Sunday, January 16, 2011

Next step?

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.


Muddy K said...

Don't underestimate the effect of pain on your outlook and perspective. I've been through face pain from teeth in trouble, and I know you can't ever escape it and are always fighting it even when you think you aren't. Frankly, I'm amazed you went to see a horse at all, feeling like that. Speaks to how deep your longing is.

I think you shouldn't put so much pressure on yourself about this horse or any other horse right now, but just know that you WILL find the good horse you are longing for. If it's this one, then she'll hang around.

Jean said...

Oh, my, oh my. You can fix a canter depending on what's wrong with it. If it is just a matter of balance, then no biggie. Unless I were buying a horse for a specific competition where all three gaits needed perfection, I'd rather look for a horse that can "do" what I want to do.

Has this mare done paces and trail rides? If she has a good background in that kind of riding, then she certainly is a good prospect. You don't seem concerned about her size or substance, so that's a big plus.

Out of curiosity, where is she in NJ? I'm in the central part of the state, so I know vets from around here.

I guess the question becomes how close to "love" are you with this girl? How much do you want a horse now instead of waiting until another prospect comes along?

Follow your heart. I think in this case, it's going to lead you in the right direction.

Annette said...

This isn't easy... It's too bad you can't ride her a few more times. Could you stay in the area for a weekend or something? It's hard to know in one ride if the horse is right. Sometimes, that is all you have and then you have to go with your gut. My sense is you have reservations. Maybe better to wait until you find one that clicks - ? Best of luck whatever you decide. I never like that pressure thing either. But that's just me.

English Rider said...

I want to second Muddy K's comment about the influence of pain. Toothache is inside your head and inescapable. Can you buy an option to purchase that will "buy" you some time? Offer $500 to show that you are serious but need a week to get past other hurdles.
I agree with Jean that canter is a problem that can be worked on. There are a lot of people who don't support their horse enough with seat and leg. It really shows in a confined space.

Denali's Mom said...

Is she conditioned? I don't know a WHOLE lot, but I have known horses who developed better canters through more work. Again. Look at me, I'm clueless!

The vet check might give you a definant "yes" or "no"

Don't give up!!! Any horse would be lucky to have you as their mom!

Lisa said...

When I first rode my new mare when I went to look at her, I wasn't sure at all. I thought she was nice, but we didn't really click. She was a bit stand offish, and I really wanted something snuggly. Then the owner let me put her away and give her a carrot. She was quite friendly after that!

I wasn't going to buy her, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted her. She was 3 hours away too, and I tried her one more time when I took the float down to pick her up. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. It is not always that 'love at first sight' lightning moment you expect it to be. Someones it is a niggling thought in the back of your mind that you keep coming back to. And until you get the horse home, it doesn't sink in!

SunnySD said...

Hang in there! You may feel completely different once you're no longer hurting so badly - which I hope is soon. The mare sounds lovely, but if she's not THE one, you'll get there!

Speedy recovery wishes :)

Breathe said...

Take your time. If she's the one, it will work out...

Jackie said...

Agreed, a canter can definitely improve. My horse Ace took a long time to learn balance and carriage at the canter - but he did. He's a bit long-backed and has a big stride. He was able to develop a nice walk and trot much faster than he was a balanced canter, but he got there. For a long time he cantered quite nicely as long as I really supported him. Now he can do it on his own. I don't think that would be a deal breaker.

jill said...

I didn't even canter Scout when I rode and bought him. Yikes :-o! I've ridden many a horse that has a horrible trot and lovely canter and vice versa. If this horse is young and or unconditioned, my experience is, a young horse takes a while to learn to balance with rider at all gaits. I spent a year on Scout's canter. He was constantly falling out of it and diving around. This is where the cowboy way works...wet saddle just keep cantering them and let them work it out. Practice a lot in an area where you can keep going without feeling out of control. That was the hard part for me...letting him go and figure it out and balance himself. Now where he's at the point where he just canters. No big deal, it doesn't stress him out. It is easier for a horse to go faster. If she's built good, her canter should come round. That being said, I feel for you. I looked at a lot of horses before Scout..2 years worth. I almost bought a mare, but didn't have any real thrill while on her, and I rode her three times! So I passed on her. She wasn't a bad horse,but no fireworks.;-)
Maybe you could watch this horse free in turnout or on a lungeline cantering? Then you'd see if she's the same without a rider. Scout moved great by himself, so I knew it was my responsiblilty to help him with me on his back.
Good luck!!!

Kate said...

You've received the Stylish Blogger Award! Swing by my blog to check it out.

I agree with Muddy K. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. If its the one, things will work out. If not, just keep looking. IT will be frustrating, but try to keep yourself focused on the bright side!
Oh, and good luck. You deserve for this to work out.

Marissa said...

I think you can fix that canter. If the walk and trot is nice and balanced, she can learn to be nice and balanced at the canter too. And I've always found that it's easier to teach a horse with a big stride to collect than it is to teach a horse with no stride to extend. That said, you have to go with your gut. After the vetting, what is your heart telling you? Are you excited about this horse being your next partner, or do you feel like you're settling for not quite right? She sounds like she could be very nice, based on what you've said, but in the end your own feelings about her are all that matters. Good luck with your tooth -- I've been there and the pain is awful!

Dreaming said...

It is so hard to make a decision and you have tons of pressure on you right now - between work, the tooth, the distance from the horse, and life itself.
If she has good conformation and vets well I would bet that a better canter will come.
I know you'll feel better once you have the root canal - not in the pocket book end of things, though. Dentistry is so expensive, but the pain relief will be almost instant.

Muddy K said...

I also had to give you the Stylish Blogger Award. Please stop by my blog, A Fearsome Beauty, to learn why I think I’m right about you deserving it.

Merri said...

Hmm. A difficult decision, and one ride on her is a lot of pressure to make a decision. However, if you do want a horse now, you can always buy her and try her, and if it just doesn't work out you can sell her again. right?
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Jan said...

I, too, awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award! You are getting lots of accolades! I hope your search turns out well, and that your tooth feels better soon!

From, Jan, at A Thousand Pounds of Fragile Horse blog

Anonymous said...

Funny I just used this quote on my own blog, but I think you need it too.

"Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."
-Winston Churchill

allhorsestuff said...

The way you described her, she sounded very nice.
Close to being"a good horse". The timing sounds poor, tooth and all . But-of the timing is not going to work, you found her, you'll find another.
And if the owner will work with you, you can ride again, or do ground work and vetting...follow it through. By the sound of some qualified friends here, on the canter, no biggie.

Take your time, it will work out. sorry for the frustrating feeling.

Toyin O. said...

Hope you fel better soon:)

Zev said...

If the timing isn't right, and you're not 100% sure, then sit back. Another you like just as much will come along when the timing is better.

Denali's Mom said...

Ok. I'll admit it. I'm dying to know what's going on. How's the horse search going?