The Green Horseman’s Latest Quest

As with everything all things must come to an end. For the past year Zeno Bay and Vai Via have been in my care and I have loved and adored them as they if were my own. They are incredible horses, full of love, and I have been blessed to be part of their rehabilitation in all aspects; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Zeno Bay has put on weight.  He has blossomed into a loving, amazing, very genuine horse. Vai Via has overcome a lot of anxiety. He still needs some time on certain things but he is a completely different being than when he first arrived at my home.

Unfortunately the time has come for them to move on as I am parting ways with the rescue group for personal reasons. I am heartbroken to lose them but it has been a long time coming from behind the scenes.  The horses have been wonderful.  Perfect.  I’ve enjoyed having them.  I’ve enjoyed training when I can.  I have enjoyed getting to know them.

With the two boys departing soon I am faced with a terrible yet exciting new opportunity to find blade a permanent sibling.

This has not been an easy decision for me.

I have two amazing horses right now that need and deserve my love and at the same time I need to do what’s right for me. With my next horse I have decided I need to be selfish. I need to find a horse that is young, physically fit, and sound to be my next partner for the activities that I currently enjoy.

I only live once and right now I can’t guarantee that I will still be riding like this later on in life and as we all know I typically bring animals into my home for life. When I adopted Blade he was for life; though his body cannot perform to my needs he is happy and healthy otherwise.  Until he’s no longer happy nor healthy he will forever be safe.  This is why I’ve decided to be selfish and this is why it has been such a hard decision for me.

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Another problem I’m facing is that I don’t have savings for the purchase of a brand new horse. This is not something that I planned to do just yet, in fact, I was hoping to get the truck and trailer before I get my second horse. So my budget is very tight. Regardless I began my search to see what I could find.

Remarkably, I was overwhelmed by the amount of beautiful, sound, sane, horses that are available within my non-existent price range. Within a course of a week or two I had been offered about 20-25 horses.  I didn’t have to aggressively search.  There was a mix of people that reached out…people who know me, people who have never met me, people who have mutual friends.  

Most were people with whom I have mutual friends (and of course my friends serve as great references).  Everyone offered up some incredible options. I did not expect to have so many to choose from; though I’m excited about the options it makes it very difficult to walk away from a really good horse.



My search criteria.

  • Sound
  • Good brain
  • Under 15 years
  • Good size for a petite chunk like myself
  • Prefer gelding (but will consider the right mare)
  • Prefer barefoot
  • Any breed
  • Will be using horse for my next partner to do hunter paces, jumping, and who knows what else.


I had a number of great contacts at first.

There was a beautiful paint horse that was in a lesson program and loves to jump.  He was 19.

…and a beautiful black QH gelding that also loves jumping.  He was 18.

There were a couple of friends who have some friendly lovable mares.

I sifted through all of the information.  Finally I began to visit a few…


I began my search with a friend who brought me to a wonderful family’s home that had some great horses available.

The first horse we saw was a little Mustang gelding named Vegas. He had the mustang shaped face which is not a deal-breaker but it’s not lovely. He had a solid little body.  He was a decent height but he was little pigeon-toed. Looking closely you could tell his legs were straight but his hooves had not been trimmed for a long time. Perhaps regular trims would correct the issue.  He also had a divot on his right shoulder.  He didn’t flex as well to the right either which made me think perhaps it caused him discomfort.

Looking at his face he had kind eyes, but he had a worried look. He wasn’t so sure of himself or the situation. I did not have much space to work with him but he could tell that I was a leader and wanted desperately to stay with me.  

I tried to teach him to lunge but he didn’t want to leave my side and with limited space, there is only so much I could do.  I asked him to back up and he resisted; a few times even reared up. He wasn’t a bad horse but I don’t believe he was the one for me. I don’t know how his body would handle training and I don’t know if that was a project that would have worked out for me.  There’s a lot of uncertainty here.


Another horse we saw was a sweet appaloosa gelding. He was a great size and very friendly.  We were told he is extremely herd bound.  I’m unsure of his age because we didn’t look at him very long.

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Another horse was a handsome red dun quarter horse about 11 years old named Reggie. I am a sucker for red dun.  His training under saddle is unknown. At the time somebody had already decided to buy him but I believe he became available again shortly after we saw him.

Regardless I’m not sure I want to devote time to training an 11 year old horse.

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The same family also showed me their standardbred mare, Duchess. She is 15, very sweet, and a good size. She was well trained though she had not been ridden in at least five years. I lunged her a little bit and even decided to get on her for a walk around the pasture. She was extremely good especially considering she had not been ridden in years. She was looking around a lot it seemed like she would be a reactive type of horse but we all know Blade has gone through his reactive moments too. It’s what I know well.

