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Being Over Horsed – Cheap Or Free Horses Are Usually Problem Horses
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Being Over Horsed – Cheap Or Free Horses Are Usually Problem Horses

Being over horsed is the biggest reason that big name trainers such as Clinton Anderson, Pat Parelli and Chris Cox are all in business. You shouldn’t hold a grudge against their success as they are simply fulfilling the demand that is created by the inexperienced horse person who purchases a completely inappropriate horse.

For some inexplicable reason, those who have no horse knowledge or enough money to purchase a well-trained horse usually end up with someone else’s problem. This often puts this person in a dangerous situation where the person’s confidence is irreparably shattered or worse, they end up severely injured. Injuries or knocked confidence don’t usually occur by accident and all the horse owner has to do is follow the trail back to determine where the trouble began.

When discussing these types of horse owners, we’ll start with the inexperienced horse owner. Many people mistakenly believe that horses are no different than dogs and all you have to do is love them and you’ll ride happily down the trail. Horses are nothing like dogs and should never be treated as such. They are prey animals, which makes them reactive to certain stimuli that would not normally frighten or upset a dog.

As an example, a dog would normally be completely unaffected by something as benign as a rake laying in the yard. The horse, however, could look at the rake as a potential predator that is to be avoided at all costs. Once frightened, he is likely to react by bolting or trying to avoid the rake.

When the horse reacts like this, the inexperienced horse owner doesn’t know how to respond and help the horse get over his fear. They often inadvertently reward the horse’s behavior by talking to the animal in kind and quiet tones. What they don’t realize is that they are doing nothing more than letting the horse know that his reaction is appropriate. It’s not knowing what to do in these situations that puts the inexperienced horse owner at a big disadvantage. This is the type of person that will purchase a horse or take a horse because it’s considered pretty. In most of these cases, the purchase price of the horse was relatively low or free.

Some people have had horses in the past and will take a free or low priced horse because they can’t afford the cost of a well-trained animal. This begins a vicious cycle of paying trainers and trying all sorts of gimmicks to transform him into a reliable riding animal. What they don’t realize is, all of the money they are spending to retrain their new gelding is probably adding up to more than they would have paid if they had just bought a trained horse to begin with. These people have often had a break of many years where they have not owned or been around a horse. They think they can jump back on and ride out any issues that might occur and quickly become surprised to find themselves on the ground gasping for air.

The bottom line is that free horses are rarely free and often end up costing a lot more money in the long run. Well-trained horses that are a pleasure to ride have had a lot of work put into them, which is why they have the price tag that they do. There is a reason that someone is giving away a free horse and it’s usually because he has behavioral or physical issues and the owner simply wants to get rid of the problem. This is where the new owner ends up over horsed and as a result has less and less to do with it. With less handling the behavior escalates to the point where the horse ends up in a field for a year or more with little or no handling.

If a prospective horse owner can’t afford to purchase an already trained and reliable mount, then arguably it’s questionable whether they can afford a horse at all. The purchase price is the least of all costs associated with horse ownership. There are vet, farrier and feed bills to consider as well as all of the equipment that is needed.

Before taking on the responsibility of horse ownership, an honest self-assessment is needed to determine if the right skills are present to take a problem horse and turn him into something useful. If the prospective horse owner is a rank beginner, then assistance from an experienced trainer or riding instructor is warranted to insure a good fit between horse and rider. If proper homework is done prior to taking on ownership, the likelihood of being over horsed is reduced and horse ownership will be enjoyable as it should be


Street Talk

Totally agree with people being over-horsed. I'm lucky enough to have not been at the start of my journey, but I've even made some really rookie mistakes that my guardian angel was on overtime for lol. And I'd just like to add most of the time a free horse is because of the fact it has something wrong behavior wise, but not all the time. 2 of my best horses came for free because the person just couldn't take care of them anymore. So where nothing was wrong with behavior we needed to get them healthy again. And I love the part about spending more on learning and trainers then just buying the trained horse. That is why I learned how to train horses myself and do all my own training, lol.

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  about 9 years ago
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