MEISSNER REINING HORSES / Cameron Meissner / 303 Equestrian Center Loop / Manhattan, MT 59741 / 406-599-8091 / EMAIL
Recently I was asked by a woman: "How old is too old to start training a horse to be a reiner?" This is an issue that I have
had to address a few times before. Whether a horse is injured as a youngster, financial reasons prevented a horse from
being trained, or the horse simply did not get the work it needed, decisions have to be made as to when it is just too late.
For me the direct answer is that it is never too late to teach a horse the maneuvers that a reining horse is asked to perform.
I believe that every horse, reiner or not, should be able to do all reining maneuvers to a point. As for when is a horse to old
to become a show horse I think it all boils down to an owners goals.
I feel that for most horses the road from start to finished show horse will take at least two solid years of training.
Obviously, if it is an owners goal to have a competitive aged event horse, such as a futurity or derby horse, that horse needs
to be in steady training beginning some time in their two year old year. If this is not an owners goal, and wishes rather to
have a horse to show in Non Pro, and Open classes, which are not regulated by a horses age, any time is a good time to get
The difference maker to me in deciding is the cost versus the reward. Many of you know that it is not cheap to have a horse
in professional training, and when first starting a horse it is a bit of a gamble whether that horses will have what it takes to
be a competitive reiner. Because of the fact that many of the big money shows are futurities and derbies it makes the most
sense to start a horses training early enough to be ready for these events, as it gives the owner a better chance to earn a
significant amount of money on their investment. Young horses in training also hold a better value in the market and can
usually be sold for a reasonable price if an owner decides that it is not the horse for them.
For those owners wishing to compete in Non Pro and Open classes the fact is that many times it is cheaper to buy a finished
show horse than it is to start training on an already aging animal. Even if one had to take out a loan to buy a horse
(which I seldom recommend) the final cost of that animal, including interest, will usually be less than or equal to the cost of
two years of training in most cases. The difference, however, is that there is significantly less risk as you already know the
animals ability, and a rider can begin showing immediately.
This being said I have had owners in the past for whom it was a wise decision to train an older horse. As competitive as
the breeding business has become, horses who may be superior breeding animals, or raised offspring from a breeding
business should have some sort of a show record. Being able to show that a horse was competitive in the show pen will
help stallion owners sell breedings, and mare owners sell offspring.
To me this entire decision begins with an owners goal. I recommend to show enthusiasts to first decide what they would
like to accomplish with their horse, then express that goal with their trainer. From there an open and honest relationship
with your trainer will, with and luck, guide you and your horse to many win pictures.
© Meissner Reining Horses, Dec 29, 2007 All Rights Reserved.
As we turn the calendar on a new year I have been approached by many riders discussing the time to start thinking about
the upcoming show season. One thing I have learned in riding through the off season is to not be caught off guard when
show season finally arrives. It can seem like an eternity riding in our indoor arenas, bundled up to keep the cold out,
thinking “I’ll be okay, it’s only February.” Although I do think we, as well as our horses need to have a break, I
encourage everyone to start preparing you, your horse, and your equipment early in order to help in having a positive
In preparing yourself I first would strongly advise deciding what your goal will be for the year. Whether you want to
shoot for receiving your “Green Rookie “ buckle, or you want to be a finalist at a major aged event, have a goal. Once you
have a goal you can then start planning your path to meet that goal.
As many of you who know me have seen I am a big fan of my day planner. When planning the season I like to have all
the show dates written down. I then start collecting the premium books to each show. With this information I can start to
make decisions as to which shows I may need to go to, which shows I should use for schooling, and roughly how much
it will cost me. Finally, if you have a trainer go over your goals and plans with them. Make sure that both of you are on
the same page. This will prevent you from any misunderstandings, and can greatly help your trainer in assisting you.
Your calendar should also include clinics, and trips to ride with others to get help, and new ideas. I encourage my riders
to spend some time learning from other trainers at the local clinics. This, for one, will “keep the fire burning” during the
off season, and will allow you to greater appreciate the vast techniques used by trainers. Although I encourage learning
from many different riders, I also warn that too many different ideas can leave a rider confused.
