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How old?
Boy I have been spending so much time here just reading posts, my head is spinning. I have spent a lot of time trail riding in my days and never owned a horse and I see there is so much to learn. Some thing I would like to know is how long does a horse live? what age of a horse would I look for? I would need a horse that is quiet, sound and well trained for I'm no spring chick and just want to trail ride on my property and not get thrown off. So many questions hope I don't sound stupid. one other thing male or female? shoes or no shoes?

Hello there! You asked some very good questions, and there are a big variety of answers that are all correct. So much depends on the horse itself and it's temperament. Generally your first horse should be a been there done that type of horse, and that usually means that they have a little age on them. Do you have an experienced horse person that you can take with you when you are horse shopping?
As for male or female, that is usually a preference thing too. Personally, I think a gelding is a little more mellow than a mare, but not always. There is a saying that you tell a gelding what to do... you ask a mare... and you discuss it with a stallion.[Smile] But like everything else, that is a very generalized statement. Horses are a long lived animal and can easily live to late 20's and even into their 30's. Certainly they are very ridable into their 20's.

Good luck with your search. Cindy
A good rider has a thinking mind, fine emotions and a sensitive hand.-Tu Yu,72 BC

Well, I'm certainly no expert, but horses are living longer these days due to advanced medicene and care. Many horses live to 25 years and its not uncommon for them to live to be 30 and beyond. My first horse was 15 when I bought him. He is now 20 and still being ridden 3 times a week, although he does have touch of arthritis in his hocks. I just don't canter him much anymore.
Considering that you aren't planning on showing or competing, you could look for an older horse. My secind horse didn't seem to mature emotionally until he was 10. I like the age range of 7-15 years for a trail horse. An older trail horse would be quieter and hopefully had been ridden enough to expose it to all the "boogers" they encounter on the trail. Keep in mind that a retired show horse will probably be well trained but may not have been ridden outside the arena much and may need some desensitizing to trail stuff. Conversely, a horse that has only been trail ridden, and especially if he's not ridden much, may not have as much training or hours in the saddle as a younger or show horse. Regarding the horses sex, there's an old saying out there:
You can tell a gelding,
You can ask a mare,
But you must discuss it with a stallion.
Geldings are pretty much the same every day whereas mares have those off days due to hormones. Some mares never exhibit pms symptoms and some get witchy. Geldings usually just go with the flow and will acquiese to your direction - usually - there are exceptions! Mares can be bred if they become un-rideable however.
Regarding shoes, some horses need shoes, some don't. The terrain you ride on, how much you ride and your horses physical hoof make-up will affect shoeing. A vet can usually tell you if the horse should be shod. I'd reccomend a vet check on amy horse you were considering purchasing. That will help detirmine soundness.
And you didn't even ask the burning question that many people ask - gaited or not? That's a whole 'nother area!

Cindy, I see we have both heard that old saying!
Nancy (and Tag & Rocky)
Free & easy down the trail I go......
As a novice myself, I've got some advice that doesn't answer your specific questions, but might help with getting to the overall goal - which is a horse you can safely enjoy, that is a match for you emotionally and to your riding ability. If you're like me, and I think most people have at least a kernel of this trait in them, it's too easy to fall in love with a "wrong" match. Some part of me has fallen for every horse that ever nuggled my sleeve with his nose - he might have 3 legs and one eye, but somehow I'll be blind to all that. Or, I'll fall for something that's more horse than I am rider, with the danger being that something happens while I'm on that scares me bad enough that I don't want to get back on. So, I would avoid shopping myself and have someone who knows both me and knows horses shortlist 4 or 5 for me and pick from that list. I think there are tendencies within breeds or genders or ages, but I think you might miss a great horse for you because you decide up front that you won't consider mares or thoroughbreds or whatever.

For age, the stable where we board seems to have a disproportionate number of horses that are 30+. They lost Impy (Imperial Snow), a Morgan, this year to colic at age 34, and there are 3 or 4 others of different/uncertain breeds that are over 30 and still working lessons - happily, I might add. And shoes, I think just depend on the individual horse and the soundness/condition of its hooves. My horse could go barefoot most of the year, but we shoe him in the spring/summer because the trails around here are very rocky (they abbreviate the Appalachian Trail as "AT," but we say in a lot of cases that stands for Alleged Trail); there are a couple Bakshir Curlies at the stable that I swear are made out of iron - they get their feet trimmed twice a year, whether they need it or not. And there are other horses there that don't dare go without shoes.

