By Jasmine Hobart

"I want a project horse" "I love Thoroughbreds and want an off the track" "I would love to find something young and grow together" 

All phrases I hear quite often from many different experience of riders. Before you make a decision here are a few steps you need to be sure you are aware, realistic, and comfortable with before your "green horse" purchase. 

I'm not talking purchase price. Many get sucked into the fact the younger and greener horse are "cheaper". Yes I put the word "cheaper" in quotes. 

-Most (if not all) of these horses will need groceries, meaning a lot of food, fat supplements, etc.- meaning groceries to fill out (grain, hay, beetpulp, amplify, are some examples). Do you have your own barn with a lot of turnout to offer? Or do you have to pay board for someone else to feed and give the turnout they need? 

-Health- teeth floated? Worming? Shots? Coggins? Ulcer treatment? And don't get me started on their feet... You better have a good farrier (and tip him). 

-What?? The track horse doesn't know what it's suppose to do? The jockeys already were on its back, I should be able to just hop on and go right?

-NO. To this date, I have probably seen and ridden almost a hundred different track horses and have yet to find one that automatically "knows the job". That to me is like saying you take a first grader who just started to learn how to read and throw it into a high school English class and expect them to just know what everything means. 

-Find a reliable and experienced trainer who can help your horse to understand FIRST, if it's all about you understanding and your horse is still confused... Good luck! If you TAKE THE TIME to allow your green horse to fully understand the riders expectations (probably with your reputable trainer who can explain things in a manner where they understand) you will be fully rewarded. 

You decided to take on a "project". You may not be able to go to that show next month, two months, three months away and may have to wait even longer! You may have to take more time on the ground to explain any confusion you may feel under saddle. Your trainer may have to take the reins for awhile until the horse has an understanding and you and your horse can then start to SLOWLY learn together. If this is a horse who doesn't understand going off property, showing, going on hacks, don't be ashamed to let your trainer be the "first" for them so they get the best experience they could be offered. 

Owning young, green horses and watching them grow and become working athletes and partners is one the most thrilling adventures an owner can go through! But I see this journey go wrong all the time and the reason behind the set-backs and "failures" is people get too rushed. Take the time on the ground, at home, and build the trust and partnership. Once that is built ENJOY THE RIDE!