I would be boarding her with my trainer. Is this a horrible idea?
If you can swing it financially, no.
You already know more about her than 99% of people “adopting” a thoroughbred. You’ve handled her, you know how she is, etc. As long as you’ve got your trainer to fall back on if things get tricky from time to time, I vote go for it!
Is trainer giving you the mare?
Or are you expected to buy & then board?
Maybe suggest a lease to your trainer.
With part going toward purchase if you decide the mare will work for you.
You’d be helping trainer financially with the board & eventual purchase.
If you decide mare is not right, all you’ve lost is board + what ever was lease cost.
Cheaper in the long run than a fullout purchase that ends in reselling.
IMHO I don’t think a 4 year old is a good first horse. My first horse was a 3 year old. He knew nothing, I knew nothing. Nothing bad ever happened, but I was not ready for the time needed to get him trained. Essentially I had to put him in full training. I had no knowledge of the training scale, let alone how to do it. If you want to learn dressage, a 4 year old is not the horse to learn on. I have an OTTB mare and at the age of 21, she is far less maintenance than many horses in the barn. It’s an individual thing and cannot be attributed to any breed.
It would be great if you could lease the horse from trainer for a few months, just to make sure the match is going in the right direction.
Also, would you vet the horse? Or will you use a PPE done by the trainer when s/he bought the horse?
Please keep in mind that the personality of a TB who is not in work and not in peak condition is not the personality of a TB who is healthy and in work.
So while this horse may be super quiet now, it may not be come time it is in good health.
Also if she wants to give it to you, do a full pre purchase exam so you aren’t buying something that may become unrideable or a bottomless pit to your finances.
Personally I don’t think a TB is a great choice for someone inexperienced, but there are always exceptions.
Agreeing with your assessment of TBs.
My 1st horse was a bred-to-race, failed his Speed Test, but racetrack trainer kept him as a Pony.
I bought him as a 6yo, green to my intended use as a Hunter. I was a fairly advanced re-rider myself at the time.
Had him 20yrs & he was going strong at 27 when I lost him to a trailer accident.
Trying to be a Contender:
Ponying at the Arlington Million:
Doing what we did best:
OP, I suggest you pass before you get emotionally attached to the mare. At her height, and with her disposition, she should be an easy sale.
Plus, starting a young OTTB, or any horse actually, at the onset of winter, no thanks!
I was thinking about this as well, especially because there is no indoor ring at the boarding barn.
No indoor? Hard pass.
That’s another wrinkle
So what plan does your trainer have in mind for you if you take the mare now?
You pay board all Winter until you can start riding the horse again in the Spring?
It’s beginning to sound like your “pro” has painted themselves into a corner & is hoping you’ll help bail them out.
Just curious, why do you say that?
You will be paying board and costs all winter on a horse you can’t ride? A horse who will likely have a fire cracker up its butt for the first 90 days you start it’s training lol
Do you have an emergency fund in the thousands in case of emergency vet bills? Trailering costs? If the vet found something that made the horse unrideable, can you afford board until its old and the monthly maintenance?? All of these are very real scenarios that could happen.
No indoor, depending on your location, can mean months of not riding. I guessing that’s what peedin means.
This mare is not done growing, take that into account.
This mare is will change her attitude when fit and in work-- may always stay quiet and sweet, or perhaps get a little spicy at times. Do you know her breeding? That can help you determine some of the characteristics she may have later.
No, TBs are not difficult to maintain. They are often healthy and active well into their 20s, that’s been my experience. They can need more feed than an airfern warmblood and feet can be more problematic keeping shoes on…they often cannot be barefoot, either. (again, my experience).
I’ll echo others: lease her first. How experienced a rider/handler are you? What kind of trainer is yours-- active, rides, has a good resume, capable of helping you bring her along? or… ??
As much as I’m a fan of OTTBs and TBs in general, I would caution you about this being your first horse. You stated you are inexperienced and occasionally lack confidence. This mare is a “project” and it’s also quite tall for your petite size.