So that's my novice two cents. If I said anything wrong, folks, by all means correct me.
I'm so busy, I'm not sure if I found a rope or lost my horse.
AE, you made a good point. Sometimes we look for that pretty horse and overlook the not so pretty ones. "Pretty is as pretty does", with horses! When my hubby & I bought our first horses, we tried them at our riding lessons first. The horse I rode wasn't real pretty, a huge speckled faced big headed Appy with roaned out spots. Hubby wanted to keep looking "for a better looking horse", but I rode him in lessons for a month and just loved how he listened and tried. Meanwhile, hubby liked a big flashy Quarter horse with a blaze and four socks. We bought both of them and within 6 months the quarter horse was back at the instructors after bucking off hubby and breaking ribs. He was pretty but had a real nasty attitude. Interestingly, my neighbor who has since become a good riding buddy, rode the QH after we purchased him and had big reservations about him. After we sold him back, she told me that if she had seen him before we bought him, she would have advised us against buying him. That brings up another point. We took lessons and hired the instructor to help us find appropriate horses since we were newbies. I thought we were doing the right thing, but the instructor was more intersted in making money selling us the horses she had in her barn than in finding the right horse for us. A knowledgable trusted horse friend would help you a lot.
Nancy (and Tag & Rocky)
Free & easy down the trail I go......
Colleen, when the time comes that you are serious about buying a horse let us know, we can give you names of some trusted people to advise you.

Heck, if you let us know when you want to aquire one, we will keep watch here for you. We know a lot more people here now (London)than back in the Ottawa area. We also have a trusted friend in Belleville.

Also, get the Horse Trader - availabe at all the tack stores - and do some window shopping. Please, do not go to a sale and buy one!
I want to thank you guys for all that valuable information. It makes me feel less scared about buying one now. Tagnrocky I want to know about gait or not gaited?? Mrs Hook, I will let you know for sure when I'm ready and will definitely listen to you.

I know people who have riden a lot and have had horses but when it comes to would you come with me to buy a horse they seem not to know enough, I'm so glad I found this site, thanks Karen.
Colleen who hopes to have a horse soon.

The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears -- Arabian proverb

I prefer geldings, and I prefer no shoes on mine, so that was a factor when looking for a horse, sound feet.

It is not uncommon for horses to live well into their late 20's early thirties and still be ride-able.

I like both gaited and non gaited horses, but when riding in a group, the gaited horses are almost always in front and we non gaited are bringing up the rear at a nice leisurely walk. That can make chit chat difficult among riders.

When I looked for a horse and found Joe, I wanted one between 5 and 7 that was willing to do what I asked, but had never been used for any one discipline like barrel racing, or cutting but was sound and sane enough that if I wanted to do those things they could. I did not want a push button horse, but one I could teach and learn on myself.

Please tell me what is gaited and non gaited mean?
Colleen who hopes to have a horse soon.

The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears -- Arabian proverb

Well, a gaited horse is a horse that "single foots" at the intermediate gait, which would be a trot on a stock horse or non gaited horse. This gait can be a foxtrot, a running walk, a rack, amble or the Indian shuffle, etc. These gaits are much smoother to ride than the traditional trot. The trot is a diagonal gait where the horse is suspended and then lands on two feet (left front/right rear switching to right front/left rear) whereas the gaited horse's has a four beat gait that has one foot on the ground at all times, so there is less bounce.
Many baby boomers are riding gaited horses since they are smoother to ride, escpecially if you have back, hip, or knee problems. You can also cover much more ground comfortably on a gaited horse.
Personally, I have stock horses, but would consider a gaited horse next time, 'cause I ain't getting any younger!
Some gaited breeds are Tennessee Walker, Missouri foxtrotter, Rocky Mountain horse, Saddlebred, Paso Fino, Kentucky Mountain Saddle horse and Racking horse. There are also gaited mules and ponies and some Foundation Appaloosas will do the Indian shuffle.
There are several of DE'ers that have gaited horses that can tell you more about them.
Nancy (and Tag & Rocky)
Free & easy down the trail I go......

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