Monday, March 8, 2010

Mouthy Mondays

Onetoomany wrote this story about her first dive into the horse ownership pool...

My road to horse ownership was not nearly has difficult as it seemed to me.

I did not have to struggle for years trying to earn the money to buy my own horse and then struggle for years afterward to pay for the up keep of said horse.

I was lucky. I had a dad who loved horses as well and who just wanted to see me happy. That is not to say that my road was not without it’s own share of potholes.

I was lifted up to the skies several times by the promise and lure of my dad saying that it was finally time to get me that horse I had been coveting since I was born and I would suddenly drop into the icy pool of reality as he backed out due to the reality of finances. It seems as though I went through that cycle more times than I can count but finally the time came and it seemed like the real deal.

I was sixteen and in between tenth and eleventh grade. We started to shop around for boarding stables before buying the horse. I wanted to find someone whose second opinion I could count on when I did find some horses to look at.

I finally found a little barn about an hour away from my house that offered cheap board, had an active group of riders and was located right off a trail system and as it would turn out a barn full of horses for sale.

It wasn’t nearly as fancy as the barn that I had taken lessons at for years, it didn’t even have an indoor (practically a must for icy Minnesota winters) but I didn’t know much going into the situation.

Sure, I had taken lessons at a fairly respectable barn for quite a few years and I had been enrolled in the horseless 4H program but how little they prepared me for actually taking the plunge.

I reveled in what I knew but didn’t realize how little that amount actually was. How unprepared I was to actually deal with sellers and my complete inability to spot the bad deals.

Sandy owned the barn and had a small time dealer/con artist that operated out of her facilities that had a number of horses up for sale.

My dad and I chatted with them for a while as I blindly spoke about my inexperience with actually purchasing a horse.

I was immediately given a list of things to do and not do. “Never get on the horse before the owner does, always watch the owner” was the combined advice that came from and Sandy and Marie (the dealer).

“Always get a pre-purchase done.” Was another piece of sage advice from these trustworthy horse people.

As we spoke I began to detail the type of horse I was looking for. I knew that I didn’t want to keep doing any of that slow and pretty pleasure work.

I knew I was destined for speed. Immediately the dealer got a look on her face and, looking back, a calculating look in her eye.

“Well. I have one horse that might work for you but I was thinking about keeping her for myself because I just got this feeling about her.” Her eyes were narrowed in thought and it seemed as though she was sizing me up.

Little did I know about the ride I was about to embark on and am still in fact embarking on. She continued “Her name is Philina and I just bought her about a month ago but due to a back injury (…sure) I haven’t been able to really get on and ride her. She’s an Arab/Pinto cross that could be in foal with a running bred quarter horse. The people I bought her from are big into WSCA and the kid even qualified on her (if only I had known at this point how small of an accomplishment that was, heck if only I had known what the freak WSCA stood for at this point)."

Of course she had been bred. I grew a little reluctant to even look at the horse. The one thing that I hadn’t wanted was a bred mare. I pocked my reservations and followed Marie anyway out to the paddock to catch this mystery horse.

My eye immediately zeroed in on a fancy little black/dark bay horse with a wide blaze running down her face. Her head came up from the stubble she had been grazing on and she stared at us with more intensity than I had ever seen a horse stare with.

There were about three or four other horses standing around her but I was praying that this was the mystery horse Philina. My heart seemed to expand in my rib cage as Marie put the halter on the mare and began to lead her up, and Philina pranced and danced the entire way up but I paid no mind

I tried to keep a poker face on as we led her back to the saddling area, even I knew not to completely disclose all my feelings on a potential horse.

Marie tossed the saddle on Philina while I stood at her head and cooed to her. She paid me no mind and pretty much looked the opposite direction. Occasionally she would turn an imperious and intelligent eye toward me but would quickly disregard me after that. But I paid no mind.