It’s enough of a challenge for an experienced rider to transform an OTTB into a schooled, reliable partner. There’s just so much that can go awry when the owner/rider is also inexperienced, questions her confidence, and is physically outsized.
And yet… There are plenty of success stories out there with people just like you! So I suppose it depends on:
Your trust in your trainer
How much help will you get from your trainer? Will she be riding this horse as well as instructing you?
You said your goal is lower level dressage. Are you willing to put in the time— as in months and years— to achieve that goal? Can you deal with frustration while both you and your horse are learning? (Not everyone can).
Will it pass a full PPE? That way, once you’ve got solid W/T/C on it, if it turns out not to be the horse for you, a resale is possible.
Again, I love TBs. Growing up, that’s all any of us kids had, because that’s all we could afford. We learned to ride and show on OTTBs. But is it right for you, at this time in your life?
I also love TBs. Big love, TBs for life.
But I think it would be a better idea for you to buy an appropriately-sized horse that has been trained to whatever level of dressage you want to do. One that has show miles if you ever want to show, trail miles if you ever want to trail ride, one that has been around the block a couple times and won’t falter if YOU are not always confident or perfect. One that may benefit from the occasional trainer tune up ride, but that is not going to need you to put it in costly full time training to make progress.
Emergency funds are no issue. I once spent 4K on an MRI for my cat, so I’m used to unexpected vet bills which I know can be bigger for horses. The trainer said she would work with the horse as well as work with me and the horse. But this is also same trainer who has not mentioned to me about any of the things you guys are warning me about. So now I am wondering. She said temperment in a horse is #1, and younger greener horses are best because you don’t have to retrain bad habits or bad training from others. And yes I guess that’s assuming you are a trainer and know what you are doing. She has told me as far as the size of this horse, that bigger is better, it’s the little ones that disappear out from under you.
But she has not suggested a PPE or talked about potential vet bills, or not being able to ride outside in the winter (we are in NJ). I do think she is backed into a corner so may not be unbiased. I don’t think she would set me up for a dangerous situation, she’s not that kind of person and that would not be good for her reputation. I don’t know, maybe I lease first in the spring and see how we progress together.
Red flags if a trainer says “bigger is better”.
As a short person who is 5’2, I have a 17.1 TB mare and even her being very short backed and balanced, it required a LOT of strength, balance and softness to start her and carry her through to being somewhat of a trained horse.
The thing better than retraining bad habits is getting a horse that is already trained. A trained horse will give you unlimited confidence, and good times. A young horse is a crap shoot. It’s exhausting and while it can be rewarding, it’s a long long road full of uncertainty. I have 3 currently that have just reached past their “very green” training level and it was a long 2 years getting them to this point. Even as a brave, experienced TB rider and retrainer, there is a lot of drama and near death experiences when starting these horses under saddle. You will have to decide if you are confident and capable enough to handle the first few years.
Or, if you had a trained horse, you could be off to lessons and showing and working on yourself, having fun.
Breed bias and winter weather aside… no, I would not buy a horse from someone I have a professional relationship who is trying to unload it for financial reasons. You buy the horse from her, you and horse are in training, so she essentially gets to keep the horse? LOL. Maybe if I was already horse shopping and it was a “right place, right time” scenario. And I’d want to be ecstatic about it, not posting on a public forum for the opinions of strangers. Just by posting you sound wary. Your tummy is trying to tell you something.
I’m certain many people on this forum, myself included, had a wildly unsuitable first horse, either because of parental finance or ignorance. I was a tween and could confidently walk/trot/canter, but had no business with a five year old. Obviously I lived to tell the tale, but there were thrills and spills, public meltdowns, constant unsolicited advice from onlookers, etc. I gained an invaluable education from that horse, but it was not fun. Life as an adult with free will is too short to not have fun.
As for smaller horses, they sure do disappear from under you, AND I’ll take a 15 hh horse over a 17.2 hh every single day of the week.