I have been keeping a secret from you guys. A few months ago, I bought my very first horse. I am a horse owner.
I’m so proud to enter the ranks of so many of you after 10 years of riding schoolies; part-leasing; full-leasing; beg, borrow, and just short of stealing other people’s horses, I finally have one to call my own.
I tried to do everything right while horse shopping. I read everything I could find online about how to buy your first horse. Price negotiations, vetting, trials, trainer input, etc. Plenty of websites/blogs had advice about all of those topics and more. In the end, I ignored almost all of the things they say you should/should not do when buying a horse. The thing I DID do above all else was go with my gut.
I haven’t blogged about him yet because going with my gut meant I chose to take a gamble. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not typically the kind of person who enjoys big risks. But that feeling- it was undeniable.
His name is Braveheart, barn name, Bravo. He was sold to me as a 6 year-old warmblood of unknown breeding; 17hh and butt-high; zero topline; underweight; very chill, with a sweet personality. He came from Texas, by way of New Jersey, and had been “eventing” with a young teenager at a barn about an hour from me for the past year and a half.
All I can say is that I had no idea that horse ownership was going to be this much of a rollercoaster!! The buying process was awful and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy…not sure if it’s always that painful or I just got lucky… I may elaborate in a separate post.
The day before Valentine’s Day I finally got my bouncing baby boy home and he seemed to settle in well. After several days of successful groundwork and low pressure getting to know each other, I chanced to take my first ride on him in his new barn. It did not go well. There was bucking at the mildest of requests, at the walk. Of course I assumed I had made a terrible mistake.
I had the vet out to give him a once-over since I bought him without vetting him. The vet LOVED him. Told me “I think you’re really going to love this horse when he grows up- I think he’ll surprise you. Low hocks, good bone- I bet he’s going to be something.” Same vet whose candid comments about Harley nearly wrecked me with their insensitivity. Obviously not the kind of guy to blow smoke up one’s butt…
He also removed a single loose wolf tooth, performed a “badly needed” float, and posited that based on his barely erupted canines and the condition of the cups that he’s more like 4 turning 5, not 5 turning 6 years old.
Oh goodie…. I bought a baby horse. Nobody knows for sure since he has no papers, but I feel like there’s a lot of emotional and physical maturing that goes on between years 4-6. I’m not sure where we are in all of that, but his underdeveloped body leads me to believe there may still be some physical growth happening. But omg please don’t get very much taller- you are welcome to even out and not be butt-high BUT THAT IS IT, YOUNG MAN, I MEAN IT!
Then he blew an abscess, but was sound the whole time, then he threw a shoe and transitioned to barefoot. In the meantime he started acting super spooky and was aggressively resentful of simple groundwork despite being completely sound so I started treating him for ulcers which totally changed the game and gave me back my friendly gentle giant again.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I decided to re-start him. For the past month I have been almost exclusively teaching him groundwork with a few short rides thrown in there. He has been exactly how I would imagine a green, young horse should be. He has proven to be super smart and has picked up all of the things I have taught him so quickly! He still has moments where he is pushy or tries to say “no!” terrible-twos style, but re-framing him as a newly 5 year old, green horse instead of a quiet 6 year old has allowed me to approach this whole thing differently. I don’t make assumptions and I give him the benefit of the doubt- he may never have seen/done this before. If he has, great, review is never a bad thing.
So… with all these ups and downs in just the first two months I’m not sure I can say yet if my gut was right but I am along for the ride! We are 100% a work in process!