Monday, July 18, 2011

Baby Doll is horse shopping!!

                                                            Betsy and her trail buddy Jesse



 Exhausted.....That's it in a nutshell.


 I'm going to share my experience with you

a. Because that's what we bloggers do and 
b. Because maybe, just maybe someone (like my inexperienced self) will learn something from my story.

So, get your coffee and settle in....this is long.  This is the adult version of "There is no Santa Claus."

I  suppose I didn't really believe that he would whinny and come running up to snuggle me when I found him...but, I kinda did think about it.  I would throw my arms around his masculine neck, feel his mane on my face and would immediately know.....
 
Well, not quite.  This is my turn to grow up and realize Santa ain't real.

How'd all this start?  Well,....It all began when those silly Pony Cousins roped me in with their enticing stories of youthful bareback riding, no shirt, no shoes no saddle and the wind whipping in their hair.  Then, One day,  Desert rose planned a trail ride for all of us.  But, for me, and those who had never mounted anything more than a Carousel horse.  This was finally the time we would get to experience that feeling too!   Ok, I won't really take you back THAT far.... :-)

As you can read from my "side bar" welcome message,  its been a LONNNGGGG ride trying to figure out if I simply wanted to ride "occasionally" or make this a real part of my life.
So, I've continued to borrow Desert Rose's horse (the wonderful Jesse).  And while Jesse and I have had many happy and MEMORABLE times together,  (some will go down in Pony Cousin history...) I have felt for a long time I really wanted a horse of my own.   I've been learning about horsemanship during all this.  I've hired trainers, read books, listened carefully to constructive criticism,  and surfing what my husband refers to as "horse porn."
 But when, the reality sets in.....I think about the daily committment, scooping poop, at least visiting and grooming them every day, but really,  seriously riding them and forming that committment that I've seen all my pony cousins gain from the relationship with their horses.

 I do have some reservations.

Am I crazy?! Do I have time in my life for MORE commitments?  MORE relationships....I mean, I've got 2 grown children, 5 grandkids, I do wedding cakes, and I've got a husband who, while he is the sweetest thing in my life, is also wanting my time, especially now that we are retired.  Aren't I busy enough?  Hell, I can't find time to do the laundry,   but NOOOOO, I'm gonna saddle myself down with a huge animal that eats the equivalent of my monthly grocery bill.  An animal that could hurt me if I don't perform correctly.  An animal that needs me to WORK with him/her everyday.  An animal that will force me to grow as an equestrian or end up in the dirt...again.    An animal that if/when he gets hurt or sick, will cost me what I'd pay for a vacation.   

And then, the other part of my brain says,  if I find a good horse, with good manners and no vices I would learn his personality, he would learn mine and that would make us a TEAM.  I want to be in sync with a horse of my own, I want to feel that wind in my hair, to travel unexplored trails together.   I want him to WANT to take care of me,...because I am his.  I know Black Beauty was just a movie.....But,  I want to know I'm going to have a consistent ride and have the chance to "really" get to know his trot.  I feel most of the time like I'm lousy at sitting my seat especially during the trot.  But then, I've ridden 18 horses in the last 4 years too....and I'm TIRED of figuring out different horses....TIRED of taking falls, getting hurt and when all the dust settles realizing that I didn't do something right that THAT horse is used to.....I just want consistency.

So, with the blessing of my husband, I have begun my search.  But, he DID insist that I get my horse trailer first.  The DH feels you "Don't put the horse before the cart...."
....THAT shopping went on for weeks!  (An entire blog in itself...)   Then, we got lucky and were told about one that hadn't even been advertised yet, by a guy, who his neighbor was selling it.  So, I jumped on it, called the owner, and  we went out to look.  After looking at probably 12 different horse trailers, we knew this one was a good buy.  It wasn't the swing out saddle rack I'd wished for, but it was clean, it wasn't the best brand I'd wanted, but it was clean and in good shape.... and a good price.   I assumed my husband would say "We'll think about it and let you know."   NO!....He said "We'll take it."  What a guy!

Next, the horse.

So far I've sent thousands of emails back and forth to many prospective sellers, had lengthy discussions with them about their so called perfect horses,  had them send me "more pictures,"  watched videos on how they move etc.... I've become addicted to dreamhorse.com.   I've become an expert at decoding horse lingo.  My sleep talking has become "Clips, Hauls, Ties...."

