makes its jump too early the result could be a disaster.
10. Re-assess your choice: The purpose of buying a horse should be to plug gaps in your riding performance, motivate you to do better, and feel proud of what you achieved. If your choice measures up to these standards you’re good to go.
Have questions? Talk to a professional horse expert today.