Tips on choosing your first weanling/yearling?

So, I’ve decided to adopt my first weanling/yearling, and go ahead and train him from the bottom up.
I visited my local auction, and fell in love with one colt beside a 4 year old mare. Both very sweet, and allowed us to pet them, The stud was a 1 year old, who just began groundwork and such. We went up to the people who bought the mare (and decided to include the stud colt) They didn’t really want him too much, so we are thinking of buying him from them. Though, once we were leaving a man showed us his Quarter Horse filly, with papers, and just turned 2 in June. She wouldn’t face us, and he said she was sweet, but pretty skittish. The owner of the 2 year old Filly, told us he got her from a neglect situation when she was younger, and the colt was also rescued , said they were both “skin and bones” when he first got them.
Does first impressions really matter? I’m pretty interested in both, more of the colt since he was the only one who would, after a while, allow a rub on the head, and had been worked by a young man, alongside his 4 year old mare sibling (who is broke). Of course, I’d visit each, in their own homes to get to evaluate both a bit more, just wondering if there is any tips you can offer for choosing one?
P.S
I’m not looking for a sport horse, mainly just a reliable trail horse, possibly some cow work.

The auction house is about the WORST place in the world to evaluate a horse, particularly babies. It sounds like you’re going to go visit these guys at their homes, which is great.

I really wouldn’t make any decisions based on what you saw at the sale.

Tough to say how to evaluate them or choose a youngster without some more details about what’s important to you…

Over the past 20 years, I’ve bought six babies ranging in age from one day old to one year old. Of those six, I kept three long enough to ride into a show ring. Of those three, I still have two: one is 17 and after a very successful show career, is retired as a pasture pet and ocassional trail horse. Anyone in the world can ride him. The other is my current mount, 6 years old and already successful in his very limited show career (2 shows). The third that I raised and showed went to a new home and packed kids around jump courses and dressage tests before tragically losing his life to colic.

I did every scrap of training on these guys myself.

Now, the three I never managed to get into a show ring? They all had temperament issues that I just didn’t want to deal with. Two of them were fillies, and for me that’s a minus. I just don’t gel with fillies/mares. The other was a big, pretty app colt (half-brother to my current mount), but he was unpredictable and lacked the “people-pleasing” quality I like. I thought I could develop it in him, but it never happened. He went back to the breeder I bought him from and has changed hands many times. I just heard last weekend that he’s been put on a sale. I fear he will spend his life being sold because he’s such a difficult horse. He’s 7 years old now and has had five homes already. Sucks for him, but horses are expensive to keep and pouring money into one you don’t enjoy is not fun.

So, my advice is to get one that seems to enjoy your company. The three things I want to see from day one in a baby are that they’re: curious, brave, and cooperative. The two standing in my barn have one striking similarity. When they were both just weeks old at their mamas’ sides, they jumped over the low gate of a paddock to be with people! You can’t ask for a better sign that a horse is going to make a great partner in the future.

The only long yearling we ever bought I was actually looking for an aged horse. The yearling we purchased was purchased mainly because of the way she looked at me, her eyes had an intenseness in them.

She grew up to be the best horse we ever had.; she would do anything we asked of her.

Be careful with young horses that have been malnourished or abused. Some recover physically and mentally, others never do. They may never catch up or finish out growth wise if starved and can bear " emotional" scars for life.

There are plenty of weanlings and yearlings out there needing homes that have not endured bad treatment and I’d look for them. Auctions are risky at any age unless you have an insider who knows the backstory on something slated to go thru. Average auction does not verify claims and you almost have to assume anything said is not the truth from desperate sellers with horses that have not sold thru normal efforts.

Get some experienced help if you want to risk the auction route. Better, go private and know who the baby us, where it comes from and how it’s been treated.

I’d also caution you away from auctions unless you really have a lot of experience with horses, ideally with horses from unknown backgrounds. There is always the question: why is this horse at auction, and the answer is often not benign.

I want to tell you how I bought my first foal (and second horse). This is not the only way to do it, but as someone with virtually no experience with foals, I feel like I did it “the right way” or “a right way” for someone with my background.

I wasn’t intending to buy a foal, but a breeder of my breed of choice (Morgan), who I knew well (online, at least, and that has since translated into in-person), posted a video of a 5 day old filly showing the filly’s extraordinary calmness with being handled and her people-orientation. It was just before my 50th birthday, and on an impulse I got in touch with the breeder and we talked about what I liked about the filly and what I’d be looking for in a few years when my current mare would likely need to be retired.

Photos from 5 days up to a few weeks

The breeder gave me references to other people who had bought horses from her, and they all checked out. Since buying the filly, others who have bought from this breeder have contacted me independently to congratulate me. I have not had a single person who has worked with this breeder say anything bad about her, most of her foals sell before they are weaned, and the majority of her buyers send their babies back to her to be started when they are 3 or 4 years old.

I bought my filly without meeting her, went out to Michigan a couple of weeks later to see her, and knew I’d made the right decision. She loves people, learns quickly, and is confident and cooperative.

Photos from meeting her.

Video from last week – leading and learning

I got to meet both her parents, both her grand-dams and several relatives, including a 4 year old full sister who was there to be started under saddle. (Video of “Erin” on her first trail ride) My filly will stay with the breeder for a year to get all her “baby horse” training before I bring her here, and I will likely send her back to be started. I will not start paying board until she is weaned in September, and the board I will pay is extremely reasonable. The filly was NOT expensive… well, OK, definitely much more than an auction foal, but I know what I am getting.

