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...
5 Years! Going Strong
1 year ago