What to look for in an eventing prospect?

I am going to be looking for an eventing prospect soon and I was wondering if anyone has some tips on specific things to look for. I am fairly new to the eventing world so I am curious as to what I should look for. I do have a coach that will be helping me look but I was just looking for some more advice. So what do you guys look for in an event horse? Thanks.

I would ask your coach. Anything with four hooves can be an event prospect, provided it is of sound mind and body.

There are lots of things I look for, some of which cannot be seen in a photo. Everyone has a different idea of what the ideal is, your coach will know best what is YOUR perfect match.

For me, something like this looks like a fantastic LL eventing prospect (with some time off for his boo-boo)

Thank you, I definitely will talk to my coach. Also thanks for the link he seems like a really nice horse.

It really depends on your current level of riding, aspirations, what kind of horse works well with you (e.g. lazy or forward).

So if you are a veteran of the H/J scene and want to switch to eventing at the lower levels only, and your coach is good at bringing along event prospects, you could look at younger, greener prospects.

On the other hand if you’ve never jumped a stick, then you should be looking for something that’s “been there, done that” to help you learn the ropes of eventing and have fun.

One piece of advice I will give is that you don’t have to click right away, and the horse doesn’t have to be your ideal tall, dark handsome steed. What you might want to listen to though, is your gut - the one that says “this doesn’t seem like such a good idea”. Or the one that you are trying to shut up when you argue with it, “but she’s so pretty! I’m sure we’ll bond! I don’t mind blowing my budget on her!”

I sometimes get that feeling with young or green horses, crazy sellers, strange back-stories etc. and usually, that feeling has been right. Unfortunately I’ve ignored the feeling a few times and paid the price!

If you are new to evrnting, it really, really helps to get a horse with some cross country experience. It can be young and green but has hunter paced or schooled out and about. You want a really good brain - sensible, takes care of his own feet, willing to try new things.
After that it is personal preference, budget, etc…

A lot depends on what you mean by “Event Prospect”.

Are you looking for a horse that will win at Advanced?

Or a horse that will be successful and fun at Novice and Training?

Are you looking for a young horse that hs not yet been backed?

One that has walk-trot-canter under saddle, but is not yet jumping?

One that is fully traind in another discipline, but has no event training?

One that has event training, but has not competed?

There are several books that tha have whole chapters on “what to look for in an event horse”- Jimmy Wofford’s comes to mind immediately, but I think Denny Emerson has one too.

But, at a minimum, for all the options above.

A conformation that is going to stay sound

4 good gaits:

  • A true 4 beat walk with a good overstep
  • A forward, balanced, ground covering trot that isn’t always on the forehand
    -A true 3 beat canter that is balanced, adjustable and manoeverable
  • A groundcovering, but relaxed, gallop that does not “pound” the ground.

Alert, aware, but not afraid. For instance, if soemone opens an umbrella very close by, I don’t want the one who pays no attention (not alert enough) and I do not want the one that goes into a complete melt down. I want the one that notices, reacts, and eventually accepts it.

Able and willing to learn. Regardless of the current level of training, you can fine SOMETHING new to teach the horse. His attitude, willingness, and ability to learn can then be observed.

One of my favorite tests with a green horse, is to put down a tarp, and ask the horse to walk across it -either in hand or under saddle. I have no concerns about the horse snorting, stopping, etcetera, the first few (or not so few) times, as long as the horse eventually walks across it, and is better each subsequent time.

And finally, as Jimmy says, you want a horse you are happy to see looking over the stall door, even on the days when you can’t ride.

Thanks everyone, these are all really good points that I am definitely going to keep in mind. Also I think I’m going to mainly be looking for a horse that has at least a little bit of jumping experience and, as asterix has suggested, preferably has been over some cross country jumps at least once. I do not mind if the horse is green.

In rememberance of Jack LeGoff

A good mind
A good mind


A good mind

OK also

as Jimmy Wofford says, you want a horse you are happy to see looking over the stall door