Event horse breeders

Hey fam, I’m hoping you all can point me in the right direction. I want to work toward affording a Nice Horse. I have only ever owned thoroughbreds off the track, and while I love them to death, it seems like you have to get lucky to find one that’s going to make it past preliminary.

With this in mind, I’d like to start educating myself about breeders of event horses, as I believe one of the only ways I’ll be able to afford a nice horse is if I buy it pretty young. Please feel free to argue this point, as I’d love to be wrong!!

Where would you recommend starting this journey? I’m already planning to dive into the bloodlines of the horses I love and learn more about the commonalities and tendencies of their bloodlines. But as far as identifying breeders or places to look for these young horses, I’m not sure where to start. I must be googling the wrong things… help? TIA!

For starters, what is your budget?

Are there any horses local to you that you see often at shows, that you wish you could ride or own? Start there – because if you are going to be the sole person responsible for this horse’s training, you want to start with a horse you’d probably enjoy riding… While breeding in of itself, especially at the upper levels, is a crapshoot, generally speaking the rideability is inheritable, and if you like the horse, chances are you’ll like it’s sibling too…

There are a few FB groups for event breeders that are worth joining, but they are mostly filled with ads of young horses. If you want the links, I can DM them to you.

An easy way to familiarize yourself with what’s currently being bred for eventing is to look at the Goresbridge catalog sales. They’re online and really well run - there’s one up coming in September and the catalogue is out. Sometimes they have photos, sometimes they don’t. The Go For Gold sale in November is well attended and typically has videos online.

You can also check YEH classes too, although those tend to be not as accessible as an online catalogue.

That’ll give you a good idea of the “en vogue” stallions, but you really need to look at who is being produced up the levels by non-professionals – as I am assuming that is your demographic. Having the most talented horse in the world is useless if it’s not enjoyable or you can’t ride it - so look for the horses that people like you are riding and moving up with.

My eye is consistently drawn to O.B.O.S Quality horses - who are proven at the UL. I tend to really like anything by I’m Special De Muze as well. On a personal note, I love Tatendang and every horse I’ve seen sired by him - but he is not necessarily “proven” for UL the way the other two are. I also have been following the journey of two mares sired by Gatsby - both of which are showing Prelim with amateur riders that produced them entirely themselves. I think that says a lot about the stallion.

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What level are you currently riding at?
Are you working with a trainer and are able to train a horse above Prelim currently?

Thank you beowulf! What a thoughtful reply!

I haven’t committed to a budget yet - no matter what it is I will need to do a bit of saving. The good news is that I’m single with no other obligations - horses are my top priority after living expenses. I have chosen the career I have more so that I can hopefully afford said horses more and more easily over time. Getting this information will help me create that budget.

I would LOVE if you would DM me those FB groups!

You’ve given me some great places to start, and I’m sure once I have time to dive in I’m going to have more questions. Again, thank you!

I find your questions interesting, as they don’t really venture to answer any of my questions. I suppose you want to make sure I’m going to do right by whatever horse I eventually purchase. Fair enough.

My OTTB is currently recovering from an injury she got in the pasture, so right now I’m not riding that much. Just friend’s horses who need work. I have trained horses on my own through preliminary, but not beyond yet. I do plan to work with a trainer, of course. We all need that eye on the ground! But I don’t currently have a regular trainer, just good friends with lots of experience. Most of my riding in recent years has been green horses, as my friends seem to think I do a good job teaching the babies the basics.

Did I pass? :wink::joy:

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The reason I ask is because, a lot of people ask this question about buying a horse for level XYZ but themselves are not actively competing at XYZ. You say a TB is hard to find to go beyond Prelim but that just isn’t true. The training is what makes the difference for these horses to get these levels. Obviously no not every horse can go UL, but many many can with the right training.

To invest 5-6 years on a maybe, with hopes of going above Prelim one day, when you aren’t currently really riding and competing, is an interesting choice.

I personally suggest to people who have asked me the same advice about foals or OTTBS, to get a horse you can continue to event on so you retain your skills, and event that until you level out. Sell it for profit, then get another horse who can do the levels above that, and so on.

