Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How I Came to Buy _______. Part One

Sorry, still no name.

For the sake of simplicity I will call her Sweet Pea in this post. And yes, that is a hint as to the name she came with.

Oddly enough the whole saga of Sweet Pea and I began right here on this blog. You see, I wrote a post back on August 31st named "Geldings Geldings Everywhere and Not a Mare to... Buy" in which I vented my frustration over being unable to find a good registered mare and I wrote a little about how I thought it might be wise to find a prospect who actually needed the miles I planned on riding this winter. In that post I also dissected my "feelings" and the whole concept of trusting your intuition when buying horses. My exact words where, "I am also having trouble resisting the green broke "prospect" over the older steady eddie. I just figure that if I am going to be doing a lot of riding over the winter why not get something that needs the miles? The BIG proviso there is that they would have to be naturally quiet, confident and sweet natured horses with a good start on them."

I concluded that post with this...

"I really hope that next time I write a post it will be to tell you guys that I found THE one!

Until then... *bangs head repeatedly against wall*"

Okay, so I have a flair for the dramatic.

Anyways, so I remember writing that post and thinking, "maybe now that I have written out what I am looking for I'll actually know it when I see it." And then I clicked on the little blue "post" button, got up to take a widdle, sat back down at my laptop and clicked over to craigslist. There I was struck with an idea. (sidenote: when I search craigslist I usually just enter the term "mare" or "gelding" in to the search bar) I realized that some people continue to call their mare a "filly" long after their yearling year. So, on a whim I typed in "filly" and began scanning the listings. Literally within minutes of writing that "not a mare to buy" post I found Sweet Pea. The ad said that she was a five year old registered mare, well started, quiet, sweet, no vices, sound, lots of trail miles etc. etc. etc. The pictures where not great but showed a stocky and VERY white mare. I wasnt crazy about her color but told myself to suck up and buck up because color doesnt matter. In every other way she sounded almost perfect. I immediately switched back over to this blog and came this *holds up demonstration of a very small distance with my fingers* close to adding a little caption to the bottom of the post saying "WOW! I think I found her!" But I didnt. Because I am superstitious. And not presumptuous. And maybe a little lazy.

In months of shopping I had yet to cold call a seller. Usually I e-mail back and forth a few times and ask the usual questions before getting on the ol' yapper and having the inevitable marathon conversation in which I usually forget half of the useful information and instead remember the life story of the swift talking seller and her eight-to-many horses. But with Sweet Pea I didnt waste any time. I picked up the phone and called the seller M. M, shockingly, didnt have a lot to say. I asked questions and got an answer, no more, no less. I cant say I felt all warm and fuzzy about M but she was polite and seemingly honest. The horse continued to sound solid. The only "scary" thing about her was that she did, at one time, have an issue with tying and tying issues are a HUGE red flag for me... one of the first questions I ask is always, "how do they tie?" Despite that I made an appointment to see her that Saturday (which was the earliest M. could show her.) Was I excited about her? Yes. But not crazy excited. If she had been a few hours away I probably would have waited to see her until I had a few to see at the same time. But... here is the kicker. In 10 years + of horse shopping I've never once looked at a horse in my home town... or even my home region. The only horse I've ever purchase from here was my old (and once in a lifetime) gelding Rocky and I was only 14 at the time. Over the past few weeks while I've been shopping I've looked almost exclusively across the line and "up country" (about 5 hours north of me). The reason for this is that I found the Washington state horse market to be much more saturated and, with the economy the way it is, the horses in WA are much cheaper, of better quality and greater variety than here in BC. It does cost a couple hundred dollars to import them (coggins and health certificate) plus 10% in taxes but it was still worth my time to shop across the line. Sweet Pea was, shockingly, just 15 minutes from home.

Tuesday turned to Wednesday and I continued to look at horses online. I found a number of good prospects. The excitement of finding Sweet Pea faded quickly and while I was still interested in seeing her I had found a few other horses that better suited my "taste" and color preferences. As a horse shopping junkie I continued to seek new fixes... and the thrill of the Sweet Peas fix had faded.

