Adventures in Horse Shopping: Jumping Through Hoops

By now I feel like I have a fairly defined process for getting approval on a horse (besides of course the first and foremost requirement – that I actually like/enjoy/feel good about the horse).

So far this process typically starts once I have seen the ad, gotten video, asked pertinent questions, and am planning on going to see/ride said beastie in person.

1 . Vet and trainer have watched sales video and agree that none of its 4 legs are going to fall off in the near future and that it looks like it would be suited for life as a dressage pony

2. Trainer watches video of me riding the horse and approves it as potentially good match

3. My vet speaks with PPE vet about horse and discusses with me any potential pitfalls and sets my general expectation for the horse

Assuming we get through these 3 steps (which plenty of candidates have failed to do, by the way), we then get to the place I am now. So from here, which is essentially the trial/getting-to-know you phase, further hoops arise:

4. Barn manager must agree that the creature is not from the sixth circle of hell and is safe to work with on a daily basis.

5. The dressage trainer comes to meet him in person, typically riding the horse as well as giving me a short lesson, which helps evaluate his real potential for my goals

6. The pony travels to a local cross country schooling venue and is made to jump over solid obstacles and assessed for the probability of its landing me in a casket prematurely.7. I can jump him on my own (with safety net of other folks around) without feeling like I am taking my own life in my hands.

And that’s essentially it! Bonus points for friends approving of said animal being worthy of being stuffed with cookies and posing for endless selfies.

The BDH is going to cross country school next Tuesday… only a couple more hoops to jump through! All fingers crossed 🙂

Adventures in Horse Shopping: The BDH Update

Going with Genny’s brilliant abbreviation, current trial horse will currently be referred to as the BDH [Barbie Dream Horse] until the time that he is either returned to his owner or becomes formally mine.

I had my first real ride on him yesterday, and honestly it couldn’t have gone better. The biggest thing for me to get used to is his size, going from 14.2h TC to a 16.3h banana boat is a little alarming at first. But I’m sure it will come back to me- I just have to remind myself that both Smitty and Foster were 16.2h, and that felt totally fine at the time.

I started out in the indoor arena, favoring an enclosed area as a good place to start, but BDH wasn’t convinced that there was enough room in there to canter, so with a bit of friendly peer pressure from my buddies got me outside where that was space to roam.

Anyways, don’t take my word for how well it went, watch the video!

 

Adventures in Horse Shopping: Trial Horse II

The saga continues, and hopefully, hopefully, this will be a concluding chapter. Yesterday I made the long drive again up to Virginia and picked up a certain palomino pony that made his debut on the blog a couple weeks ago.

‘J’ as we’ll call him for now is a 9 yo warmblood gelding who has recently started a career as an eventer. He’s a big guy at 16.3-17ish hands (to be confirmed) with a pretty cool demeanor.

That tail flip though

I have 3.5 weeks with J to decide if it’s the perfect fit, but after getting in a couple rides and him being so forgiving of my amateur moments [and obvious lack of equitation skills], plus carting me around over the biggest fences I’ve jumped since Foster’s retirement, I have really high hopes for this guy.

Jumping ahead and clutching the neck strap for dear life

I feel like a child who just brought home her own Barbie Dream Horse. Please keep your fingers crossed that this is the one!

Adventures in Horse Shopping: The Trial Horse Outcome

As you all know, for the last couple weeks I have had the pleasure of riding a certain red-headed pony who hopefully was going to become mine. In the beginning we battled some issues with foot soreness after an overzealous trim, but some padded shoes fixed that and we started our journey of getting to know each other.

Having a trial period with a horse is a wonderful opportunity, as it really allows you to get to know him in ways that a short test ride just won’t allow. I was able to see him in a new environment, experiencing scary things such as giant tarps and deer and cats jumping up and down around the indoor. All of these things he handled with confidence, and his can-do attitude did much to impress me.

The other grace of having a trial period is having professionals come out to assess the horse, teach me how to ride them, and give their honest opinion as to whether or not we make a good team. I had 3 lessons during our trial period, and it really opened my eyes to each of our strengths and weaknesses that only riding a new horse can.

In the end, I realized that the red pony was not the best fit for me at the moment, despite my desperately wanting him to work out. He is a pleasure to be around on the ground, and an incredibly talented and athletic horse with huge potential. However, his past as a hunter jumper meant that he lacked an education in dressage, and at this time I decided that what I really want is something ready to go and show, and through absolutely no fault of his own, he is simply not ready for that.

It was bittersweet bringing him back to his owner, and stuffing him full of treats for the last time. Incredibly disappointing that it didn’t work out, but reassuring to know that he is back with an owner who just wants the best for him and will continue to work on finding him the best home.

Good luck little red pony, and thanks for the ride.

Adventures in Horse Shopping: The Trial Horse Update

I am not quite half way through my trial period with the red pony, and already it’s been a busy time for both of us.

First ride at the barn

He came to me quite foot sore after getting trimmed too short, so much of the first few days together was managing his feet so he was comfortable. After getting front shoes and pads put on he now seems 100% comfortable and I’ve been able to get in more rides, and last night jump him for the first time.

Dressage lesson / training ride

The trial has been an interesting experience so far, centered around jiving what I know about him with what I feel about him. Sometimes it feels like he’s speaking German (eh, Swedish?) and I’m speaking English, at other times we get closer to some kind of mutual understanding- Genglish?

Neck straps for life

The next plan for us is to go school cross country. This is something he’s never done before, but will be critical in ascertaining whether or not he wants to be an Event pony. He looks so good in event tack, that I have high hopes!