|literally no idea where this is|
I really can't express how gorgeous these farms are compared to what we see in the PNW. I think our home facility is one of the lovelier show barns in the area, but nothing can compare with these huge, sprawling farms with charming barns dotted about and jump fields and indoors with stadium seating and guest cottages...
|(the only non-horse, non-scenery picture of the trip)|
Turns out we had three horses to see at the first stop. Brad #1, a 4 year old Eq type prospect and another 4 year old stallion intended for the other client.
The Eq horse came out first and had amazing presence. He didn't have the movement for the Hunter Ring, but he was stunning, and calm, and certainly had the look of eagles in his stoic, stunning eyeballs. It's amazing how comfortable these trainers are putting the fences up for these youngsters. They don't work them overly hard, but I wouldn't DREAM of popping a 4 year old over a 4' anything - and in fact a significant portion of our car ride conversations centered around the differing philosophies of bringing along young horses.
On one hand the Germans start them so much sooner, but on the other - their lives are so balanced. Time with the herd... short work sessions, lots of variety in their life.. a few months on, a few months off... it's incredible.
Second horse out was the four year old stallion by Stalypso. At first I wasn't totally wowed by this guy, but the more I re-watched his videos and the more time we spent with him, the cooler he got. He is very green (a few months under saddle), but totally chill and relaxed in his work. Some construction was going on outside the arena causing all sorts of bangs and crashes and grinding sounds and he just jogged around the ring like there were no monsters to be feared. His strength is definitely his canter which has such a strong rhythm, you can't disrupt it if you try.
He was darling over fences, and offered the same ride for the 6'3" German Man as he did for the ammy. Our broker had him brought to the farm by his breeder, so this was a 4 year old, green, baby boy who has been in this ring for less than a week and tootled around on the buckle like it a total dude.
|Wouldn't kick him out of the barn!!|
Finally it was Brad #1's turn. I was so stoked just to see him and have the chance to sit on him. I heard his clip clopping hooves coming down the aisle before he finally appeared through the (draped curtain) entrance and...... I was totally disappointed.
For one thing, he's not so big. He is a true16.2, and he is only three (initially we thought he was 4 almost 5..) so there is growing to be done.... but he's very compact and realistically, not a great fit for me.
After that initial observation, it got worse. He was pretty sulky in his expression, never wore his ears forward, and his movement looked a tad choppier than it had in the videos.
I tried to remember that he's only been under saddle for 2 months. The jump video I shared earlier showed his first jumps ever, so he really is absurdly green. These riders do a insanely good job of covering that up, but when I got on it felt like I was trying to keep water from pouring through my hands... he was just all over the place.
And also sort of bitchy.
He didn't want to go forward, wouldn't fill my reins, balked and swished his tail... in general just sort of a twit. I finally asked for some spurs and was festooned with the HUGE ROWELS the tall German Man had been using.
Now, I don't know about you guys, but I'm twitchy enough on a three year old stallion that I don't know, without having huge, spurs that essentially act like tasers strapped to my leg.
When he was still grumpy about moving out, both our broker and the resident Trainer were shouting "KICK HIM! GIVE HIM A PONY KICK, MAKE HIM LISTEN!!!!"
Not doing it.
I am a fragile Adult Ammy. I am not used to hopping on greenbroke anything and immediately adjusting to their needs and giving them good rides. And given that, I am sure as shit not going to dig into a baby stallion's side and demand obedience.
So, I packed in my ego, got off and politely handed (the still very attractive) stallion back to the trainer.
And that, is how my short lived love affair with Brad #1 came to an end.
The next stop was a bit of a debate. He really wanted to show us a gorgeous gray that he had sent some video of. I hadn't been that impressed with the initial video, and I was even less impressed when I had heard the price that was attached, and knowing neither of us clients could afford him, it seemed like a waste of a stop.
But our guy was insistent that we should trust him, that the price was probably negotiable (hopefully by a factor of like TEN) and that it would be helpful for him to see if he was correct in thinking it would be a great fit.
Okay FINE, let's go to the gorgeous farm and try the gorgeous pony and see what we're missing out on.
So we were off, another hour through the countryside and we finally pulled up to a charming farm nestled into a hillside with a god-damn-castle perched on the hilltop. It's nice when it's absolutely impossible to forget where you are. There was no mistaking the setting for anything in the states, let alone the rain-swamp-forests surrounding Seattle.
In all fairness the Gray was a lovely horse. Like some of the others, not necessarily impressive in the cross ties (why are all these horses so skinny?) but a beautiful picture under saddle. He was soft and light and had a lovely expression (which caught my eye after Brad #1 looked like such a jerk).
So we took the bait. What's his story again?
7 year old Selle Francais. Formerly a licensed stallion, gelded within the last year, trucks around the 1.40m with a (questionable) amateur and has made appearances at both the 6 and 7 year old World Championships. I still don't really know what that means, but it sounds like its moderately impressive.
The jumps got huge (by my standard) and the Gray just loped around like nbd. When our trainer got on, she let him carry a fairly light contact and unlike some of the other greenbeans, he was much more comfortable carrying himself (which at 7, he should be). Whether that was because his German Man was less.... German (in his style) or because he was old enough to actually balance himself better, I couldn't really tell. Probably some of both.
Anyway, I slowly fell a tad in love, so when offered the chance, I crawled up on his back.
As an Ammy that's used to riding predominately one horse, every horse feels *weird* to me the first time. And this guy was no exception.
Prair has such a low back and a long neck that no matter how on her forehand she is, there is still so much horse up in front of you, you feel really secure. Pretty much everything else I've sat on since her has felt like a narrow, skinny, small TB.
And that feeling makes me ride a tad.. conservative. It took me a few laps to get comfy, but once I figured out his balance and how to still communicate without shouting as him, we did just fine.
I tentatively popped over a cross rail, then vertical, then a figure eight of a couple jumps, then some oxers.... all without disaster.
In fact it was more than not a disaster, it was really easy. Where I'm nervous, this horse isn't, and where he needed help, I am confident. He was a really, really easy ride, but still wildly out of the budget.
So we hopped in the car and started talking numbers. Trainer loved his suitability for me, I loved how cute he was over fences and the idea of a horse that could take me to the 3'6" and maybe do the big derbies (how FUN).
So I texted The Boy about blowing the budget, and he (politely) responded that "we live in a great school district, so buy the damn horse."
We discussed numbers a bit, came to what I thought was a borderline offensively low offer, and we tucked it in our back pockets as an option.
Then we headed off for two more stops (with three more grays..), which I'll dive into in another post. The days were so long I can't even cram them into one post!
SO MANY BRADS.