A Formula for Success

I love buying horses. It’s like a drug addiction, only controlled by my lack of facilities and my husband guarding the credit card.

I’m not really sure what it is that I’m so addicted to – lets be real, each new horse is more work, more money and more pressure in an already over-stretched situation but there’s something magic about spotting raw potential and moulding it into a quality performance horse. Each horse teaches me just as much as I teach them, and nothing gives me a greater thrill than a horse suddenly understanding something or really developing his skill set.

 It’s just as much of a thrill seeing horses you have produced and sold go on to better success with their new owners. This year, one of my former in-mates took the step up to Pony 2* with great success. Another contested his first event and came 6th, finishing on his dressage score and a very good young mare I sold qualified for the Swedish young horse championships. I was absolutely over the moon and it made every hard day in the pouring rain totally worthwhile.

 Ireland is a country of sellers and when you find yourself in the ownership of a truly exceptional horse it can become a real dilemma. Keep or sell?

 I started dealing initially because I was looking for a horse to keep for myself. I only sell a couple a year and I’m a tiny operation, but I have sold eleven in the last five years. All bar one has gone on to enjoy good success – the one that didn’t was a real lesson for me.

 I bought her sight unseen from someone who was not as straight as I had thought. I deserved to be caught out, and I was. I won’t be as cocky again.

Now I have two mares who are vastly different, but I want to keep them both. I need to build stables and I desperately need to resurface my arena if I want to continue and potentially expand my business. I have several smart young horses lined up on the conveyor belt that just need paying for. The wheel never stops turning.

So keep or sell? How do you decide? I just don’t know. I think in the end, it comes down to cold hard cash. You can love a horse and decide that life is short, you will rest on your laurels and keep him regardless. Or you can love a horse and appreciate the opportunities he gives you by being able to sell him and reinvest in your future. I suppose there is no wrong answer, only an answer that you can live with.

I can never quite describe what it is that makes me want to buy a horse. I have a list of rules that I occasionally deviate from, but it has been a pretty successful formula so far. I tend to only buy fillies that aren’t hugely expensive. They must have good limbs but I don’t mind splints or false curbs. I don’t mind if the trot isn’t great, as long as the canter looks reasonably balanced. I like a horse with a good forearm and an obvious thought process when it jumps. These two things combined are pretty important if you want a safe jumping horse.

I won’t buy horses with sarcoids, a poor jump or previous soft tissue injuries. All of this is all very well, but it’s only a guideline that I personally go on. What makes me buy though? In truth, none of the above. What makes me buy is not being able to stop thinking about the horse. It’s that simple. Sounds ridiculous, no doubt – but any horse that has lingered on my mind and kept me awake at night that I have bought has gone on to be brilliant. It’s not scientific. Some would call it pure stupid. But if I get the right feel about a horse, I’m almost never wrong……here’s to keeping her lit!!

There is no wrong answer, only an answer that you can live with.


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