So it just depends if you are looking for foals because you think you can’t afford a horse eventing above Prelim, but if you yourself are not doing that, why look for that at that this time?

If you want a foal for a different experience, that is a different thing entirely.

Do you read the blog Breed. Ride. Event? There is a LOT of good info on her blog about eventing breeding and breeders in the US.

In Canada we have Galton Farms who are breeding eventers (Trakehners)

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There are many, many top eventers that are TB or almost full TB. If you look at a horse like Micheal Jung’s Sam, his breeding is close on full TB even if registered as Hanoverian. It is training that makes the event horse and, while there is a diminishing faction that believe that it is good dressage that wins competitions, cross country remains at the heart of the sport. At the highest level, TBs have the heart, brains and will to succeed.

So, luckily for you, finding a good OTTB remains an excellent option rather than breeding your own. As the saying goes, fools breed horses for wise men to buy.

On the other hand, breeding is interesting in and of itself. An easy place to start your journey is to look at results from big events and follow up the breeding of the top horses. The internet is your friend. You will very quickly find patterns of successful stallions and popular breeds. I’m currently noticing a lot of Selle Francais again. The ISH is eternally popular but there is some concern that traditional breeding is being weakened by too much European WB and there is need to put more quality TB back into the mix. WB of various types remain popular, not least because they are available in large numbers and are of reliable breeding and quality. If you are looking into breeding yourself, the key is to find the absolute best mare because her contribution is actually greater than that of the stallion. The best breeders and studs have tremendous quality and depth in their broodmares bands.

Have fun!

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I agree with Jealoushe. I find this comment of yours interesting:

To have an increased chance of finding a horse that is suitable to you and the kind of work you would like it to ultimately produce, I absolutely agree that you need to look at bloodlines/breeders/producers of young horses. But I find it interesting that you will write off TBs without giving them the same courtesy. Just like every other kind of sport horse, they have different lines that have different dominant characteristics, and there are people producing these horses all over the country in different ways.

Everyone’s mileage may vary, but to me, a sport-bred and well-produced TB (which can come from a track/trainer as much as from anywhere else) is an excellent choice for a working professional who also wants to ride to a high level. The heavier the breed, the more time required conditioning (and some argue that the more time spent conditioning, the more risk for injury). TBs are 100% blood, and if you are trying to balance riding at the upper levels with the career you have chosen (which I am assuming is not in horses - correct me if I’m wrong), you will find that is a big advantage in trying to balance your life.

Nothing is for everyone, but when working professionals ask me for a recommendation, I support TBs every time. If you want to run Intermediate/Advanced, I wouldn’t necessarily be recommending a $500 horse off of Craiglist (although a Craigslist horse showed up at Kentucky this year, so stranger things have happened…), but I’d recommend including TBs in your bloodline/breeder research and including them in your ultimate pool of candidates.

Agreed.

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Thank you, I really appreciate your response. My plan with my current house is to do what you outlined - train her to whatever level she’s capable of (or as you point out, that I’m capable of training her to), then sell her and buy something else that can hopefully go farther.

However, as I hand walk my injured horse recently, I’ve been thinking that maybe my next shouldn’t be one, but two. One that I’d be riding, of course (maybe yet another OTTB) and another that’s young with more potential. Maybe. I know it’s all a gamble.

I LOVE the beginning part of training horses, and I’d rather event a horse that I’ve been riding from the beginning. I’ve catch rode horses around training level courses, and that’s fun… but not as rewarding as doing the same course on a horse you’ve been with since their first jump. Hence my interest in the young horse.

Also, I’d HOPE that said young horse didn’t have the physical baggage that most OTTBs seem to come with. I’m not writing off TBs altogether though!! I LOVE TBs and want something that is mostly (or maybe all) TB. I will 100% be including them in my research.

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The other hitch in the OP’s plans is that if you get a very young horse you don’t really know how tall it will get or what its talents will be.