Finally, I like to use the cold winter months to service and make any repairs to my tack, trailer, and vehicle. I like to check
all of my stirrup leathers, and latigos for wear, as well as making sure my bridles are in good repair. I also like to compile a
list of all the items that should be packed before leaving for a show. Replace any empty spray bottles, or jars in your tack
trunk, and make sure you have plenty of good boots, and wraps. I would also encourage travelers to check the wear on
you tires, wheels, Axel's, bearings, and the floor of your trailer, and make any major repairs to your truck before spring.
All of this early preparation will help you enjoy a fun and successful show season.
"What's my horse worth?" is a question I hear time and time again, but because the horse market is not a true free market,
giving an answer can be difficult. Although there are some guidelines to pricing a horse, a sale can often be the result of a
horseʼs worth to a buyer.
Whether you are selling yearling's or it is time to upgrade to a more competitive show horse or a riderʼs current horse is just
not working out, nearly everyone in the horse business is faced with having to sell and that sale is often not an easy one. It
may be a sellerʼs personal attachment to an animal or the fact that there simply is no market for that horse. I am often
reminded of a piece of advice I was given; "The easiest thing to do in the horse business is to buy a horse. The most difficult
thing to do is sell one."
The close of the slaughter plants in the U.S. along with the recent decent of the economy has resulted in the horse market
suffering greatly. It would be very safe to say it is a buyerʼs market. This may be a great time to upgrade to a better animal,
but getting a good price on the horse you must sell can be very tricky. Often a sale is made by sellers finding a buyer for
their horse rather than waiting for buyers to come to them. My first advise to most sellers when setting your goal for the
sale of your horse, is to figure out what your absolute bottom line is. When finding that bottom line consider whether a
quick sale can adjust that line. If you are trying to sell a horse that is in training, it may be better to take a lower offer now
and avoid paying for more months of training. Also, decide just how badly you want to sell your horse. If it is not
important that the horse find a new home, set a price you are comfortable with and hold to it. If, however, you are in the
position that you need to make a sale, for what ever reason, keep in mind that in this business your first loss is usually your
best loss. Trying to make most horse businessʼs "pencil" is a daunting task. If the time you spend with your horse is a
recreational activity, and you are not enjoying yourself, or meeting your goals it may be time to find a new mount.
The best way to find the market value of a horse is to research what similar horses bring at auction. For reiners, our best
comparisons are the results of the sales held during the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. For others the best comparison
may come from a weekly or monthly sale. When making comparisons for these sales, pay attention that your horse fits with
the auction style and location. For example it can be very hard to get a good read on what a jumping horse will bring at an
auction that sells mostly "cow breed" horses. Also consider the time of year. For most monthly horse sales prices are usually
the best during spring and early summer, and tend to taper off in the fall and winter. Lastly, do not be fooled by horses
similar to yours posted for sale on the Internet, in magazines, or in newspaper ads.. There can often be a big difference in
what a person asks for a horse, and what they receive.
Now that you have an idea of what your horse is worth in the open market, and what you need to have for your horse it is
time to go find someone to buy it. Because there are so many horses for people to pick through decide where your horseʼs
strengths are and focus on people looking for horses with those qualities. Posters, Internet, and magazine or newspaper ads
can be a good place to start, but the time tested strategy is to talk to people. The horse world can be a very close knit
community and simply letting people know you have a horse for sale can get you better coverage than some print
advertising. This is one area where having a trainer or broker help you sell your horse can be very rewarding. Someone
help you who is in the mainstream everyday can make sales much easier. Remember when using a trainer, or broker
industry standard is a 10% commission payable by the seller for the purchase amount of the horse. Often a deal involves a
representative for the buyer as well as for the seller in which case that 10% is split. Regardless of the agreement, be sure to
fully understand the arrangement before making a sale. Finally if you are having trouble finding buyers for your horse, I
suggest thinking "outside of the box". For instance, instead of trying to sell a reining horse that struggles turning around to
other reiners a person might target calf ropers who are looking for a broke horse that can really stop.
Selling a horse can be a rewarding experience, but often that experience takes time, patience, and sometimes tough decisions.
As in everything around this business, when trying to market your horse I encourage you first to be realistic with yourself,
and second have a plan. With luck your plan will help you reach your goal.