Buying a Jumper? What do you look for in a jumping horse. Is it breeding, confirmation, temperament or ability?
Horses lend us the wings we lack. ~Author Unknown
When you have a jumping horse in front of you and are considering if he is the horse for you bear the words of the wise in mind. Tim Stockdale (and who better to take advice from?) says “When considering a horse to buy always ‘look’ at the horse in front of you’. He has a particular routine when looking at a prospective purchase and his approach has been rewarded with some fantastic jumping horses!
He likes to see a horse in its stable. Here he can judge its temperament and attitude towards him.
Next he see him bought into the yard. He checks not for veterinary problems but for Are there any scars? How well is he shod? Why is his head not been clipped? These things can tell you a lot about a horse.
He does however generally steer clear of ewe necks and long pasterns as these conformation defects are hard to overcome in a jumping horse., although he is happy to see a horse with asymmetric feet or a curb under saddle.
He does not watch a horse being loose schooled as he feels that he needs to know how a horse goes under saddle so he can asses how he holds himself, its co-ordinaiton and he asks himself if he is “happy” in his bridle.
Breeding and confirmation are a consideration but he would prefer to judge a horse on the what he sees in front of him.
Helen Tredwell and Georgie Crumley put temperament high on their lists. Georgie says A genuine, willing temperament is extremely important. That’s one thing that every “special” horse has in common. They are willing to try their hardest and give everything they’ve got when it matters. Helen says “Look for something which enjoys its jumping, that’s half the battle”
Confirmation is a good starting point though when viewing horses you should feel that they “have a leg at each corner” and that they have well made hocks under strongly built quarters. These are what is going to lift them off the ground.
Horses which are unbroken can indicate who they may perform (given a good wind etc) if they have a good shape over a fence with neat front legs and a good athletic spring over the fence they will, most likely, perform better than one who dangles his front legs and jumps flat.
On the flat look for a horse which moves from his elbows and hips (not knee and stifle) as this freedom in his movement will help him get up and over his fences. A horse which naturally can canter well, in a rhythm and has the ability/agility to lengthen and shorten will also make your job a lot easier.
There are some great jumpers on Horse Scout and when you go and see them remember ….to ‘look’ at the horse in front of you. Good luck with your search for your perfect partner.