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?
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