Sunday, October 11, 2009

In exordium

("In the beginning")

"Just find me the reincarnation of [my first horse] Pumkin." Those are the words my friend Ruby said to me on the phone one night while we discussed what she was looking for in a horse. She had sent her 23 year old Thoroughbred gelding to a "retirement farm" where he could live out the rest of his days on a lush pasture.

Me visiting Ruby's gelding at his retirement farm

Of course, she still wanted to continue riding, and she had spent over a year looking for her next horse. Time after time, the prospects were sold out from under her and she was understandably frustrated. That's when she decided to call in the big guns (lol) and enlist me to help with her mission.

"Sure, no problem, I'll get right on it," I told her, somewhat sarcastically. Finding another Pumkin would be quite the mission, indeed -- he had been the ultimate packer horse and pretty much the love of Ruby's life. I fired up the computer and started searching every horse classified site that I could find. Ruby also sent me countless possibilities that she had found. We got down to brass tacks and started the long process of finding "The One."

Her specifications -- young, green broke, at least 16.3 hands, sane, sound, gelding, inexpensive, and either Thoroughbred, warmblood, Friesian, TB-cross, or Percheron-cross.

The process went on for a few months, with nightly discussions about which horses were appropriate/in the price range/available/desirable, etc. There were a few dissapointments where things just didn't work out, but our motto became, "It wasn't meant to be."

All this time, we kept coming back to an ad for a 5 year old 17 hand Thoroughbed gelding named Wingman. He was very green, but he fit perfectly into Ruby's exacting specifications. We decided that I should make the 6 hour trip (ok, I got there in under 5 hours, but I do have a bit of a lead foot) to see him. We both kept telling ourselves that we wouldn't get our hopes up because we didn't want to be let down if it didn't work out well. Riiiiiiigght. Who were we kidding? We were both as giddy as a bunch of schoolgirls and pretending to be all cool and aloof. We were fooling noone, least of all ourselves.

Wingman's sale photo

After a few hours spent singing completely off-key to a blaring radio, I finally pulled up to Hunter's Edge Equestrian Center in Ocala. It was gorgeous -- rolling hills and emerald-green pastures cross-fenced with three-rail fencing. In a word, idyllic. Courtney, the owner of the farm and trainer of Wingman, tacked the big guy up and put him through his paces for me. He was quiet and moved well -- the only drawback that I could see was the way that he paddled his front feet at the trot. Totally not a dealbreaker.


Courtney and Wingman

Next, it was my turn to climb aboard. I was a bit nervous, as I had ridden exactly two times since my own lovely Thoroughbred gelding Mac had died eight months earlier. And, yes, I did have total Jello-legs and a complete lack of equitation, but I managed to hang on and not make a complete fool of myself (I hope). Yes, Wingman was green, but he was sane and sensible and had a canter that you could sit to all day. I was hooked.

The only thing that had me slightly worried were his front legs. They were a bit...wonky. The left front turned in sligtly, and the right front cannon bone was offset to the outside. I'm no conformation expert, but I know enough to see that something was a bit off. I crossed my fingers, toes, eyes, etc. just hoping that he would vet out alright. Ruby and I continued our pretend "playing-it-cool" attitudes, while inside we were desperately wishing that Wingman would, indeed, be "The One."

Wingman's "problem area"

The eternal optimist, I set up the prepurchase exam and called my barn owner to inform her that I would be brining a horse in, possibly within the next few days. And, yes, I said a prayer to every deity that might possibly exist that the vet would call with good news.

Well, I guess I might have done something right, because exactly three days later, I got a call from the wonderful Dr. Robin Parker. Long story short, Wingman was a lovely horse and, even though he had some conformational flaws, his big bones and huge feet made up for it. He was sound, tracked well, had no interference, and exhibited good range of motion. I could have cried, I was so relieved. Of course, Ruby was over the moon when I called her with the good news.

That was Tuesday. The following day, Courtney was to leave Ocala at 4 am to bring the big lad all the way down to Miami...


Anonymous said...

The blog looks great. I can't wait to read about your adventures with Salem and "see" how he progresses - he's a handsome boy!

Frizzle said...

Thanks, Anni! Gosh, the ES members blog circle certainly is expanding -- you are such a trendsetter. ;-)

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Just saw that you lost one of your horse babies in the past...oh god..I'm assuming it was the grey pictured in your profile? Wow... :(
Salem is a total beaut and I would have fallen HEAD over Hooves for him too. Is he 17h!? Monster! :) Did he race in his past? He looks like such a great boy.