Is buying a horse about train-ability, athletic ability, training or breeding?

I have just retired my mare who was born, trained, and raised til she was two by Jack Brainard. I did a little reining with her but mostly barrels. I’m now currently looking for a young barrel racer! I have looked online since that is the best way for me to search. Out here in Virginia there really isn’t much hope for it being “horse country”. So going to shows and finding a horse its more than likely that the horse has had several owners and there’s a reason for selling him/her other than “not riding enough” or “its too much of an expense”. I’ve looked online at a couple of ranch breeders and have gotten in touch with them. They have told me there is no such thing as a barrel horse….they are consider performance horses. And that if the horse is bred with good bloodlines and good background for performance then they are able to do anything. Does that sound correct? I can kinda see where that might be true because of my mare that was trained to do cutting and reining but since she had the speed and the quick changing of direction she was able to do the barrels and was blowing every horse out the dust! I would love to know your opinion and maybe that will give me an idea of what direction I should take.


I don’t know that anyone is exactly ‘wrong’ here. I suspect if you talked with a barrel breeder they would say there was such a thing as a barrel bred horse. Having said that what you say is also true. I would pick a well trained horse with a brain and modify from there over one with specific bloodlines. For me the order is more like this: 

  • train-ability 
  • athletic ability
  • training
  • breeding

A breeder may move ‘breeding’ to the top. A trainer may move ‘training’ to the top. I am a person who is capable of doing my own training so I don’t put training as high. If I were recommending an order for a first time horse owner it would look more like this: 

  • training
  • train-ability
  • athletic ability (probably how sound is it in this case)
  • and I would tell them breeding doesn’t matter

If someone were looking for a show prospect, at a weanling, yearling or un-started horse it might be:  

  • breeding (as a predictor of success)
  • train-ability (limited ability to see this depending on amount of handling)
  • athletic ability (watching them turned loose)
  • training

These lists are not complete but I hope it helps you see how the thought process changes given the people involved and the goals that are set.


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  2. Misty Denue on February 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Stacy, I have watched you bareback video every day(literally) you are AWSOME. I have gone through a divorce from and idiot of 23 years who cut me out of the horse world and want to do what you do! Keep the encourgedment comming! LOVE YOU!

  3. Terri Anderson on February 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Stacy, this was a very helpful post. Thank you!

  4. Peg B on January 28, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Ok. I breed and train horses and have to agree with Stacy for the most part. Unless you are showing or racing in breed shows where of course you must have a certain breed, training and train ability is everything. Some bloodlines are easier to train, are more athletic and/or more willing. It takes quite a bit of research to figure that out, which bloodlines are good at whatever. We start our foals right away ( as I think Stacy does) with halter breaking and teaching good manners. That is a HUGE difference, I think, in how easy they are to train later on, if they have a good foundation and already know how to think and behave around people. A colt that goes for years without much human interaction, I believe, isn’t as easy to train or change.

  5. stonepony1s on January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    My adult daughter is looking for a horse and she is putting Training first and then Athletic ability or in other words the way the horse moves, then Train Abilty and Breed is not so important as the others. She does not want to do much of her own training and wants a safe knowledgable horse. She can work on bonding and little details of the way she rides herself, if the horse has a good trainable attitude. Breed is not as important to her as size, body shape and the way they carry themselves.

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