Monday, March 4, 2013

I Do Not Need Another Horse, I Do Not Need Another Horse, Repeat as needed until sanity is restored.

So I wrote my horse-life story in about 3 paragraphs.  I have a pretty good back story, and I am honest--a novelty in the horse business.  I did not offer any price, just said I could/would do a lease, maybe.  I told her I had always been a "wanna-be".  And because I am a true horse nerd, I told her I had actually heard of Totilas--a famous dressage stallion in this mare's pedigree.

I had already heard back from the gelding's owner.  She was very informative and responsive.  She was looking forward to meeting me.  The weather was a little uncooperative, as winter in this crazy state can be.  So I had not gotten to see him, but was still very interested.

My big requirements?  Sanity, safety, reliability, safety, sanity, no projects.  Did I mention safety?  We were sooooooooooo completely spoiled with Reno.  I have seen my child walk under him--certainly not with my permission, or ever repeated, but he was cool with it.  Dang his crooked ole leg and bad teeth and weenie pancreas!  Dang it!  Why couldn't he just be plugged in to "restore"?  I had to move on.

So, I heard nothing back on the Warmblood mare.  Bummer.  I was glad to have found this new gelding and looked forward to seeing him.  Made an appointment to take a horse friend with me, once the temp went above 10.

And then, I got a response.  The lady with the Warmblood wrote back....

She thought we were very similar in a lot of ways and thought my place sounded like what she was looking for for this mare.  She didn't want her to go to a show barn or boarding barn where she would be stalled 21 hours a day.   Although the mare had been "yard art" for several years, the lady promised that she was all the things I was seeking--sanity, reliability, NO issues.  But then again, it was Craigslist, AND horse trading--the world's second oldest profession.

She did say she could not lease her.  She breeds Welsh Cob ponies and her priorities were there.  She needed to sell the horse.  She encouraged me to come up with a price, whatever that might be, and she would consider it.  There was also a Youtube video of the horse, being ridden by a trainer whom I know, and respect!  Admittedly, it was 4 years old, but would at least show what the mare had done and could potentially do again.  She'd just been put out with ponies.  There had been no injuries, no illness, no nuttin'.

Having looked at, oh, about 10,000 pictures of horses on Fuglyblog and Craigslist and Behind the Bit blog and Dressage Curmudgeon, you become a little educated on what is being offered.  It's sort of like reading real estate ads.  This picture spoke volumes, about the horse and the owner.  When she told me who the trainer was, in the picture, I was astonished.

I felt like a little girl watching that video.  What are the odds that the trainer riding the horse is going to be someone who has been connected with my long-time trainer/friend; someone whom I have even ridden a clinic with, way back?  What are the odds that I am going to even look at a chestnut mare who is being offered at almost half my annual salary?  And what are the chances that I will really like a chestnut mare anyway?

I made an appointment to come out.  There was no indoor arena available, but there was a round pen with footing.  Best it was gonna get until late spring.  And would you believe two warm days were coming...warm meaning, above 38.  I called every horse friend I knew to go with me after work on a Friday.  No one could go.  I was on my own.  I hated that and also recognized that perhaps that was the better scenario.  I really needed to realize that this was my thing, and own the decisions.

I drove like a fiend in the sunshine after work.  It was farther than I thought it would be and I literally pulled into the driveway as the sun was sinking behind the trees.  There she was, in the round pen, looking about 12' tall, and a little like Miss America who had gone home, had a couple kids and sat around the house, if you know what I mean.  But it was the same horse.

She trotted around for us, although she wasn't too keen on the whole round pen thing.  Then we threw the saddle on FAST and the owner rode her first.  No issues, but BIG trot.  That big, lovely movement that I have envied in the dressage ring for well, my whole life.  So I got on.  She was sane and straightforward--well not really--it was a round pen after all.  They make me dizzy, but I hear that's just middle age.  So I trotted, both directions and then it was dark.  I helped untack.  I picked her feet up--and was impressed that she held her big ol' feet up for me, completely.  And then we turned her back out with the ponies and I went home--a long way in the dark.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

God Save You, If You Fall for a Horse-Girl!

So, back in October, we put Reno down.  It was a very hard decision.  Lots of you have been there.  I had great advice from multiple horse-owning friends, about how it could go if I did nothing, and I knew I didn't want to go there.  So it was done. 

I stayed away from the barn as much as possible.  Poor Princess got fed, and that was it.  Good thing I had bought those crazy goats.  They kept her company.  Another friend offered to bring me a loaner horse for the winter.  I even went to meet him.  Seemed fine.  But he was recovering from a significant injury and we wanted to be sure he was really, really healed up before he came.  So it went on a little longer than we planned.

And then I started looking on Craigslist...

Of course, you know where this is going.

