Monday, July 21, 2008

Not to shabby Abby- Part 1

I have a passion for reining, cutting and reined cowhorse genetics and I love a well bred horse. I am not gullible enough to think that it makes a good horse or shallow enough to think it matters, but when you sit on the outside looking in on a sport for long enough, you develop a taste for what some would call the best. I had developed a hankering to buy a mare of a specific breeding, set up in a specific way. I was looking for something exceptional.

Winters in the Northwestern States and Canada are no time to sell a horse. The horrible weather makes for a buyers market- something that I was hoping to use to my advantage. I try to keep and eye on whats for sale at any given time, regardless if I am in the market or not. I often bookmark horses I find nice or interesting and check back on them to see if and when they sell. I pride myself in knowing what sells in what price range. As other woman window shop for that fabulous purse or trendy new accessory, I window shop for horses online.

I found a beautiful mare for sale by a top stallion and a personal favorite of mine, Gallo Del Cielo (known as Rooster). A top 5 all time leading sire of reining horses, Rooster is also a full brother to my all time favorite stallion, Grays Starlight. I only dream that one day in my lifetime I will be able to afford a Grays Starlight mare. *sigh* One day. This mare's bottom line had Freckles Playboy, Doc O'Lena and Doc Quixote. She was bred by the owners of Rooster and had a full sister that was shown at the NRHA futurity that year. The same ranch still owned her dam and should continue to breed her to Rooster or Boonlight Dancer in the future. A promising and well bred dam made for a pretty solid bottom line.

The ad showed a feminine looking mare, pretty as a picture and a deep russet chestnut. "Anyone can ride" it said. She had been in reining training as a two year old but was sold in her third year unfinished. Her new owner had intended to rein on her but she wasn't ready to be shown and he didn't know how to finish her himself so he had used her a high country trail horse for a year or so, hauling her all over and using her to pack, camp and hunt. He was now in the process of a divorce and needed to get her sold, immediately. She was seriously under priced. Suspiciously under priced. Was this another victim of a harsh and unforgiving two year old reining program? A blow out? Physically or mentally? Could be either or both.

She was located eight hours away from me, in the middle of nowhere. As in, a God forsaken, hell hole kind of no where. I'd have to drive through a notoriously dangerous mountain pass and it was already early November. He didn't have access to an indoor or trailer and had two feet of snow on the ground. Even with all of that working against her, she still should have sold at that price. I knew to steer clear of horses like her. I bookmarked her and told myself to forget about it. And I did.....

'Til later that night. The next morning I had another boo. Ever morning and every night for a nearly a month I looked at that horse. I couldn't get her out of my head. She didn't sell. The longer on the market, the better the chances where that there was something wrong. I finally gave in and e-mailed him. He didn't e-mail back. I tried again a week later. It was now nearing December. I asked the basics, soundness, temperament, issues, vices. etc.. but was only getting one word answers in reply. I started to wonder if the seller was in issue, instead of the horse. I tried calling. He was impossible to get a hold of but when I finally got him on the line he had nothing but all the right things to say about her. Her named was Abby. As of yet, not one person had come out to see her. It was no wonder, it took every ounce of my stubborn nature just to get this guy on the phone. I tried to make a date to see her. He was unavailable most of the time that I was. We made a tentative date. A snow storm ensued. I gave up. It was ridiculous to risk life and limb to travel out and see what was probably a busted up, blown out furry nag.

Abby was starting to find her way into my dreams. I phoned a vet and had him make the trip out to see her. It was a small town so I am sure he knew the horse and the owner. Dr. said that she was good girl and didn't seem to have any issues, I was forced to take him at his word. I left a deposit on her. Was I certifiably insane? I did NOT buy horses sight unseen. No way, no how! If I were a big time owner and breeder, sure, maybe. But I only had one old gelding at home and this would be my one and only performance horse. I couldn't be reasoned with. I wanted her, plain and simple. I bought her in the days between Christmas and New Years. Merry Christmas to me!

I found a haul the first week of January and a layover stall for her just across the border (so that I didn't have to pay import costs on her if she turned up insane.) The haulers picked her up the night of the sixth. The next morning I couldn't get a hold of them. I showed up to wait for the trailer at 8am. They didn't show up. They didn't answer their phone. I was frantic. The farm owners tried to make me feel better. These people had raised horses for 30 years and bought countless horses sight unseen. Not once in 30 years had a hauler showed up on time.

