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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finding Our Second Horse Mariah or How Not to Buy a Horse

The arrogance of guys sometimes surprises me and I'm a guy. We have had one horse for over a year now. If ridden him for a total of maybe 5 hours but have spent a fair amount of time grooming him. We have learned how to get him into the trailer and hauled him back and fort to Westernaires without any troubles. I am now a horse expert! (Anybody hear reality lining up to administer a full body hockey style reality check?) We have a new house and it is now time to find a second horse.

We actually have few criteria for a second horse. We want a horse with enough training on it so that The Instigator's friends and other non-horse type people can ride it. We want one that is healthy and sound (well, duh!) and we want one we can afford. And since we are horse experts now, our vast knowledge and a vet check is all we need to find the perfect horse. (Reality is skating a bit faster now and starting to line up for that reality check).

My niece found a Craig's Listad for a chestnut Morgan. Cute pictures, nice description and, most important to me, the price was right. So we hop into the car and off we go to see her. Here is a picture taken the first day we met her.

Not the best picture for conformation but since I didn't know anything about conformation (and I am the self-proclaimed horse expert!) its the best I've got.

I think we all fell in love with the big brown eyes. Her barn name was Squiggy. I hated it from the moment I heard it. All I could think of was "Laverne & Shirley" and the two guys known as Lenny and Squiggy. So not going to have a horse named Squiggy. But I digress. Squiggy was trained in dressage and had actually won two or three (sorry, don't remember the exact number) of blue ribbons. She obviously had some good training on her.

The owner brought her into a stall and we saddled her up and its time to ride. The owner put a unique piece of tack on the horse that I had never seen before. I asked about it and she told me they were draw reins. They clipped to the D-ring on the saddle and had a short piece of elastic that clipped to the bit. Thus tacked up, we headed off to the arena to ride. The owner hooked up a longe line and longed her a bit in each direction. She was very well behaved and collected. So The Instigator hoped on her back first and away they went. Squiggy was very well behaved and responded nicely. I got on and rode and she was well behaved for me. Tira-Toes rode her and had not a single problem either. We are VERY much licking what we see.

We decided to go ahead with the vet check. The owner was nice enough to transport the horse to the vet we were using for the vet check. She passed with flying colors. Really, the vet struggled to find anything negative to say. The worst thing he could say is that she has a very slight paddle in her front feet as she moves. So we decide to buy her.

The day we go to pick her up I ride her again. We didn't put the draw reins on her at first and she was a bit ill-behaved. That should have been a warning (reality is skating faster now) but we put the draw reins on her and she was a perfectly collected perfectly behaved horse. We took the saddle off and the owner wanted to show me something. She was starting to train Squiggy to pull a carriage. So she hooked up the long lines, ran then through a training surchingle and I got to drive her around the arena. I have to admit that that was a blast. I don't know why I enjoyed it so much but it was fun. She turned easily to cues and controlled her gait. I was really pleased with the horse and glad we bought her. So we took her down to the trailer, the owner loaded her up and Squiggy officially became Mariah. We headed for home. (Ominous skating sounds in the back-ground)

There were no problems getting her home and out of the trailer. We were still boarding at this time and there was a stall right next to Beamer so we put her in. She was nervous, as yo would expect, but no major issues. The next day we let her run around in the arena and roll and just generally get used to her surroundings.

After a couple of weeks, I decided it was time to ride her. The owner had given us her bridle so I put that on and she stood perfectly calm while I did. I did not have a saddle but I did have a bare back pad and since I was not going to do anything other than walk I figured that would be fine. Never mind that this would be the first time in my life I have ridden bare-back. No problem, I'm a horse expert, right? (skate skate skate) I put it on, cinched it down and lead her into the arena. I took her over to the loading blocks and got up on her back.

BOOM! Reality unloads a full body reality check right on me. As soon as I sat down on her back she took off. I wasn't ready for it and the next thing I know I am sliding off and headed for the ground. Since it is a cold January day, the arena, already wet from snow, is frozenhard. I land on my hip and right forearm and it HURTS! (I also think I hurt my shoulder in that fall. For about six months after that fall I could not use my right arm to lift more than maybe five pounds straight out in front of me. I couldn't pick up a gallon of milk. My shoulder blade moved in strange ways that shoulder blades don't normally move in. It didn't hurt unless I tried to pick something up so I never went to the doctor. Don't tell my mother that. She'll scold me. Now, a year later, I am happy to report that my shoulder is essentially back to normal.)

I takes a moment for me to collect myself before I stand up but I do get up. I limp (boy does my hip hurt) to where she is standing, collect the reins and lead her back to the loading blocks. I get back up on her back and she takes off again. But this time I'm ready so I do not come off again. But I quickly learn that I have no meaningful control over her and I jump off her back. Since this was a planned evacuation, I actually land quite neatly on my feet. Our first ride is done. And now, I admit it, I'm a bit scared of getting back on her.

It was not to long after this that it was time to move the horses to the new house. So we load Beamer right up into the trailer and go get Mariah. We take her to the trailer and she will not get in that trailer. She wont go near the trailer. Rather than force the trailering at this point we take Beamer to the new house and then I go back for Mariah. I am going to have to walk her back to the house. We have to be out of the barn today. Fortunately, the new house is only about a mile from the barn so it is not a bad walk.

I had a good plan for getting her home, I was going to walk her along the ditch road to avoid going up a very busy street. We walked all the way down the ditch road, a much longer walk than expected, only to be met with a locked gate and no way around it. Nuts. We walk all the way back to the barn and now our only choice is to walk along the busy street. My one mile walked turned into about a 3 mile walk due to that little detour. Oh well, I really do need the exercise. I am happy to report that we made it home with no further incident. We now have horses in our back yard. Pretty cool.

A few days later I took her to the trailer and tried again to get her into it with no success at all. None. Not even an attempt by her to put a foot it. Hmmm... I may not be the horse expert I considered myself to be. I need help. Its time to find a trainer. Again.

Now, for those of you still keeping tabs, this is where things are standing on the terms of the promise:

Daughter: $900.00 for horse

Dad: $100 dollars for horse
$950 for trailer
$550 for receiver and hitch.
$300 first months boarding
$450 for saddle, breast collar and cinch
$120 for saddle pad
$200 for headstall, reigns and grooming supplies
$75 for miscellaneous sundries such as muck rake and bucket and the like.
$200 for trailer training
$1200 for four months board.
$50 for grain (Grain! Are you kidding me! Why do hay burners need grain! Next up - nutrition)
$1800 for about 6 months more of board.
$50 for 6 months of grain (we figured out a reasonable ration)
$1250 for knee care
$2300 for Mariah.
$3600 for a year of boarding.

And this does not include the house and some of the things that had to happen there. More on that next time.

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