Thursday, January 13, 2011
Just Haven't Met You Yet!
I've got the green light, the search is on. It’s official; I’m looking for a new horse to ride and I’m SO excited!
My husband’s blessing probably had to something to do with my wistful sighs (and occasional tears) while flicking through photograph albums dedicated to my recently retired ultra-wonderful Kwintus’. He probably also picked up a subliminal message or two from the old dog-eared copies of “Dressage Today” strewn randomly around the house. I’m also guessing he noticed my obsessive compulsive trawling through dozens of “Horses for Sale” sites on the Internet like a woman possessed. In fact, the way I’ve been carrying on, the webmasters of British “Horse and Hound Online” probably think they have a stalker. Over the past few weeks I must have viewed hundreds of adverts boasting the likes of “Superstar in the Making”, “Stunning All Rounder”, “Dream Ride”, “Eye-catching Performance Horse”, or “Impressive Talent”. I’ve read them all, studied the photographs, viewed the videos on You Tube over and over and over, checking out hind leg action, sussing out attitude, mulling over suitability, and converting British Pounds into Swiss Francs. Which is silly really, not to mention a complete waste of time as my new horse is most likely to come from Holland or Germany seeing as that’s where my trainer has her contacts. But I don’t speak German, so can’t read their equivalent of “Horse and Hound”. Bummer.
With Michael Bublé’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” stuck in my mind, I’ve spent hours day-dreaming, thinking, trying to pin-point what I’m looking for in my next horse, which is probably also totally pointless as my heart will recognize “the one” the minute he or she appears in the arena. Who I bring back will also depend on the vet check. But what can I say? I’m like a kid waiting for Father Christmas! In fact, it’s all I can I do stop myself from cantering around the garden, hands holding imaginary reins, like I did when I was about six. Well, yes, I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture.
So what do I want? Let’s see. I don’t want a youngster. I’ve been there, done that, fallen off, hurt myself. If I had the financial resources to have my trainer come over several times a week, and if the infrastructure of my riding stables were more enclosed (talk about the great wide open!), I might possibly maybe perhaps consider buying a four-year-old, as someone I know is selling a gorgeous German warmblood. But that’s not the case, so case closed. And please place me in restraints if, over the next few weeks, I give the slightest indication of caving for a baby. Actually, I’m pretty sure my trainer would talk me out of such bubbled-headed behavior, so not to worry.
Obviously, it's going to be a Warmblood. Ideally, I’d like an eight-year-old. But then, everyone wants eight-year-olds. Eight-year-olds are often perfect; they’ve come out of that silly adolescent stage, and are ready to settle down. Eight-year olds also tend to be the most expensive, so I may have to up the age counter a little. Or maybe I’ll have to down the age counter a little. A six or seven-year-old with a nice, easy character could be manageable. Also, I figure I don’t need a horse with a big, extravagant movement as I’m not a competition aficionado. I’d like a comfy trot, and a round, rolling canter. I’d like something big, preferably over 16.3 as I’m tall, big boned, with long legs. I’d like a horse with a quiet mind (as Laura so wonderfully put it in one of her recent blogs), not a wiggly worrier. I’d like a horse that enjoys working, but also enjoys a quiet ride through the country. I’d like a friendly, inquisitive, people-horse, one that likes to be groomed and stroked and fussed over. And I’d kind of like a nice thick tail so I can play Barbie-horse!
Coming back to the age issue, I’d rather not go into double figures as the years really do zip by, and I’m hoping for a long-term riding relationship. In fact, last week, just before my daughter went back to England for University, I suddenly had a disturbing revelation: I’m going to be 50 at the end of this year, so this could well be the last “somewhat prancy” horse I ever buy! I mean, I know that the great thing about riding is that people can do it well into their golden years, but still. Will I really be considering a somewhat “prancy” horse when I’m 65? Maybe I will, but right now I don’t know, and the realization came like a blow to my stomach. When I mentioned this to my daughter she rolled her eyes and tutted, and gave me the “oh mama!” treatment, but I was so perturbed by this that I talked it over with one of my best friends, Ian, also turning 50 at the end of the year, when he called me out of the blue from London the other day.
Amusingly, Ian described a similar brain-slap while shopping in a high-end shoe shop last week with his ten-year-old son. There he was, trying on a pair of expensive, good quality shoes, mulling over whether or not to buy them, when his son said to him “You know what, Daddy? These shoes will probably last you for the rest of your life. In fact, they might be the last pair of shoes you ever buy.” Ian and I giggled about it, and then proceeded to reassure one another that we’ll be buying plenty more shoes and horses in the coming decades, but still… Good grief! The time is always now, but suddenly it seems like my almost fifty-year-old "now" is even more now-ish.
What do you think? If you were setting out on a search for your perfect horse, what would you look for?
Posted by Francesca Prescott at 2:15 AM