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Out of My League or Perfect Timing? Getting a Horse

So I took a break from riding about 3 years ago. College, health of a family member, and work put horses on the back burner and then when my childhood pony’s health went downhill and he passed I couldn’t even think of going to the barn. Before all that I’d ridden for 20 years and after aging out of showing a pony I worked the barn’s young school ponies, ponies owned by over-their-head kids, and OTTBs being retrained for H/J careers. So being on an unpredictable and questionably sane horse was not unusual for me. I wouldn’t call myself a beginner nor would I go so far as to say I was a trainer.

Then Covid hit and all the sitting around while being lucky enough to have a job left me saving money and realizing that I really missed my pony and being at the barn and now that I was physically and financially sound for a horse I want to go for it. So my goal was to A) save up money, B) get me and my family member vaccinated (so I felt safe being around others when a family member is high risk), C) start up lessons, and D) buy horse. A-check, B-just checked, and then D?

Because like any sane horse person I of course have been on horse sale sites, because that’s never a bad idea. My requirements were:

~4-9 years old
14.2-15.2 hands
some color (Paint, Appy, buckskin, palomino, w/e I just love anything that sticks out)
$5,000 or under
I’m not looking for anything fancy, just someone fun to work with, lessons, trails, mounted archery.

These past few months if I found a horse that fit most of my requirements they were either too far away or over the price range I wanted to spend. Good to dream about but knowing it’s not happening.

But just as I reached check mark B, up pops a horse that hits every requirement and is only an hour away. He’s only green broke which is likely the cause of him being in my price range, which may be a red flag but I would have a trainer to help me. Of course I have only recently reached out about starting lessons again with that trainer, not even bringing up looking for a horse.

Part of me is ready to jump for it, and my family thinks he’s perfect for me (mind you they’re not horsey but he’s a colorful Appy and they know I like his looks so he must be perfect). But my overly practical brain is trying to convince myself that I’m crazy. Mind you, I stress over any purchase I make even dog toys.
So my question is, if you’re just getting back into riding, is it nuts to buy a horse before you get your riding muscles back in shape or am I not so crazy? I reached out to the owner to get more info for now but I don’t have any horsey friends to ask for their advice.


How much money have you budgeted per month towards training costs?


Hmmm. Can you afford 30 days of pro rides? A green broke critter and a rider that hasn’t ridden in 3 years isn’t the most ideal match


You buy a $50,000 horse that is what you want right now.

Or you buy this horse and $50,000 worth of lessons.

Either way you should start riding on a school horse.


My suggestion:

  1. Decide if a green prospect is something you would enjoy. If he is green but sensible, you may be able to do most of the work but is this what you want and enjoy?

  2. Talk to trainer about getting you restarted and about what would be the possibility and cost of putting a horse and you into at least partial training (or regular lessons).

  3. Go see the horse. He may not be what you want! But if you don’t look, he will forever be “the perfect horse you missed”.

  4. If you buy Post Pictures! :grinning:


There’s “green broke” and there’s “unbroke but someone has tried to ride him and it didn’t go well so we’re getting rid of him”. Figure out which applies to this horse. If he’s green broke, the seller should be able to ride him for you. And you should be able to ride him too. He’s probably not going to get his flying changes, but he should w/t/c, and have no huge issues/spooking/bucking etc. “Green broke” does not necessarily mean that he is difficult, or that you can’t work with him, ride him and train him (with input from a coach to help as necessary). Some green broke horses are very kind, calm, and easy. Others are not.

I will berate you about shopping for “colour”. A good horse is a good colour, and buying colour is rarely a good idea. But I like appys too, so there you are. I especially like them if they are 1/2 TB. My own personal opinion is that when you have an appy, they retain some “pony” like characteristics… smart, quick to learn, and often athletic. Sometimes smarter than their human connections, which can lead to problems for the human.

Unless you are spending five or six figures on a horse already winning in your sport of choice, buying a horse is like buying a lottery ticket. You can try to better your odds with vet checks, and opinions from equine professionals, but in truth, no one can foretell the future. You have to go with your gut instincts, and try to learn something in the process. It’s always going to cost you money, but if that cost is the cost of tuition, it’s worthwhile.

