Thursday, July 7, 2016

Things I Would Do Differently If I Bought Again

In some ways, I think I did a pretty good job buying Boca. I managed to get a near 16h, sound and sane (although the sound part is a little questionable now) gelding that is appropriate for my riding level, for $1,500. All this without the guidance or in-put of a trainer.

Boca's Sale Ad. Florida, circa 2014

But in some ways, I look back and think I might have done some things differently. It's been a long, slow road to get us to a point of serviceably sound and functional at a pretty low level. On the other hand, I have a wonderful, sweet horse that is a joy to have in the barn, that I can pretty much trust with my life, so there is that.

1) Age

When I bought Boca, he was 9 years old. I though anything under 10 was a pretty decent age for a horse. Old enough to be sensible, young enough to have many more miles in him. However, at 11 years old, Boca is already developing arthritis, which will have to be managed carefully. If I were to buy again, I would probably shoot for a younger horse. There are no guarantees in horses, and when your budget is as limited as mine was, beggars can't be choosers. But knowing what I know now, I might try to find a younger prospect.

Mystery Horse

2) History

I have no history on what Boca did from ages 2-9. I bought him from a dealer, who had picked him up at auction in Florida 10 days earlier. I don't know how much or how hard he was worked - or not worked. I don't know if any of his history has any bearing on the physical issues that we ran into. It would be nice to have some idea of what he experienced. It may have given me some insight into managing his health, training or lifestyle.

Awkward yet cute 
3) Conformation

One thing I gave little thought to when I purchased Boca was conformation. Four legs and a Tail? Great! I'll take it. Unfortunately, Boca is kind of a trainwreck conformationally and it makes his job much harder than it needs to be. He has a HUGE shoulder on relatively short front legs. Each of his legs face a different direction (I think God might have been a little tipsy when he molded the clay on this one). His neck is too short, ties in low, and is upright. In short, an elegant picture he is not.

*Not Boca

4) Already Doing the Job I Wanted Him to Do

In all honesty, I knew I was sacrificing something in order to get the bargain basement price on a horse. You don't get sound, sane and well trained for $1,500. What I didn't realize was the amount of time it would take to get a horse physically and mentally ready to do a fairly low level job. I'm not a pro - that much is clear - but I greatly underestimated how much it would take a relatively ammy rider with no trainer and an auction horse to get even to the bottom rungs of the ladder. We're 2+ years in and we're still not there yet. With the hindsight wisdom of the journey we have been on, it might have made more sense to save my pennies and buy a horse that was already doing the job I wanted to do, rather than try to make one. I'm not a horse trainer, nor would anyone mistake me for one.


It can be hard to see people flying past me, on the way to achieving their goals, at what seems like the speed of light.

Despite of all this, I love the horse I own. He trusts me and takes care of me, and that is hard to put a value on. Would I have done things differently? Maybe. Or maybe I would have made the same mistakes all over again, with a less forgiving horse. There are no guarantees in horses.


  1. It's so easy to look back and say you'd do things differently. But as you said, there's not guarantees in horses... especially with soundness. I got Miles at 7 and we've had soundness issues. My first horse passed at 19 and my best friend's horse is 21 and showing at 3' still.

    You just... never know. And that's one of the hardest things about being an equestrian.

  2. I think we could all write a similar post about our horses. Looking back, I should have probably not gotten Simon with his physical issues and lack of a lead change... but it was the best decision for me. As for Roman? Who knows :)

  3. I think we all learn and look back and would do things differently. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have waited a few months and used the money I inherited from my grandmother to up my budget. As it happened that paid for EPM treatment and a custom saddle. I don't have any regrets but if I knew I was going to be able to double my budget in a few months I would have waited.

  4. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Either way, you ended up with a sweet horse, who is not dangerous, and a good friend.

  5. Agree with Carey, I think you got a good one in Boca :)

  6. There are always things that could be different. I think you got the horse you needed.

  7. i think no matter what, there is always a sacrifice with horses. whether it's in training, soundness, personality, whatever. i like to daydream about what qualities i'll look for in my next horse too... but probably it'll have issues of its own that i haven't even considered yet.

  8. We learn from every horse along the way. I know I could do a better job now with horses that I had before, but all I can do is roll that knowledge into taking the best care of the horse I have today. :-)

  9. We definitely have lessons learned along the way and I think we can always apply them the next go round!