Saturday, July 18, 2009
Bust in Denison
Well, it was a long way to go for a blind date.
And as it turned out, it was a bust.
I guess I had some warning about how things were going to go, though. The day before I was leaving on my trip, I got a call from the trainer who has the horse.
He needs two weeks, she said.
The alarm bells in my head were deafening. I was planning to take a pretty long trip for a horse that needed two weeks tune up.
What's the problem, I asked.
Well, he's giving me an arguement at the lope, she said.
Given that I just spent a year and a half in an ongoing argument with a horse, I felt my spirits sink. Maybe I should have called the whole thing off right then. But we were looking foward to getting away -- something we don't do near enough of.
So I went any way.
The problem, of course, is that I don't know this horse. I know what I'm being told, but, unlike Lily, I can't tell the reality of a situation. Lily needed a tune up, but I knew how she was when she was in shape. I knew what her issues were. I knew I could work them out.
I didn't know this horse's.
I have to say, Denison is some pretty country. I had no idea there were so many hills, trees, and plain beautiful country in the space between Dallas and Oklahoma.
I had business in Ft. Worth, and we made a trip out of it, hitting the zoo (Mireya and snow leopard making friends with the swimming penguin)
barely missing the national cutting horse show (next year, for sure),
stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast near Lake Texoma,
complete with fishing pond.
All before I went to see this horse. Which ended up being a good thing. Because then it did feel like a vacation with a break to see a horse instead of a vacation built around seeing a horse.
Took me a while to find my way around, mostly because the names of things are not consistent from highway signs to google maps in Denison.
I arrived and the trainer let me get him out of the pasture. He walked away from me, nothing too dramatic, but he didn't walk right up to me as she had described. I don't really care about that. Unlike some folks, I really don't expect a horse to accept everyone who walks into their pasture.
Once I got him out, I looked him over. He had some rub spots and scars.
Thin cracks in the hooves too. Not sure you can see them... I suspect just from the dry weather.
Most concerning though were the sores at the corners of his mouth and a rubbed area on his right front leg - in front and in the back towards the girth. Apparently they had tied him off the saddle (going from bit to his leg to the D ring in the saddle) to "soften him in the lope."
I always find the term soften interesting. I presume it means relaxed, but the fact that we use the word soften is telling...
She said he would grab the bit and resist at the lope. He was nervous about going into the lope, she theorized, because his previous riders were heavy, uncoordinated and in his mouth.
I rode him briefly, but it was, in a way, impossible to assess him... I couldn't lope him - even she was visibly nervous to do so (again with the alarm bells. In fact when another rider in the arena kissed she said he wanted to bolt.
When I moved him around he didn't neck rein, had a rough trot and just generally was loosy goosey, side passing to stop going forward, etc.
He'll be a different horse in two weeks, she says.
Maybe so. I have no idea.
Frankly, I don't think I can make another trip just to see if he comes around. He's beautiful in many ways and he seems to have a good nature, but I wonder how willing of a horse he is if he had to be tied up in knots and rubbed raw, just to canter.
I've lost a lot of confidence in the last few months, and I don't think this is the horse that can partner with me to help find it.
Strike 2 (the giraffe on the barrel pattern being strike 1).
So I'm back to zero.
Well, actually, there's still Ringo. Maybe I can see him this week.
And I'm looking here too.
And I'm tired of looking... I just want to ride. But I don't want to make another mistake. The right horse has got to be out there somewhere.