To me, the horse of a lifetime is the one who surprises you. You look at them and go, eh, nice enough I suppose........
I went to an auction one day and was looking for 2 good mares to breed to my stallion. This was a higher end auction and not your local .25/lb auction. So, it's hotter than Hades in the auction hall, there's over 400 horses and the bidding was pretty fierce. I had bought one mare and then sold her again 10 mins later because the guy I was bidding against just HAD to have her and wouldn't give me any peace.
Sooooo, we're down to 3/4 of the way through and I still don't have any horses. A bunch more go through and then........up walks this little old lady, leading a horsey Fabio. He was short, he was thin, he was wormy looking, he was a STALLION and he had the most glorious looking mane and tail. I watched as they went up, feeling vaguely sorry for the pair of them because they were both so scared. As she was walking him on the runway I saw this little red stallion who was nicely put together, and shaking down to his little feet, and it made his mane fly out and make a golden halo around him, he was shaking so hard. So, I kind of looked twice and thought......"HMMMM, I bet he'd be a lovely gelding." and immediately followed with, "Stop it, you're here to buy mares!". BUT.....he was so kind and careful. His owner had to be close to 80 and he was so careful NOT to step on her or get in her space or bump her, and it wasn't what she was doing, she was so scared I don't think she ever even saw him with her, and he supposedly had been saddle broke by an excellent trainer but not ridden much. No one was bidding on him and I was looking around wondering, "Can nobody else see what I'm seeing here?" and evidently they couldn't. In the meantime, someone who knew her said she was selling off all the horses she could because she had no hay. AWWWWWW dang it! I'm such a sucker. So I put up my paddle for him, $500. And no one bid against me. He was mine that quick. My husband came up to me after, as I was standing there asking myself what the heck I had just done, and said, "Why on earth did you buy that shrimpy, skinny, STALLION?". I just said, "You mark my words, he's going to be the best horse we've ever had.". I didn't even know his name yet, I hadn't paid attention at that point in the auction, just knew I'd bought a horse. Imagine my surprise when the auction secretary brought me the paperwork to sign that I had bought the horse when I saw his name......Marq My Words.
We took him home and all the way I was thinking, "OMG, what did I do that for? I gotta feed him for months before he'll be ready to geld, I have 2 other stallions, I don't need a 3rd one even for a little while.". Once we got him home and had a good look at him, he also had a fatty tumor under his jaw that needed removing. So, we fed him up, dewormed him, got him gelded and the tumor removed and then gave him time to heal up.
I was supposed to ride in a Christmas parade and my old guy made it clear that he was DONE being a riding horse and so, even though I had 40 horses I had no one to ride. I had gotten to know Marq fairly well so I decided, "How bad can it be?" and decided he would be my parade mount. The first time I EVER put a leg on him was the day I rode him in that parade. He was AMAZING! I hung a strap of jingle bells on him, put decorations all in his mane and tail, made him wear flashing reindeer antlers, you name it. AND we were in front of the stagecoach with a yahoo that kept snapping his bull whip. By the end of that parade, I was ready to do violence on the guy, but Marq never even flinched.
Between the Christmas parade and the New Year's Day ride, the mare I had bought at the same auction had knocked me down and pretty much destroyed my right shoulder. I was going to have surgery right after the holidays. BUT...I'm stubborn and that ride is a tradition and I was NOT going to miss it for something like an injured shoulder. Besides, the black eyed peas and corn bread they serve after the ride are ........ oh......yummmmmmm. So, I had my husband saddle Marq up, put my arm in an immobilizer, took enough pain pills to make the day a haze and said, "Ok little buddy, try not to kill me." and got on. I didn't know if he'd ever been near a trail before that day or not. He babysat me. He KNEW that I wasn't right and he carried me like I was made of blown glass.
I sold him about a year later, to a little girl with fear issues. I had too many horses and wasn't spending the time with Marq that he deserved. He deserved his own little girl to fuss over him, love him and just let him know what a wonderful horse he is. I kick myself every day for selling him, wish I'd never done it. He's totally happy, his girl loves him to death and I miss him.