My biggest concern is how attached Blade might become with a mare.  He was devastated to lose Happy even though he had Zeno Bay and Vai Via.

 


With Duchess lived another Mustang; a 12 year old appaloosa mustang gelding named Coco. Coco is owned by somebody else but has also not been ridden in 5 years. I really liked this horse a lot end fell in love with his face and personality.

He has a gentle eye, solid body, and was very smart. I lunged him for a couple minutes and he responded really well and was in tune with me. I decided to get on him as well.  He was not nearly as reactive as Duchess and I liked his willingness; it was a vastly different feeling I got on him.  He gave me the “let’s explore” vibe. 

Unfortunately, I learned that the owner is not yet ready to re-home Coco…that he might be in the near future but not on this particular day.

I have kept Coco on my list among the top in case the owner changes his mind.

 

 



 

Shortly after our first excursion I was offered a gorgeous large paint who came from Hawaii. In fact he was probably at Kualoa Ranch when Zac and I went to Hawaii in 2013.

First… I love paints…especially ones with solid markings and a perfect blaze.

Second…how ironic that I was at the very ranch he came from 5,000 miles away?

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Hawaii 2013

Nahe is 14 years old, has big solid body, and has great feet.  I LOVE his markings and he has a perfectly kissable face (and that blaze!).

He has some sensitivities to bugs and slightly crooked legs but he’s sound regardless. He had a great personality and I got along well with him. He has jumped at a foxhunt recently.  I loved that he was challenging but willing and not mean at all. He’s set in his ways and I can’t fault him for that.

We took him on a trail ride and I was amazed by his sure-footedness. Being the chicken I am we descended steep hill coated with dead leaves; I was concerned about slipping but this horse knew exactly what to do and took care of me.

This is what made him stand out from everybody else immediately. I was very happy with him.


On the same day I visited the farm Blade came from. I had the opportunity to meet Blade’s half-sister, Abby,  who is 2 years old and just back from the trainer.  I was told she was one of the quietest foals they’ve had and a pleasure to work with.  It seems so cool and rare that I could have siblings living with me.  

Unfortunately she has a small windpipe. She roars. I was told the vet said this should not limit her riding but it will cause some noise. She certainly cannot race and be ridden flat-out, but I wouldn’t do that anyway.  She has had surgery to help correct her situation as much as possible.

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I could call the vet and talk to them one-on-one regarding Abby’s long-term ability as a riding horse. I’ll repeat this a lot…for this second horse I am being selfish and I want to make sure that the horse I choose will be my partner for the long term.  

I am aware that things happen but I can at least choose the horse that will give us the best chance of long-term success in writing. I was concerned that this beautiful little filly could not hold up to hunter paces or whatever else I may want to do with her.

It was really nice to visit this farm again.  I can’t believe it was just over 4 years ago I first visited and met Blade here.  It’s an absolutely stunning property.


While I was visiting I learned Blade’s dam, Jet Black Magic, is available and unfortunately may be put down if not given a good home. This is the part of horse shopping that hurts me the most. I can’t provide a home for all of the horses and I hate that even though I have a space open I have to turn my back on them.  I’m sure Blade’s mom is a great horse though I don’t think she’s truly a riding horse and she’s 18 years old. Putting her to sleep may be the most humane thing if a safe permanent home cannot be found…but it’s still sad regardless.

 

…and another broodmare that will be available once her foal is weaned!

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As I continued my search I applied for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.  The program rehomes horses from the track, both thoroughbreds and standardbreds alike.   Unfortunately I was rejected because I don’t have stalls. Of course I would confine them to a stall if stall rest was required but I don’t believe keeping them in a box for hours entirely necessary.

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I have nothing against stalls and Blade lived in a stall for years but I don’t see how it should be detrimental to my ability to provide a great home.  This was a bit frustrating especially considering I successfully kept 3 thoroughbreds happy and healthy (2 were older with bad teeth mind you) all throughout the worst of winter.


My second mom (my mom’s childhood friend and the lady who got me into the horse world) has a number of horses on her property.  She had reached out to me about a filly she rescued last year from the slaughter pipeline.  The filly is about 1.5 years old, bay, and growing to be a decent size already.  When I visited she immediately ran to greet us, ignoring her herd-mates.

 

She spent time with us, picked up her feet for us.  She was a lovely young lady growing up nicely.  She moved nicely.  She LOVED Zac.

 

I have never trained a young horse before.  I’m sure I could do it, and I know I’d start her the right way.  Lots of groundwork.  I like the idea that I can still give her plenty of time to grow and mature before riding her…that perhaps I’ll have a truck and trailer by the time she’s under saddle.

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She is standing behind Casey.  A wonderful QH that I used to ride.  They match!

