WWYD horse shopping advice

I jus returned from a very successful horse shopping trip. I sat on 5 that I would be thrilled to take home and that could teach me a lot. I’ve narrowed it down to 2 that are very lovely but very different types. I’m a very game AA, I’ve got great skills on the flat but haven’t ever had the opportunity to jump up over 2’6” except a little here and there. I’m looking for something to get me a little higher while having fun. I want to smile in lessons and leaving the barn because I did something that was a little challenging or a smidge scary and fun! So let’s pick the hive brain, I have a great trainer who loves them both for me but curious to see what totally objective outsider opinions are. (All pending vet checks of course).

Horse 1: 7 yo, has done 1.0m but is probably ready for more like .90s or maybe 0.80s with me right now. Very good sort, great size for me, real adjustable, a pleasure to ride on the flat and to the jumps. He could dabble in any ring and not embarrass us. Showing isn’t my priority but I would want to do a little of all three when the time is right. My guess is he is at the most a 1.10m horse. Will be a packer in a couple years for sure. Should vet out with a known issue that we are very comfortable with.

Horse 2: 15 yo ex Grand Prix jumper super duper school master. He has every button you can imagine. You can fit in 10 stride or 4 strides and he jumps the same. Total confidence booster, goes like a big eq horse these days. He could jump a bigger track and then immediately pack around an adult beginner. He needs to jump no more than 1.10m now and is sound with some minor age appropriate maintenance. I have property for a retirement home and nieces that will need to ride a packer in a few years. If he were to go dead lame tomorrow I couldn’t afford to replace him but in a couple years I very likely could.

Not a future sale horse, a personal horse for stepping up a rider that’s not gone higher than 2’6’’? Horse #2, hands down.


As soon as you said schoolmaster, I’m sold. Fifteen is not old and you will have fun on him.


Horse 2 all day long.


All of us do both when around horses, learn and train.
A balance of that seems good, but not all of us like and are looking to train first, but prefer to mostly learn ourselves.

If you want to train more than learn directly from a trained horse, get the younger one and get help to bring him and you along.
If you want to learn and enjoy what the older horse will teach you, getting him is smart, as the youngster will be the blind leading the blind as you both learn, doable but not ideal, is doing things the harder way for both.

Unless that is how your horse interest lays, training fun and have the time and energy and stick-with-it to be consistent rain or shine, most people with a life outside horses are better served with the school masters to learn from.

I would let the younger one for those wanting to train and bring him further, a different set of skills to learn than learning technical and precision riding from a horse that can teach that.

If you were riding school horses, a mix of all kinds would be proper, as you learn from all.
For your own horse, for most amateurs, school masters are way more enjoyable and teach them without needing to reinvent the wheel on their own penny, time and energy.

Hope that makes sense, get the school master, unless you can decide just by which horse you fall in love with one over all others.
That would change your preferences, all else not important, then you would make do whatever that horse brings to the table.


How important is your relationship to you (between you and your future horse)?
Are you looking for a forever horse to grow with, or is that feeling of personal growth/fun more important to you?
I think figuring out that distinction + what you want out of your partnership is important. I personally value growing WITH my horse; it makes the horse feel more like it’s “mine”. Of course, getting on a packer is super fun - but only short term for me. Getting a good feel of a packer seems to not take much time at all, and I feel like I have a constant expectation to be 100% on all of the time and that every issue/accident is my fault. Everyone is different though!!

I’d personally buy #1 or lease #2.
It sounds like #1 is already doing similar to what you’re doing (perfect!) and could hopefully do more - wouldn’t it be so fun if YOU got him there?
#2 sounds extremely fun and exciting - but it sounds like you may be able to skip some steps with him (and learning those steps will most likely come in handy for your inevitable next horse), which makes me think that maybe his limit might hit sooner than you currently believe you’re capable of.

Saying that, nothing’s preventing either one of them from stepping off your trailer lame, or going lame 2 years from now, so living in the moment might be the best move… such a difficult (but fun) predicament to decide on!! Good luck, would love to know which one you go with (and of course we need pics/vids)!
(And any chance you could take one - or even both - on trial for a week? Do people still do that? You might be able to get a better sense of which you’re more excited to partner with longterm after a week.)


