I’ve seen this phrase many, many times in horse ads, where the seller says the horse is “AOT friendly.” I’ve also seen ads placed by buyers looking for an AOT friendly horse. But it doesn’t seem like there is any kind of definition around this term, and it means different things to different people.
I’m going to define what it means to ME. Obviously, every AOT is going to have their own unique set of criteria when looking for a horse, but for the sellers out there, this is what many of us AOTs have in mind when we think of a horse as being AOT friendly.
- It has excellent ground manners. This means that I won’t need drugs or another person around for things like giving shots, farrier work, loading into the trailer, bathing, clipping, tacking up, etc.
- I can get on the horse by myself. This means it doesn’t walk (or run) away when I’m climbing up the mounting block or putting my foot in the stirrup. Bonus points for a horse that knows how to walk up to and position itself at a mounting block.
- I can hook it by myself. This means the horse will stand still, without pawing or wandering off while I’m hooking it to the cart. It will also not leave while I’m getting in the buggy and getting settled, and it will only move off once I give the signal to do so.
- There are no time bombs or surprises waiting for me. This means that the horse is consistent and honest from day to day, not prone to bouts of random bad behavior.
What does “AOT friendly” NOT mean?
- Lower quality. AOTs are competitive. We want to win just as much as the next guy, so we want a nice horse.
- Cheap. Just because we train our own horses doesn’t mean we’re poor or won’t spend good money on a horse.
- Deadhead. Most AOTs are experienced riders and exhibitors. We can handle show horses, and in fact, if we’re competing, that’s likely what we want.
- Perfectly trained. Some training challenges are perfectly acceptable as long as they are disclosed in advance and the buyer feels they can handle them. I love a horse who needs bridling work – but the next AOT you encounter might not.
But regardless – the most important aspect of buying and selling horses is open, honest communication. The buyer needs to clearly express their needs and wants, while the seller needs to be honest about a horse’s habits and abilities.
What do YOU think of when you hear “AOT friendly horse?”
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