Marie finished saddling her and led her up to the fenced of portion of the pasture that served as the arena and Philina pranced all the way there. She handed over the reins and said something but I can’t recall as I believe the sound of my heart beating in my ears was drowning her out pretty well. As I put my foot into the stirrup a brief thought flashed across my mind about always letting the seller ride first but I quickly disregarded it and swung up onto Philina’s back.

Her walk was quick and full of motion and her head was just about in my lap but I paid no mind. We strolled/skittered around the perimeter of the arena and all the while I was trying to keep myself calm.

I finally understood what all those people had said about just clicking with a horse. She jigged and danced but I just deepened my seat and rode along with her. I felt hard wired into this horse; I had never felt anything like it in my life.

I put her through her paces and it felt like I was riding a rocket the entire time as I swooped about the arena. I pulled her up and rode her back over and quietly agreed to do a lease on her while I continued looking.

I knew that I would not be looking any further but decided to keep that particular card close to my chest. I was starting to get a feel for this Marie and something was just not feeling right to me in my gut.

That night I went home and told my mom all about this horse. This magical, dancing, prancing ballerina of a horse. I danced and leapt across the house as I explained her. I couldn’t say enough. I couldn’t dance enough over her.

Unfortunately for my family, other spectators and ultimately myself- I am not a good dancer and was told to just stick to words as I probably wouldn’t knock a lamp down by speaking alone. Whoops.

Over the next week I tried out two other horses but neither seemed right for me. Each was a complete let down after having ridden Philina. For two weeks, even while leasing her, her name was the only thing running through my head.

I was completely paranoid that someone else would come and snatch her up while I was stuck doing this piddly lease. I was near obsessed. All I could think about was this horse, all I could dream about was this horse. Every time I rode Philina I felt as though I were flying, even at a walk.

I knew I had to own this horse but felt a little hesitant about the pricing. I had begun to learn and open my eyes about the this supposed friendly dealer. I thought I had figured out Marie’s deal pretty well over two weeks through talking to Sandy and Sandy’s daughter.

As it would turn out, things were not well between dealer and barn owner. In fact Sandy was more than ready to tell me about Philina. Philina who had originally been purchased for $600 (and this was when the market was just beginning to sink). Philina, who hadn’t had a dime put into her care while she was owned by Marie. Philina, who according to Sandy, probably wouldn’t do too well at anything. I disagreed.

I thought we would take the world by storm. She would be my barrel/dressage/HUS/WP/driving horse. I was a little deluded as it would turn out but I had high hopes.

I was given pretty much free rein from my dad in the area of buying a horse so long as I stayed in price range. When I told him my decision he helped me to come in and haggle price.

Marie started the price out at $1500 but we talked her down an entire $100.

I was pretty proud of my haggling skills at the time. Currently I wish I could reach back and smack myself. The deal was sealed at $1400. $1400!? What a steal for a mare and a baby (my reservations about baby had vanished)!

Pre-purchase exam? Naw, who needs it! Another point on which I could reach back in time and smack myself.

I tried to keep myself steady and kept myelf from committing to the deal fully until the money was in the seller’s hand and the horse in mine. The morning that we went to the bank to withdraw the $1400, I pranced in circles around my dad. I couldn’t contain myself. My heart, stomach and probably liver and kidneys were pushed up in my throat and my entire body was taut with excitement.

The entire ride out to the barn I kept saying in my head “I’m getting a horse, I’m getting a horse, I’m getting a perfect, wonderful horse all of my own.” Occasionally (frequently) it would slip out of my mouth and after about an hour of hearing this chant my dad was ready throw me out the car. At this threat I stopped because I was getting a horse!

We arrived at the barn and now in addition to my heart, stomach, kidneys and liver being jammed into my throat, I believe my lungs and intestines decided to join them. I believe they had a regular party in there as I was having problems breathing and speaking coherently.