The last horse I looked at was owned by a family my trainer placed me in contact with.  Their daughter went off to college and they were looking for a home for their 6 year old thoroughbred gelding.  I began talking to them and at first they were concerned about my 24/7 turn out situation. My trainer reached out to them unbeknownst to me and personally vouched for me along with my ability to provide excellent care to my animals. Within the next week they reached out again and told me I was welcome to come meet him if I was still interested.
I grabbed my childhood friend who shares my love of thoroughbreds and we visited R Tom Cat at a gorgeous equine facility less than an hour south of me. I admit I felt very self-conscious visiting this barn.  It was stunning; picture perfect with picture perfect riders.  I am a good rider and I claim to not care what others think but I can’t help that it still crosses my mind.  I’m heavier that I want to be.  I don’t wear pristine clothes….heck I’m lucky I even have a pair of breeches (thank you Ashley!). 
When I got in the saddle I instantly felt at ease. 
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R TOM CAT, the photo that was initially sent to me.
R Tom Cat and I clicked immediately and became one being; together we moved around the ring. He was soft, willing, and brave. We took a cross rail effortlessly.  At that point my insecurities held me back from trying the vertical and the oxar in front of everybody. In truth I would have done fine but I got in my own head…and my head is not a good place to be while riding.  After a few laps around and changing directions we decided to take it outdoors.
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I was told he was more forward outside. True; he was forward…but he was in no way like Blade forward. I felt in control of the entire time and he moved effortlessly through the field. My dream came true riding through an open grassy field, something I’ve always wanted to do and we were doing it! At the end of the field I reined him in some and he adjusted his stride to a much more collected canter.

Just like that.

No fuss.

No arguments.

He just came back.

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I finished our ride smiling and was honored to hear the farm owner say he liked me.  It was great news because I really liked him too.  At this point I wasn’t 100% certain his owners would select me since there were several other people interested in seeing him.  At the very least I can say I’m super happy to have had a chance to ride this horse.




THE FINAL LOOK


I have been given a lot to think about.  My future may be vastly different depending on the horse I select (or the horse that selects me) to become my next permanent family member. 

VEGAS

  • PROS: Mustang, Good height, good age, kind, trusting
  • CONS: Crooked legs/pigeon toed, lacks training, lacked confidence, rears when confused
  • THOUGHTS: Concerned about long-term rideability and soundness
COCO:
  • PROS: Mustang, great body condition on pasture only, great feet, great mind, soft eye
  • CONS: Owner not ready to part with horse
  • THOUGHTS: Mustangs are a very hardy breed, bred by nature the way nature intended. 
DUCHESS
  • PROS: Good height, kind, good body condition on pasture only
  • CONS: Mare, possibly reactive, cow kicking during ride
  • THOUGHTS: Hard to decipher pain vs bugs in one ride. Concerned Blade might get too attached to a mare
ABBY
  • PROS: Blade’s half sister, great build, perfect height, great age, good temperament
  • CONS: Small windpipe
  • THOUGHTS: Concerned about long-term health and soundness, would be cool to have siblings
NAHE
  • PROS: Surefooted, great build, calm, kind, comfortable, sound, great hooves,
  • CONS: Sensitive to bugs, might resist direct reining, can be stubborn
  • THOUGHTS: I love paints.  I’m not worried about training, as long as he’s willing to try.  Medication for allergies is cheap
FILLY
  • PROS: Young, nice conformation, great personality
  • CONS: 1.5 years old, never started a horse, Blade might get attached
  • THOUGHTS: Having a baby will give me time to get my act together and get a truck and trailer before we are ready to go do things.  I’m concerned I may get in over my head starting a young horse.
R TOM CAT
  • PROS: Ideal age, ideal height, great temperament, trained exactly for what I want to do
  • CONS: Shod, Other interested parties, well trained may be out of my league
  • THOUGHTS: I loved this horse but shoes can be expensive and I need to make sure I ride often as he is accustomed to a certain standard


Fast forward a bit…my new horse is coming home tomorrow morning.

WHO WILL IT BE?



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2 Comments

  1. I know I’m biased for Standardbreds (do not get me started on New Vocations!!) but the “smart” Standardbreds like to look and be engaged in their environment. My OTSTB raced open (no blinkers/blinders) and even after a few hundred trail miles, is a looker (not a spooker, just likes to enjoy the view). Some OTSTBs do cowkick but usually, it is a signal that they are uncomfortable in a situation, be it pain or confusion. I know you have reservations about your guy getting attached to a mare, but I would give Duchess a second look and ride (especially after 5 years) to see how she goes after she gets her brain back into work mode.

    Enjoy the horse shopping, it is stressful yet exciting, good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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