On June 5, we tried a horse. We tried him in the hope that he would be the right horse to bring back home to the suburbs of Chicago, the newest member of our family.
We tried a horse that day after having tried two others, neither of which were right for Mark and me. The first, a nicely started thoroughbred who’d had a long career on the track, was too green for us to enjoy in the near term. As two adult amateurs with busy lives, enjoyment of the sport is pretty essential when it comes to justifying the expense and commitment of horse ownership. I understand that all riding is training, and I’m a competent enough rider, but a trainer of horses I am not.
I’m a mid-thirties mom with two little kids, two dogs (one a perpetual puppy), and a full time job. My husband also has a fulltime job (and the kids, and the puppy). We were looking for a horse that could, right away, provide a peaceful respite from the rush and noise of daily life. We were looking for a horse who could be a buddy to both of us– one that, in exchange for the best of care and all the affection he could hope for, would forgive our amateur mistakes, carrying us safely through lessons, the forest preserve, and with time, into the hunt field. It was clear that while the first horse we tried would make someone a good partner–maybe even a great partner one day–he wasn’t the partner for us.
The second horse we tried was handsome. A big quarter horse built atypically uphill, he looked the part of field hunter-meets-low level eventer-meets-trail partner. However, his sourness was his undoing. Over time, he had become unwilling to move forward under saddle for his owner, stalling out unexpectedly at all gaits. I’d driven a few hours to try him knowing that he “took a lot of leg,” but a lot of leg I have, and it wasn’t the answer to his problem. Whether he needed an attitude adjustment, a hole in his training filled, or was simply sore, Mr. Handsome wasn’t the horse for us. I drove home, and we moved on.
Then, on June 5, we tried a horse. We found him, by way of Facebook, on a small family farm outside Lincoln, Nebraska— nearly eight hours from home. We found him happily tied to the back of his owners’ trailer, parked in the family driveway, with a couple of dogs busily running around him. We found him sweet and easy to work around.
I rode him in his owners’ back yard. We jumped a crossrail, a vertical, and respectable oxer off a three or four stride approach beside a swing set, a lawnmower, and into a grove of trees. Literally, I more or less rode him into a tree upon landing from one fence. We found him totally unruffled by my failure to adequately sit up and turn. We found him light in the bridle, happily seeking the fences, and equally pleasant when Mark was on his back. When our trial was over, we found that he liked peppermints. (I fortuitously happened to have a full bag in my glove compartment.)
On June 5, we tried a horse. By the next morning, I’d made an offer to buy him.
His name is Blue.