Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Welcome to Athena :)

So with Dixie essentially off for the summer (we'll know more after she gets her xrays next Thurs...) I really felt we needed another school-master over fences... And there are lots of those around, but they usually cost more than my car. And sadly my budget didn't account for buying ANY other horse at this point, much less an expensive one, making it far more of a challenge.

But really, I'm not one to back away from a challenge :) And I have a little bit of experience with this particular game, so I cheated and went to some sources I've been to before. Between them I found 5 potential horses, 3 of which were at one farm. The 4th, at a farm very near the others, and the 5th WAY the other direction. I needed something big enough for adults to ride, well schooled on the flat, and very honest over fences -- essentially something that knows it's job, I don't need to train, SOUND, and the vast majority of my students would be safe riding. And anybody who's ever shopped for schoolies knows your odds of finding this are only slightly better than winning 649. And really, I've already got superstars Bella AND Nick so I'm pushing my luck a little... (Dixie I figure her luck balanced with the current on/off soundness issue)

But anyways -- Hailey and I loaded into the Beast and hiked out to the farm that had three (apparently horse shopping is an entirely valid reason to skip school *g* Let's be honest - it's June... How much work are they going to be doing???). We were a little early so got to see the horses being tacked up, etc.

One, a TB, had lovely confirmation although with legs that had clearly been on the track at some point. It was a little snarky about being groomed and tacked up, but not to the extreme that would be a deal breaker. There was a QH who looked quite good. A little shorter than I was really hoping for, but stocky enough to balance it out. My only concern with her was super-long pasterns... Wasn't sure how that'd hold up to eventing. And the third one was soooooo skinny and because of that looked a little misshapen. She had good legs though so figured we'd see.

So we take all three out. They have no rider, but all seem quiet enough that I was willing to let Hailey get on. She picked the QH first and totally loved her. Smoothest canter ever (or so I was told) and the mare entirely saved her over fences. Ok so we've got the honest and quiet thing down. But she was avoiding the contact, dropping behind the bit, so I got on to see the status of her flat work... Ummm yeah - as soon as I put my leg on she had a hissy fit. hahaha oops. Quite lovely going around with no leg and no reins but as soon as you ask her to *actually* engage (as opposed to just hold her head arched looking pretty) she wanted nothing to do with it. And really, that's not something I have time or interest in retraining.

So next horse. She gets on the TB, and looks good at w/t. Canter was clearly rather jarring as H was having a very hard time sitting, but still acceptable. And then they started to jump. Horse was HOT. Like shooting sideways doing everything she could to get to the fence NOW. It actually could jump, but despite the sellers comments about green riders riding this horse, it was not coming back to my school! I got on her anyways, mostly cause I wanted to. It also preferred to duck rather than accept contact, but this one quickly gave and started to come through nicely (clearly has good training somewhere along the way). So after I had the horse I wanted on the flat I jumped her around a bit -- she was quieter on the aids, but still WAY too much for what I was looking for.

At this point I'm starting to get a little concerned. Only one horse left and she didn't look entirely promising. And it was a LONG drive :( And I was starting to think "well maybe the grey is worth the work..." and arguing with myself - knowing I'd regret it later if I did that. And H gets on the last one and has a lovely walk where the horse is clearly stretching for the contact. Got towed a little at the trot, but even there eventually found her balance. And that trot. O.M.G. Absolutely stunning. hmmmm ok maybe there *is* some promise here. Tried to canter and couldn't get the lead. Less good. Change direction to let her canter her way. All good. Jump - easy, eager friendly AND lands on both leads with autochanges. Nice. Jumping a bigger fence demonstrated pretty excellent form (although *slightly* launched Hailey *g* hahaha you learn a lot catch riding :)

So I get on that one, and totally fell in love. Forward, responsive, and gorgeous movement. The canter's a little rough -- but she also has no weight and no muscle so this is not a surprise. I didn't jump her (poor thing was *tired* by this point) just checked that we really did have 3 gaits and 2 leads. And yes, there was no issue there. Oh, and she has all her lateral work. hahaha "Ok we're taking this one home."

She wasn't entirely sure about getting on the trailer, but she trailered well once she was on. And unloaded and settled very quickly in her new home!

There is a *slight* chance that when she gets fit she might be too strong for the greener riders, but we shall see. Def low int plus will be ok with her. I am soooo excited about her - she is such a superstar :)


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