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Horse Sense

Last night, I made the big decision – well, actually I had already made it, but I made the decision “official”.
I bought my new horse.

Now, don’t get judgmental on first sight, because she’s been in a huge pasture for several years, ungroomed and left to run wild. We are going to play EXTREME HORSE MAKEOVER here. A bath, a couple of hours working on her Rasterferarian dreadlocks and she’ll be beautiful beyond compare. She is a saddlebred (breed) pinto, five years old. I don’t know her “given name” because I’ve yet to check her registration papers. I can call her what I want, but I’m hoping she comes with a name I like.

Mark said, “Name her cow. She looks like one.” (Always the sentimental animal guy.)

I said, “Take that back. She’s beautiful,” (although, now that he mentioned it, she really DOES look like a cow, doesn’t she. But I’ll never admit it to him). “I think she is the one.”
He said, “Lord knows, you’ve done your research. It’s your horse. If she’s the one, and it will make you happy, make the deal.”
It’s true – I’ve been looking at horses, talking to people, riding horses as I shop, checking the internet, reading – doing all I can to determine just what I want. I looked at Missouri Fox Trotters and Tennessee Walkers and Arabians and Thoroughbreds.  A saddlebred horse is hearty, sure footed and has a good lineage. This is it.
So, I forgave him the cow comment, even though now I can’t get the name “Moo” out of my head.

She has light blue eyes – very unusual for a horse, although it does happen in pintos.

I saw her sister, who had one blue eye and one brown eye. That was unusual. Her sister just had a baby. Here it is:

I show you this as an example of the baby we will most likely be bringing into the world next June. You see, my new horse was put with a fully blood Pinto stud three weeks ago so she is probably pregnant. I thought Mark would be unhappy about this, however, they sold the last baby for 2,100 and made me a standing offer for the new colt. They said they will make a deal now to buy it back for 1,000 when it is 4 months old and weaned.  Hummm…. that is nice because it makes me feel more comfortable with the horse’s price – but I think I’ll wait before making any deals. I want to see what we are selling first. And who knows what I’ll want to do with a new quality baby in a ten months.
I get to have a new baby. No, I’m gonna get TWO new babies, because we don’t want to forget my pregnant llama – also due in June. How fun is that gonna be! I’ll be running a four legged nursery!

Of course, there are no guarantees the horse is pregnant. It’s possible the mating didn’t take. That happens on occasion. And sometimes, a mare can lose a colt early on. But considering the breeder knows his stuff, the odds are high that she is pregnant. I am getting not only my horses papers, but a copy of the father’s papers too so I can be prepared to register this new colt if/when it is born. 

 Either way, I will be happy with this horse. It was love at first sight.

In a field of dozens of horses, she came directly to me. She’s a “people horse”, very interested in humans and personable. Love that. I tried to give her a peppermint, but she wouldn’t take it. She’s never seen one before and didn’t know what it was. Ha – I’m gonna rock her world. I commented that I felt badly taking her from this green wonderland and her life of leisure with the herd, yet the horse trainers reminded me that a horse like this wants to be ridden and likes the care and interaction of a loving owner. Well, if that will make her happy, she’ll be in bliss, for sure. 

She will need some serious training, of course. She had 90 days of training and rode well when she was two and with her first owner, but this particular horse seller bought her for breeding.  They kept pointing me to the other horses hoping I’d want one of them instead, but I was continually pulled to this one.
They said, “If you want a pinto, how about this beautiful brown one? He is only two and pretty as all get out.” 
The horse was awfully pretty, but I kept saying, “What about HER?”
Eventually, they realized I had made my choice and was not to be easily distracted. I can be persuasive when I see something I really want. And I just had a feeling about this particular horse. Kent and Neva agreed. She seemed to like us, and obviously, I liked her.