My dad and I signed off on the papers, and received Philina’s registration information. As I slipped on her halter I felt a feeling that I don’t think I will ever fully feel again. It is the completely unique and special feeling of buying that first horse. That first perfect horse that can never be replaced and will always hold a special spot in our hearts.

I still get a spark of that feeling every time I slip that halter onto my horse’s head. I still grin like an idiot as I ride her even if we are doing nothing more than a walk around the arena. We’ve had quite the bumpy road over the past five years but I would trade a second of my time with her for a second anywhere else.


Denali said...

Great story!! Onetoomany? Does she have a blog? I'd love to see pictures and see what happened to the baby!

rockymouse said...

I wondered about the baby too!
I also really like how your enthusiasm for your horse hasn't dimmed. Nice.
Thanks to everyone who responded to my question in the last post about my mare that gets chargy after loping. I've got lots to think about...and it's a smidge of vindication that I was on the right path already. Yay!

Breathe said...

Fantastic story. I'm impressed at her stick-to-it-ness. After all those warning signs, she went on - wish we could hear more...

Amy said...

Great story!!!! Thanks for sharing!

kel said...

rockymouse said...
I wondered about the baby too!

I was wondering if that was why her screen name is "onetoomany" ! I can remember that feeling. I was 7 when I got my first horse and that feeling never leaves you.

Completely off topic... but I gotta tell you all about my second horse show. Now remember... I am a 48 year old re-rider on an 11 year old 16 hand paint! He didn't start his reining training until he was 9 1/2 years old.

Saturday was my second horse show. It was at the barn where I board so we had the home field advantage. We warmed up and Semper was on, on, on. He was just floating around, very responsive and willing. I entered 3 classes. I wanted to enter at least one class to school in. The rookie class was first and we started out really nicely until I asked for my first lead change. He kicked out so hard at my spur, big jerk, that I just took him two handed and schooled the rest of the pattern. Kicking out is a 5 point deduction. Kind of pointless to go on with a pattern after that! TL had me immediately take him out to the warm up area and just push him all over the place. Move his hip, move his shoulders, anything that required me putting leg on him. Of course he knew he was in trouble and never kicked out again, but we did make him work more than he wanted to. The next class was Green Reiner and we did a nice pattern. Our stops still need work but for the most part he did alright. We finished the pattern and got a 67 which is 2 points higher than our first show. I was happy with that. It is all about moving forward baby! The last class was the Dumb as Dirt (Green as Grass) class and boy did I live up to that name! The pattern started with turnarounds and I was so focused on doing good turnaround that I forgot to count! After the first one, I was thinking "shit! I don't know how many I have done!" There is that sinking feeling again. I did 5 rotations and that nabbed me a zero. But the rest of the pattern was very nice and the lead changes were beautiful. I did take too many steps back in the roll back and that would have nabbed me a zero on top the of the zero I already had. I got some nice compliments from people on how nice Semper and I looked and worked together and that is always nice to hear.

All and all I had a really good day. I have been dreaming about it for 2 years and getting it done was a great feeling. I just wish I hadn't waited so long!

onetoomany said...

Thanks for posting this Mugs and thanks for the responses everyone!

No blog, I keep thinking about starting one but figure I should stockpile some stories first. I won't keep you guys in suspense over what happened to baby while I puzzle over whether or not I want to start a blog. Baby (named Ju-Ju, after the candy) was born and I kept and started her under saddle (insert saga here) and eventually sold her, ironically, to the daughter owner of the barn where I initially purchased Philina (insert whole 'nother story here). Haven't seen her for a couple months but as I'm still friends with the current owner I'll probably be seeing her soon. As for pictures- those may have to wait for me to start a blog.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

What a story, go on... go on...

rockymouse said...

Those do sound like intriguing follows someday, Onetoo.
And Kel, way to go on your show!

Shanster said...

What a good story and I love that she still makes your heart go pitter pat!!

gtyyup said...

So very true...the first horse feeling is one we never forget. Excellently told story!

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