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Choosing a Young or Older Horse

Choosing a young or older horse is much more than simply a question of age. It is not uncommon for inexperienced or prospective horse owners to think it is better to get a young horse, since it has likely not become set in any bad habits and will have a long life ahead. While these are some benefits, there are also many benefits to choosing an older horse.

When choosing a young or older horse, consider who will be riding him. The experience level of the rider or riders should play a large part in the decision making process. If the horse will have multiple riders, give the most consideration to the rider with the lowest level of skills. An experienced rider can handle an easy horse, but an inexperienced rider should never be placed on “more horse” than he can handle.

Choosing a young horse for an inexperienced rider is almost a sure route to failure, for both the rider and the horse. Horses require a lot of basic training, such as socialization and ground manners training, before they are even ready to be ridden by an experienced rider. A young horse who has had little or no training will need a lot of extensive work with a very experienced trainer. Young horses can be temperamental and unpredictable, and are usually not a safe choice for children or inexperienced riders. It is not usually wise to choose a horse that is young than 6-10 years old if it is to be ridden by children. By this age, most horses have been thoroughly trained and are more likely to be docile and obedient.

Consider what your goals are, as related to horse ownership, when choosing a young or older horse. Depending on his age and health, an older horse may not be well-suited for competition jumping but may be perfect as a trail horse. Some older horses are far more accustomed to, and therefore more comfortable in, show environments and can make excellent mounts for dressage.

Always remember that, in the end, age is just a number. Do not let this number be the sole deciding factor in choosing a young or older horse. Be sure you are getting the ideal size, breed, and temperament of horse. The right horse, even for only a few years, is far better than the wrong horse who will live longer.