How to Tell If a Young Jumper Has Potential

How to Tell If a Young Jumper Has Potential

Presented by: The Ten Auction

Buying horses always involves a certain degree of uncertainty, but buying young horses is an art unto itself. For professionals and amateurs, alike, there’s often no greater reward than finding and producing a five- or six-year-old prospect that goes on to have success in the sport. But all too often, it’s a feat far easier said than done. 

First, you have to start with the right raw material, and for that, we tapped two lifelong experts: The Ten founders Tal Milstein and Daniel Bluman. How do you know if a young horse has talent? Read on to separate myth from fact.

Jordan Molga M (c) Courtesy of The Ten 

MYTH: “Physical ability comes first."

“[The first] and most important thing is the mind,” Tal Milstein says. “I need to feel that the mind is good, that the horse wants to learn and is motivated, that it wants to play the game. After that, I judge physical ability: flexibility, power, soundness. That’s more or less it."

FACT: “Trainability is an important part of talent.”

“[When I shop] I like to think of somebody on my team, or the riders that ride for me, [or] one of my customers, and I ask myself, Would I like to have this horse in my barn? I don’t give my sign-off to any horse that I wouldn’t be happy to have in that position,” says Daniel Bluman. “[Horses have to be] able to be produced and ridden and managed by people inside the system, not only the best professional riders in the world.”

Chanel Van't Ameldonk Z (c) Courtesy of The Ten 

MYTH: “Breeding is everything.”

“Yes [breeding is] important, and all the horses in The Ten are well bred, but you’ll see some horses with a higher breeding score, and that’s perhaps important for the stallions and mares if you ever want to use them for breeding purposes,” Daniel explains. “If you’re showing a gelding, it doesn’t matter so much [as long as] it’s a good jumper.”

FACT: “You can learn the most about a horse by having a knowledgeable professional sit on it.”

“[For me, it’s a feeling],” says Tal. “I sit on all of the horses before I buy them, so after a couple of minutes, I know more or less where I’m at—if the horse is flexible enough, if the horse is scopey enough, if the horse is a fighter. Is it one that’s going to work for you, or is it going to quit when it’s difficult? All these thoughts are taken into consideration.”

MYTH: “Videos and online results can paint a full picture.”

 “A lot of riders can camouflage a lot of things, and on the page, those results are going to look great, but you’re going to buy an empty shell. The opposite [is true too]—sometimes the results are not that great, and in the end, you’re missing out on a great horse,” says Tal, who recommends keeping an open mind and working with a trainer or trusted dealer who can provide you with a knowledgeable second opinion.

(c) Courtesy of The Ten

FACT: “Regardless of age, horse shopping is always a game of chance.” 

“[For The Ten], we’ll test the horses, and make sure everything we think they can do, they can do. In time, sometimes we discover it’s not the right [fit], so we don’t put them in the auction,” Tal explains. “The older the horse is, the more you can test some of the uncertainties [you might encounter when you ride him or her], the younger and greener it is, the more you have to speculate.”

Now in its third edition, The Ten is a unique, auction experience featuring 10 of the top young show jumpers in Europe hand-selected by co-founders Tal Milstein, Daniel Bluman, and Ilan Ferder. The event will take place on Tuesday, April 30, at Azelhof Horse Events in Lier, Belgium. For more information click here

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