:::cue dramatic soap opera music:::
My first real horse purchase was an OTTB named, “Market”. This was before the internet and when I saw an ad in the paper about a horse for sale for $600, I thought- wow! A cheap horse! Didn’t really know much about him other than the price… So, I went to see him (never even went to see any other horses) and of course, wanted him immediately. Don’t even think I rode him, just freaking bought him!
The funny thing was… was since I had gone on a few paid trail rides, I thought I *knew* everything about horses. If there was any person on the planet who was the most wrong- I was WRONGER.
Amazingly enough, this beautiful bay TB with a hay belly didn’t kill me. He spooked me off onto my feet once, and nearly had me hanging on his side another, and that was really all it took for me NOT to ride him without my trainer present. I praise God that He saw fit to at the very least have a trainer willing to take me on and give me weekly lessons.
At any rate, I had three small children, worked a full time job and had a house and husband to care for. Over some time I lamented to my trainer that I didn’t feel any more confident in my riding ability after weekly lessons (he had a HUGE canter that I couldn’t sit for the life of me). Her quick response was, “You need to ride him more!” But I didn’t feel safe at all doing that without her, and she was a busy gal. Not only that, he was extremely herd bound and I didn’t know how to handle his constant calling out to his friends when I had him (on top of the spooking). Selling him never crossed my mind until the economy started taking a dump and with my husband’s income taking a direct hit, Market was the first to go in the start of letting a lot of things go… The worst part of this story is that we were almost homeless at one point. It was a sad and scary time.
But, before Market was given to my trainer, she revealed a little bit of a nut-punch when she told me the guy who sold me Market had never even ridden him himself! Goes to show you how IGNORANT horse buyers can be.
Fast forward to 2014 where I’ve been horse shopping (and praying!) for about a year looking for the right horse. Over the course of many years, I did a LOT of reading and researching about horses. The internet is now in very full swing and boy o’ boy did I have a lot of growing and learning to do! At this stage, I *knew* I was a very rank beginner and I *knew* I needed a half-dead, been-there done-that, babysitter. So, I waited. And, I prayed. However, not only did I do that, I volunteered at any barn I could get to the second I moved out to the country (in 2012). I worked for lessons. I learned how to properly care for horses- multiple horses. I learned how to halter, lead, pick feet, groom properly, blanket, water, worm, proper grain/hay ratios- the full gamut. At the end of it all I was caring for 18-20 horses and getting pretty good! And, my confidence was coming up just being around them all. I was blessed to have some awesome horse people in my life who were patient with me and allowed me not only to learn, but make mistakes too! Mistakes that weren’t life threatening, but good mistakes... As in, I *won’t* be making THAT mistake again!
I had started mapping out the pasture at my house when I saw an ad for a free QH. After a year of watching and reading hundreds of Craigslist, Facebook and Dreamhorse ads, I really found one that sounded good to me- and free to boot! Woo Hoo! I fell in love with her face the moment I saw the picture.
When I went to see her, she was so beautiful (and a bay too- double yay!). Her owner was a bit older and had had hip surgery (I think it was hips, not back, but not sure), so when she rode her, I saw how careful this horse was with her owner.
And I wanted her.
Catch was the owner had another lady that was a forerunner for this free horse. The other lady sounded like she would be a good owner, too. And the owner had a decision to make between me and her. I’m not gonna lie, I really did want this horse and I was trying so hard not to hold my breath. It really was a situation that sounded too good to be true almost so I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.
When I left, the owner said she’d call me.
Those 2-3 days seemed like an eternity! And when her number popped up on my phone, I thought my heart was gonna pop! After I answered, the owner said in the sweetest voice, “Do you want a horse?...” I screamed, “YES!!!” I was soooooo excited and happy I can’t even describe it.
When the day of pick-up came, it truly was bittersweet. And, I don’t use that word lightly- very, very bittersweet. It was sooooo hard to see the great sorrow in the owner’s eyes and the tears being constantly wiped away over the loss of her great friend. The owner *knew* her horse’s worth; this wasn’t just someone who sells and buys horses every day- this was a family member to her and after 8 years and one colt later, she was leaving to come live with me... and not her. I can only imagine how sad she must have been.
So, long story short, I had to board her at the barn I worked at for two weeks until my pasture was finished. And, once that was done, I brought her home… with a buddy!! His name was Gin and they were pastured up together at the barn and lucky me, Gin’s owner said I could take him to my place so that my new horse… Nala (!) wouldn’t be lonely!
Know what's funny about these pics??? The pasture is GREEN! LOL- it's not so green anymore!!!
Long story even shorter… Gin did not work out. And, because he didn’t work out, I got Zoey!
(Gin’s story has to be another blog post!)
The first time I saw Zoey, she was standing in this run-out stall from the barn that was right next to where you park your car at the barn I worked at (same barn Gin came from). The second thing I saw about her were her FEET! They were *the worst* pair of front hooves I ever seen… (Might as well warn you before this story gets any deeper, that it might make you angry, because it sure made ME angry!)
Now, they weren’t long … they were like… sawed off along the front and they looked like squares!!! I can easily guess that they were long and in a New York minute, someone chopped them off before Zoey was given back to the barn!! Ok, so that was the SECOND thing I saw. The first thing I saw… was how skinny she was.
But that was no surprise because this barn is notorious for getting rescue cases and they do a darn good job rehabbing them (at their own expense)! Now this is where the story makes me mad…
I didn’t really ask about this mare because she was just one of the twenty, but I knew she was obviously new when the owner casually mentioned that this mare used to live on their farm roughly 7 years before and they were just getting her back. Then the owners says that the mare was bred and was skinny from weaning (?!?!)
OK. Take a deep breath. Maybe the breeding was accidental? Maybe it wasn’t? But either way! This mare was bred when they couldn’t even take care of her feet?! Ugh!!! Let alone feed her?!?
Oh, my poor Zoey…
Anyhoooo… ‘bout a month later, when Gin didn’t work out, Zoey was offered to me. Only Zoey wasn’t free- I had to work for her. A whole whopping $300 of work-- Makes me chuckle a bit knowing that 7 years before they sold her for nearly $3k as a kids trail horse.
Knowing what I know now about her, imagine my good fortune! But, at the time I was apprehensive because I had only known her a month and I had to make a split-second decision to take her. They were going to give her to me first, then I’d work her off. How’s that for trust?
She ended up being a very good decision!!
Now she's a fat, little happy sushi roll!
I know this was long so thanks for reading!! Tomorrow is lesson day!!!