A beat up old Ford pulled into the drive hauling a small rusted out 80s style straight load. He pulled around and backed up to the barn. My heart sank. Oh no.... Please! Do not tell me that this rig had just hauled my brand new reiner 14 hours through a blizzard and over a mountain! A man stepped out of the truck. If looks could kill he would have been dead before his feet hit the ground. My voice was a full octave or 10 above normal as I asked, "Are you the hauler?" He laughed. "I sure hope not! I'm the farrier."

Jay, the farrier, was a heavy set man in his mid thirties with a warm and friendly manner. I liked him instantly, and not just because that ol'rig was hauling his gear instead of Abby. We chatted a while and as the hours went by he let on that he was concerned that I didn't have a plan for my new mare. He didn't want me to be the first to get on her...didnt want to see me get hurt. Jay had worked for a number of years for a trainer up the road that was a really good hand, a world champion as a matter of fact. Why didn't he give her a call and see if she could try the mare out for me? At this point it was looking like there wasn't going to be a mare to try, but I it was a better plan than no plan at all, so I gave him the go ahead.

At 8 PM the hauler finally arrived. My stomach was doing this flip flop thing as 12 hours of anticipation and worry started to take their toll. I asked the hauler how she had loaded and hauled. He said she walked on without any problems and had been eating and drinking, bright eyed and happy the whole trip. She had been in the trailer for 22 hours straight. As he walked into the dark recesses of the trailer I held my breath. The yellow light that spilled out of the barn door reached just far enough into the black of the moonless night to reflect and set aglow two huge eyes and a bright white stripe. Abby seemed to look squarely at me with a direct and even gaze. A pony sized body stepped gracefully into the light revealing a shaggy winter coat that only emphasised the width and breath of her heavily muscled frame. She had four legs, four feet and and stepped soundly. I exhaled. My heart beat came up fast. In her full winter coat, with four inches of beard, standing in a barn full of tall, sleek and fancy show horses, she was simply gorgeous. A princess in rags.

To be continued.


  1. To continue from the other comments section: I wasn't offended at all! I was pretty sure the jabs at barrel racers were made in good fun.

    As for today's post. Wow. I couldn't be that trusting, buying a horse sight unseen. I've been screwed over twice by people I SHOULD have been able to trust.

    BTW I added you to my blogroll, hope you don't mind.

  2. Cdn- I added yours too! I still cant get over your tack room! lol
    One of the reasons why I ended up buying her sight unseen was that I was driving myself mental looking at horses and being scared of getting the wrong one. I dont trust people with horses for sale and I stopped trusting my own instinct in buying horses. Buying something sight unseen was actually a bit of a relief for me, as crazy as that sounds. At least if she ended up being mental, I wouldnt feel like I had been screwed over (it would be all my fault.) With that being said, if I had actually gone to see Abby and ridden her, I probably would not have bought her. I was very impressed with her in a bunch of ways but she would have been too needy of horse for me at the time. So it is a good thing I didnt go and see her b/c she is one in a million.

  3. I was looking back through your comments and I have to say WOW.
    That drawing on your header sure caught my eye when I first saw it, and I am waaaay impressed that you drew it. Its GORGEOUS!
    So jealous. ;)

    And just to make sure its clear, "my" tack room isn't really mine. I'm a city girl right now (not too happy about that) and my horses are boarded at my friend's dad's place. But it is an awesome tack room!!

  4. In case you miss it, I've kicked you a tag to tell us 6 Things we don't know about you.

  5. Just a heads up, I changed #5 on my list. I explained it in the comments section because your comment seemed VERY odd as a result.
    I had a few things on my list that were "maybe's" and therefore made a quick switch. I wasn't quite quick enough though I guess.

  6. Well crazyhorewomen you must be. I was hoping to read Rocky Part 2 before seeing Abby Part 1, lol. Also, do you have a website or any link to show other pencil drawings you have done? I think it's pencil am I right?

  7. AOHCM: I saw your recent comment on my blog. I answered there but in case you don't see it:
    I didn't mean to imply that your comment was confusing. As the post originally stood it fit perfectly. However I edited the post within a short while of posting (must have been doing it while you were commenting!) and the way #5 reads NOW sounds very funny with your comment.
    You (and the original comment): Organized religion...blah blah blah

    New #5: eclectic tastes: music, books, even men.

    See, doesn't quite make sense now!

    I was curious about your drawings too, is there a website or somewhere we can see them? Do you do commission work?

  8. Great story, had me on the edge of my chair! ;)

    Can't wait for part 2.