It is sometimes very funny how somethings works out in the end. As many of you know, I have been looking for a new competition horse for a very, very long time. On and off for over 3 years. My beloved equine son Pete is now 22 years old, and though he still has the heart of an upper level dressage horse his body is not quite up to the task. As I am sure Jami and Francesca know, the Internet can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to searching for horses to buy. You have access to hundreds of prospects but searching through ads and looking at videos can be very time consuming (something I never have enough of) not to mention the investment in flying here or there to look and ride the potential new mount.
My biggest problem was that on several occasions, by the time I identified a horse I was interested in and could make the time and arrangements to fly to see the horse, someone else would get there first and swoosh, the horse was gone. I also went to see and rode several horses that were either nothing like their owner's claims or just simply not a good fit for me. You see part of the problem is that I had been very spoiled by Pete. Pete was and still is very light in my hands and very sensitive and responsive to my aids. So I don't like a horse that leans on the contact or that I have to kick or use a whip/spur endlessly to get him forward and/or into a particular movement. Therefore, I was looking into a very narrow window for potential horses.
I have been teased and a bit badgered by several friends and my sister and niece about being too picky (like they claim I am with men- a whole other subject in itself) and that I was looking for a phantom horse that did not exist or at least not in my price range. Well, I have now proved them all wrong (well maybe not about the men thing). I have finally found and purchased a new dressage horse and amazingly enough he was practically in my own back yard, well at least in San Diego county. After finding out that a horse in Florida that I was interested in had been sold, I was on the verge of agreeing with my sister (something that would be a hard pill to swallow) when I decided to take one more look at a couple of the sales websites I frequented and walla, there he was, a horse whose ad had just been posted a few days before and he was only a 45 minute drive away from me. It was a miracle!
After watching his video online I was even more excited and sent an e-mail to the horse's trainer and waited (not so patiently I might add) for a response. The horse was at a stable near Del Mar, CA which is known as Dressage Mecca in my area since it is home to several incredible dressage riders and trainers including Stephen and Shannon Peters. The horse I purchased was in training with David Blake, who also works with the Peters' so I can tell you that I was more than just a little bit intimidated to go ride at this facility. But everyone there could not have been nicer and I rode 2 different horses that David Blake had in his sales barn. They were both incredibly beautiful, talented and well-trained horses but there was just something about the bay gelding that I could not stop thinking about. After a second ride on both horses, I knew the bay was the better fit for me and the rest is history as they say.
His name is Uiver (pronounced Iver) and I brought him home last week and since then I have fallen in love with him even more. Uiver is a 10 year old Dutch Warmblood Gelding who is currently competing at 4th level. The photo of his canter above is with David on him. As you can see in the photo of me on him below, I look a bit tentative because this is my first ride on him and I am thinking, "holy cow this is a huge trot"!
I have a lot of work ahead of me but I hope that Uiver will be my ticket to finally be competitive at FEI and perhaps even make it to Grand Prix. His trot has enormous cadence so my first order is to get stronger in my core so I can sit up taller and still keep up with his trot. His canter is amazing and you could ride it all day, although I need to ask for the flying changes a bit differently then when I was on Pete. None the less, Uiver is going to teach me a lot and hopefully take me to the next level of my journey as an equestrian. Another nice thing is that Uiver's personality at the barn is blossoming. You never really know a horse's personality until you get them home and Uiver is very sweet and affectionate and already looks at me like I am a cookie dispenser. He is very good around the other horses, is calm and level-headed and did not even care when he saw my neighbor's cows. What a bonus!
I am a strong believer in karma and cosmic forces and that is the other interesting part of this story. Twelve years ago when I bought Pete, it was money I inherited from my father (who had passed away several years prior) that financed his purchase. When I found out that his barn name was Pete I considered it a sign from my father whose name was Peter. My dad was a doctor so Pete was shown under the name - Dr. Pete for my father. Now this many years later and after all my trials and tribulations, the purchase of Uiver was finalized on May 31st, my father's birthday. Another sign from above????
Regardless, I am like a kid at Christmas with a new toy and I feel more in sync with Uiver every ride. I am going to continue to train with David Blake and will start going to shows in a few months when Uiver and I have figured each other out. As for my other horse Pete, well he is a bit jealous (a fact that I am very sensitive to) so I am careful not to pay too much attention to Uiver when Pete can see. I am hoping that Pete will come to see Uiver as a part of the family and that Pete will always be #1 in my heart. I am open to any tips as too how best to make Uiver feel loved without upsetting Pete and making him feel usurped.