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Buying a horse

I was looking for some advice. I’ve been looking at this horse that’s for sale I really like her. This would be my first time buying a horse, I have leased many horses and will have help with my coach I am not looking for any rude or snarky comments.
She’s a coming 8 year old OTTB mare.

My concerns:
Breathing issue- When I rode her and all the videos I was sent in the trot and canter she head breathing quite loudly I have ridden many many horses and never heard this before I have attached a clip below with her breathing. The sellers of the horse said it’s nothing to worry about she breathes like that when she’s worked up and when she’s calm and collected she doesn’t do it.
Bit- This horse uses a straight bar Pelham bit. The sellers of the horse told me they have tried a dozen bits on her and she used to have major bridling issues and since this bit she accepts the bridle and it’s the only one she will accept. I’m wondering if that’s actually the reason or if it’s more of a breaks issue. When I rode her it didn’t seem like she was strong or anything. She’s more of a kick ride in the trot and gets fast in the canter but it’s a controlled fast canter. She does not like anything with a joint in the bit so straight bar it is. I’ve never ridden a horse with a Pelham but they didn’t use double reins they just used connectors. I’m wondering if a straight bar snaffle or similar if she would accept. I was thinking it could also be she needs her teeth done but I’m no expert. She also seemed to raise her head a lot but I think that’s a straightness issue.

You are going to do a PPE right? Google roaring in horses and talk to your vet

As far as the bit, from the video you have a pretty green OTTB with a lot of training holes and sellers who are being pragmatic. You can usually retrain a horse to any bit. Have a good look at dental issues and impacted wolf teeth in your PPE


Scribbler has given you good advice. Roaring may be an issue you want to avoid, OR it may be something you can deal with. Depends on what you want to do with the horse. Sometimes surgery can help, so that’s a possibility, but it definitely reduces the value of the horse.
The business with the bit seems odd, makes me wonder about the level of horsemanship of the sellers. If the horse does not appreciate a regular broken snaffle, a straight bar or Mullen mouth, or double jointed snaffle would be your next options before even considering a Pelham, imo. But hey, there’s some folks out there who have some different ideas about things, and perhaps one of them has this horse for sale.
Good luck, and happy shopping!


TBs tend to have quite small mouths with a low palate so often there isn’t much room for a bit. A straight bar might just be the one that fits her mouth. But the Pelham does look like a lot of metal-work on her head.

I would certainly take vet advice on the breathing, which does sound loud in the video. It might be a problem, maybe not, it depends, in part, on what you hope to do with her

I’m also not liking her ears back in the photo: she doesn’t look like a happy, relaxed person - but that could be because she doesn’t like where she is and so isn’t a happy relaxed person in this setting. Is that bridle fitted correctly?


If the diagnosis is roaring, either walk away or factor in the cost of corrective surgery. This could potentially be several thousand dollars.

Now I’m not saying all roarers will need surgery, or that roaring horses cannot turn out to be nice rides. But down the road you will own a horse with a problem that will limit the number of potential buyers if you decide to move up levels or out of riding and want to sell. Experience speaking.


For sure doing a PPE especially with her problems. And the bridle does look to be fitted correctly however the saddle is certainly not, the seller mentioned to me many times the saddle does not fit her. If I were to go ahead with her the first thing I would do is get a correctly fitted saddle. I think this would also help solve a lot of the problems.


It’s a problem when buying from people who are careless or ignorant. You don’t know what they just don’t know versus what they are lying about. In a situation where sellers profess naivety about roaring, make unusual bit choices, and say they know the saddle doesn’t fit, you really can’t trust them on anything they say about the horse

I would expect to be getting a fairly green OTTB with big holes in her training, roaring, and likely a sore back. I hope she is priced accordingly. Be prepared for a longish retraining and rehab period and for other issues to come up. This is not likely a horse you will be showing this summer. This is a project horse.

Nothing wrong with a project, but be sure you are clear that’s what you are taking on. It’s a huge leap from leasing made horses to buying a troubled green horse you need to start over and trouble shoot with.


I wouldn’t be turned off or concerned about the use of the Pelham, they are popular in some disciplines. I rode LOTS of polo ponies in Pelhams - if it works it works.
I would heed all the other advice you’ve been given.


I’d add, go read the current thread on Tips for working with my very nervous first horse. A cautionary tale of how an apparently nice enough horse can morph into a problem solving project complete with behavior issues, pain issues, and a lot of time on the ground not riding.


Also I think the breathing issue is weird as it’s not a constant thing. Again I’m no expert but I think roaring would be a constant thing. When the seller was riding her (in the video) she breathes a lot heavier and louder compared to when I ride her she still breathes like that but it’s minimal. I’m a lighter rider so it would be easier for her to pack around me than him. She’s also not in consistent work which would obviously affect her breathing since she’s working hard when she’s been sitting in a paddock. In the video she wasn’t ridden for a week the sellers just don’t have time for her that’s why she is for sale.

She’s very cute and he is a big guy…but she is loud. I agree w everyone else…it could be a problem, especially if you wish to sell her at some point. IF she has already had tie v back surgery and it failed, that can be a whole other set of problems. Sometimes those horses aren’t able to soften easily because it further closes off the airway.

