I bought a horse today. I know. It happened kind of fast. And I blame it all on my sister, Jill. See, she emailed me a bunch of online horse ads (like from Dreamhorse, Horsetopia, equine.com, etc.) complete with her acerbic comments on each horse's conformation, price and training level or lack thereof. One of her favorites was a 3-year-old buckskin and white tobiano paint gelding. At first I ignored Jill's email, because I'd investigated that same horse previously and his online photo was... not impressive.
Well, now there was a different photo posted with his ad and he looked quite cute. So I called. Turns out the horse was still owned by the people who'd bred him. His dam was still on site. He'd originally been kept as the husband's personal horse (he's a recently retired firefighter) but he really decided that horseback riding was not his cup o' tea and the gelding had not been getting much use lately. With hay prices skyrocketing, it was hard to justify keeping the horse, especially when they had other foals on the ground that needed to be raised and trained.
So once again: ROAD TRIP!
This time, though, Ron only had to drive me about 90 minutes to the high desert. It was a pretty drive. There was a light dusting of snow still on the ground from last night's storm, and it was brisk and breezy. But the Joshua trees (these unusual, dramatic-looking cactus) looked stunning against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.
I'll spare you a detailed recounting. But in a nutshell, as soon as I saw the young paint in the roundpen, how he moved, how he stood patiently to be groomed and tacked up, I knew I wanted him. I asked to ride him in a simple loose-ring snaffle and a pair of split reins, so I could figure out just how much he knew and how much he didn't yet know. He was very green, but understood the basics of moving away from leg pressure and maintaining a pace. I really liked that he willingly went forward, even though he was a bit on the lazy side (I consider laziness a bonus in a 3-year-0ld). Plus he was very smooth to ride. After a 20-minute ride in the round pen I took him on a trail ride across the desert. I rode with the seller's niece, who was aboard a feisty older mare. The gelding, on the other hand, cruised along on a loose rein. He didn't seem to mind whether we stayed on the marked trail (a gravelly dirt road that seemed to go to nowhere) or wandered through the creosote bushes and sage brush. When we returned to the barn I asked to see him load into the horse trailer.
He hopped in like a champ.
Since I had rushed out there to beat another buyer who was coming for a second look, I decided I had to make a decision. But it was an easy one. The sellers seemed to think I was the better home, too, which made me feel good.
"You make him look so good when you ride him," the seller's husband said. "You bring out the best in him."
So I gave them a deposit and I'm picking him up tomorrow.