"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.
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."
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...