No, I didn’t buy a new horse. I’m too broke for that. But Bobby has been looking for a few months now for his next “forever” horse, the one that will eventually step up and fill Halo’s shoes. It was a tough one, because Bobby and Halo have been a team for over a decade. He molded the horse from a wee baby OTTB to an AEC Champion, and in that time he hasn’t ridden many other horses, bought any others, or even been a close spectator to very many sales. He is, understandably, very comfortable with Halo, and the idea of buying and owning something different was daunting.
But Halo is now in his late teens, and it’s getting to be time to add a baby brother into the mix. Bobby tried several horses, some which he loved, some which he liked, some which he hated. For various reasons, none of them were The One. Still, Hillary and I talked him into going to sit on anything that was nearby that sounded even remotely promising, because I felt like the more horses he sat on, the more he’d get a very clear idea of exactly what he wanted and needed. He started out thinking he needed one thing, but after a few rides it became clear that maybe he really wanted/needed something a little different. What he flat out refused to do, very adamantly, was consider buying one sight unseen. He wants to feel a connection with whatever he buys, which I get, but… Texas isn’t exactly a land overflowing with tons of promising young event prospects. It’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, especially if you want one that’s sound and has a great brain.
So we looked, and we rode, and we looked some more. When Hillary and I were in Dallas for the Phillip Dutton clinic we went up and I tried another one for him, nixing it immediately. The problem with a lot of the restarted OTTB’s that we were looking at was that some of them were not restarted in a way that was beneficial to Bobby’s end goal. Some had gaping holes that would take a long time to go back and fix. We kept combing the ads, messaging sellers, and asking questions. I love Bobby and I want him to have a horse that he loves and that he can have fun with, but one that is also talented enough to do whatever he wants it to do. He doesn’t need a plodder, he just needs something with a good brain.
And then Jess Redman posted the perfect candidate.
For those who don’t know Jess Redman, she’s an OTTB reseller. She sells a ton of nice horses every year, and I know several people that have purchased from her. She has a good eye for a prospect and is honest about their strengths/weaknesses, so for someone who isn’t comfortable buying straight from the track or doesn’t have an “in” to that world, she’s a great source. You get to see what the horses are like away from the track, see them ridden w/t/c and even over their first few jumps. She takes tons of pictures and videos. She’s able to assess their temperament and get an idea of what they’d be good at. For Bobby, all of that is really important, and why he didn’t want to buy one directly off the track.
Only problem? She’s in freaking Delaware. 1,600 miles away.
Extra complication on that problem? She sells the good ones so fast, you’re unlikely to have time to arrange a trip up there to try one in person without it getting sold before you arrive.
There was no freaking way we were going to talk Bobby into this horse, right? And then Jess posted an update on her facebook.
I admit, as soon as she described him as a “gate licker” (her term for that derpy quiet amateur type horse who is probably standing there licking the gate while the rest of his idiot friends are running laps in the field), I was sold. As the owner of a couple Gate Lickers myself, I appreciate that kind of brain. Then I opened the video and watched as she flopped around on him, waving her hands around in the air, and he just kept on trotting like “well that’s an odd way to ride, but ok”. On his 3rd ride post track. In the freezing cold. After a week off.
THIS was Bobby’s horse.
Hillary and I had to work a little bit (and trust me we are zero percent subtle) to sell the idea to Bobby. After all, it would mean buying him sight unseen. Jess’s post and video were quickly spreading across facebook, and it seemed like everyone was quickly falling in love with this horse. I had no doubt in my mind that he would definitely sell within the next 24 hours. We convinced Bobby to watch the video, and then watch it again, and then read everything in the description carefully. There was no doubt that this one seemed absolutely perfect. Even Bobby couldn’t deny that this was by far the most promising one we’d seen. So he called Jess and talked to her more about him, and next thing you knew he had a PPE scheduled for the next day. I think we all felt that this one was special… including the huge wait list of people that were next in line if Bobby decided to pass.
The vetting was stressful, as all vettings are.
Ultimately though, Cannavaro looked really good for a horse that was just a few weeks off the track. We all talked about the results amongst ourselves, and with Trainer, and Bobby talked with the vet. Cannavaro would benefit from a couple months to chill and let his body heal from the stresses of the track, as they all do, but there was definitely nothing major or show-stopping. He was good to go for his next career.
I won’t lie, there was a lot of hyperventilating in our group chat that day. Ultimately though, Bobby’s gut told him that this horse was the one, and he took a leap of faith.
That’s really adorable, admit it. I think we’re all excited about this one. Also, this is a genius way to rack up those AmEx points. Buy the horse, pay it off immediately, cash in the points… genius.
Jess was super efficient and had the shipper booked immediately, lucking into an already scheduled load that was headed south. So on Wednesday we sent the horse’s ad to Bobby, on Thursday he was PPE’d, and on Friday the shipper picked him up. That’s how you do it, folks!
The shipper’s experience with the horse so far has totally meshed with Jess’s assessment:
So hopefully Cannavaro will get here by tomorrow, and Bobby will get to meet his new baby, Halo’s “little brother”. And yes, they even do share a little bit in common pedigree wise, both being Seattle Slew descendants – Cannavaro via his sire First Defence, and Halo via his damsire Tsunami Slew.
In the mean time Bobby has been doing what one does upon buying a new horse, and geeking out about all the things he’ll need when he gets here. I went searching and found the video of Cannavaro’s only win, in a Maiden Claimer last November. He wasn’t much of a racehorse overall, but hey… he did win once!
I’m over here feeling like the excited but nervous Auntie, waiting for him to arrive so Bobby can get to know him. I can’t wait to see Cannavaro figure out his new life, and blossom, and learn what eventing is all about. I LOVE this part of OTTB’s… they’re little sponges in that first 6-12 months post-track, and it’s so rewarding to see them change physically and mentally as they settle into their new life. Bobby is a great rider, so it will be really fun to see their relationship form and get to watch him bring along his next horse. I think we finally found one worthy of filling Halo’s shoes (and, uh, maybe being a little less spooky in the process!).
So to celebrate, I thought we should have a little “Welcome to the Family” contest.
As I mentioned above, the process of this horse’s purchase was mostly hashed out via a group chat. And as you can also see from the above sample, Bobby REALLY likes exclamation marks. Especially when you get him amped up. So I threw together a little prize package and decided to make this really simple:
Guess how many exclamation marks Bobby used in our group chat in the 24-ish hour period between when I first sent him the horse’s ad and when he actually purchased the horse?
Easy peasy! If no one guesses the exact number, I will go with whoever is closest. In the event of a tiebreaker I might ask you to also guess how many expletives were used by Bobby in that same time period. I doubt it’ll come to that though. As usual, please remember to leave your full name and/or blog link and/or email with your comment so that I know who to contact if you win.
Here’s the prize package! The black polka dot stock tie (from Sweet Iron Co, an Australian brand) is to represent the dot on Bobby’s aforementioned never-ending exclamation marks. The Likit is a nod to Cannavaro’s “Gate Licker” reputation. The Impossipuzzle (unicorn, space, and donut themed, naturally) is because that’s exactly what finding a new horse for Bobby felt like sometimes… an impossible puzzle. And the Unicorn Popper, because duh, Cannavaro is a unicorn.
Good luck with your guesses and welcome to the family Cannavaro!