Buying a riding school horse

ReturneeRider

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Dec 11, 2018
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I returned to riding in Feb 2019, after many years out of the saddle. Having a horse of my own was a childhood dream and now I'm finally in a financial position to make it happen.

Several of the horses at my RS are available for sale if the right offer is made. I'm thinking about enquiring about one of them. The obvious pros are that I know the horse already, she wouldn't get stressed out by relocation (livery is available at the yard), and I know and trust my RI/the yard owner. Are there any downsides to buying an established lesson horse as a first horse? Has anyone here done it?
 

GaryB

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Mar 23, 2015
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There can be several downsides. The horses are probably currently in quite a lot of work - it they then go down to working a couple of times a week it can change their character a bit (so your ploddy school horse may not be so ploddy anymore!).
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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In my experience yes, their workload drastically reduces so they can change character almost, and when they are no longer just being asked to do the routine nose to tail and everyone take turns they can take offence and not be so easy to ride or manage. You might get lucky but it’s not uncommon for there to be issues once they are in private ownership. I’d be a little wary of the ‘if the right offer comes along’ situation, they aren’t going to sell them for anything other than top dollar and are likely expecting you will pay over the odds just because you know them already.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I havent but someone i know brought a riding school pony from a school that was closing. They had been riding it for several years so knew the pony was ok for there daughter. They had one or two issues but the child progressed very well on it and actually outgrew it weight wise. So they sold it on. But a few people had seen it at pony club and were lining up to buy it.
The most obvious issue is if the horses are only used in the riding school and you buy to happy hack then it may not be happy to go off the yard.
 
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newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Why are they selling them?
It sounds good to buy a horse that you know and keep it where you know, but what are you actually learning /achieving from that arrangement?
Are you going to keep on DIY livery with use of the facilities or pay more money for assisted or full livery?
 
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ReturneeRider

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Why are they selling them?
It sounds good to buy a horse that you know and keep it where you know, but what are you actually learning /achieving from that arrangement?
Are you going to keep on DIY livery with use of the facilities or pay more money for assisted or full livery?

I'm nervous about over-horsing myself. A friend who returned to riding about six months before I did recently fell in love with and bought an amazing horse, but she can't handle him and I don't want to make the same mistake. A RS horse I already know seemed like a safer option. I do want a horse I can grow with, but I don't want to find myself completely out of my depth.

I'd want DIY livery, but it would be convenient to have experienced people on hand that I know and can ask for advice.

They aren't actively selling horses as such. I asked my RI if she could help me find a suitable first horse, and she told me that the yard owner will sometimes consider a sale if she gets a good offer. The last time someone bought a horse from them was four years ago, so it isn't something that happens a lot. I do trust them to have horse welfare in mind and not try to push a sale on me.

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. I'll have to think this through carefully and explore other options too.
 

newforest

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What you might want to consider is a winter loan from that yard. You have cost, on hand experience and it will give you an idea of what it's like to make choices for yourself.
 
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carthorse

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Wherever you buy from you need to start by being very clear on what you need. As your friend found out it's very easy to overhorse yourself, and much as I'm someone who buys for life it isn't generally wise to buy something that you think you can learn to ride - you may do, or you may end up hurt or giving up. And learn to read what adverts don't say, eg good to hack in company doesn't mean it will hack alone, has seen hounds doesn't mean it's a sane hunter etc etc.

I think others have covered the main things specific to ex school horses. If they're concerned about a good match rather than just top dollar would the be prepared for you to pay for a month's trial where the horse isn't used in the school and you act as though he was yours? There's no harm in asking. And also be very sure it'll be open to a vetting, some school horses can have quite a bit of wear and tear.
 
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Mary Poppins

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I have 2 worries about buying a riding school horse. The first one is that school horses typically are ridden for 2 to 3 hours per day, sometimes more on school holidays etc. If you are going to drastically reduce their workload to just one hour per day or less, you may find the horse becomes much sharper. Secondly, there is likely to be more 'wear and tear' on their bodies as a result of doing such work. Make sure you get any horse thoroughly vetted to make sure that any potential problems are spotted before you buy.

Also, make sure that the horse is happy to hack out solo and is OK travelling and leaving the yard. Many riding school horses only work in groups and cannot do things independently.

This all sounds very negative, but I appreciate that it can be a wonderful experience as well. I have just seen it going wrong more times than I have see it turn out well.
 

Huggy

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I can't add much to all the replies - my YO always talks about her first horse, bought from riding school - carted her round the forest for a good few years, and never got used to the more sedate life. But then again, her 2nd horse was an ex racehorse - absolute diamond - you could have put a toddler on him and he'd have had no problem. It would be a sound idea to see if you could loan one of your choice for a few weeks, as mentioned by carthorse.
 
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Zannah

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Nov 9, 2018
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So did you buy a horse in the end?
I came back to horses after 35yrs and brought a riding school horse, but it was one I had on part loan for 1 and half years. I fell in love with her and its been the best thing I could have done. But that was because I already loved her and knew her limitations. Otherwise I wouldn't dive in and buy from a riding school . She did have issues with being hacked out on her own at first but as I grew up riding I was quite confident dealing with a horse throwing a strop (napping). I've always said people think she's easy to ride but she isn't, well she is for me but you can't just sit there if you do she will take advantage. Riding school horses are often scared to be out alone, it can be worked with but it might always be there a little bit. Its a big change of life for a riding school horse to go to a private owner. For my horse it was the right time for her to retire from the school however she still lives there, has all her mates and I have the benefit of knowledgable people on the yard. I would definitely ask about part loaning. Lots of the people in my yard brought after doing this and have been very happy.
 
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Huggy

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My present boy is ex riding school, and although I wouldn't swap him for the world, I can see why he was sold on to the girl I bought him from. He's slow, stubborn, and before I got a handle on his "quirks" he was a force to be reckoned with. Now, he's still slow, not nearly as stubborn, and turning (slowly) into the boy I hoped he'd be.
 
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Warwick 81

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Aug 19, 2021
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I bought my horse Warwick from a riding school, he was good for experienced riders who were soft with their hands and could ride through the seat but for more novice riders he would bolt and the more you pull him the faster her gets. I always got on with him so had him on a loan scheme but he wasn't really suited as a riding school horse with different levels of rider on so I asked if I could buy him and it was the best decision I made I've had him 15 years and he's 31 this year, I can no longer ride him because he's only 14.1hh and I'm too big for him now, I have taught a 10 year old to ride on him and because she has learnt to ride quietly he's really good for her and still enjoys being ridden a couple of times a week now, I would recommend loaning a horse before buying, even though I have bhs Qualifications and a HND in horse studies from University I got the confidence to own my own horse through originally loaning
 

Huggy

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Welcome to the forum :) . I also loaned a horse (Not RS) before I bought. She was utterly evil, I gave her back, but realised if I could cope with her, I was ready! Your boy is very lucky - you were obviously the right one for him.
 

Finalcanter

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Aug 18, 2021
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I've thought about this in the past..
I personally wouldn't.
-The horse might've been used for several different riders and might be sour/numb to the leg because of it.
-the horse has might have 'established' tricks to get out of riding (typical of certain lesson horses who have been overworked).
-places often will charge more for experienced school horses
-I would always worry that if I brought a school horse and kept it on its original yard, that others might not realize he/she is now a private horse and would take him/her out thinking she was a schoolie still.
-This one is a little petty and a personal opinion but...kind of in line with the point above: people might constantly think I'm taking out a lesson horse and potentially getting yelled at by those who don't know the school horse is now a private horse.
 
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