Introducing Summit/Harley/Boomer. He needs a name. We’re working on that. Today we’re leaning toward Harley. We’ve ruled out Dante and Buca. On the fence with Rocco.
In mid-June, I began to give some serious consideration to purchasing a horse. I had been leasing for a long time and it finally felt right to begin searching for something specifically for me. My criteria were simple. I wanted something safe, sane, and willing to work with me even as I made bumbling mistakes. I knew that my budget wouldn’t allow me to purchase a horse with all the training I wanted, so I was going to have to do that myself. It’s scary going out and looking for something just a bit more than green broke, but I had amazing encouragement from my family and husband, and all my barn friends didn’t react like I’d lost my mind so I began to think that maybe I could actually do this!
Though it’s been 15 years since I’ve owned a horse, I absorbed all those horse buying and selling lessons from years ago, and I was possibly the most prepared horse buyer ever. I had my questions (two pages worth – initial phone calls were more like half-hour interviews), I asked for video and pictures, I called every trainer associated with the horse – anything I could think of to help me. On more than one occasion, at the end of the interview I asked if there was anything else I should know and the owners said they couldn’t possibly think of one more thing!
We were getting close to making an offer on a horse near Delano last weekend. The horse fit my criteria and would have been interesting. However, when we wanted to come back to ride again and make an offer, we were getting stalled! Over a weekend! You know I can’t NOT continue searching with all that time on my hands.
The universe was speaking to me and I listened. On Sunday I found an ad for Summit and I called. Here’s his story:
Summit was trained to be a racehorse in Virginia, however he was never actually raced. Probably because he’s too smart to go out there and get beat up. Also because he’s kind of lazy. So he was sold as a three year old and ended up in some “ole cowboy’s” barn where they were throwing big western saddles on him and taking him out with a big old bit in his mouth. Also, he was stalled next to donkeys! For those who don’t know, donkeys bray and the sound is something like a dinosaur revving up. Poor guy.
In Virginia, there lives a woman by the name of Lisa. Lisa is a horse-matchmaker – she finds horses with amazing temperaments and good confirmation in unusual places, and hooks them up with her students and clients. Lisa feels that if you have a horse with a great work ethic, willingness to please, sane, and has good conformation and soundness, they will try that much more for you and you can form a winning/successful bond. She’s highly recommended by the top eventer, Christan Trainor, which is why Katie (a MN eventer), contacted Lisa. Katie had been looking for an off the track TB in Minnesota but couldn’t find one to her liking, so she asked Lisa to match her up.
Lisa found Summit and was amazed by his maturity, kind eye, and willingness. Pretty much on faith, Katie bought Summit and had him transported to MN in November 2009. Not six weeks later, she was calling Lisa back saying that she didn’t feel that Summit was going to progress to the level of showing that she wants on her two year timeline.
A very unfortunate situation indeed. I feel that Katie’s expectations were rather aggressive considering the horse was so recently off the track he still had his racing shoes on. He needed (and still needs) a lot of work to build the type of muscle needed to perform dressage or jumping. Right now he’s built to race, not to move fluidly, relax his neck and work his (nonexistent) muscles on his topline (back). But, what it boils down to is that he’s not the horse for Katie and everyone is entitled to have the horse they want. I have no aggressive timelines, I think there’s something there I can work with, and I think he’s got a nice personality (and totally sane!). So I snapped him up.
Katie took a completely green horse and got him to the “well started” stage that I was interested in. She was doing mostly jumping with him and he’s quite comfortable jumping a 2’6″ course. However, given his lack of balance and bend, I plan on spending quite a bit of time on the flat to strengthen those areas and muscle groups before we get into jumping. He’s very, very quite. Stands without fidgeting, knows his boundaries, lunges safely, hauls beautifully, and comes up to you in the field (that may have something to do with being a treat-hound though). Several times I’ve found myself treating him like I do older, more mature horses – leading him around with a loose lead rope, walking around a new arena daydreaming, and he’s fine, but I realize I should probably be more aware just because he is only 4. So far though, he definitely acts like a mature boy.
I was able to ride him for a week before taking delivery of him, and that was very beneficial. We worked through getting to know a new person, with a different seat position (why, he wondered, did I have so much leg on him – you can’t even feel a jockey’s legs!). He tried to test me and we learned who was the boss (but, significantly, I learned that he’s not going to do something stupid or unsafe when he’s testing me, and I felt confident and in control the whole time). It was a very successful trial.
Unfortunately I had to leave the barn where I’ve been at since I’ve arrived in MN. The barn is full of amazing, wonderful, helpful, friendly people who I will sorely miss, but I’m excited about the new barn. It’s small and quiet, but the people are friendly. Also, it’s close to a grocery store and gas station so I’ll be able to run errands easier. Score!
We moved him Friday night and I spent all of Saturday morning acclimating him and having a great first ride! And then at 5:30 on Saturday night, the barn owner called and my heart sunk. I’ve had him less than 24 hours and something is wrong!!??!! Turns out the boy pulled a shoe! Good job! Doesn’t he know he’s supposed to pull those during the week and not on the weekend when I want to ride?? We took a trip out to see him on Sunday and Tom fed him lots of carrots and apples. Poor boy is about 50 pounds underweight and Tom’s going to put that back on him in carrots! He’s very, very bothered by flies, even with a sheet and fly mask on. Snagging a few pictures was quite difficult with all the swishing and stomping and moving to get at the flies. Not that the flies are all that bad, I just think he really finds them annoying.
Here’s a profile.
I’ll be using this blog space to capture his progress on a monthly basis. It will do a lot for my peace of mind if I have something to go back to visually when it feels like we’re not making any progress. So every month, we’ll film a dressage test that way we have something consistent to use as a basis of comparison. I hope to have the first test up later this week.