So this past weekend I put my toe in the waters of horse shopping for the first time in 5 years. And boy, did I just in head first- 4 ponies to try on the first day. In respect to the sellers’ interests and privacy, I won’t talk specifics, but I’d like to share what the overall experience is like as I progress through this journey.
First, these were all riding horses. As such, it’s important to me to see them worked by their typical rider before I get on. In a perfect world, with any horse, I want to see them brought in from the field, cross tied, groomed and tacked up in front of me. You never know if a horse is girthy, or hates currying, runs away in the field, or is a beast to pick up his hooves (or all of the above), so I like to see the process from the very start. But in this case, there wasn’t time, and all the horses we looked at were in and cross tied and ready to go.
All the horses were ridden by their person, walk, trot, canter, and over fences, since all of these horses also happened to be started jumping. There was one candidate that I immediately just didn’t feel was for me, but the rest I opted to hop on myself.
The first horse that I got on, I won’t lie to you, I was nervous as hell. I was about to ride a strange horse, in front of strange people (there were about 5-6 people watching besides my friend), for the first time since my last Intercollegiate Dressage test in 2009. I must have been holding my breath or something, because I was out of breath in minutes. I walked, trotted, and cantered around the arena on a sweet little guy that felt really safe, if green, and then opted to take some baby cross rails. First test ride – officially in the books.
The next two horses went much the same, but for whatever reason I wasn’t out of breath. All three horses were completely different types of rides from each other, one forward, one tense, one well schooled powerhouse. Each one I felt a little more confident riding, that I could attempt to push a little bit more, ask a little bit more and explore what each horse had to offer. Now this may not be unique in itself, since each horse also was more and more schooled, but it was definitely a helpful experience.
On the drive home we spent the hours discussing the pros and cons of each horse, and talking about the process of trying horses. Even though my checkbook stayed intact, it was an important day, and showed me that I could get out and try horses and be semi-competent, if not entirely confident. Later today I go take a look at a different kind of horse, which I’ll share tomorrow!