I think I've decided that, to find that "Forever Friend" one has to be  part detective, part wimp, part salesman,  and part hard-ass when shopping for a horse.  

Not only must I believe what the add says and then decipher what's bull----,  but read through the lines too.  Not only have I found myself selling MYSELF and this new horses possible home, but also running down miles and miles of road to find an "out of the way" address to look at a horse who is gorgeous, and find out it's psycho.

I've been told by EVERYONE to ignore beauty and look for substance.  I'm trying!  And the more I look at, the more I know they are right.  It's like going into a bar (when you were single) looking the place over and saying "Now, this time, I'm going to look for substance, not beauty."  How many times did you stick to that????  Just once I'd like to find the beauty with the brains in the same horse.

Honestly though, I feel I HAVE found a few very good prospects.  But, I'll sure appreciate any feedback you have after hearing my stories so far.....

1.  Cowboy:       A BEAUTIFUL PALOMINO,  10 yr. old TW, and the most gorgeous gold color with white mane and tail.  I lusted after this boy for some time, but couldn't get over to ride him right away.  The owner talked with me at length about my ability,  fears and falls.  She felt he was THE MOST dependable, non spooky horse she had.  I really thought I had found my "forever friend" right away....how lucky was I????   And just before we headed over to east of the mountains to see him,  he sold.  My first heartbreak with many to come.
2. Blue - He is a  9 yr. old TW,  he's blue roan, not what some would call beautiful (mostly looks gray/black) but, has a gait to die for!  He is very sensitive so doesn't need much but a squeezing of the legs and he begins gaiting.  I've yet to take him out on the trail but I have scheduled a time for that soon and can't wait.  What I like about him is, while he has plenty of get up and go, (I rode him in a large arena)  would give me lots if I asked for it.  But, you take the saddle off him and he becomes sooo docile!  I mean he doesn't dance around when tacking, isn't always moving his feet, he would fall asleep if you petted him too much,  and he won my husbands heart immediately because, when he walked up to him in the field.  Blue was eating his hay and Blue just moved a step closer and snuggled into DH's chest.  This owner is the same as the one below, not sure yet if she would let me trial lease or not.

3.  Diamond - (Sorry, no picture) a TW mare who is shiny black all over.  I know.... I DIDN'T want a mare, but I have decided to "consider" a good one.  Desert Rose assures me it's not a problem if she's well trained and not the marish type.  Sooo, I've opened my mind to the possibility.  Diamond did move her feet around a bit when tacking, but she was real good while riding.  She has the same beautiful gate as Blue, however, when she stops, she stops sudden.  It wasn't bad, I could get used to it, but it could surprise an unsuspecting rider.  The trainer/owner says she thinks she'd be a good match for me...Says she is a real good girl.  She does try hard to please.  I plan on taking her out on the trail as well.  I don't know yet, if this owner would let me trial or not. 

4.  Coyote Joe:   Now this guy comes highly recommended from an old friend of mine from my hometown.  She's ridden since she was about 3 and still owns, races, events and boards horses.  And has a daughter who is the Interstate Rodeo Princess.  I asked her to go with me to look at a mare in town there and she said "I have a good friend who has a great horse you should look at too."  He's not gaited, he's a quarter horse, but he has a real good head."  I agreed and when I saw him he was nothing that made my heart go pitter patter,  he's just all brown, brown mane and tail.  I think he wouldn't stand out in any crowd.  (Substance, not beauty!)  With that being said, he had JUST been brought back to his owner because the girl who was leasing him, was going off to college.  The owner agreed to have him delivered to my friends house so I could look at him.  As I approached him, I thought "oh great, he's nothing to look at."  But, I went and got him out of his stall, led him out to the hitching post, and began grooming him.  His owner showed up and was able to give me more info. about him.  He's about 11, not registered but, he's stable....They say he was on a trail ride with about 12 people, several horses got acting up, a couple actually ran off (sounds like a train wreck) and COYOTE remained calm, and he and his girl were the ones who went and rescued the run away horses.   So, we warmed him up and took him for a trail ride.  My friends new horse, EMMET acted up terribly, but even with him spooking at everything so bad he'd throw himself off the trail, Coyote remained calm, level headed and did very well.  We even went by a shooting range and when a shot range out, he flinched his neck a bit, but that was it.  Pam, my friend said most horses get real anxious and pace for a day or so when they get moved to a new place like he had just been, and he never did that.  I really can't find anything wrong with him except he's not gaited and I kinda had my mind set on that nice gait rather than a hard to ride trot. AND remember, I have a budget. If I go over that I have nothing for saddle etc.  But, this horse is MUCH LESS than these others.  This owner would let me trial him if I wanted.

