Q&A Questions and Answers:
Bob, I know you're very busy and I check your web site frequently, but I have a question, just need an unbiased opinion about a horse. I'm looking at buying a 4-year-old mustang. I really like this horse for some reason. Her owner adopted her from the BLM when she was a year old; said she was the only one of the gang who came up to sniff her. She has used Parelli training on her so far, but I consider her to be extremely green broke. She did well in the round pen, yielded to the direction changes, turned in and approached the owner when she gave the cue, backed up, did well on her ground work, is calm and let her saddle and bridle her with no trouble. When I rode her in the round pen she yielded to leg cues and direct reining. The owner says she has done great on the trail, although I couldn't get her to whoa out in the open, she just didn't seem to understand what I wanted but I don't think the owner has worked with her enough on this. I could touch her everywhere on her body and she lifts her feet just fine. She is very barn sour right now but that's something to be worked on. I consider myself to be an intermediate rider ready to learn some training of horses. She is cheap enough that I could afford to have my preferred trainers put some time in on her.
Would I be an idiot to take a chance on this horse? My vet has scared me because he said he doesn't think you can ever really get the "wild" out of most of these horses, so I don't know if I'd be in for a bad surprise or not. The only strange thing about her was she nibbled on everything she could get to, and chews constantly on the bit, and actually reaches around and gets ahold of a piece of the rein and bites the leather between her teeth. I want her for a trail horse.
No, I don't think you'd be an idiot to buy her... you seem to be going into this with your eyes open. While I generally agree with your vet about wild horses never really having the "wild" trained out of them, I don't think this necessarily applies in this case. If she was adopted as a yearling, she was probably a foal when she first came under BLM care... and may have actually been born in a BLM herd. Whatever the case, she certainly can't have spent much time in the wild.
If she responded to the other leg cues, the first thing I'd want to know is if you were accidentally sending her mixed or incorrect signals when you tried to get her to stop. Being barn sour probably just means she hasn't accepted you as her new "lead brood mare."
I assume that you and your "preferred trainers" have worked together with other horses and you've been pleased with the results. I see no reason why that shouldn't hold true in this case as well.
As for the chewing problem, that can be a tough one to cure. Chomping on the bit, however, may simply mean that either she isn't used to the bit or that it doesn't feel comfortable and that you should try some other styles. When she tries to reach around and chew on the rein, just use the opposite rein to pull her head back to the front and keep her mind on what she is supposed to be doing. (Even ol' Willy tried to take a nibble or two on the reins when I first started riding him, but he quickly learned that it wasn't acceptable behavior.)
Obviously, there are no guarantees that any given horse will turn out well, and even a formerly well-behaved horse can go rank after a bad experience. From the little you've told me, however, it seems you and that mare get along well so I see no compelling reason not to follow your heart in this case.
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