By Raye Lochert
Quite often I find myself on the politically incorrect side of topics. But I have always prided myself on being pretty realistic. Picking the right horse is a practice in realism. So often people want to pick a horse based on color, breed, bloodlines, or just because “they’re so darn cute”. While I have been guilty of all these things in the past there is a movement that has been causing my phone to ring off the hook. Rescue horses.
These days you can rescue a horse from just about anywhere. Off the track, PMU (pregnant mare urine), BLM Mustangs and even from private organizations. I receive notices of available adoptions on a weekly basis. These horses deserve a good home rather than the alternative and these events are a great way to find the homes. The price is right. A few hundred dollars or maybe even nothing can secure you your very own horse. The problem is that many of these horses come with very little or no training and quite often end up in the wrong hands. This is where my phone starts to ring. Being rescues they almost all come with some sort of problem, whether it be physical or mental.
In almost every case the intent of the purchase is truly from the heart with the idea that whatever has been in this horse’s past the new owner will fix it with tons of love and good care. Because the desire is so strong to save this poor animal from its current situation the complete picture isn’t always clearly considered. There’s probably no question as to the quantity of love the new owner can bring to this animal. But what about his/her realistic ability in handling the horse and/or affording to hire someone qualified to work through whatever previous mental or physical damage that was done?
PMUs, Mustangs, and ex-racehorses all can be very reactive - though some of the best end products from my program have been these types of horses. But they did try me and they tried me hard. I have great memories of a Mustang I trained. He was an incredible little four wheel drive machine that would go anywhere. But he took time. I have had PMU foals come through that could not be touched and left 3 months later ready to ride down the trail or racehorses that would rather bolt through a fence than be ridden at a walk. Most of these horses have turned out all right. At the same time I have had well bred, beautiful horses that were never going to come out the other side in the right state of mind.
I live by a statement that I heard a long time ago. There is a horse for every person, but there is not a person for every horse. Some horses are not meant for a life with people. Though there are not many that fall into this category they seem to be readily available.
When looking for a horse realize the purchase price is the cheapest part of the whole deal. Quite often the horses that cost the least to purchase will cost you the most to own. Get one that is good for you and what you want to do. Don’t fall into the trap of having a pretty palomino for trail riding.
We had a horse here at the ranch that’s a great example. He was really nothing special. As a matter of fact, his owner acquired him because his previous owner ran into his current owner’s truck. This horse would do anything and tried very hard to please. His owner brought him to me because of trailer loading and pull-back issues. He’s the kind of horse I love working with because of his willingness. But he is just a pudgy brown horse. No flash and no zip. He’s the horse for just about anyone.
At the same time I had a very well bred horse that was completely off his rocker. It took three times as long to teach him anything. He would bolt for no apparent reason and was afraid of his own shadow. But he’s a real looker. Very flashy, very cute and VERY difficult. At least he’s willing to try.
No matter how much love you have to give, horses are big, powerful, instinctual animals. They function on a fight or flight response. This can be EXTREMELY dangerous. Essentially if you have the time, know how, or financial ability, to train a spooky, fearful or aggressive horse then do it. It can be very rewarding! But if you just want to go ride and have a good time tomorrow, take the time to find the right horse for you. You will have that horse for years to come so don’t rush it!
ð Take your time finding a horse.
ð Get some help from a friend or a trainer.
ð Look around and DON’T fall for the first one.
ð There are so many available.
ð Try not to fall for looks.
ð Get one within your financial and skill level.
ð Make sure the owner rides it first before you do.
ð Get a ten day trial.
ð Get a vet check.
ð The purchase price may be the least expensive part of the whole deal.
ð From the day you take ownership you will be partners.
ð You will be together for a long time so pick your partners wisely.
Enjoy your horse.