Good luck.


Agree you need to at least go try this horse & find out exactly where he falls on the Greenbroke Scale.
Also agree Seller (or someone at Seller’s place) needs to get on first.
If they don’t/won’t that is a red flag to me.
If you like what you see U/S, your testride should tell you more.

And agree color is fun, but should really be the last thing on your list.


I don’t think a 3 year break from riding is the same as a 30 year break. You’ve owned a horse before, and have ridden many different kinds of horses, and seem to have reasonable expectations regarding the horse’s size and talent (i.e., you’ve owned a serviceable pony before, so you’re not looking for a gigantic warmblood show horse on a budget).

I agree, though, that the “green broke” could mean many things in seller language, from literally just putting a saddle on the horse, to being able to w/t/c and go over poles and crossrails. The ideal would be to get to know your trainer first, and the trainer to get to know you before horse-shopping. You don’t sound like an impulsive person, so I don’t think looking at the horse is necessarily a bad idea (with a trainer). It may be a longshot, too, but it also doesn’t hurt to ask your trainer and any former barnmates if they know the seller.


Either you, or someone you trust, needs to ride this horse before you can make a decision. Did you try him?

Agree with the others - green means a lot to different people. I’ll also say that I’d do a thorough PPE on him, because nothing would be worse than buying the “green” broke horse only to find that he has kissing spines (or something) and that’s why he hasn’t gone further in his training.


The horse is only an hour away, so it’s worth the trip if he sounds good and you are seriously interested. Make sure you get there in time to help with or watch tacking up and ask his owner to ride him first. Don’t feel obligated to get on - if you see anything you don’t feel comfortable with, thank the owner and call it a day. Also, take someone with you who is knowledgable and experienced. That person may see something you missed. My daughter and I looked at 30 horses before we found her mare of a lifetime and I’m now looking after losing by elderly horse a few years ago. But when you find the right one, it’s a great feeling and I wish you all the best.


Have you spoken with the seller or seen video of horse being ridden? I would do both of those before going out to see it, even if it is only an hour away.

Also agree to try to establish a relationship with a trainer asap and get back into lessons or leasing or something before jumping into buying. If this horse is absolutely 100% perfect, it may he worth a gamble and do it, but there will always be another horse out there if you let this one go. So try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Listen to your gut, and if it tells you to pause or slow down, do it. Good luck!


How old is he? A green 4yo is a different ball game than a green 9yo.

The 4yo - maybe he was backed and then nobody had time to put more miles on him. Not a problem, restart him and go on.

The 9yo - maybe same as above, or maybe he goes lame every time he gets any consistent work, or maybe he’s such a jerk that everyone has given up because he’s either dangerous or just seriously no fun to ride.

Do some digging if he’s a bit old to be “only green broke”. When was he started, what has he done, how long have you had him in work, what does his weekly work schedule look like, how long have you had him, why is he a little(or a lot) behind in his training, etc. Nudge till you get answers.


Do you have a boarding barn, farrier, vet, etc lined up? For me, that would be a step one. You need a support network in place.

Next, just go ride the pony. Green is fine but do you feel safe and secure walk/trot/canter? If not, I’d hold off until you get your riding legs back. Some of the poorest matches I’ve seen have come from riders who didn’t feel secure WTC before purchase and assumed training or lessons would fix the issue. If the pony is too green to canter under saddle, I’d say it is likely too green for someone to take home after a riding break.

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It can’t hurt to look, but keep in mind that horses who look perfect in ads (even with plenty of pics/videos) can be VERY DIFFERENT when you see them in person, and not perfect at all. So, I wouldn’t get very excited about this “perfect” match because the reality is that he probably isn’t that. Which, again, isn’t to say he isn’t worth a look…I’d just be careful about getting overly invested before you’ve even talked to the seller or seen the horse in person. :slightly_smiling_face: There are many more horses out there if this one doesn’t work out!

