Well, on Monday, the 17th it will be one year since I've brought Freedom home (my 8 yr old solid paint mare). A year ago, I found a Craigslist ad for a horse that was supposedly well trained, used for trail riding and parades, stood for saddling/mounting/vet/farrier, etc.
So, I drove 3.5 hrs through the evening to find her in a garage stall that she couldn't turn around in with no bedding and no hay and fed one scoop of grain a day. She threw the saddle, couldn't get a bridle on her, didn't know how to lunge, and was spooky and high strung as hell! Rode her in the dark with one spotlight outside in the backyard trying to avoid the volleyball net, trampoline, tree house and trees...bareback and bridleless (not one of my smarter moves). But, I survived it and after getting off, turned to look at her and shook my head thinking, "this horse is everything my trainer told me to stay away from." She was the "too good to be true" craigslist ad that claimed all the attributes that I wanted that she didn't have, and she came with all her tack...
I was sad and disappointed, but felt really sorry for this beautiful animal who stood before me. I turned and started to walk away when I heard this knicker and felt something on my shoulder. I turned around and Freedom dropped her head in my hands and started nuzzling me. I was heart broken and a well played sucker. I couldn't leave her.
So, two weeks later I went back to pick her up. It took over an hour of fighting in the snow to get her on the trailer and then we began the long drive home. She jumped out of the trailer and I took her into her stall. For days she would ration her hay afraid she wouldn't get more (now, she plows through it). She loves being out with the herd and made friends quickly.
My trainer and I worked with her and treated her as if though she had never had any training of any kind and re-broke her from the ground up. After doing some research, I found out she was abused when she was younger (badly). She was beaten for everything and was very head shy. We couldn't get a halter on her and she would rear (a log). So, we started with groundwork and respect. Trained her to stand for saddling and mounting. She's soft in the mouth and works well in a plain D-snaffle.
Monday marks a year and even though we still have a long ways to go, she's gained weight, is healthy and happy and walks, trots, canters, backs under saddle, goes out on trail alone and with others, comes to me in the field, knows her leads at the canter (still working on collecting more). She stands for saddling, grooming, farrier, vet. She's not as spooky. She loves her head being scratched. She's absoltely spoiled rotten with the best care, love, and tack. Remember, she came with "all the tack to get started." That lasted maybe a couple months. I went out and throughout the year, got her a good saddle pad, custom fitted saddle, matching headstall and breastcollar, halters galore, well...let's say I went a little over my anticipated budget.
She has helped me to gain tremendous confidence and I've gained a lot of knowledge and experience this past year. I thank my friends, family, trainer, and everyone here for their knowledge, support, advice, opinions, expertise, and help in helping Freedom and myself to get to where we are today.
To the first time horse buyer, I recommend listening to your trainer, gain experience and knowledge BEFORE buying, take a knowledgeable/experienced person with you to look, and be patient! I bought one of the first horses I looked at and while I don't regret it, there are times when I am jealous and frustrated that I can't do the things my friends are doing because my horse and I are still too green.