Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And I Have a 3-Year-Old Because...?

I realize some people think I'm crazy for buying a second horse, let alone a 3-year-old. I suppose I understand their concerns, especially now that I've recounted my riding accident in all of its raw glory. Let me explain how and why I ended up purchasing Wyatt.

Because of my years of raising and starting babies, my eye was drawn to the fancy young prospects: the well-bred palomino colt that was just started under saddle, or the fancy dun tobiano paint filly that was still being worked in the round pen. But notice I didn't buy one of them. Though I certainly had the experience and knowledge to work with such a horse, I readily admitted that the days of hopping on a horse that barely knows how to steer were behind me. So then I tried to focus on finding an older, more trail savvy mount.

But as I learned, an older horse doesn't necessarily mean a "better broke" horse. In my price range I often encountered teenaged horses that had about a half-dozen years of bad riding and poor health management under their cinches. For example, I didn't even bother to ride a fancy grulla gelding that had once been a finely tuned reining horse. Why? Because for the last 4 years he'd been raced up and down the hills and now refused to walk quietly on the trails. It didn't matter whether he was coming home or going out, he'd dance sideways and do a sort of parade dance rather than simply walk. I don't know about you, but quite frankly, a decent walk is a fairly important requirement in a trail horse.

So, you see, sometimes a well-started green horse can sometimes be a safer, more predictable mount than the poorly maintained older horse. And that's a shame, because as you probably know from reading my blog, I'm a big admirer of our equine senior citizens. Problem was, I couldn't find one that met my criteria. Who knew? Lots of other horse people love the older, reliable horses, too! And the ones that had them didn't want to sell them!

And thus I ended up with Wyatt. Yes, he's only 3. But while our homebred 3-year-old warmbloods had barely been sat on, Wyatt-- like many other western stock horse types his age-- is quite content to be ridden. He's far beyond being "barely broke." He just needs a lot of schooling so that he's a solid all-around riding horse. And that I can do. For example, I want him to flex at the poll and be able to collect his canter (I mean "lope"). I want him to neck rein properly. And I want him supple and responsive throughout simple pattern work like figure-8's and serpentines. We're definitely making progress on all of these fronts, and that makes Wyatt a fun project for me. Besides, look at that face. Who could resist a horse that thinks a Jolly Ball is the greatest thing since baled hay?

As always, I enjoy reading your comments! Just click on "comments" below or email me at: hc-editor@bowtieinc.com


Jessica said...

Aw! I love your baby! But I couldn't agree more with you. We have some older horses at my barn that have had some rough experiences with, and I'll take my 3 year old Arabs over them ANY time! :-)

PS - How do he and Wally get along?

Anonymous said...

I like the young, barely broke horses, also. If their minds are good and they haven't been rough-shod, they are basically a clean slate and a potential diamond-in- the-rough. You know that whatever they learned, they learned from you, good or bad. Life is never predictable when it comes to horses, young or old.

Anonymous said...

He is so cute! And I agree with you completely. I was riding a 12 year old that had been worked too hard and now could hardly trot without starting to canter and get tense. I have also been riding a green 4 year old and I enjoy her so much more and she is easier to work with even though she is a lot younger.

Anonymous said...

You picked a good buy:

1. Wyatt's almighty (old-fashioned lingo) handsome, bright, and has a good temperment.

2. Barely broke (used to things but not trained), bombshell (practically anyways) greenies are better than older horses who have learned so much tricks and bad habits and have to train to work with you.

Congrats on a good buy!


Anonymous said...

Wyatt = my favorite 3-year old.

That face made my heart melt. What a cuteeeeee baby!

Nancy said...

Oh my god Cindy, I just want to kiss his nose!

I totally agree with your slant. I'm always saying the same about Leo - i should have my head examined for having a colt - i got Leo when he was 3 months old.

But there's a lot to be said for having a clean slate. At least the issues that we run up against weren't put there from someone else! And after my last experience with the abused Thoroughbred I had, I know there's an awful lot of horses with issues out there.

I know that Leo has never been beaten, or ridden with a harsh bit. He's never been forced into a situation. And if he can't do something, its because he doesnt understand yet, not because he doesnt want to.

He has no negative associations with people - he cant imagine that any human would do anything other than adore him!

Gotta love the 3 year olds!

Anonymous said...

What a great looking horse-believ me, you'll love the transitions that other disciplines of riding can do for you-especially with a horse such as gorgeous Wyatt!

Cindy Hale said...

Yes indeedy, I am going to be responsible for everything Wyatt learns... or doesn't learn. However, I have to get him over a few bad habits, like scratching his face all over my body after a ride. Or chewing on my new Billy Cook saddle while I'm tacking up. Or scooping all of his pellets out of his feeder onto the ground. You know, the little things that drive me crazy but aren't dangerous.