I’ve really been enjoying this blog hop topic, started by Cathryn at Two and Half Horses. Reading everyone else’s posts, seeing what their horses looked like when they bought them compared to where they are now… who doesn’t love progression stories?
With Presto, there isn’t much of a story. The horse I bought was in this format:
Technically Presto was a lil’ sperm that was frozen in France, imported, stored here for a few years, then shipped to Texas, thawed out, and put into my mare. I even got to see the swimmers under the microscope when they were thawed. Who knows, maybe one of the ones I saw was him. Pretty weird little fairy tale, right? Now THAT is a sight unseen horse purchase.
We’ve been through way more than is normal in the past 18 months (omg guys he’s just a few days away from being 18 months old, can you believe it???) but he is so much freakin fun. Even when he’s having a tantrum. I remain quite pleased with how he’s maturing, despite the fact that he looks like a llama/giraffe/moose hybrid about 90% of the time. I see a nice horse in there, and I hope I’m right.
Of course, Henry’s story is probably fairly well-known, at least partly, to most of you by now. He too was a sight-unseen purchase, but at least he actually existed when I bought him. I had kind of been looking (online, via facebook) at a horse at a farm in Arkansas, when the owner told me about another gelding that she had available for even cheaper. I was looking for a resale project, so cheap was important. This one had been sitting in the field for about a year, and had been a bit brain-fried before that, but before that he had done a hunter show once. Believe it or not, that made him less green than most of my horses have been. His name was Jerry, and he was a 6yo TB. It just so happened that a friend of mine from Dallas was headed up that exact farm that very afternoon to pick up a mare that she had bought, and the owner said that if Jerry went on the trailer with the mare, he was mine for $900. All I had seen at that point was a few pictures and a short video, but I liked his pedigree (I’ve always had the best luck with the Danzig line) and I just had a good feeling about him.
I sent the money over to her via Paypal, and she rushed him to the vet to get a current coggins, then he essentially unloaded from her trailer and onto my friends trailer, to make the trek to Texas. My friend brought him to her farm, and I drove up the next day from Austin to get him. Quickest, most impulsive, least-strings-attached horse purchase ever. Also not at all the way that I would recommend anyone else buy a horse.
I really didn’t even know what he looked like until I got him home that night and pulled his blanket off. He was SO FAT, and he was hairy and scruffy, but he seemed intelligent and had a good brain. Jerry soon became Henry… new start, new name. The first few rides showed me that he was very willing, but indeed seemed pretty brain-fried. It took months for me to really be able to put my leg on him without him exploding, and I ended up riding him in a hackamore for a while to basically “start over” with the concept of a bit, since he wanted to constantly curl up nose-to-chest at any hint of contact. He was always very honest though, and wanted to do his job.
We started in the jumpers, working up to 3′. Then we ended up at a barn with an eventing trainer, who convinced us (didn’t take much arm-twisting, I’ll be honest) to come out with them for an XC schooling day. From there, it was all over. Henry LOVED cross country, and although I had evented for a few years in the early 2000’s, I had kind of forgotten how great it was until I found myself sitting on this horse. We did a little local eventing derby that fall, which he won by being the only horse with a clean XC, and then promptly signed up for our first horse trial at BN.
Everything was really a foregone conclusion from there. We both loved this game, and he was pretty good at it (well, the dressage part was sketchy on a horse that still wasn’t super keen about leg or contact – we did a lot of faking it). The next year we qualified for AEC at BN, winning the Adult Team Challenge and finishing 10th individually.
Omg, he was so cute. Also, undeniable proof that I have always leaned.
We’ve had a few setbacks since then (like that summer he fractured his leg) but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This horse has been so freaking fun, and taught me so much. He made me fall in love with eventing again, and is trying his best to make me a better rider. For the first couple of years I was definitely the “teacher” in our relationship, but now it kind of feels like the tables have turned and he’s the one teaching me. At this point he is definitely the most educated and experienced horse I have ever had, by a mile.
As far as a resale project goes, he was obviously a massive failure. Not because of him or anything he did, but because of me. I fell in love with him, and at this point I owe him more than I could ever possibly repay. He will never be for sale. When we started eventing, I never ever thought we could go above Novice, or that I would even want to go above Novice. Training was such a distant dream that it may as well have been the Olympics. Those jumps made me want to pee myself. So to be solidly cruising around T, and maybe eyeballing Prelim at some point… it’s mindblowing to even consider. He’s been such an opportunity for me in so many ways, to improve myself and my riding.
These days he doesn’t look much like the horse I bought, at least on the outside. He is considerably less hairy and more fit, although that goofy face has stayed the same. I think his brain is a lot happier now, too. The heart though… that’s always been kind and genuine, and still is.
I hope that we’re still toward the beginning of our journey, and that I’m lucky enough to enjoy many more years and surpass many more expectations with this horse. Either way, he’s been the best surprise of my life.