ALEX: I think the age of a horse is really important in selecting them — and again, it goes back to what discipline — obviously when you talk about a thoroughbred racehorse, we’re starting really early with them. They have two-year olds that are racing, and their careers span only three, four or five years, so there’s a shorter timeframe.

Maybe with other disciplines, the warmbloods, or the hunters and jumpers, or dressage horses, they get better with age. So it’s not a quick decision like a thoroughbred, where you have to decide in your first couple of years what you’re getting and when you’re going to get it. And I think with the Western discipline horses, they seem to get better as they get older, as they get more experience.

STEVE: Most definitely. The typical rope horse that you’re going to see in most competitions is probably somewhere at least six, seven, eight years old to start with, and they’ll stay around the better part of a decade. You’ll see some of these horses that are very accomplished and trained very well, and they’ll be sometimes 15, 16, 18 years old and still competing at the highest level. So the older they are, the stronger they get at these disciplines. Dressage horses also tend to show the same tendencies.

ALEX: The first thing with pleasure horses or trail riding horses is that it’s important they have a good state of mind and that they’re quiet. Because when they’re trail riding they’re going to come up on different things that they may have never seen before. So temperament is of the utmost concern when you pick a trail horse. That means that they’ve had some experience, that they might have a couple of years under their belt.

So would you go buy a trail horse that was two or three? Probably not. You would get one that’s a little bit older, that’s had some experience. One that maybe a trainer has had and taught them the ins and outs or has shown them a lot. Theses horses have seen a lot, so they react more quietly to things.

STEVE: Yeah. The more bomb-proof they are, typically they’re a lot older and they’ve seen a lot more and have a lot more experience. So they know to protect the rider and also not to shy away from things that they’ve been exposed to.