Takeaways From My European Horse Trip
I recently took my long awaited, highly anticipated, very very exciting trip to Europe in hopes of finding an investment horse. I started the seven day trip to the UK and Czech Republic right by heading to the airport immediately after finishing the long school year! What’s a better way to start the summer than going to ride horses? The trip was broken into three days in England and three days in Prague (and one travel day).
All six days my trainer and I rode horses at different locations ranging from 4-10 years old. I gained invaluable experience by traveling to different equine sales and breeding operations, as well as trying around twenty horses out of close to thirty horses shown to us. Trying many horses has many benefits, including learning to ride different horses, gaining more riding experience riding in general, as well as even riding under pressure to perform well in front of strangers. However, riding many horses does take time and expense, so when trying horses there is always a balance between trying what’s out there but also reserving yourself to only ride horses that are definite candidates.
Going into this trip I was originally planning on getting an equitation horse so I can be a competitive rider in the big eq classes. However, the more horses I rode, the more I realized I wanted to focus on the jumper ring. Seeing as I had a budget of one horse to buy it made sense to look for a jumper horse since that is what I am focusing on with Chaz. This past spring I learned that it's what I enjoy doing, and I realized you don’t have to compete in the equitation to be a good rider. Personally, I really benefited from riding many different horses on this trip which I normally don’t have the opportunity to do. By day three of my trip there was a clear understanding between us that my future with the upcoming investment horse was in the jumper ring. The next step of pinning down the horse I would invest in was age and experience. Riding horses with varying ages and experience blatantly revealed that I needed a horse with experience in the show ring and on the older side of my age range, therefore making an easy switch from my current show horse to this one.
Taking this trip was worth every cent because I gained invaluable knowledge of the international horse industry. However, now that I gained this perspective I most likely won’t do such a time consuming trip in the future. Since I have physically been to so many places, I now have made lifelong connections with the businessmen we believe are the best in the equine sales industry. It was such an eye opening experience, going to places in real life that I only saw through social media. Most were disappointing because the horses were not what their videos showed, and they treated their horses unkindly, but the special few places we saw were worth the entire trip!!
From England, we continued our horse search to Czech Republic for three more days. However, the horses we finally chose were still on day three of our trip in England. The horse sellers showed my trainer and I five extremely talented horses with dead on correct profiles of what I am interested in. This is a much more effective process than what the other places we went to used. Instead of showing handfuls of horses of all different profiles, these people showed us very specific horses that matched our interests. Although riding horses of diverse profiles can be effective for an indecisive rider, the other way is more effective because less time and money is being spent. My trainer ended up buying the one horse they found for him and I was seriously interested in buying three out of four horses they found for me but ended up buying one of them.
Because I wanted it to be an “investment horse”: a horse I could put training and experience into and sell later on as a better horse for a profit, I wanted to buy a horse on the younger side but still has already had some experience in the show ring. After riding horses of varying ranges of experience I learned I still need a horse that is already confident and competitive in the show ring because at this time in my career I want to be progressing through levels quickly, not pausing my progress in the showring by training a greener horse who needs to start at a much lower level. The horse my parents ended up buying as an investment horse for me is an 8 year old with mileage in the 1.30m and still has lots of potential for 1.45m and more. What won me over was the fact that he has a heart of gold just like my current horse Chaz. Not only is he an honest horse, but he takes care of his rider and tries harder every time to get over the jump and be competitive. I was pretty mentally shaken up after riding a horse I really did not click with, but this 8 year old horse really brought my confidence back up. Now I know that no matter the situation, and no matter how “out of it” I am feeling, I know this horse has my back in and out of the show ring. I am really looking forward to starting my new partnership with this 8 year old and progressing him to his fullest potential in the next two-three years. This partnership will benefit me in two big ways: progressing my riding career and turning my passion for riding into a business that in the future can sustain itself.
TFE Ambassador Martha Wyatt-Luth
15 yo Junior Rider, Zone 2, USA
Jumpers, Equitation, Hunters