If I’m considering buying a performance prospect, a little test I always do to see how athletic, willing and good minded a horse is, is practicing Lunging for Respect Stage Two.
I do this for a couple of reasons. First, I want to see how willing the horse is to give to halter pressure. Secondly, I want to see how well he stops, rolls over his hocks and goes back the other direction. To me, when a horse is athletic and trainable, he’ll stop on his hindquarters, collect himself and do a 180-degree rollback. If I work a horse for the first time and he catches on very quickly, has a great attitude, tries hard, makes only a few mistakes or seems keen to correct his mistakes, I feel comfortable buying him that day.
On the other hand, if the horse struggles to make that 180-degree turn, stumbles all the time or drags me around, that tells me he’s not really naturally talented. If this is the case, I’m not going to purchase that particular horse.
However, just because I may have a horse that doesn’t do terribly well the first time I work him doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not going to buy him. If the horse seems really athletic but just sorry-broke, I’ll try to go back and work with him again the next day. What I’m looking for is considerable improvement in the horse by the next session. If I see a lot of improvement in the second session, and the horse is within my price range, I might go ahead and take a gamble on him because he’s shown me that he is willing to please and learns quickly.