Discussion in 'Horse Classifieds' started by Moostang, Mar 1, 2006.
I added some suggestions about receiving a damaged item.
Horse Buying Basics (Barrel Horses)
Tips from CHarmayne James
Be educated about the barrel horse marketplace and consider ways to make your shopping experience successful.
Shopping for a barrel horse can be an intimidating challenge.
People are real leery of getting taken advantage of and sometimes for good reason. I think though, that worrying sometimes blinds them because it makes it more difficult to be truly objective about the horse.
The key to successful horse shopping is to be an educated buyer, rather than a leery one. People need more education about training and soundness issues to be better equipped as prospective buyers.
Carefully Weigh the Training Program
It seems to me that a lot of people go to look at horses and end up running them in the horse's home arena. Horses are usually good at home and it takes a lot of time to get a horse solid away from home. Take the horse's age and experience into consideration, but try the horse at an event as well as at home. And, be realistic with your expectations.
I advise running a horse in practice and at an event to see how he handles the energy of a competitive environment. There are horses that might work perfectly at home that will duck off, run off or have other issues at the barrel race. A horse that is represented as a finished horse needs to work consistently. If the horse is advertised as 1D material make sure you know as a prospective buyer if it's 1D at the local level or at the big shows, and keep in mind that competition is different in various regions of the country so 1D is a subjective term.
There are people who will misrepresent how far along a horse is in order to make a sale. Or, they might not even fully comprehend that the prospective buyer won't be able to pick up right where the seller left off in the horse's seasoning and training. An older solid horse or a young horse that's one in a million might adjust to a new rider flawlessly, but it's pretty rare.
Be consistent with the previous owner's program because if you're not it causes great confusion for the horse. Sometimes people will buy a five or six year old that's accustomed to jackpots and needs seasoning at the rodeos and they'll try to make the NFR. Be fair to the horse. Three or four rodeo runs a week is probably too excessive for a horse at that stage. Be prepared to run here and there and to back off when they start to lose confidence.
Go back for a lesson or some help before little problems get out of hand. That's why it's so important to pick reputable sellers, be comfortable with the training program and be willing to get help from them. It's advantageous to the buyer to have a good relationship with the seller in order to get help from the person who is most familiar with that horse and its performance and training.
A horse that's broke at the poll and not overbent when he runs and turns indicates that someone has invested some serious time in that horse. On the other hand, a horse that's constantly turning it's head way to the inside and moving it's hind end way to the outside hasn't been trained to track correctly. As a prospective buyer, know that a horse like this will develop more soundness issues as a result. Horses that are trained to track forward and break at the poll with balanced carriage will stay sounder longer.
Even the most solid of horses can develop problems within a month with a new, and especially an inexperienced, rider. Unless the rider improves, they will instill bad habits in the horse. That puts some responsibility on the seller to keep in mind that, while it's desirable to make a sale, it's also in everyone's best interest to wait for the person who suits the horse best.
When evaluating a horse's soundness and conformation, the number one limiting factor is the size and soundness of the horse's feet. It's essential that a horse have good-sized feet because bad feet cause more problems for the horse in the long run than anything.
To quote John Byrd, D.V.M., "There are 12,000 pounds per square inch on the bottom of the foot and also on the flexor tendons when a horse is running and all the weight is passing over one limb. That's why it's important not to have a big horse with small feet. As the adage goes, 'no foot no horse.'"
You have to look at the shoeing that the horse has received and be educated about the fact that poor shoeing and hoof care can create potential long term problems for the horse. Blemishes and crooked legs are also factors that indicate that a horse might not hold up under the extreme demands of barrel racing.
The number two major factor when looking at conformation and soundness is that the horse must have balanced conformation. There are horses that flat out have more natural ability and God-given talent. Those horses make it happen. When you try that type of horse know their past; how they've been trained, cared for and handled. One soundness consideration to weigh in is that oftentimes those real good horses will tear themselves up physically, versus one that doesn't put forth his best effort. That's where care and maintenance are crucial to keep a great horse liking his job.
A prospect is harder because you don't know exactly where they're at until you put a clock on them, but weigh their physical and mental attributes carefully. In addition to excellent conformation, make sure when you're considering a prospect that the horse is kind and hasn't been abused. It's a big gamble trying to bring one back that has.
A prettier individual is good to consider from a resale standpoint, but at the end of the day it's not about who has the prettiest horse, it's about which one is the fastest. If I'm comparing one that's a proven winner that's ugly and requires some maintenance with "the perfect horse" looks-wise, I'll pick the winner.
You have to gauge heart too. Don't envision "the perfect horse," because there's no such thing. All performance horses, particularly barrel racing horses, require extra care. The person that's willing to go the extra mile caring for their horse will often establish a bond and give that horse some extra try.
A good gauge of soundness is to lead the horse onto a hard surface and ask him to trot in small circles. Head bobbing or shortening of the stride at a short trot on a hard, flat surface is a great indicator that something needs to be looked into further.
