Would you buy a 15 year old pony?

wlsmith

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Jul 13, 2009
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Hi all just wanted some opinions on buying a 15 year old pony.
looks perfect in every other way I want to do dressage, some sj and hack out.
what do you think?
What would you expect to pay for something that has done novice dressage and some elementary?
 

Doodle92

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Apr 6, 2021
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Absolutely do it. 15 is no age for a pony. Get them 5 stage vetted though (which is what I would say for any potential purchase).
 

carthorse

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The answer is - it depends! If you want a schoolmaster type then you've got to look at older ones, anyone selling a 5yo schoolmaster is a liar. Ponies do tend to go on working longer than horses, but not always.

Get a 5 stage vetting and be realistic when you tell the vet what you want to do. Accept that by 15 there may be some wear and tear, it's degree that's relevant and whether it affects, or is likely to in the near future, fitness for purpose. I'd also be inclined to ask for an acth test, and possibly hock x-rays if the vetting throws up a query in that area and the pony is otherwise perfect.

Realistically you could buy the perfect 4yo only for it to break a leg in the field the next day.
 

Huggy

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I would if all the points carthorse made were addressed. I look at my (not school master!) 16 year old, and see a lively, healthy, happy little chap.
 
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diplomaticandtactful

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Well I bought Buddy when he was 19, and he is now 26. Didn't vet him, reckoned if he was still jumping 3'6 when I bought him he would probably be fine. I only hack, and do hunt rides and in hand showing. He was very fit when i got him could hack out for 2-3 hours and he has been a total saint. I didn't vet him simply because I paid £700 for him and I knew a bit about him. Until 2 years ago, he had never seen a vet. 15 is young enough to give you lots of years of fun, but with any horse things can happen. I lost my 7 year old tragically. And also have bought a 6 year old 5 stage vetted cob who was completely wrong and retired 3 years later and lived till she was 26. Horses are a lottery sadly.....
 

Mary Poppins

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Personally I wouldn’t buy a 15 year old. As horses age you have to expect wear and tear on joints and the probability of having a 100% sound horse in the later teenage years is slim. My horse developed serious arthritis when he was 15 and now at aged 18 we can only hack out at walk. If you want to compete in dressage and jump I would ask yourself what you would do if arthritis came along sooner rather than later? If you are happy to give up the jumping and dressage and just hack then it may be worth the risk. But if competing is going to be important to you over the next 5 to 10 years, I would look at something younger.
 

carthorse

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I can see where you're coming from @Mary Poppins , but I know many older ponies that never show a day's unsoundness and I've known more than a few younger ones with real problems, including a stunning well bred 5yo that was too riddled with arthritis to work. Age alone doesn't mean much, that's why a vetting is so important. Yes at 15 I'd expect some wear and tear, but that can be within limits that don't cause any problems in the level of work most people want to do and may be less of a factor than getting a schoolmaster type that you can go out on straight away and have fun.

The other factor is that the market at the moment seems to be very limited (unless it's changed in the last couple of months) and you can only buy what's for sale.
 
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Skib

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I am a hacker and I would buy a 15 year old horse to hack. But not to compete unless that horse was already competing. Which you say this horse is.
But if he does dressage at novice level I would ride a novice test on him to see how it feels.
For years I hacked a share who worked to 23 years old. But hacking a horse is very different from riding in the school. Even my current share does not do well in the school. It is a question of bends and corners. A horse that has been broken in carefully on the straight and then carefully schooled with many turns and small circles will still be able to school at 15. But a horse that has not, will not easilly make the change at 15.

Moreover, I personally have problems with horses being ridden so as to gain points in local dressage competitions. Jumping is less of a problem as judging is less subjective. The original purpose of dressage was to train a military riding horse. I expect any horse I hack to be able to leg yield in both directions and to back up and to trot round a corner in the track. But my current share at 15 finds even a 20 m circle difficult in the school, whereas out in the country she will handle all sorts of curves in the track.
 

PePo

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Just curious @Skib. Why do you have a issue with dressage and not jumping? Jumping might be objective, but it doesn't put any less strain on a horse physically.

Training and competing using sympathetic classic dressage can be hugely physically, mentally beneficial for a horse of any age and can improve longeivity. I'm of the understanding there are still things based on the military - but thankfully, training has also moved forwards in many ways and tails wt4 no longer routinely set on fire!

I'm a huge fan of people like Marike De Jong, Mary Wanless, Viscount Simon Cocozza, Russel McGuire, Heather Moffatt, Carl Hester, Richard Davison, CDJ et al who all seem to train for the benefit of the horse.

Providing the training is done in a way that benefits the horse, it surely doesn't really make any difference if the horse and rider and being judged in a competitive setting or schooling at home?
 
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PePo

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To answer the origin question, though.

I personally probably wouldn't buy a 15 year old at the moment purely as I already have one of a similar age and I'd want my next horse to be younger and fill the gap as Pete gets older.