Thursday I spontaneously decided to fly off to Maui with my man HS. In the back of my mind I regretted having to cancel my appointment but I was thinking more of Mai Thais at sunset, not white mares on Saturday. I e-mail M. from Maui to cancel and was informed that she was showing Sweet Pea to another person on Sunday. I wrote back saying how I'd love to see her but understood she couldnt wait. Then I slathering on the SPF 50 and went for a snorkel... I couldnt say I cared. Fast forward. I'm in Vegas. We're on our way to see Cher. The e-mail comes in saying Sweet Pea didnt sell. I dropped her a quick line setting up a time to see her on Tuedsay, the day after we were due to get home. Then I went to see Cher. She sucked. But more on that another day.

Monday we get home. I hate to admit it but I was kind of dreading going to see her. I love searching for horses. I hate the actually buying of them. I hate having to dissect the horse and every word the seller says, trying to find the hidden issues of mind and body. I hate getting on horses I dont know. I hate having to make a decision. I hate it so much that a few years ago I was actually willing to buy a horse sight unseen, just because I couldnt stand the idea of having to go look at her. I hate it that much.

Tuesday rolls around. I drag on my boots, slip on a baseball cap and and pull up my big girl panties. I drive out to the farm. I get my first look at Sweet Pea.... or so I think, this horse is white and spotted and omg does it have a nasty neck. I swear in my head and wonder how I'm going to get out of riding this nag. And then M. walks past the nags paddock and continues on a little further.... and further still. We grab a halter and head in to the field. It is then that I get my first look at her. I size her up. My eyes dart over her points, assessing each in a glance. Good tie to the neck, a little short, but low head set. Petite head. Good length of leg. Nice length back. Good hind quarter, could use some muscle and weight. Hocks too high. Tail set a little off. No mane. Good heart girth. Nice expression. Blue eyes... hmm... dont know about the eyes. God she's white. Steps out well. Moves lightly. Good length to pasterns. Spring in step. Slow mover. And it goes on and on. As I chat with M. my mind works to pick up every detail of the piece of flesh before me. I dont pause to pat her. To say hello. I just watch.


  1. I have to say that white/blue eyes have not been my fav either, but wow, I can see what you see - she is very regal and has the prettiest face. I think you did well.

    Good luck on the name. My suggestion is "Grace". (Regal, like Princess Grace was...)

  2. Maybe you should name her Craig. LOL

    Okay, just kidding. How about Allie, short for Alabaster?

    Great story, can't wait for part 2!

  3. Haha...I was a bit shocked by her loud "whiteness" and by her paintness as well. Isn't it funny how we end up with what we say we don't like?? I will probably end up with a mare of some sort, because we all know how vocal I am about my gelding preference...lol!!!

    She is really cute (I like paints, remember...lol)and I think she looks like a Molly. Good luck coming up with a name and I cannot wait to read more about her. : )

  4. Funny how she hs been so close all along and you were hesitant and she turns out to be the right one!
    All that searching and shes right next door. Im not sure I would like all the white or blue eyes either, but I try (really hard sometimes) not to be prejudiced on color and shes growing on me and Imsure you as well.

  5. Good thing you picked conformation over color. Too many make that mistake! Are you going to breed her?? My mare has a very squeaky voice. (I call her that. She came with the name Aura. Gave me a drop-dead gorgeous filly on the 4th of July). Good luck with a name.

  6. Lovin' the story! I am just so happy for you and can't wait to hear what you have decided to name her!

  7. WHAT!!! And you just leave us there...Hanging LOL!!! Well I for one LOVED when you were looking for a mare! I get kind of tired of the stereotype that mares get!! Some are bitches, yes! But not all, and so are some geldings for that matter!! I love her eyes! But I am partial because I love paints, I own a few of them! But our best mare is a QH! So I love them too!!

    OHH I can't wait to hear the rest!!