A pre-purchase exam will provide information on the horse's general health - heart, eyes and any obvious lameness. Just because you get x-rays with a pre-purchase does not mean that there's not the beginnings of arthritis present. The horse should be flexed for soundness and if anything appears questionable, get to the root of it sooner than later. Be aware of maintenance considerations; flexing the horse will show possible problems with joints. Ideally, I don't like to pick a horse that carries fluid in his joints, but if the horse is off you have to find out why and determine if the prescribed maintenance will work for you financially and time-wise.
Be aware that if a horse has his hocks regularly injected every three to four months that there's a problem. Injections are fine, but just know that if a horse needs a lot of them to keep going that it can get worse with time, not better.
Just like you have to be aware of the training program that the horse is used to, as a buyer you have to understand the program that you're buying into such as the horse's shoeing, chiropractic and dental needs. If you plan to rodeo, these considerations come with the territory.
Barrel horses are high priced. What people overlook sometimes, however, is what a large investment the seller often has in his or her horse - particularly a finished or even young horse that's been broke and seasoned right and not rushed.
There's at least $500 a month in training bills, plus fuel, and the high costs related to hauling a horse to rodeos or jackpots to season; not to mention entry fees and general care and upkeep, or the breeding fees initially invested to produce a strong prospect.
Nice prospects started well on the barrels can easily cost $10,000 or $15,000. I know there are sales now where even yearling prospects are bringing $10,000. On the high end prospects are as much as $15,000 and on the low end they're at least $2,500.
If you're looking for a solid 1D horse with no issues for $10,000, it's not going to happen. In my experience horses priced that reasonably that are legitimately 1D runners will have some type of issue, whether it's soundness related or a major training or performance issue. Some gambles payoff, but in those scenarios there are no guarantees. Be educated about what you're getting into. Look for good deals but consider the breeding, time and training already invested in that individual.
Also remember that you're essentially buying into a person's program. So look at the long run versus the short term. Too many soundness issues are a nightmare, but on the other hand an older, proven horse can be maintained - just be realistic and well prepared for what you're getting into. Also, be honest enough about your riding level too. Don't overmatch yourself or take on a training project that might require more time or skill than you have.
Shopping For Kids
The number one item of advice that I have for parents that's related to finding the right horse for their child is to invest in horsemanship lessons first and foremost. Beyond the mechanics of riding, a child (or adult, for that matter) has to learn to feel that horse underneath them. I'd recommend getting in touch with someone that specializes in horsemanship. There are qualified reining and cutting horse trainers out there too that are very good at teaching horsemanship skills.
For little kids, I hate to see parents overmatch them. Find a safe horse that's a confidence builder because fear causes a rider to get tight and tense. Don't start out with too much horse or introduce a child to barrel racing by pushing them when they're too young. Be cautious and supervise little children very closely.
The Right Fit
Horses and people have different personalities and some suit one type better than others. I feel like I get along with a lot of different personality types in horses because I encourage mutual respect.
There are horses that appear to be full of potential that are running at the 3D and 4D levels, but when you try and step them up they don't take the pressure. Consider that. Consider that not all of them are meant to be the best of the best. Make sure that the horse you're looking at suits your long term goals, and that you can live with the quirks.
Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a disease of the nervous system in horses and was first recognized in the United States in the early to mid-1970s. In the early 1990s researchers isolated the causative organism and named it Sarcocystis neurona. EPM can affect the horse's brain, brainstem, spinal cord, or any combination of these three areas of the central nervous system. The disease may present itself with a variety of different clinical signs, dependent on the location of the damage caused by the organism within the central nervous system.
Charmayne sees many horses suffering from slight as well as severe cases of EPM. Due to the prevalence of the disease, she recommends thoroughly checking out any symptoms. The disease attacks horses of any age, sex and breed and is particularly a concern if you plan on investing a significant amount of money to buy a horse.
According to information provided by Dr. Byrd, a new test for EPM is being used by the University of California at Davis's School of Veterinary Medicine. It's termed the SarcoFlour (Sarcocystis neurona indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT)) test.
The test is a blood serum test and not based on spinal cord serum titer, which according to Dr. Byrd is the reason that they have been able to get away from collecting Cerebral Spinal Fluid.
"They compared histopath findings of the spinal cords that had EPM lesions and the titer in blood serum for the organism. The higher the titer corresponded with the positive findings in the spinal cord," added Dr. Byrd.
In comparison to the second available test for EPM - the SarcoBlot (Sarcocystis neurona estern Blot), the new test is proving to diagnose EPM more accurately. For example, UCD cites one horse in a recent case study that tests negative with the SarcoFluor test and positive with the SarcoBlot.
Clinical symptoms must also be factored into the diagnosis. Know the history of the horse and if he's been in an area of the country where possum and raccoons (carriers of the disease) are prevalent. Clinical signs often include loss of muscle over the croup area. Depending upon the severity of the case, when moving in a small circle the horse will display a lack of ability to know
where he's placing his hind end and will move "with a swinging" motion behind, and may even hit himself. A thorough diagnosis is necessary however, since there are other diseases associated with similar clinical symptoms.
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