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Yearling jumping style as predictor of future success

How much weight do you put into the first time in the jump chute? A little background: went to a farm last week, saw a few yearlings loose in the ring, I liked two of them. Of the two, the bay was significantly better balanced, had great changes, powerful hind end, and was a canter horse (preferred the canter to the trot). The chestnut was also a lovely mover, but less balanced, less powerful, and preferred the trot. Both are jumper bred out the wazoo. I’m well aware that chestnut filly could be in a growth spurt and not as balanced for that reason.

A few days later, went back to see them jump (small stuff, under 1m). Bay filly was first - super distracted as her buddy was in the barn. Did not jump well at. all. I was really bummed. She stopped a couple of times (nbd, I think it was her first time in the chute), eventually jumped everything, but with hanging legs and punched out the front rail on the oxer the first time.

Chestnut filly was incredible even careful over the first pole on the ground, jumped with great style over everything. Her buddy was also in the barn so equally distracted.

For various reasons, I like the bay much better. Would you be worried about the first performance in the chute? If they were both so-so, I’d chalk it up to them being young/inexperienced, but with how good the chestnut was, I’m wondering if the bay just isn’t going to be that great of a jumper.


Can you go see them both go through the chute again and see if the same results happen? I guess, depending on what those various reasons are for you liking the bay more, it would solidify your choice to go with that one over the chestnut.

But unless the bay filly does much better, maybe the chestnut is the way to go…especially if she goes amazingly the second time around?


One breeder I know gives his 3 year olds two chances in the jump chute, another I know gives 3. Others might give more than that. If I already owned the bay, I wouldn’t necessarily be worried yet, especially as a yearling, but it would definitely be in the back of my mind. As a buyer, I wouldn’t purchase unless I saw it jump again and the performance was significantly better.


That young, who can honestly predict their future performance as there are so many variables and uncertainties? However, I’ve always found it works best for me if I purchase the horse with whom I have a “connection”, the one I immediately like, the one who makes me think “what a nice person you are” when I give them a friendly rub. A pleasant character and temperament will always be present, even if they win an Olympic gold or end up retired in a pasture on three good legs.


Without a video it’s just too hard to tell. The fact that they bay was pretty distracted can mean a lot. Some young horses do have the innate auto-pilot when it comes to form over fences. But for those who don’t, that doesn’t mean the first try which was meh, especially when distracted, won’t turn into something quite nice once the horse relaxes and focuses.

I’d want to see each of them go through again. I’d want to know the chute was set up for their success, ie not just random distances, there were some placing poles, etc.

care and style don’t tell you about scope, so there’s that aspect too, depending on your desired level of showing.

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Seeing them go again is maybe an option. They are over the pond, so I certainly couldn’t fly there but I might be able to get them to send a video. The issue is, they normally don’t jump the yearlings so I don’t want to ask for too much. Yes, if I’m buying a horse then they can be accommodating, but I don’t want to be a tire kicker if I decide not to go with either of them.

Frankly, connection is a HUGE thing for me as well, which is why I like the bay better. She really was interested in me ignoring her hay to blow in my face, sniff me, check out my coffee cup, etc, where as the chestnut was kind of take it or leave it. That’s why I was so bummed that the bay didn’t jump as well.

How many times do we hear of horses going much further in competitions because of that connection, that willingness to work with their human? Or how often are dreams dashed when a horse says “nah, this really isn’t my game” or it indulges in one of those suicidal moments that so many horses have?

All things equal: pedigree; movement, price then go with the bay because you like it.

Are there other options beyond these two? Seems like you aren’t feeling the chestnut and I believe in trusting your gut with horses, especially young ones, but unless you can see the bay jump again and it goes better I would not risk the expense of buying and importing a yearling. The stopping would bother me more than the rails. There are so many risks with buying one that young anyway, I wouldn’t add to those risks by buying one that didn’t look like it came to it naturally because it’ll be years of care, expense, and risk before you can find out what you really have.

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Well I’ve been shopping for literal years, so are there other options? Maybe? I didn’t even want to import one anyway (wanted US bred) but here we are :confused:

I hear what you’re saying about the bay though, you’re not wrong.

Curious what your criteria is for what you’re looking for, if you’re willing to share? Are you only looking for yearlings? Only fillies?

Mare, unstarted, ideally 1-3yo, 9+ mover, 9+ jump, independent, excellent brain, spicy. Ideally US bred. Will be an upper level jumper.

I’ve seen hundreds of horses over the past few years. Still looking 🫤

I had no idea people based jumping abilities of yearlings. I didn’t think it was possible to predict because they grow so much that they could be completely differently packaged when adult.


there’s a lot you can tell about their inherent willingness, braveness, carefulness, and form. 1 jump isn’t enough, but a few to see if they catch on can tell a lot.

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Going to leave this thread up for educational purposes, but just heard back on the firm price (I had been given a range before) and import fees (double what the farm had quoted me…) and unfortunately going to pass on either of these two.

Back to the drawing board :sob:

Ugh I’m sorry. I hope you find a match soon!

Tangent (and by no means saying YOU did this OP) but I think buyers often assume the middle of the range while sellers almost invariably mean the top. Couple that with “mid fives” or “low sixes” meaning vastly different things to different people and you have a recipe for frustration across the board. As exciting as a new horse can be, shopping is really no fun!


For sure. They were actually in the middle of the (10k) range, but it was for both fillies so I was hoping the one I liked would be the lower end. Even the lower end was 10k more than I wanted to spend for a yearling, PLUS there’s import.

I’ve been doing this long enough that I just assume I’ll be disappointed, so at least there’s that! :rofl::sob:🤦🏻

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There must be breeders in the US who are producing what you want. Have you found particular stallions you like? Ask the stallion owners who is breeding what from their animals.

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one of the best horses I bought was because the way she looked at us, we had looked at several hundred head looking for a specific need. This long yearling which was not what we wanted had been placed in an end stall of an outer barn that we kept walking by. She would intently follow us with her eyes.

We left and while driving away we talked about what we saw decided that we should go back to buy that filly which we did.

We kept her until her natural death at 28. Funny thing was she did nearly every discipline except what she was bought for. (and did everything at a Very competitive level winning many national awards) and was the friend to many, a great ambassador of the breed

She never lost that her interest in us, always gave her upmost in all things

Evidently we were not the only ones that noticed this within the Morgan breed as the slogan of the breed association is the Morgan is known as “the horse that chooses you”


Canada has lots of nicely bred jumpers too, you’d be saving on the exchange as well. Depending on where you are in the US, but if East Cost area, the drive to Ontario isn’t too bad and there are lots of nice breeders in and around the Toronto area. I know of a nice yearling filly off the top of my head!