If we look at serious performance breeders like race track or European WB breeders, we see very focused unsentimental breeding of quality horses. And they still end up with a lot of horses that don’t make the grade for their purpose, and get sold to riding homes (OTTB) or amateurs (European WBs that fail big league jumping going to American hunter riders). Even the best breeder can’t reliably pull a winning horse out of their hat every time.

As far as OTTB, some get retired very early and never actually race. Others race to age ten and retire sound. I do agree that they often seem to be Speshul Petunias, in part because they are so high energy they give themselves anxiety disorders. But I’ve seen enough folks cripple decent young warmbloods before they ever compete First Level dressage. Some WBs seem to be quite fragile. The hope with a WB is that you get TB heart but more bone and substance. But the extra height and bulk actually does seem to take a toll on their tendons. And they don’t necessarily have the people pleasing high energy gogogo attitude of TBs.

In other words, buying quality to follow a dream is a crap shoot no matter what breed.

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To be honest, most of the better breeders in the US sell their foals quickly without much if any advertising so looking through ads and facebook groups might not show you the best of what’s available. You’d do better to find the breeders you’re most interested in now and get on a waiting list, or let them know that you’re interested in future foals. Figure out what you’re really looking for, what your budget is, and start making contacts. To be fair, most of the jumper-bred ones can jump Prelim easily as long as they’re fairly bold (most upper level horses are indeed jumper-bred) so jumper breeders might have what you’re looking for too. The harder part is having a good eye for a foal. :wink:

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I came here to say just this. I am a very small breeder with some of my breedings more dressage focused and some of them targeted for eventing. My foals sell very quickly, sometimes even before a pregnancy is confirmed. I have one coming next year, and had enough interest after announcing the pregnancy that I actually decided to hold on to it until it arrives (although hoping for a keeper filly lol) to try to get the best match. I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but more to reference that I am NOT a big name, and my purpose bred foals don’t stick around long. So the actual well known names are going to potentially have their foals go even faster.

I absolutely understand your desire to acquire a foal, enjoy the growing up process free of track baggage, and create that partnership. In doing so you also accept that things might go wrong, injuries might happen, or maybe you just plain dont love riding the mature horse. As long as you go into it with that attitude, you’ll be fine.

To find the breeders watch the YEH list, scroll breed registry websites for breeder listings, search the FB groups referenced above.

I’d recommend calling the breeders that have produced horses you like, following them on social media, go to foal inspections and listen to the inspectors evaluate foals. Go to the breeders farm and see what’s on the ground. Its a long and fun process, so try and enjoy it :slight_smile:

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It seems that eventing requires such a multi-talent of specialized skills–you can have a horse that will jump the moon or moves like a dream, but is not keen on going cross-country-so is not going to make an event horse. Or a warrior on course that is never going to get the scores you need in dressage or maybe does not really use his or her back and likes to tickle his or her toes on the show jumping rails? Realistically, I wonder regardless what percentage of horses are going to make it to -much less past -preliminary?

But with that said, if it is really the journey that engages you, I also love Tatendang- he has an advance horse-Prophet. Royal Palm Farm (FL) appears to be still managing him and several other event type stallions and are breeding for the same. Andrew Palmer (farm owner/rider) was also very involved in the Trakehner Breed Association so may have a wider net of contacts. (FWIW, Two --USA Bred-Trakehners were on the team this year.) It may be a good starting point. Six Pound Farm in VA seems to always have a few jumper-types that could go towards eventing. Merle-Smith Sporthorses (VA) is also standing a xx stallion being developed for eventing and looks to be breeding a few. Hilltop Farm–mainly dressage focus-serves a lot of different mare owners and of course stood Riverman. There are just a few. If you do a search of stallions being promoted for eventing (I cannot think of more right now) you might make some contacts that way also.(Caveat–I have no personal experience buying a horses from any of these breeders.)
(edited to add-team horses were USA bred!)
(oops I forgot Aqua Farm in FL that stands Hirtentanz and Buddenbrock-sorry for the Trakehner bias here!)

