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.

Okie dokie.

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.

Okie dokie.

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.


jacksonsgrrl said...

Well they certainly are NOT making his loping issue any better by their "training" approach and I use training loosely. Sores at the mouth and girth area? Hello!!!! Obviously he made need fine tuning (or perhaps much more) with the correct techniques...most likely just a strong rider who can get out of his mouth! That truly makes me SO sad to hear about that. I think your decision is the correct one. You don't know what you will end up with, and with those training techniques I would bet he would come to you worse than better. :( Keep looking, I found Jackson on

Life at Star's Rest said...

I'm glad you at least got a nice time away with the family. If you would like to get in touch with my nephew in Seguin, his name is Boyd Parker and I have two #s for him -
830-379-2092 and 830-379-9094

Tell him his aunt told you to call and I know if he is aware of any good prospects that would fit you, he will be absolutely honest with you.


d2cmom said...

My pastor has a well built gelding about 14.2 hands. He's selling for 1500. I have seen him but it's been a while. He is a great trail horse and has been used for ranch work. We live just north of Bryan. It's about a 3 hr drive from your house. Let me know if you want to check him out. I'll get you some pictures.

Trailrider said...

Doesn't make sense that it should be so hard to find an average horse, with a decent temperament, does it?

Part of knowing what you want is learning what you DON'T want. And as much as I've heard you didn't like dating back when you were single, it really does seem like that's the best analogy.

It doesn't mean the right horse isn't out there, just waiting to sweep you off your feet and carry you off into the sunset! Don't let a few bad horses coming from bad relationships spoil you on all horses...

OK, I'll stop now.. ;-)

But I tell you one thing, if I ever sell my horses, and knowing how good to me they are most of the time, I'm asking 1 million dollars for each of them!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sorry that didn't work out. I traveled 500 miles to see a horse once, got halfway there and the husband called in a panic telling me not to come. He wouldn't be straight with me about why. I told him it was too late. I was already on my way.

When I arrived, the horse was lathered up with sweat like they had been riding it into the ground for hours. It also had a massive cut on the girth behind the foreleg that needed stitches, but had none. They said, "Oh, you know kids. I told my kid to saddle her up and she used the wrong cinch." What was the cinch made out of? Razor blades?

Life at Star's Rest said...

I know I got really lucky with Mio and it was about time! If you would like to email me at I'll be happy to send you some photos of my nephew working with my husband's young mustang. After all of the surgeries I had, I knew I couldn't start him and Boyd was the only person I trusted with that job.

I'm as proud of him as if he were my own kid and he has an amazing understanding of horses.


Life at Star's Rest said...

Oops! Boy did I screw up! Gave my horse training nephew in Seguin, Boyd Parker, a good reference and put up the wrong phone number! His barn is Four Winds Training and the *real* number is 830-379-4041.


Melanie said...

Well dang it anyway! They sure made him sound like a great horse, didn't they?? Let us know how that Arab turns out....

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a horse that could be a nice horse if people hadn't already messed him up and were in the process of messing him up further. Very sad - he even looks sad and resigned in the pictures.

Good luck with your search.

allhorsestuff said...

Oh too bad for that poor would have been a wonderful owner and they are messing him up with "training--".
I am also interested in how Ringo go for you.
I went to the BnB! We love them.
And the other horse site...there are some nice looking horses there..and sounding. Most are so small though just 14'3. huh`

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

This experience just makes me feel so frustrated and also resigned. If only I had done more horse shopping and not settling for the first horse I handled. bwah!

I'm glad you're doing the shopping, though, even though it sounds like a royal hassle. At least, like you said, you made the Dennison trip into a mini-vacation. And it looked like everyone had a great time. That penguin has eyes creepier than my llamas do at night. lol!

Good luck with the shopping. :)


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