As I reached out to yet another seller only to read through the answers with an ever sinking heart knowing with each response that this wasn’t going to be right either, it dawned on me that I haven’t the foggiest idea what I am doing here.
What do I want?
What do I need?
Are they the same?
It is complicated by the fact that Gem is difficult. Just how difficult wasn’t even clear to me until after I started riding all these other horses. Even the ones that weren’t a good fit for me were still light years easier to ride. They were, at their core, obedient horses who wanted to do what I asked. Unlike one certain bay mare who basically gives me the middle finger and determines that she knows better all. the. time. About everything.
So the bar is set pretty low and that makes every horse seem sorta like “the one”. I mean, pretty much anything would be better for this sport, right?
I reached out to a seller with a horse my Trainer loosely knows from a 2 week stint at her place last year. He is going intermediate. He happens to be at the top, but still in my budget. I asked my basic questions, got some answers I liked and some I didn’t and then sat back and thought “What the hell am I doing? I don’t need nor do I want a horse that is going intermediate. I will never go intermediate.”
What is it that I really want? I mean, if all goes well this horse will take me into my 50s. I better like this next horse.
At the start of all this I knew a few things:
- Basically obedient and easy to get along with. No more fights about pace every single stride. No more fast brain going a million miles an hour faster than I can keep up with.
- Goes w/t/c easily, no fuss and no issues.
- Jumping 2’3″-2’6″ with a love for the job
- Has been out on trails and over a cross country course at least once without showing complete disdain for the job
- Safe and sane on the ground. Must be trust worthy around my kiddo.
- No big vices: must stand for vet and farrier, trailer well, go out in the pasture with a mixed herd, no buck, bolt or rear. That sort of thing.
Having now ridden several very different horses I have added the following to my list:
- Nothing over 16.2H and I prefer a compact build. Really prefer around 15.2-16H
- Not a kick ride. I don’t want to have to nag my horse to death to get them moving.
- Also not a hot head, tense mess. I already have that with Gem thank you very much
- Not already requiring maintenance. I don’t want a horse who is already undergoing special shoes, pads, injections every month and a host of supplements to get around a 2′ course. That doesn’t bode well for the longevity I am after.
Even with all that listed out, I still felt lost this morning thinking about what I really wanted. Within those guidelines is a lot of wiggle room. Does the horse need to have an eventing record or is schooling enough? Does it need to have an auto lead change? Is a professionally trained horse ok or does it need to have ammy experience as well? What type of rider even am I: beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate? Does the ad have to be for a beginner only or would I be ok on a horse needing and advanced beginner rider?
And all this was wrapped up in the greatest unknown: with a different horse more suited to the sport, would I even like it then? I love jumping and all the nuances it brings, but am I brave enough for the cross country course? Is it even important to get a horse that goes cross country?
While I sat at the red light heading into work, I thought about all of these things. It finally dawned on me as I pulled into my parking lot. What I really want, deep down when being 100% honest with myself is Gem. Only a well behaved version that actually cares about rider input. More like Pete really.
I don’t want a flashy WB. I don’t want an OTTB or even a non raced TB. I don’t want an import. I don’t want something running prelim even if it is in my budget.
I want a run of the mill, home bred, basic horse. A QH, draft cross, appy, mustang type horse. A minimal maintenance, hardy as all get out, no shoes required, no blankets required, can get cut by razor wire and not flinch (ok maybe not that last one) type horse. I want the same lifestyle I’ve had with Gem and Pete, two very hardy self sufficient horses, only with a better attitude and willingness to do the thing.
I like my current horse lifestyle. I like not worrying about blanketing or shoes. I like it taking 2 months to get through a 50lb bag of feed for two horses. Heck, I could pull all grain and still have fat horses except I like the ration balancer to make sure they get all their nutrients. I like them living outside and doing fine. I’m not ready to take on a horse that inherently needs a lot more than that. Not that those horses aren’t amazing athletes. In fact those horses are way better athletes and will have a more accomplished record than I’ll ever have. It’s just so different than what I’m used to and I’m not ready to make that change right now. Low maintenance allows me to continue doing this horse thing without it feeling overwhelming with the rest of my life.
So I’m ignoring all the ads for OTTBs, Unraced TBs, big warmbloods and the like. I’m sure I’m missing dozens of amazing horses and I know not all horses require the same amount even in the same breed but if I’m looking for the exception to a rule I’d rather find the breed that fits my lifestyle better. I need to find a draft cross, QH, mustang or the like that can cart me around and over jumps. I’m not a competitive person at heart and I won’t be able to make it to enough shows to care about points or year ends. What I want is safety, soundness and fun.
What I really, really want happens to be incredibly hard to find around here. I live close enough to Aiken that pretty much every horse I see is OTTB or WB with an eventing record. I refuse to buy a horse untried and can’t make a tour of the US trialing horses that end up being nothing like the ad. I’m really hopeful that the trip to MD will be fruitful as that farm posts a lot of horses I really like that can jump and have been exposed to it, but are more all around type horses that are safe, sound and sane and are mostly QH or draft crosses. So maybe that will be my answer. Yesterday they posted yet another cool looking horse making me wish my appointment was sooner. Hopefully I can meet up with some of you guys while I’m there and we can have a horse testing party. If not, I may have to move to another state until I find a horse as this area is proving expensive and in another class from what I want.