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Some years ago, I went down the young horse purchasing road for much the same reasons the OP mentions (no baggage, more talent than I could find already started with my limited budget, etc.). I bought her at 18 months old so had a lot more info about her than if I had bought a weanling. Some years and much blood, sweat, and tears later, I admitted she wanted to be a hunter and I wanted to event and I sold her. Our personalities weren’t the best fit either, but that may partially have been because I was trying to squash a square peg into a round hole. I wouldn’t do it again and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you love starting and riding babies, truly have years to spend bringing up a baby (with the ever present risk that they will injury themselves catastrophically before you even ride them!) and are OK with it not wanting (or being able) to do what you want it to do.

For my most recent equine purchase, I bought a started horse from a breeder I knew that had already shown signs of an amateur friendly personality (it helped that I picked a breed known for it’s wonderful temperament) and an interest/talent in both jumping and dressage.

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I think there is value in being pragmatic about this, and looking at it from all angles, including @leheath’s (which, BTW, I am sorry to read that it didn’t work out for you - I hope your next horse does). The reality of the situation is you might not get what you want - the horse may not want to play the sport you pick, it might get hurt or sick or die before you ever get a chance to ride it, or the mare you pick to breed might slip the pregnancy and you might never see a foal at all. But it is worth trying, if you are confident in your training abilities and rearing of young horses.

Heads up, this turned into a novella.

I will say that I took this journey myself – well, I’m in the process of it (I’ll let you know how it all pans out in two years’ time.) I’ve spent my whole life retraining other people’s projects, picking up cheap OTTBs to retrain, and riding whatever I could find on a budget. It meant I rode a lot of horses with issues; some were fixable, some weren’t. I spent a lot of time (and money!) unraveling the knots of physical baggage from past careers or training, and endured a lot of setbacks that I wouldn’t necessarily endured in a horse that didn’t race or get hurt. I’m not saying these horses weren’t wonderful - every one of them was in their own way, but I can’t tell you how many times I’d (or my trainer) would say things like: I wish I got this horse as a foal, I wish I got her before she raced, I wish I’d found him before he ended up with a DDFT injury, etc…

Because I think we could have gone so much further, in much shorter a time, if we didn’t have to not only undo the physical complaints from racing or their previous career, but also fix things: like really bad trim angles (which can take months), discomfort in their bodies from ill-fitting tack, gaps in their training etc… Many of these cheap finds weren’t bred or built for what I wanted to do - so while they could event, it wasn’t always easy – or at least, natural – for them to do. And then there was the heartbreak of finding out some of these horses had career-limiting past injuries that didn’t really show up until their workload increased to th real demands of (eventing) Training, or Prelim, or 2nd level – one of those super nice TBs is sitting in my front yard, retired for the last 15 years, because once the real work started it became apparent his old stifle injury from the track would follow him for the rest of his life, but he was too honest to say no…

So, I ended up with a foal. It was not my first - I also started and sold two PMU yearlings ten years ago - but this was my first sport horse foal. A fourth month old Hanoverian filly. I think life has been exceptionally generous to me in that it was sheer luck and overwhelming generosity of her breeder that allowed me to get this filly, and not money (which I didn’t have) or an extraordinary training talent (which I don’t have either).

But starting a foal from scratch has been a life-long dream of mine, and it’s been amazing every step of the way. I was very reserved at first about getting too attached to her. Stupid, I know - but I’ve had a lot of setbacks these last fifteen years, including the sudden and unexpected death of one of my BEST horses ever. We’d finally scratched the surface of what he was truly capable of, and I lost him. Then, the horse I’d been steadily bringing alongside him got kicked by a paddock mate and had to be PTS. Then I found a really nice TB and he had a freak pasture accident where he broke two ribs and three different parts of his pelvis… I was thinking then and there I would be done with horses after this guy, and that’s partly how I ended up with this lovely filly. I house & horse-sat for the breeder often, even took care of this filly’s momma while she was baking in the oven - the breeder was aware of all of these little horse misfortunes and I got the deal of a lifetime with this nice filly.

