Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas is over, a new year looms

Another Christmas is over. Hope yours was a merry one. Yesterday I turned to my husband and sighed that I just realized it was the first Christmas in 35 years that I didn't have a horse to call my own. I didn't ask for or want any stable or riding gear. No need. Felt weird. Hope it doesn't become "the new normal".

So we've been gifted with a generous dumping of snow. The kids are psyched about that. Better gift than the Nerf guns they got from Santa. It's weird not to have a horse to worry about and go to check up on when the weather is bad. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't slightly a relief, too. See, the "new normal".

I can say that as much as I thought 2009 sucked, 2010 really surprised me by sucking as much or more. Will 2011 bring something good? I have no resolutions and no goals for this new year. No dreams means no let-downs.

At least half boarding Ruby has been a brighter spot than I imagined. His owner is a sweet, easy lady to deal with and Ruby is one of those horses it's just a pleasure to ride and work with every time. He has eased my bitterness somewhat but makes me wish for a horse of my own even more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Riddle me this

RANT WARNING: This is not a "sunshine and butterflies" post.

How do you find a horse when your budget is minimal? (and by minimal, I mean 5k or less)

I've been looking and trying horses. All I hear is, "in this economy there are lots of horses needing homes" and "you can find a decent horse for a low price" and "Thoroughbreds are a dime a dozen these days".



Oh yes, there are lots of horses needing homes. The same kind of horses that needed homes before. Old ones. Lame ones. Sick ones. Unbroke ones. Backyard foals. Horses with training/mental issues. And as much as I want a horse of my own, I actually want to ride it. And not just at the walk.

Then, when you find an ad for one that seems within your budget that's pictured with a rider on it's back and hopefully sound and you go to check it out, this is what you get:

- the horse is listed as being 16.2 hands tall when it barely is 16 hands tall and built downhill. Well sorry that just sucks for me because when I say I need a horse 16.2 and up I'm not stroking my ego, I really DO need that tall horse because I'm 5'9" tall and not exactly a small boned gal.

- The horse needs a GPS to get around the arena. That's not just "green" that's WTF is this thing in my mouth and why is this person sitting on me "green".

- the horse isn't up to date with its shots or coggins or hasn't seen a vet in who knows how long. So, how am I supposed to bring it into my barn even if I decide to buy it? I don't think the other boarders are going to be all warm and fuzzy with a case of strangles or God knows what else if my luck keeps it's recent course.

- sometimes I check out horses slightly above my budget and I'm baffled that they are even worse than the ones listed BELOW my price range!

- I find horses in my budget that seem like a good prospect but they are out of state. That will require me taking time off from work, finding a babysitter and spending money to travel to look at them. So unless I am so frickin' sure this horse is going to rock my world I have to scratch them off my list.

- I tried one horse who had gaits so rough that my lower back was hurting by the time I got to the canter. Sorry. No. Whatever years I have left in the saddle, I don't need to live on Advil and wear a back brace to try and ride.

- horse is not traveling right behind and he's only 6 years old. I'm told he is a little stiff today and needs to warm up. At 6 years old? No - how about - his hocks are shot already and you'll be paying for injections until he's burned out in a few more years.

- horse is obviously somewhat underweight when you go to try him and you're told he's been sitting around doing no work because of any number of reasons so he isn't muscled up. You ride the horse and he's kind of quiet if you have REALLY soft hands but gets forward to the jumps. And you think to yourself, as soon as the weight is put on and you add proper muscling I'm going to need a gag to take him for a walk.

- You see the horse is wearing a huge, ugly cribbing collar when they bring him out to be tacked up. Just NO. Monty turned out to be a cribber after I bought him and I HATE cribbing collars and having to deal with that but thankfully Monty was so damn cute and wonderful that I didn't care and he gave up cribbing when I moved into the vet's barn. So, if the horse is wearing a cribbing collar he'd better be a stunner to look at and blow me away with his manners and skills before I'll go there.

- I live in fear of finding one I really like, then having it vetted and paying a bunch of money to find out it is a mess and then I'm a little more broke and still horseless.

See, I have a problem. I know too much. Monty set a bar so high for me to know what a good horse should be that you can't sell me on promises. I wanted to believe in potential when I took on Rugby but after what happened to me with him I'm just bitter on top of everything else. Yeah, I understand no horse is perfect, but I am very aware of what imperfections can be dealt with and which are just NO.

My frustration grows each time I look at a horse and my time is wasted. And it isn't going to get better in my budget.

Am I whining? Maybe, and I don't give a fat rat's ass. This all just sucks. I hate what's happened to me. I didn't deserve it, I can't fix it and unless I win a lottery I won't be able to change it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

They just KNOW

My favorite days of the week are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They are the days I get to ride and spend time with Ruby. You don't realize what a luxury owning your own horse is until you only get a certain 3 days to spend with the one you half board. Now, even if the weather is freezing or raining or if I'm feeling unwell, I HAVE to go or I miss whatever time I get to ride. This is not something I'm used to at all but it's the hand I've been dealt.

Ruby makes it worth the trip. When I walk in the barn and call his name, he comes to the door and looks out. When he sees me I get a happy nicker. That will always make me smile. If he's outside in his turn-out when I get there, he'll nicker when he sees me coming to catch him out there, too.

One day when I came to the barn to ride, Ruby did his usual whinny when he saw me and was watching my every move as I gathered all my tack and grooming stuff to get ready to ride. While I had him on cross ties and was brushing him he was nuzzling me every time I walked around him to work on his other side. One of the boarders was watching him and she knew him from his horse show days with his previous owner. She commented she doesn't remember him being so affectionate with anyone like this before. I was surprised, I figured this was just him. So I told her, maybe he just knows I need a little more horsey love than most people with all the bad luck I've had lately.

And it's not just him. The horse who lives next to Ruby and the one across from him put their heads out while I have Ruby on the cross ties and try to get my attention while I'm grooming him. I always blow into their nostrils to say "hello" and rub their faces and they keep coming back for more. Ruby's neighbor will actually stretch his neck and reach out to me with his muzzle if I catch his eye. He just begs for my attention.

I just figure they are good natured horses and curious. Maybe they just want in on Ruby's treat action. But I like to think they know it means so much to me right now.