Welcome to horse shopping complete with snotsicles. LOL. I am not kidding I actually cleaned a nice horse's nose out for him today and then blew my own nose (not with the same tissue of course).
This was our "six horse day" and we started it before sunrise. I fed the truck some gas, got snacks for the road and we beat it up into Pennsylvania and ended up meeting one of the most down-to-earth, normal horse people we have ever come into contact with. Meredith of Double M Farms if you ever read this blog you are the real deal! At Meredith's place we met several horses. One that I had originally contacted her about and a few more that she has for sale but hasn't been able to video yet due to the weather. These were all gaited horses, a whole new ballgame for me.
Basically, really quick rundown is that a horse is not just a horse and many of them move differently. Having been "raised on" the standard Quarter Horse and Paint walk, trot, canter (or lope) I am completely unfamiliar with the feel of horses that have other types of standard movements. Such horses are often referred to as "gaited' horses, but really, all movements are gaits. For a detailed article about said differences check THIS out. It is a really cool read with video examples and even just watching them will give you a feel for how different the movements of horses can be.
So, back to our visit with these lovely horses on a very cold morning. She showed us the barn and the horses currently for sale and invited us to get any or all of them out, groom them, play with them, think about which one(s) we wanted to ride and just get to know them. During the introductions there was one in particular that caught my eye (heart). We got four out, groomed and loved them, played some horsey games. He was the first one we played with and when it came time to pick possible rides, we both immediately went back to him. There was something about his look. She told us she purchased him from a guy that expected a lot from him. She felt the horse really tried to please his person and wasn't always acknowledged for trying. The more time we spent with him the more his eyes came to life. He was particularly fond of me and my girlfriend felt that my nurturing personality (yes, it only extends to animals) was a plus to him.
When I mounted this freakin' horse I felt like a princess! LOL. There is something about a gaited horse. Their heads are higher, their necks extend elegantly as they walk and this horse neck reined so smoothly that barely a touch was needed for him to do an equally beautiful change of direction and take me down the aisle in the opposite direction. When my girlfriend (and riding instructor) mounted him she actually giggled with delight.
We stayed a good while with these awesome steeds, got several more out and groomed and visited with them. One was a very tall recently acquired three year old that the kids at the barn had named Sven after the reindeer in Frozen. Having not seen the movie I can't attest to the comparison, only that his step was so big I practically had to run to keep ahead of him. LOL. There was Sparky - a cute little guy with a fuzzy face and one blue eye. Sparky reminded me of a fun little guy just skipping through life, but I desire a little less skipping in my old age. There was Patch, an older horse that would make a lovely companion or complete beginner's mount, and also Aries, who was the horse we were originally interested in. And this is why it is important to MEET horses. Once we met, I did not get the vibe that he felt we were a good fit. He was a lovely horse but we just did not jive.
See, I actually spend more time looking into a horse's eyes than most people I think. I like to groom them and help tack them if I can when I do visits. I pick up their feet, stick my fingers in their ears, rub them all over... I like to know (or try to know) what a horse thinks of me as much as what I think of the horse. I just don't think you can do all this when you buy a horse based on a video alone. I guess many people do and things go well but I don't feel entirely comfortable with it.
After thanking Meredith and the ponies for their time, we headed back toward home as our next appointment was on the way. We arrived on site at a nice little home and barn with about five horses and a big field. The snow was about four inches deep and crusty. It had warm a little that day but the was a cold breeze and the weather could be described as "extremely crisp". The horse we were meeting, Toby, was a big 16hh Paint horse. The owner had him tacked up and we talked a bit about his history and why she was selling him. She explained that he was just a bit too tall.
He was also a bit too stubborn. I think that was part of the issue for her and as we talked more little bits of information kept coming out. The prior owner had let her kids ride him wherever he wanted to go. Key - wherever he wanted to go. So, while he is probably very spook proof and tolerant of being handled, he has a mind of his own where direction and task is concerned. This is not something I'm interested in AT ALL. I don't want to spend my time arguing with my horse and I truly felt (and my GF agreed) there would be a point where such disagreements might escalate (we weren't so sure they hadn't already with his current owner).
When we got back in the truck, our stomachs growled loudly in unison and we headed toward home in search of dinner, a hot shower and a warm bed.
All in all a fabulous horse day!
In Loving Memory
...of the first horse to hold my heart