Anyway, all of that aside to say that it has been amazing bringing this filly along. She is five years old now. I’ve had her since she was four months old and she was so tiny my SO and I literally picked her up and put her in the trailer to bring her home. She’s 17hh now. I am just marveling how different it is bringing along a horse where you have been in full control of every experience they have in life. No more undoing ugly tangled physical knots. No more struggling to teach them to load or chill at a new venue. Every experience this filly has had her entire life has been POSITIVE. She has no negative experiences to undo.

And that has made training and starting her so easy. Things I thought I couldn’t do well, like teach a horse to leg yield straightly, or teach a horse to jump like a hunter – these things come so easy and naturally to her. And it made me realize that I don’t suck at these things - I was just partaking in the Sisyphean Task of trying to make these TBs and project horses into something that didn’t come naturally to them. I’ve always felt a bit of ‘imposter syndrome’ with training horses and this made me realize how much more easy it is when you have the right kind of horse. A horse bred for what you’re doing.

Starting her was so easy. No run-aways, no fighting for control, no bolt or buck or tense horse that I spent weeks trying to relax. She picked up W/T/C like that; she tends to get a little flat and has a more huntery way of going, but the rhythm – something I struggled so much with the TBs – was there on DAY one. The contact came naturally, the impulsion followed right after. She is now schooling at the same level as one of my TBs I’ve had off-track for five years (he had his own setbacks, most blameless).

Two weeks ago, we did our first ever cross country schooling. Brown logs, bank, ditch, and a mini course at the end finishing around BN height. Not a single refusal, not a single foot wrong. In the scheme of things this was such a small accomplishment, but you should have seen my big, stupid smile when I was bringing her back to the trailer.

I think that made all of it worth it.

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I really appreciate you and everyone else who has shared with me here! That feeling you shared after your xc schooling is what it’s all about for me! Honestly, if I never get past Prelim, that’s fine. I love the journey more. But I want to keep that goal in mind so that I can set myself up to maybe get there (without buying that already made horse, which I’m not interested in doing)

I totally understand with the young ones that it’s all a gamble. But really, it is with any horse! More so with any horse not already doing what you’re hoping to, and I get that.

Thanks for the great resources as well, I have quite a lot of things to look into- I’ve started, but wow I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface! :slight_smile:

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So much the same for my filly. She’s out of my mare (and 10 now so probably not a filly anymore…) but yeah, I rode so many TB’s and some were great but so many had issues to address. We do get some that never even made it to the track and those tend to have less baggage. I will say when I get annoyed by something she does (like pull me to the grass like a starving school pony), I remember I have no one to blame but myself for allowing that.

She does have an Eventer type sire (he does straight dressage but aced the tests in Germany before being imported).

First crossrail she popped right over without giving it a second thought. She eats up cross country (since we got the new saddle - the old one kept trying to eject me and she does not want to lose me over a jump so she would refuse more often), she’s stellar in dressage, great on trails.

Her only really issue (in my opinion) is her abject fear of the Amish that make it hard to hack out. But take her a state park or something and no issues.

So, yeah, do your research (I spent a year and a half researching sires before narrowing it down to a few and then 6 months deciding on one).

And have fun! When I bred her, I was thinking I would go Training/maybe Prelim but now with a few more years on me…top goal is Training 3 Day. We are currently going Novice for various reasons (finances, transportation issues, two injuries she OF COURSE had to get at the beginning of a show season!).

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so one place to look is the YEH, also check the USEF leading breeders. Another option is to check out
the The US Event Horse Futurity (https://theuseventhorsefuturity.com/) website and on Facebook[(https://www.facebook.com/The-US-Event-Horse-Futurity-1140458726156333/). there are breeders on that as well as young horse trainers .

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I bought an amazingly bred 5 month old colt for the same reasons as OP. He grew much too big, had neuro issues that meant he never evented and was always in rehab, and I had to euth him at 7 as a result. It broke my heart :pensive:

Fast forward to this year and I found exactly what I needed in a just started 4 yr old from Henry Jota in Argentina. She has all the talent for prelim and more, if I can train her there!

So OP spend your money wisely and get a started horse if you have a specific riding goal in mind.

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Same… it really sucked.