I love to hunt.  I love the bargains.  I would like to think I have enough maturity to be sane about what I am contemplating.  I have mucked stalls in below-0 weather, busted frozen tanks, hauled water, dragged sandbags through rain, hauled hose through drought, put up hay, again and again and again--done it all.  This was the perfect opportunity to start down the ramp to less commitment, less work, more free time.   I had gotten another collie, so I would be able to show more in AKC.  After all, dogs can't kill me and I don't need a special vehicle to get them from here to there.

But I just couldn't put my saddle up for sale.  Even after I got bucked off my neighbor's horse and limped around for a month.  My significant birthday is coming up this year, and I still haven't made it to "combined training".  I learned that moniker back in 5th grade, when I was cleaning stalls all day on Saturday at my lesson barn, in order to earn 30 minutes of free riding time.  All the bigger girls went to "combined training".  I wasn't sure what it was, but I was sure I wanted to go.

I sold my saddle once, when Rachael was about a year old.  Handyman was sad for me, but I told him I would get another, and I did.  I rode Reno several times, have ridden Princess quite a few too.   And got a free horse from a nice lady in Michigan, and rode him a few times as well.  But still hadn't quite made the "love-connection"--which, like a good marriage, is more about long-term compatibility than about hearts and cupids and L-U-V.

There are always horses on Craigslist.  Most are half-broke, un-broke, green-broke, were-broke or too-thin/old/small/young to break.  There is always a smattering of expensive halter horses, ranch horses, great trail horses and sweet retirees that should be able to stay where they are forever.  And an even smaller portion of actual candidates for bus-driving wannabe's who can't quite give it up....

There was a nice looking TB gelding who had been an eventer and ridden by a 4h'er, available for FREE lease.  He had that good, smart, calm look about him.  He had one issue, the farrier, which was not insurmountable.  I made an appointment to see him--in January.  Bleh--a tough time to try a horse.  But he had that look on his face that reminded me of Reno, that decency you cannot dismiss.

But before I got to meet him, one night I searched "horse stall" on Craigslist because I had seen an ad for these iron stall fronts that were kind of cool, and I wanted to see if there was an affordable price range.  Just curiosity for curiosity's sake...I have stall fronts already, for cryin' out loud.  And half-way down the list of ads was a headline "DUTCH WARMBLOOD MARE $6000, MUST-SELL, MAKE OFFER"; so of course, I had to at least look. 

Notice it did not say anything about "stall fronts".  I do not look for mares.  I search "gelding".  I am a gelding person, except for Princess and she barely qualifies as a mare, since I have never seen her even put her ears back at any living thing, ever.  Well, the picture was great.  A big chestnut mare, in full-on dressage mode, white boots and all, doing her thing.  It was impressive. 

Have I mentioned that I specifically do not like chestnut mares?  I avoid them at all costs.  I make fun of them.  "CMS"--Chestnut Mare Syndrome, rhymes with PMS, something else no one enjoys.  I turn my head purposely away from chestnut mares.  But there was the very first horse I got in 4th grade, for free, Schnook.  She was a chestnut mare.

A chestnut mare that was 24 years old when I got her.  She was turned out in a 20-acre field with a bunch of other horses, and I could climb through the fence, catch her, bridle her and lead her over to the fence to get on.  I could ride her bareback, in that field; and if I fell off, she stopped and let me catch her again.  (What is up with that?!  Obviously, an angel from heaven taking the form of an old, sway-backed, chestnut quarter horse mare.)

Well, I avoided responding for about 48 hours.  I told myself all the reasons I could not own a chestnut mare, let alone a $6000, Dutch Warmblood, chestnut mare.  I found the ad again, against my will, and read it.  The person said the mare had been trail ridden, had been a show hunter, and had NO issues.  Said she was more interested in the home than the price and would entertain all offers to the right situation.  Wanted the horse to go to someone who had always wanted a quality horse but could never afford it.  (Pretty much sums up my horse life.)  So, since writing is one of my strong suits, I responded...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday, again, yea!

I love ,  I wish I could spend more time there.  Go, please, go!  You'll be encouraged.

Before we get too far, let me just say that there has been another POMLC (post-cancer, mid-life crisis) at Netherfield, this month...and it does involve horses, again.  :)  I'll update soon.

In the meantime, I do want to emphasize that menu planning does make me happier.  It gives me 16 more seconds of non-stress in my day that begins with driving a 50 ft. long, $80,000 school bus, in the I deserve those 16 seconds.

I am repeating a bunch of menus from the past, because they were GOOD, and they are from the way-past!  Handyman is in charge tonight, which will be some sort of chili or hash, his specialty.  :)

Tuesday: Baked Chicken Taquitos

Wednesday: Crock Pot you even need a recipe for this?  Not pretty when it comes out, but it smells good, comfort food.

Thursday: Kung Pao Chicken, with rice in the rice cooker.

Friday:  Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps

Saturday:  Chicken Pot Pie...haven't decided if it is from Costco, or me.  :)

Now sit down, and write yourself up a menu for the week.  And put it in your purse and take it to the store tonight, at 4:30 or whenever you drag yourself there.  And shop accordingly.  It helps.  I swear.  You might thank me for it.