|Nothing like experience|
I've done it both ways.
Here are my thoughts:
|Plus he had scope|
1) I frequently hear ammies say that they want a horse with enough scope to save them when they make bad decisions and use that as a rationale to buy a younger, fancier horse vs an older packer. That isn't necessarily bad logic, but here are some better thought processes:
- A more athletic and younger horse is going to use more athletic and greener evasions that are by definition harder to ride. Almost no one gets bucked off an unfit old draft horse because, hello, that horse can't buck for shit. The same is not true of your young, green warmblood. I'm not advocating for unfit draft horses here, but you get my point.
- A wise old campaigner has a lot more options than scope to save you with. Instead of relying on sheer athletic ability and raw talent, the horse can make solid decisions because it understands the questions being asked both by the rider and by the obstacles. He may not really want to leap that square oxer from a standstill since you completely buried him, but he can see that you're going to bury him and adjust accordingly. Or stop, which is actually about 1000% safer for everyone involved.
2) Another common objection to a schoolmaster type is that a one horse ammy is going to have a hard time affording the maintenance that comes along with some wear and tear that you'd expect to see on a more established horse.
- First off, a horse coming down from a more vigorous career generally already has an established maintenance routine. Can I just say how much easier it is to budget for something that you know exists?
- This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I would always always always rather pay for some corrective shoeing or hock injections or special supplements instead of training and (unfortunate reality) medical bills in the event of a mishap. Horses are going to cost you money--be smart about where you choose to spend it.
3) The last really big objection to the older schoolmaster horse is just that a one-horse ammy isn't set up to provide a proper retirement for that eventual day when the horse needs to step down even more. Having one horse is a financial strain and no one wants to set themselves up to have that horse be unrideable. This is a really hard question and I get it, absolutely.
- Where there's a will, there's a way. I never, ever thought I'd be able to afford two horses, but last summer/fall, I found a way to make it work. Yeah, it wasn't a fancy showing situation, but everyone was having their needs met. It definitely requires creative thinking and hard work. It's totally worth it.
- No one likes to think about this, but young horses are far from immune to career ending injuries. It raises a lot of difficult questions that we need to be willing to address if we're going to have horses in our lives.
4) Ok, one more. Be realistic about your actual goals. If you aren't prepared with sponsors and training facilities and a thorough understanding of the upper levels, don't buy buy a horse with the talent for Rolex "just in case". No one gets to Rolex (or Grand Prix, or Tevis, or what-have-you) by mistake. If you're getting back into horses for the first time as an adult, look for an appropriate match that will give you experience and build your confidence.
- Just because a horse is older (or less fancy) doesn't mean it can't perform perfectly well. This is especially true if you're wanting to trail ride and do dressage or compete on your local circuit or just have fun with your horse. He may not be a world beater, but he can still be your friend.
- A young horse doesn't care if it ever goes to Rolex, but that talent isn't going to be wasted. If he can jump five feet from a standstill, well, that's great for Phillip Dutton dropping in to the head of the lake, but it's going to SUCK BALLS when he does it in the dressage arena with you up.
When I hear fellow ammies talk about buying ridiculously green and athletic horses, I cringe just a little bit. It can certainly be done successfully, but by definition, we ammies are more jack-of-all-trade types instead of qualified specialists. We have to be able to hold down a job, interact with friends, co-workers, and family (who are usually non-horsey), and function in an unrelenting world of normal people. We don't get to follow the circuit and ride 10 horses a day and develop the kind of skills that go along with it, so we absolutely need to benefit from the sort of people who do.
If you have the resources and patience to start a greenie, by all means, go for it! It can be a fun and rewarding process. It's not for everyone and I'd say there are HUGE perks to letting yourself learn from a horse who's been around the block a few times.
Let's face it. The only reason I can have fun with Courage right now is because of all the things that Cuna taught me when we were together.
<3 those golden oldies.