Friday, September 24, 2010

How I came to buy _____. Final (promise:)

I am muller. I can mull over anything until it is chewed have to death... I gnaw on it, roll it over ever which way, I kneed, prod it, and banter it about. I am a master of worrying and picking apart a problem until I've made it twice as complicated as it was to begin with. And even if I shall find there is nothing to worry about, well, I am actually able to worry about not being worried. This is one of the many reasons why I find buying horses so difficult. That is one of the many reasons why I decided to turn the whole concept on it's ear...

I simply admitted to myself that buying an unknown horse is gamble and made my bet with eyes wide open.


You see, I have basically decided that it is impossible for me to really know if a horse is going to work for me unless I bring it home and use it over the course of a few weeks or months. Soundness, temperament, trainability, all of those things that make a horse "the one", (or not) are transitory. One horse might be quiet for me and hot for my friend. A horse could have a minor strain that compromises a vet check while another might pass a vet check because their injuries are not aggravated and/or they are drugged. Some horses are more submissive when with a big herd but bolder when with just a single mare. Some horses can stand up to being loved on while others need a firm and heavy hand. How many of you know someone who bought a horse who was so good (or so bad) that turned out to be bad (or good!). All the environmental factors (handler, feed, herd, weather etc.) effect how a horse shows on the day you try them out and all of those factors (handler, feed, herd, weather) effect a how a horse will work for you.

I am not recommending that everyone take this approach. If I were out to buy a reining horse I would be looking for a specific set of skills, conformation, pedigree and I would be vetting up the whazoo to ensure that the money I am going to sink in to that horse is going in to the best prospect I can find. But for the kind of horse I set out to buy (a good minded trail horse that I can take to local shows and do a little of everything on plus something I can really bond with), I am focusing more on personality than performance prospect.

IAs such, I didnt care to waste my time with the "what ifs". Instead I decided to consider it a straight up gamble. For the cost of her purchase price I was willing to bet on her that she was sound and that the qualities I saw in her (the manner in which she processed her environment and overall innate temperament) was a true representation of her character. She seemed sane. She seemed quiet. She seemed sound. That was the best I was going to do. (I want to reemphasise what I said at the top... "for the cost of her purchase price I was willing bet on her." Put it this way, buying Sweet Pea didnt exactly break the bank. I feel I paid a fair price for her but I could also afford for her not to work out at all. Like any kind of responsible gambler I knew I could afford to loose.

But of course we are talking about an animal here and one loved by her owner M. The best I could do was tell her owner the absolute truth. I said, "I am going to consider purchasing her but I am not sure if she is going to work out for me. What I am looking for is intrinsict and while I'm sure she is a good girl I need you to know that if her and I dont click she'll be back on the market come spring. I will promise you that between now and then I'll take excellent care of her."

The only question I had left to answer was, "Did I want her?"

In the past, when I've gone to buy a horse, there has never been any question of want. I have always known, within a moment, if that horse is one that I'd like to own. The mulling comes when I have to decide if the horse is a good prospect for my intended use, if it sound, if it is sane, if the seller is telling the truth, etc. etc. etc.. But with Sweet Pea I'd put all that aside and discovered that I really didnt know if I wanted her. When I had gone to see her I had put on my "thinking cap" and tuned out from my (usually dominant) "feeling" side. I liked her. I thought she was a good prospect. But I didnt feel drawn to her... I didnt say "I gotta have her!" I said, "I'll sleep on it."

So that night, before "sleeping on it" I was talking to a friend and had an epiphany. *insert epiphany music please*.... it sounds like dah-ta-dah!

I realized the reason why I didnt feel this overwhelming urge to own her was that (a) I wasnt attracted to her color. (b) as a pedigree lover I wasnt crazy about her breeding and (b) DING! DING! DING! She HAD NO BROKEN WING!!!

Broken Wing Syndrome, for those of you who dont know, is the attraction that (mostly females) have towards any animal, man, bird, (whatever) that is needy. The abused, the skinny, the frightened, the overworked and underpaid. I didnt feel a pull towards her because she seemed so solid. She seemed like she had been treated pretty well her entire life. M. was friends with the breeders and had bought her as a yearling. She was trained using some natural horsemanship and was attached to her owner.

So that night I went to bed. I lay awake awhile, mulling. And then I woke up in the morning and texted M. with a note that said, "Sold". I went to see her Tuesday, signed a purchase agreement Wednesday and rode her home Thursday.

