Here is the story of how that Appaloosa pill became my horse. I will share the story in two installments. Mostly because it will be a gazillion words long and you might get bored reading it in one sitting. I mean, it's a good story and all, but not that good. And I know, I know, you technically know the ending. After all, he is My Boy.
When I got back from a trip to visit my Auntie J in the California desert a year ago this past February, I had caught the horse virus again. In the 16 years since I had last owned a horse, I had flitted in and out of the world of horses. In my mid-twenties I took hunter-jumper lessons for about 6 months. When I vacationed in British Columbia, Lake Tahoe, or on the coast, I was always sure to go on a guided trail ride. My sister was given her mare Brandy 4 years ago, and I would go up and ride and help her out. But I was not really back "into" horses and riding, like I was in my youth. But that trip, something about it, sparked the bug again. Maybe I should place the blame on my Aunt's Quarter Horse, Jesse. I got to ride him in the arena after a trail ride and I loped him. Oh goodness, it brought back all kinds of horse feelings. Just thrilling.
I returned from that trip determined to find a horse to ride or lease. I checked Craigslist.org and found an older Arabian gelding and went to try him out. He was a nice horse. But he was also leased by four teenage girls and I decided that was not the situation for me. Then, I found a mare for sale. Uh-oh. I emailed with her owner, who really wanted a new barrel horse. She was willing to part with the little grade Quarter Horse mare fairly cheaply, to the right home. Suddenly I was adding up my income tax refund and asking for handouts from the family and planning to go look at and potentially buy this mare. Moving a little too fast, maybe? I remember I was so stressed out about it all I could barely eat or sleep. However, I got an email the day before I was to make the trek over the mountain to see her. The owner had decided to keep the mare and lease her out to someone in her rodeo club.
At this time, my sister had her mare Brandy, and her boyfriend's new Paint mare, Fritzy, in training. My sister mentioned to her trainer that I was looking for a horse to lease or ride. Oh, said the trainer. She can lease my husband's horse. One drizzly Saturday in late February, we drove to the trainer's to try out this horse. My sister warned me that she had only seen the horse once on a trail ride and she did not really remember much about him, but she was pretty sure that he was not an overly handsome Appaloosa, meaning, he did not have much of a tail, etc. The trainer got him out of the pasture (he was a little challenging for her to catch) and brought him into the barn. She took off his blanket and I was like, hmmm. This horse is not unattractive at all! My sister rode him first and I realized that this was a very pretty Appy. I jokingly asked the trainer is he for sale? The trainer's husband had come out to watch at this point and said No, not unless I get my gaited Walker. I rode the Appy around the arena a little and found him to be quite nice. I told the trainer I would think about it but I called her back later that day and said I wanted to lease the Appy. The trainer said she would move him to the barn she was training my sister's horses at, since it had a covered arena and she didn't.
I remember the first day I was to go ride this Appy after work. I was literally shaking with anticipation all day. As soon as I was off work, I changed into my jeans and boots, jumped in the car, and started the hour long drive to the barn. It was such a great feeling, walking down the barn isle to the Appy's stall. It felt like I was home again.
At one point, about a month into leasing the Appy, the trainer told me she might have a horse for me, if she could get him sound. That she would just give me. For free. Someone gave her a Paint horse gelding that had some leg and hoof problems from being in muddy pasture conditions over the winter. The gelding was well-trained and in good condition, he just had to stand in mud and it had caused him to develop mud fever and other leg issues. The night she brought him home, we went to see him. She led him out of his stall. His legs were shaking and he lifted them like he was still walking knee deep in mud. I liked him, though, and became excited about the prospect of owning a black and white Paint tobiano that matched my sister's. But as time passed, the trainer realized the horse would never be sound enough for me. She ended up getting him back in light riding condition and kept him for her children to ride.
In the spring, the Appy was moved back to the trainer's place. The weather was improving. There was another boarder there that I rode with in the arena or on the neighborhood trails. It was great to be back into riding and having horse friends again. On the weekends, I would meet my sister and her boyfriend and we would go load up the Appy and head to the tree farm trails. I was the only one that was leasing him. He was used occasionally for lessons or as the husband horse. But the husband did not really ride him much. He had back problems and still wanted a gaited horse.
Now, during this time, I had realized that horse ownership was not in the cards for me quite yet, but leasing was the perfect option for me. Regardless, I had started saving money for a horse of my own. I opened up a separate account. I cut back on my expenses. I was set on getting a Quarter Horse. I was already searching horses on all of the online equine sale sites. I found a beautiful sorrel green broke filly at a ranch. I corresponded with her owners and they sent me some pictures. I kept a file folder of printed horse ads from horses that I liked. My dream file. Most of them were stock breeds.
Meanwhile, I was working out the kinks with the Appy. I found him to be a bit challenging at first. Mostly because I was a rusty, out-of-touch rider and he knew it. But I enjoyed riding him and he never did anything dangerous. He appeared to be rather trustworthy and was good on the trails. My sister asked me once if the Appy ever came up for sale, if I would buy him. Nah, I said. I liked him well enough, but he was not the horse for me.
Time passed. I began to get closer to the Appy. He was such a good boy. And goodness, such an easy horse to be around on the ground. One day while I was at the trainer's riding, she told me that her husband really wanted to sell the Appy, so that he could get a gaited horse. But she was not ready to sell him yet. She said that as long as I was leasing him and he was getting used, that was the important thing. And, he was too good of a horse not to have around. I am not sure if it was this prompted me to change my thinking. But I was talking to my sister one night and I realized that hmmm, this Appy might be the horse for me after all. At this time in my life, I was not going to do any serious competing. And I do not live close enough to my horse, which would be boarded at my sister's around 45 minutes away, to have a young horse that needed consistent riding and training. And let me clarify, I was not in a position of experience to be training a young horse, anyway! And there was something about this Appy that had grown on me. He was so darn cute. And in the months I had been riding him, I had come to trust him. I felt safe on him. That is a hard feeling to come by with a horse. Everyone said the Appy liked me. And that we looked good together. I decided to ask the trainer that when she seriously decided to sell the Appy, would she mind offering him to me first? She said absolutely, that I had first dibs. So I kept saving my money. But it was a slow go. The price that she had casually mentioned they would ask for the Appy was a little out of my range. Well, not even a little. Like two times the amount I could realistically afford.
One afternoon, when I arrived to ride the Appy, I noticed an unfamiliar truck in the driveway. The husband was standing over by My Boy's paddock talking to a woman. I figured she was one of the trainer's clients. I wanted to give the trainer a check so I went up to the house first. She asked me who the woman was talking with her husband and I shrugged and said I didn't know. We walked over to the barn and her husband introduced us to the woman. Apparently this woman drove by the trainer's place a lot (which was located right on the road) and had noticed the Appy in his paddock. She thought he was a gorgeous horse and she was looking for an Appy to buy for the Appaloosa Horse Club's annual Chief Joseph trail ride. She had an Appy in training, but he was not going to work out. She wanted to know if this Appy was for sale.
Well, needless to say, this Pony Girl's heart dropped and I probably had all kind of strange looks crossing my face. To be continued.....
Miss Lucie Grace
1 year ago