Last time I wrote about my epiphany of not being ready to quit competitive dressage.
Once I’d come to this realization and had a budget to work with, and a very small budget at that, I mentioned on Facebook I was horse hunting. A trainer friend of mine, Molly, whom I’ve known for years, started sending me horses from Dream Horse. One horse in particular caught my eye. The price was in my range, though a little higher than I wanted to spend, but he looked like a sweet fellow. He’d been used as a school horse at a hunter/jumper barn for flat lessons. Molly had been considering buying him for a resale project, but she said she wouldn’t be able to look at him for a while.
I contacted the owner and made plans to see him the following weekend.
In the meantime, I had a lesson on Gailey from my instructor, Kari. In an ironic twist of fate, I’d started her on arthritis medicine, and she was sounder than she’s been in a long time. We discussed my looking for another horse. Kari mentioned that Leslie had returned the chestnut mare to Sandy because the mare had failed the flexion test. Sandy needed to cut back on her horses ASAP so Kari believed she’d offer the horse for an indefinite lease or a minimal amount of money.
Now I had two horses to look at. Of course, I’m a little nervous about the chestnut mare as she’d been vetted twice in the past six months and failed both flexion tests. Now, we’ve all heard of horses that have failed the flexion test but stayed sound forever. With the hope in mind, I tried out the mare on a Saturday. She was lovely, as I expected she would be. Perhaps, a little small for me, but she knew all the second level stuff. Yet in talking to Sandy, she never mentioned a lease, and her price was considerably higher than I’d anticipated. In fact, high enough that I couldn't afford to take a chance if the mare's soundness was questionable. Sandy told me if she couldn’t get that price, the mare would be put in a pasture because she didn't want to give her away.
That evening we went to a birthday party for a friend from the barn. My husband grilled several people on the chestnut mare, including the one who’d returned her earlier in the week. We decided the risk was too great. She was not flexing sound in the hocks, and she was only six. I was sad because she would have been a wonderful horse to have. I also feel sorry for the seller because she believes the horse doesn't have a soundness issue. She had a horse she was hoping to sell in the mid-five figures who is now priced in the mid-four figures and still isn’t selling. What if the flexion tests were wrong? What if there’s really nothing seriously wrong with this mare. She’s also had two sets of x-rays, one vet saw something, another claimed there was nothing. With all this conflicting information what is a buyer and seller to do? Did I pass on the best deal that might come along in a long time?
The next day I tried out Larry, the horse Molly had mentioned to me. Larry was also coming six, and he’d had a partial avulsion in the pastern a few years ago, which as I understand it is a tearing of the ligament which connects to the bone. Larry was bred to be a jumper but the vet recommended no jumping because of the avulsion so he was looking for a home as a dressage horse. He didn't have the dressage training the mare had. In fact, he was quite green though dead broke.
My friend and I saw something in the way he moved that seemed odd, but when he was ridden forward, it went away. Since the owner was willing to allow me to take him home for a 30-day trial, I decided to try him out at Kari’s barn with Kari riding him a few days a week. I picked him up last weekend, and it’s been sub-freezing temperatures ever since with snow on the ground so I’ve been unable to ride him. I lunged him last Monday, and he’d settled in nicely.
Kari rode him on Tuesday and felt something wasn’t quite right with him. She wanted to ride him a few more times before she made her decision, but he felt he had a flat tire. Not necessarily unsound but not right exactly. I plan on riding him tomorrow and all week so we can make our decision. Right now, I’m paying board on two horses, and I can’t afford the expense so I need to make a decision soon. If I'm keeping him, Gailey needs to go home or be leased to someone else.
So that’s where I am right now. More to come...