The result?

So far, so good.

Except one thing, still no name.


  1. I'm trying to break my attraction to bay mares by including lots of different looking horses, as well as geldings, in my search, so long as temperament and confirmation/soundness are there. I think looking at horses of a different color can help break those preconceptions we all have.

    I like the sound of your (unnamed) mare so far!

  2. Oh THANK YOU, THANK YOU for mentioning The Broken Wing Syndrome.

    Soooo many nice horses are missing out on finding nice homes these days because....Well, because there is nothing wrong with them.

    Her color would have set me back a bit too. But in the overall scheme of things, it's hard to ignore a suitable horse due to lack of or too much. LOL

    But I do have a question, do you guys have problems with paint horses sunburning up in your country?

    I ask because I was astounded when I moved Turk from SD to CO that he started sunburning over his loin and down his shoulders. Neither mom or I ever noticed him doing that back in SD. I'm assuming it happened due to the higher altitude and next year I will definitely have to purchase him a full body fly-sheet.

    All Meg and I ever had to worry about with Strawberry was keeping a flymask on him and sunscreen on his nose.

  3. I'm in KS and that pretty little mare would be fried to the crisp here! I'm not normally drawn to paints myself but she is a cute one! I love her face! Lots of white, I see lots of baths in your future! I'm with you, I tend to be drawn towards something that needs me to fix it or rescue it! Good luck with the name thing, just be careful if you wait too long you'll be sticking with Sweet Pea! (good thing its cute!)

  4. Different looking Mare. I like her.How about Callie or Chloe.

  5. A question. Why do you need to re-name her? Why not just keep her same name? Or is this something that is always done when people buy and sell horses? (I have never had a horse)

  6. Amen, Amen, & AMEN~!!! You pretty much summed it up in this post exactly how I felt when we chucked out some change on DD's newest horse. We went 5 long hours to look at a horse that on paper and video looked to be everything we could want for our girl! Then when we got there, she didn't want a thing to do with ANY of us! She was very timid and jumpy while standing tied and you could tell she was hott! The trainer said yes she is a bit hot...NOT good! I was so disappointed! I truly was hoping to get my girl a good horse! So then they said well they had a few others that might work for what we needed so they brought out this one horse and she is not my style...Sorrel horse with white on her head and a couple of her legs. Very fit looking horse but I really didn't like her. In any case we had driven 5 hours so the Hubby says "well let's just have DD ride her and see" so she goes out and rides and I mean from the first stride I could tell this horse was a jewel! She knew her stuff but was young, and too when she seen something *new* she worked right through it with no outward problems. She would look a little unsure but would do what was asked, so trusting!

    So we spent only a short time talking about whether or not to purchase her and really knew it was a gamble. Her asking price was pretty high but the owner settled on the price we were looking to spend. We have had her for about 7 months now and couldn't be more pleased! She truly is the best horse we've ever owned and I even think she's pretty now LOL!!

    Good luck naming your girl! I do think Sweet Pea is cute :)

  7. Ok, you got me. Casey was "Broken Wing Syndrome" for me. But, he has turned out to be fantastic! A real diamond in the rough (skinny, bad farrier job made temporary lame). Two years in and I can't be more pleased!

    I know. I was lucky! But, I've done my share of wrong horses, drugged horses and mismatches.

    I am glad you found your girl and that she's meeting your needs. She meets your NEEDS! How terrific is that? Yay for ______________ !

  8. I'm so glad you let yourself see this process differently! I sort of buy horses the way you described here... partly because I'm not super knowledgeable and partly because I get tired of turning every angle over and inside-out and upside down.

    are you a libra by any chance? :-) The way you described the worrying and over-analyzing is one of my character traits too...

    I gambled on both the horses I bought as an adult. First gamble didn't pay off - horse turned out to be worse... And the second horse - Rusty - has turned out to be better. He was grumpy and sore and banged up with his previous owner and I've been able to sort through most of that, I think...

    Broken wing syndrome - now I have a name to put to what my new barn owner does! She must have about 8 rescues that are just sitting in a field costing her $$ she doesn't have!!!!

    As for names - dare I say that maybe you are over-analyzing a bit?!? ;-) I keep calling her Sweetie every time I see her picture... As in - what a sweetie! Oh, isn't she sweet?

    (sorry for the long comment....!)