5.  Belle:   Black and White Spotted Saddle/Tennessee Walker.  I really liked this little mare.  I spent alot of time with her, Pam rode her too.  Then we trailered her to the local arena, rode her and while we were doing this, planes were buzzing so low over our heads I held onto the saddle horn thinking "this will definately shake her up."  It didn't..... The rain was pouring down, THEN, it began LOUD thunder AND lightening!!  I thought ok, this will let me see her at her worst IF we don't get struck down out here...... But, she never seemed to spook at any of it.  She is spoiled by her owner who bred and raised her but her only downfall is she's a mare.  And, kind of small (I think) Owner says 15. hands but both Pam and I thought she was smaller than that.   Her owner says she's not marish, and would let me trial her first.


6. Blue Roan Mare:  Quarter horse.  I really didn't think I'd like her from her pictures, but when we arrived, and the owner brought her out?  OMG!  She was beautiful!  Silvery blue body with black head/face and lower legs and tail.  I led her around, and when I'd stop, she'd stop...She was very docile, wasn't dancing around, hubby and I both liked her demeanor....I said to myself  "Honey, if this trail ride goes well, you are mine!"  But, I asked the owner to ride her around a bit first, so I could film her moving....She did well, walk, trot and lope.  Then I said, "Please back her up for me?" and when she did, this pretty thing REARED!  Not, real high, but....WHAT THE HELL???  She kept trying, she did it again!  This time the owner fell/stepped off quickly, she kept saying "That was my fault."  She mounted her again and said "she had a different bit in her mouth.  Let her change that and we will see a difference."  So,.... I did, and EVERYTIME she backed her, she would start to REAR!  I knew now, this girl wouldn't be coming home with me, let alone me try to trail ride her!!  The owner kept telling me how its not in her character to do this!  I said "Well, that may be true but she's too much horse for me, and I'd freak if she did that with me."  So, we bid farewell to the most beautiful horse I'd ever considered owning..... :-(

Update:  Steels owner emailed me today and said right after we left, she rode her and she continued acting up.  She brought her back, checked her out good, found nothing.  When her son came home, she told him about this and he was shocked that Steel acted like that, so he went and checked her out, took a frog brush to her feet really good, and he found a small nail that had been stuck into her hind frog.  They were both convinced this is why she acted up, everytime she asked her to back up her weight shifted back and it caused her pain!   She knew this probably wouldn't change my mind, but wanted me to know.  Well, I asked her if she'd consider a free lease for a month so my trainer could work with me to make sure this is an unusual behavior for her and get a vet check.  I haven't heard yet what her response is.....I of course will ask Desert Rose to go with me and ride her IF I decide to give her another chance.  

At this point I'm just tired and somewhat confused....I am going to go ride Blue again (if he doesn't sell first!) and get him out on the trails.  I "think" so far he seems to be mostly what I want.  But, Belle has my heart and so does Steel if she really doesn't have a rearing issue.

I'm still looking, and considering others but haven't gotten to meet/check them out yet.  So I just wanted to bring all of you in the loop so you know what's happening with me.  Not sure how long this journey will be, but isn't it exciting that I'm getting close????


















4 comments:

  1. I am very excited for you.. Your very own pony!! And what a feeling when you know that they know you are their mom!!!

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  2. I've really admired your spunk, determination and commitment these last few years. When you finally find your perfect pony, it will just make the journey all that more worth it. And hey, the journey really never ends, does it?! So, so excited for you!!

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  3. Oh, I hope you find what you are looking for Cousin B. I remember when Mom LIVED on that Dream Horse sight too!

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  4. What a great post. I am so excited for u. Just let your heart guide u. I am a firm believer if it was meant to ne it will hapen. U will know whjen u find your new partner. I remember back when I was looking. We spent a day looking at five horses. They weren't the right fit.michelle gound dusty for me. He won my heart the minute I saw him. He has had his issues. But I pick my battles with him and we have come a long way in the four years he's been mine. We have learned to trust each other. Hugs

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