The horse trainer , Sean, will give her 60 days of intense training, so she will be neck reigned and will have all the basic skills – like going backwards, halting and staying put as you mount or dismount, easy transition between gates, etc.. She will lift her feet for you, load in a trailer, and even step aside when you open a gate.  She will be perfect for my uses of trail and pleasure riding and she is of a quality that if I ever decided to show her in Western Pleasure, she can win. (Notice I’m not saying I can win – only her. I don’t kid myself about my horse skills.) I’m not leaning towards competitive riding, but it is nice to know I have that option just in case. After all, I’m planning on this being the last horse I’ll be buying for some time. 

I’ve made a deal for Sean to do the training on our land, in our pen and on our fields and trails. This way I’ll be caring for the horse and we will get to know each other. Most importantly, I can watch and LEARN. I am very interested in the horse training process. I’ve taken a horse training clinic at a big equestrian center near our home, and I want to take more, but it can be pretty costly. Now, I’ll have a 60 day home clinic study course for free. Ye-haw. I can go to their clinics for refinement and to train ME. (I need it more than the horses.) Sean said that during the last 30 days, a great deal of the training will involve me. For the best success, he will work with the horse and I, together as a team. I can’t wait.  

Then, as if an afterthought, I asked Sean if he’s ever tried to train a donkey.
He snorted and said, “Why would I? ……” Then seeing my disappointed face he said, “Oh Hell, why do you ask?”

“I want to teach my donkey to pull a cart so I can take people around the land in a little two seater. Then, I can ride donkey in dinky parades and such. (Big marketing aspirations from the future coffee shop owner) Sean winced as if even the idea of messing with a lowly donkey was painful.

“I love my donkey.” I pointed out. ‘He’s my FAVORITE.”

“I might be able to help you with that…. if you make me.” he said, good-natured. Just goes to show, that  one endeavor often leads you to another, and you never can tell what that might be.

Anyway, today we close on our FLEX building, so in about a week, when finances are in order, I’ll be greeting my new horse – just a week or so before the new barn will be ready to receive her. Gee, it feels like at long last my equestrian pursuits are getting really organized. Lucky me.

As I returned from looking at this horse, Sean and his wife Amanda (who I really like) were talking to a man who was looking for a horse for his kids. He wanted something gentle and smallish, and the trainer looked at me and said, “Actually, I believe this woman here might have just the horse you are looking for. We are talking about a trade, so if she is seri
ous about the horse she is looking at, we might want to look at the one she has at home.” Sure enough, they came to our land to inspect and ride Dixie, and I think she found her new home too.

The man looked nice enough. I said, “I will have to do a background check, ya know. Approved homes only.”
I was kidding, but only kinda.

The man assured me that if he bought her, Dixie would be going to a fine home with a nice pasture and a sweet kids. I will believe that, because it makes this transition bearable for me. For all that she is a simple country horse (too small, without refined training, plus she has no papers or heritage) I do love her. But I love her like a pet that you stroke and adore, not like a trusted mount you want to spend hour after hour exploring the wilderness with – a horse you can count on to keep you safe and securely seated. I do need a better quality horse if I want riding freedom and greater possibilities. 

We live a short ride from a national forest with miles of horse trails. I plan to go on day long horse trail rides. I want to pack a lunch and take off, sometimes alone, and sometimes with a friend. It can’t be Mark, because we’ve discovered he can’t ride with his bad hips, but I can take Neva as she gets older, or other friends. Both of our horses will be solid, well behaved, good natured horses now, perfect for long trips. Anyone can ride them. My kids can saddle up with friends and enjoy an afternoon riding. As I get more and more plugged into the horse culture, I hope to meet friends that would also like to join me in riding adventures on their own horses. Fun.

Anyway, when my new horse arrives and she is all cleaned up and looking spit and polished, I’ll post another picture. You will be impressed. And I’ll share some pictures of her in training. I won’t be the only one learning about horses for the next 60 days, ya know, because like a good blogger, I’ll take you along for the ride. 


About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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