Horse 2. I myself as a teen had an Ex showjumper and my dad had an ex GP showjumper to learn on and I can not tell you how valuable the confidence they will give you is. You can not put a price on a jumper that knows its job!


It’s a very lovely predicament, both are extremely suitable for me. If you saw a video of me on either on its own you would say “go buy that horse today!” I may have undersold my ability a little bit. The schoolmaster, we could jump a little 1.0m next week. The younger one we would probably get there in a year or two. They are both quite kind and forgiving.


Horse #2. Bird in the hand and all that. You can buy horse #1 in a few years.


I would think more about what makes it that #1 would be better at a lower height with you right now and how guaranteed you really think a linear progression will be. Is it a situation where that horse might lose some confidence and you might find yourself working hard to rebuild that again for both of you? Is it a rideability issue? Are you working in a program that will definitely be able to take you from A to B with that horse? I sometimes see people say “ok, I will have to do x with this horse right now but it will do y with me later” only to find that the reasons it can only do x with the less experienced ride right now actually increase, rather than decrease, at least for a while and that can result in setbacks and in some cases a horse that is several years older than it was purchased with a bad record and some confidence or behavioral issues and a rider who has less confidence and missed out on some fun years building their own skills and enjoying the process.

Sometimes it absolutely does work out and a horse can drop down a level or two with a rider and really build up back smoothly together but more often than not I see it a struggle, especially for a less experienced rider (jumping). For instance 2’6 to 3’3 requires a big step up in accuracy for most horses and often much more technicality in courses. I would just think really carefully about what you think the journey would be with horse 1. Horse 2 seems like a better fit to me based on the information provided.


Are they priced the same? #2 should be big bucks or I might wonder what the real story is with him. I bought a #1, a little different (was jumping much higher than I will ever want to jump) and it’s been pretty amazing. For instance- an ex GP show jumper that is a year younger than what you posted is being leased for 50K for a year…

#2- I’d do a thorough pre purchase and look at show records. In the horse world- if it sounds too good to be true- it probably is…


agree that you need horse 2 now so you can get a horse like #1 in several years. Then you will have all the tools you need.


I have always found it easier to move up with a horse that already has experience at that height. Even better if it’s got scope to get out of any stupid situations I accidentally put them in. I also think there’s a huge perk in riding something with the buttons, especially if you haven’t had them before. There is a learning curve to making sure you aren’t hitting the wrong ones, and it really establishes the correct feel that you can then translate when it comes time to install them yourself.

I would absolutely go with #2 and soak up as much as he can teach you, which just gives you so many more options when you search for the next one after he retires.


Horse 2, hands down, if everything is “as advertised”.

He should be shockingly expensive unless the maintenance is intensive or he’s showing more wear and tear than your average 15yo GP/Eq horse. I’d do some digging on his show record and vet him well (while being realistic).

All things the same, however, that’s a no-brainer to learn on a school master. I’m just cautious because most people are leasing that for quite a price every year, unless you’re very familiar with the program and there’s a reason they would rather sell.


I’ll just reiterate what others have said #2 should be so so so much more than horse #1. If it isn’t I’d be looking as to why.


It doesn’t seem like these should be the same price.


FYI to everyone asking they are not the same price.


I had a horse #2 and it was life-changing. I would make the decision to buy him a million times over, despite the fact that I lost him too young.

You will not regret owning a horse like that. Especially since you have a place to retire him.


Thanks, OP. Have you looked at the show record of the ex GP horse? Is it really an ex GP horse as in miles In the big ring or a horse that maybe has shown in a GP or 2.

Making it a point to consider, because I know someone who recently bought a horse that “had gone training” . Sure had- but not without stops and Elimination etc. after the fact asked around and a very reputable trainer had taught the horse and it was maxed out a level or 2 below, with a notorious sour attitude. Horse has been lovely for new owner doing way below what she wants to do, trainer thinks it will become an issue as the person moves up.

Just saying do your due diligence.

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We haven’t looked at his USEF record yet but on the todo list. I suspect it’s more the latter, and the last kid did some 1.10/1.20 and the big eq. Without getting too much in the financial weeds, there is some good timing on my side with this one as well. I did pop a couple fences at 1.0m when I tried him and even if he says that’s enough in height it was so fun and I felt more confident than I’ve probably ever felt.

In response to @Pennywell_Bay