But, hypothetically if I didn't have a teenage horse now, I would. On the proviso that the buyer is aware and happy to pay for maintenance vet bill's (and associated maintenance), would be happy to potentially step down a level in a few years time if the horse needed to and is aware they're unlikely to make a profit of the horse was sold - I actually think that's a grey ethical area selling an older horse, but that's getting off topic.

Pete is 16 and this is the first 12 monthe I've had 'proper' vet's bill's for stuff that isn't a one off injury/illness & I definitely noticed things that wouldn't have been an issue at 12, need management now.

Having said that we're now back having regular lessons and schooling, dressage, jumping and hacking. We hacked 22 miles at theweekend and he came back feeling like he could go twice the distance. He's actually feeling better than ever and have plenty of stuff planned for him - but I've spent a lot of money this last 9 months and would step down at any stage, if he couldnt cope. I'm well aware his management will only get more expensive as he gets older :D

I also think you need to be honest you have the time - routine and regular work is definitely more important for an older horse in work.

I'd look at the whole picture. I'd quite happily buy an endurance horse (or dressage horse, showjumping or or eventer) that was 15 and had trained & completed his whole life at a higher level providing they were still capable of what I wanted to do - as chances are, if they're tough enough to cope with the work and still be reasonably sound, you've got a strong chance of keeping them that way.

I'm much less likely to buy a 15 year old that hadn't regularly done and was still doing at least what I wanted to do though.
 

Jessey

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I would if I wanted a school master, as @carthorse said anyone claiming a 5/6/7 year old is a school master is lying, they simply cannot have had the experience by that age to be considered one, either that or they were backed way too young. A thorough vetting is definitely in order, to check they aren't starting to get too much wear and tear.

Personally I like to buy young horses so they are with me as long as possible, but I don't mind waiting years before I can go out riding, competing and doing other big stuff, if you want to go now then you have to consider older, but how old depends on what's available and how solid in it's work you need it to be. You do also need to consider retirement, what will you do in hopefully 5-10 years when the horse needs to do less, how will you manage their retirement? if you aren't prepared to give up competing can you afford a second horse?
 
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Skib

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Just curious @Skib. Why do you have a issue with dressage and not jumping? Jumping might be objective, but it doesn't put any less strain on a horse physically.
Maybe I do have an issue with jumping, but the horse has a visible way of refusing? But over the years on various forums there have been examples of horses schooled may be a bit further in order to go to local shows and the outcome has been physical problems for the horse.
Do not assume I am against dressage. My primary RI is a classical dressage trainer and over the years I have twice had specialist dressage lessons. Jumping and cross country are worse as you get the riders dying.
 

carthorse

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I don't see why schooling to compete at low level dressage should be an issue for a horse providing the training is done sensibly, and that can be said of everything. At higher levels where a lot of work is in collection then it can put strain on the hocks, but we're talking about serious competition horses at this point and to be honest any high level competition is putting strains on horses jus like high level human athletes and sportsmen put excessive strains on their bodies too. Competing at prelim, novice, or elementary isn't going to put excessive demands on a horse, if it does then either the training is wrong or there was already a problem there.

For the record many dressage horses are more than capable of making their feelings known, but remember you lose marks for tension, resistance and stiffness so an unhappy or worried horse will be marked down even if the horse doesn't actively misbehave. But like jumping these problems usually arise from either asking for more than the horse is capable of and/or poor training - if I had my way any piece of equipment designed to force and hold a horse in a frame would be burned because I feel they're responsible for many unsound and unhappy horses.

However since I doubt the OP is looking at a high level schoolmaster in any discipline but rather a fun all rounder this is all pretty irrelevant, and by the very nature of it's varied workload an all rounder should have a good chance of being sound and healthy into and beyond it's mid teens.
 
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PePo

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Maybe I do have an issue with jumping, but the horse has a visible way of refusing? But over the years on various forums there have been examples of horses schooled may be a bit further in order to go to local shows and the outcome has been physical problems for the horse.
Do not assume I am against dressage. My primary RI is a classical dressage trainer and over the years I have twice had specialist dressage lessons. Jumping and cross country are worse as you get the riders dying.
I'm not assuming anything :) I was just picking up where you said 'Moreover, I personally have problems with horses being ridden so as to gain points in local dressage competitions. Jumping is less of a problem as judging is less subjective'

I was just curious about the above statement.

I think you can push a horse too far in any form of training - dressage, jumping and even hacking.

But yes, I completely agree @carthorse. Moderation & a fittening programme appropriate to the horse is key & then crossed fingers for enough good luck they stay sound and happy.
 

Huggy

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I suppose jumping is less regimented than dressage - you can get over any which way, and be done and dusted in a couple of minutes. Dressage is slower, but harder work. Even if you career round a course with no technique, you can win, whereas yes, dressage is subjective, and technique important. Not that I know much - dressage was not for me.
 

Doodle92

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No sorry, I should have quoted, was more just a general reply to try and understand why people may think that dressage is “harder” on the horse.
 
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