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Scribbler hit the nail on the head. Figuring out the things you are concerned about will be like peeling back layers of an onion and you will have no idea how deep it goes.

Don’t believe anything the sellers say about it “being fine” they are trying to sell a horse. You need to make your own decision about what’s fine or not for you.

The lack of fitness doesn’t work in your favour for evaluating the horse. All kinds of other issues could pop up once the horse is in regular work. Why does the owner not have time for this horse? If they are a professional, it’s a huge red flag. If it’s a nice horse with potential, a month or so of regular work would probably increase their value. They may “not have time” because they know they won’t get a return on the time they sink into this horse.

Are you getting advice from your coach? What do they think of the horse?


I know you said you like this horse but be careful not to let your emotions make the decision for you, it seems like you’re trying very hard to explain away potential red flags. Neither of the factors you listed would justify the breathing problems. I agree with @Willesdon that between the photo and video this horse just seems uncomfortable to some degree. I also agree with @Scribbler that the horse looks very green, and OP given your post history a green OTTB is not what I would be shopping for if I were in your shoes.


This is not a first horse, keep looking.


Tbh there are too many nice and agreeable horses out there to go for this one as a first horse. She’s green with a bunch of hardware in her mouth, and she looks unhappy and uncomfortable. My gut says her “fast but controllable” canter will very quickly become a “fast and uncontrollable” canter with a first-time owner.

Her eye in the photo makes me so sad for her :pensive:


Roaring will appear when horse is working harder.

I just went and looked up your posting topics history. I place you as an intermediate junior rider. You need a solid healthy horse to learn and have fun on. You don’t need a green broke bargain project with physical issues.

For intermediate and novice riders it can be hard to pick up on what’s a training hole versus what’s your own skills deficit. You can be on a super well trained school master that has just decided you aren’t doing the cues correctly and is ignoring you. So it can be hard to know what’s going on with a green broke horse. How well did she go for the seller?

And honestly it sounds like you’ve been through a few sketchy barns. If your home base is still trainer with skinny TB jumping 4 lessons a week, they aren’t your best guide necessarily.

This horse is likely not a good prospect for an intermediate junior who wants to ride. There is too much uncertainty here.


What would you like to be doing with your next horse? At what level? How soon?

You say you really like her, but don’t say why. What are the positives that you think are worth exploring further?

You have given a list of unknowns and uncertainties. Including possible back issues, given her head carriage. And whatever other unknowns are always going on with any horse.

What you are being told now means that if you own this horse, you will be on a journey of discovery. Unknowns mean that you need to be willing to spend whatever amount is needed to hope to be able to use her for whatever purpose you intend. And if at any point she suddenly becomes a pasture pet, she’s your pasture pet. There’s not really a market for pasture pets.

Things might work out well. But in your shoes I would want to be able to evaluate how likely it is that she could have a condition(s) that will severely limit her use. The same with any prospective purchase, but you have a list of questions with this one.

Although your list may not the biggest concerns to have [personally I would deeply research possible back issues and probably get some outside opinions, maybe outside vet medicine], I do not know if you have budget constraints mean that you don’t think you could afford a horse that is more of a known quantity. I’m finding locally that people looking in what was once a reasonable price range are only finding prospects that are very green and/or have known or highly-possible issues. Things that can mean a high likelihood of even more spending after the purchase, and limits on what the horse can do.

A friend and I were discussing this over the weekend, and there is a thread about it active on COTH now. Maybe many prospective horse buyers who can afford to keep and use a horse are being priced right out of actually buying one that is ready and sound, at the current time.


I’ve had a few horses who didn’t/don’t like snaffles. That’s not a big deal to me. I’d be more concerned about the roaring. I think tie-back surgery is around $3k - and you need a low dust location for rehab.

If you don’t have a trainer looking for you, I’d find one.

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Hard to tell greenness from a 5 second video shes certainly not green broke. She’s been under saddle for many years and her seller has owned many many tbs and been riding for 20+ years.

Horse is going upside down and rushed in a way that to me signals holes in training that you will need to fix. Also the way you describe rushed canter and behind the leg.

There are lots of horses that are broke but green, calm enough but don’t carry themselves well or have not been taught to go forward in balance. This is not an educated horse.

As far as the rider having 20 years experience, mehhh. That says nothing about their skills. It’s hard to imagine as a teen but 20 years can roll around fast. Trainer could start riding as a child and is now in their 20s trying to flip cheap OTTB and not have a clue in regards to saddle fit or bitting or self carriage.

A better evaluation is: what has this mare done? Does she have any verified show record even schooling shows? What has she done since she left the track? What verified show record does trainer have on her other horses? Where are her students and sales horses?

We can only judge a video on what we see. I see a horse that moves like a green horse and possibly one in pain. I have seen a lot of green and fallen through the cracks OTTB too.

The world is full of low dollar OTTB getting restarted for jumpers. Very often these horses have some long term pain not yet resolved from track life, ulcers or back or lower legs. Very often these horses get bought off the track by folks that never get around to restarting them and then they are easily 8 years old and only been ridding for 6 months total.

An OTTB fully retrained is a lovely horse but a green one is a project that you most likely are not yet ready for.

However it’s your decision obviously. I don’t think this horse is a good match for an advanced beginner teen, and from your previous posts I don’t think you have a trainer who can be useful here.