P.S. My recent personal experience… I went to try two horses at one farm this week, one hotter that I was more interested in and one advertised as super safe, well-rounded, and suitable for any rider that I decided to look at too while I was there. The “super safe” one stumbled for no reason while we were trotting, flipped over, landed on me, and didn’t or couldn’t get up until the seller ran over and yanked on the reins. I’m more or less okay (could have been so much worse!), but I’m glad I didn’t have my heart set on buying him because you couldn’t pay me enough to take him now!

ETA: Forgot to mention that the horse I was more interested in (who on video looked perfectly sane, was a lovely mover, and was jumping 3’3” fences), was an anxious, head-shy, cross-cantering disaster in person. To the point that the seller offered to let me name my price just to get him into a good home (and this was before his other horse almost killed me)—thanks but no thanks!


:scream::scream::scream: I’m glad you’re ok!

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Apologies if this was mentioned and I missed it, but where are you planning to keep this horse? If you are planning to board him at your trainers barn it is definitely worth a conversation with her first, just to make sure she has space available if nothing else.

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I would say this is not crazy. I hadn’t ridden regularly in 4 years (college) when I got my directly-off-track-TB. I did a month or so of groundwork before getting on, taught him voice commands. The first time I got on we walked, second time we trotted, third time we cantered.
I didn’t have a trainer the first year + I had him, and I had less experience than you.

Many good questions have been posted above. Totally need to know how “green” is green, and how old is this greenbroke horse.

But not before you see someone else ride him and are satisfied that he is safe to ride.


OP I’m in the same situation as you! Lucky enough to still have a job during COVID times, and the lack of travel and socializing meant I suddenly had much more disposable income and time than I usually do. My mind also wandered back to the barn and how much I missed it (I too have been away for ~3 years). So I contacted my old trainer about riding this summer and she had some options available to me.

I’ve also been horse shopping. More as a way to pass time, but I saw a few ads for horses I was interested in and was very tempted to contact the sellers. However my practical and cautious side talked my impulsive side down, and as a compromise I’m looking to lease a horse this summer instead of buying. Horse ownership is a big step after being away for so long and I want to make sure I’m ready and willing to jump back in again. This might be the way you want to go as well, since the world is a crazy place right now and if you suddenly find yourself in financial stress, it’s usually a lot easier to end a lease than sell a horse. :slightly_smiling_face:

In saying that, even though I’m enjoying riding with minimal responsibility, I do miss the companionship and freedom involved with having my own horse. There is a young horse near me that caught my eye and I told myself if he was still available in the fall that I would go take a look. :sweat_smile:

Also FWIW, I thought my first ride back would be terrible and I would flop around like a fish, but I wasn’t as out-of-riding-shape as I thought and was surprised at my muscle memory and feel. Ended up having a long flat schooling session on a tricky sales horse and was only a touch sore inside my thighs the next day. You might be the same and feel pretty good in your first ride back! But I would definitely recommend riding a few times before going horse shopping to see where your body is at and what you are currently comfortable riding. Like others have said, you should feel safe and secure at all gaits as this better sets yourself (and your possible new horse!) up for success.

Good luck! and post pictures! :wink:


Ditto on “you’re not crazy”. I hadn’t ridden in a number of years when I decided to fulfill my lifelong dream of horse ownership (while in college … so in that respect, what was I thinking!?). Ended up adopting a 5 y/o OTTB with a bowed tendon and it turned out to be a wonderful experience … he became my “heart horse” and stayed with me for 14 years. But then, I’m very much a recreational rider and had no intention of showing or campaigning him.

I do feel for you, and anyone else shopping for a horse right now, they’re selling so darn quickly. There’s a farm I follow on FB that brings horses in from out west, they get assessed, and re-sold here where they’re advertised on social media. These horses are selling almost the same day they step off the trailer, regardless of their condition, for figures in the “high fives”. How is any responsible horse buyer supposed to properly assess anything when there are so many other buyers who are purchasing without ever seeing the horse in person?! Sorry, that was a digression.

I’d be asking for more information and thinking about going to take a look in person if I liked what I saw. I mean, let’s be honest, we’re all some degree of crazy here because no rational person would justify spending what we do on this hobby/sport/our pasture puffs :wink:

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