OMG, Quietann, she is GORGEOUS! Precocious and smart, too–love the photo with the umbrellas! Very wise of you to have the breeder do her early learning; I’m doing the exact same thing with my TWH filly who is currently two and getting handled every day by her breeder in Arkansas. You’re exactly right that it isn’t the price of the horse–you will quickly double, triple, or quadruple that in just a few months once you start paying for training. Breeders are usually used to handling all the babies and teaching them about trimming, loading, clippers, vets, and everything up to the moment of starting; in my case, that too. They often do it far better and for far less than “colt starters” who tend to crank out 60-day wonders full of “holes” and a lot of short circuits!

Congratulations and good luck with her! OP, everything Quietann says here I’ll happily second; stack the deck toward success if you possibly can. :slight_smile:

I have no advice at all on how to choose one as I would probably go for the nicest one, that was also cute :lol: I’m still a few years away from even considering a baby.
Anyways… I always love to look and came across this place.
http://www.lastchancecorral.org/ (Look up their facebook page to see more babies)
Not sure if you are located near them, but they have some pretty good looking ones and they are at full capacity now and can’t rescue anymore, until they move some out… Might be worth a look if you aren’t set on one of those you mentioned.
I’d probably go with the colt if I were you. I like (geldings) anyways and he sounds like he will be easier to handle since he is already interested in you. Good luck! And post pictures when you bring one home :winkgrin:

I would say that unless you have a lot of mileage doing this sort of thing, and/or a very knowledgeable and constantly available mentor, don’t do it.

Besides just picking one out, there is a lot of constant, that should be automatic, work in handling and training youngsters.

If you are coming to a BB asking, perhaps you should rethink.

[QUOTE=EventingDreaming;7562346]I have no advice at all on how to choose one as I would probably go for the nicest one, that was also cute :lol: I’m still a few years away from even considering a baby.
Anyways… I always love to look and came across this place.
http://www.lastchancecorral.org/ (Look up their facebook page to see more babies)
Not sure if you are located near them, but they have some pretty good looking ones and they are at full capacity now and can’t rescue anymore, until they move some out… Might be worth a look if you aren’t set on one of those you mentioned.
I’d probably go with the colt if I were you. I like (geldings) anyways and he sounds like he will be easier to handle since he is already interested in you. Good luck! And post pictures when you bring one home :winkgrin:[/QUOTE]

Well, that rescue has pretty stringent requirements for adopting out foals including having to own other horses and having experience or quality help available. OP might be better looking at breeders wanting to sell outright plus having at least the dam for her to meet. Rescues try but sometimes they don’t get the real backstory either.

Youngsters are hard enough to evaluate anyway. Especially with an unknown background.

I don’t think judging temperament at an auction house is a fair test. But when evaluated fairly / in the right setting, I think a kind horse that likes people is very very important. It’s not clear what makes you even interested in the 2yr filly?

You mentioned nothing about conformation or size-- are you confident both are suitable for what you want?

The fact that a horse was a rescue has no place in the sales pitch. The seller is just trying to make himself appear trustworthy and nice to you.

Please please please think hard about doing this. Please don’t be yet another Craigslist ad selling yet another a 4-yr old horse that hasn’t been properly trained by their owner who was in over their heads.

I would say that unless you have a lot of mileage doing this sort of thing, and/or a very knowledgeable and constantly available mentor, don’t do it.

Besides just picking one out, there is a lot of constant, that should be automatic, work in handling and training youngsters.

If you are coming to a BB asking, perhaps you should rethink.

I would say that unless you have a lot of mileage doing this sort of thing, and/or a very knowledgeable and constantly available mentor, don’t do it.

Besides just picking one out, there is a lot of constant, that should be automatic, work in handling and training youngsters.

If you are coming to a BB asking, perhaps you should rethink.

The only weanling I have purchased was one that my former trainer bred. I knew the dam well and we had several horses in the barn by the sire. I knew the filly from the time she hit the ground. I felt very comfortable with purchasing the filly. I still have this mare and she is 20 yo this year.

I’ve been buying my horses young, too young perhaps, since I got my second horse as an adult. She was at the Frying Park Auction in 1993 and I “needed” a second horse as I’d moved to my own farm. I had her for 17 years, she had to be put down in 2010 at 18.

Somewhere around 1995 I got the only bad one, she was gorgeous, but there was a screw loose. She was definitely an accidental breeding, I suspect her sire was also her grandsire. When trying to figure out what was wrong (eliminating physical reasons) the vet clinic said she was the best mannered horse they’d ever seen from that farm. She was a pity-purchase at $200. I should have put her down, but I allowed myself to be talked out of that and sold her as needing an advanced rider, at Eyler’s auction in Thurmont.

I bought Sparkle as an unbroken 3 year old, she wasn’t handled too much. That was in 2001. She is awesome…and had good horse smell.

In 2005, I got Bali, as a yearling, loved her personality. She is 10 now and is my favorite.

In 2011, I bought Neuf, at 20 months. I really, really like him, his personality, but fear he may outgrow me. He is GIANT. At 4, for the first time, I’m having a pro do a couple of rides a week, in addition to my own work, mostly because if I do decide to sell him, it will not be because he is naughty but merely because I do decide he is just too big for me.

Ground handling is not a problem for me but most people are not actually ready to deal with a yearling. There are no “cute baby” antics allowed, it is zero tolerance on manners, especially while they are “small”.

You need to be prepared to either find a young horse trainer, or start the horse yourself. That adds to the cost.

I pick my horses based on personality and conformation.