I went to see the horse that I hoped would be "the one". Piled the whole family in the Explorer, took the almost 3 hr. drive to get there and met the owner. She was very nice and we got right to business. She answered my questions about the horse as she tacked up and brought her in the indoor. Then she rode her for me first.
This mare is cute in a super-chunky kind of way. She looks like she could be Rugby's littler big sister. She has the same big, nice bare feet, same thick jowls and chubby mouth. She's almost all black except for a big white blaze, two white socks and a white splash on her belly. However, she's much closer coupled, 4 inches shorter and has more work put into her.
After the owner walk, trot cantered her for a few minutes, I mounted up. Her walk and trot work is really nice, she likes a steady firm leg and a good rein contact. She actually seems to prefer you ride on contact instead of with a loop to the rein. Her canter is not as nice as her trot. For a close-coupled horse, she can really move! Her stride is huge. She's not strong and responds well to the bit but she is very forward. She's not as connected through the canter and I had to sit deep and ask through the seat and leg to keep to a canter without breaking. Her left lead is better than her right. Her owner said she's better cantering in a larger arena and the canter is where she needs more balance. I thought it odd such a lovely trot and walk didn't flow into a great canter. She willingly trotted ground poles but I didn't take her over any jumps.
I did like the horse. The owner said she has a few more people lined up to look at her. I told her I wouldn't buy the horse without a vet check. She agreed but if I plan to do it she would like it scheduled sometime this week to get a "yes" or "no" from me in case she gets another firm offer. I have a friend getting me the number of a vet from the same area in NJ to call.
But part of me is leery. And I'm not sure if I'm just gun-shy or really unsure. I can see this horse being a good hunter pace, field hunter, trail and fun kind of horse. Isn't that what I want? But that less than relaxing canter had me kind of worried. Can I "fix" it? Or is that just her? Will she be a freight train galloping in the field? And I wish I could ride her again before I decide but she's not close by.
And to top it off, I leave again at the end of this week for my second business trip, this time to Houston so the pressure is on. No time to focus on anything. In addition, I have a broken tooth that hit critical mass just before I left for Las Vegas and it is KILLING me. My dentist gave me 800mg ibuprofin but it's not helping. Tomorrow I go in to start the root canal that will hopefully relieve some of the pain and start me on the way to a post and crown. Great. I'm not fortunate to have dental insurance, so this tooth will cost me about half of my horse budget.
Maybe I should give it up. I just don't think I'm going to find another good horse.