How to Choose a Show Jumping Prospect

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Brian Walker and Tamara 296 at the HITS Ocala Grand Prix in 2015

For years Brian Walker has been regarded as one of the best young talents in the hunter/jumper industry. Brian, a dual Canadian and American citizen, has trained with, ridden for, and worked alongside the best in the world over the last 25 years. Brian has made a name for himself by developing quality horses into successful competitors in both the hunter and jumper arenas, earning accolades for himself and his clients.

We asked Brian for his advice on finding a horse for the jumper ring.

1. What are the benefits of buying a young horse and developing it?

Purchasing a young horse and developing it is always a risk. [A benefit is that] the buyer will pay a lower price for a young, undeveloped horse as opposed to a horse that is seasoned. I would urge amateur riders to pursue purchasing a horse no younger than seven years old. This may be different for a rider competing in the hunters but at least at the seven-year mark for a horse, the rider has an idea of how the horse competes and its personality.

2. What are the benefits of purchasing an experienced show jumper with a proven track record?

The benefits of purchasing an experienced show jumper with a proven track record are that the rider knows exactly what they will be receiving from the horse. There are not many secrets when you are acquiring an older horse but there is always a risk. The horse may have been successful because of the trainer. I always advise and encourage my students to purchase a horse with a good record.

3. What is the best way to find out about what a horse has done and what its track record is?

The Internet now makes it so easy to look up a specific horse’s track record and events they have competed in. Searching on the USEF website or viewing YouTube clips of particular horses will give you a good idea of how they move and compete. Keep in mind that even a good horse has endured some bad classes. Take a look into their entire track record so that you have an idea of the horse that you are interested in purchasing.

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Brian Walker and Chico’s Bandita at Horse Shows by the Bay in 2014

4. What are the benefits of purchasing a horse for a rider that has more experience than them and has accomplished more?

Good horses promote good riding. For an amateur to develop their own riding skillset, they have to be riding a proven horse. It is difficult to train the horse and rider at the same time. An inexperienced rider will learn and improve that much quicker with an experienced horse.


5. When trying a horse what are the flaws/red flags that should deter you from purchasing a particular horse?

When trying a horse to purchase, you want to be smart and buy a horse that is eager to do their job. Red flags to look out for are bad x-rays, a poor pre-purchase exam, but especially a bad character. I always encourage my clients to research the horse’s record and try them to be sure their character matches up to what they are wanting. Going with your instinct on a horse is the best approach.

Find out more about Brian Walker and his current horses at


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