By Holly Werner
Once I made the decision that I would need a different horse to continue eventing, the bittersweet time came to start scanning the sale ads for a new horse. Although I find this a ton of fun, it also meant putting my beloved Zephyr up for sale. I think he would be perfect for a young rider who needs a confident horse on which to learn how to jump.
My search did not take long; I found three horses in the Louisville area that I wanted to go see. (Which is ironic, since Lexington is the heart of horse country, but I didn't find any here!) So over the course of one day, I raced from appointment to appointment. I also got to try an "extra" horse that one of the sellers thought I might like. That made for three greenie Thoroughbreds off the track and one Thoroughbred that was long-retired from racing and already an experienced eventer. What can I say … I love Thoroughbreds! They are very easy to keep fit for cross-country, athletic jumpers, and sensitive but intelligent.
The first greenie I looked at really stole my heart. He was SO cute, nice and calm, and had already begun his jump training. The next two were a bit too hot for me. The final stop of the day was reserved for the one I most anticipated going to see—the gelding who already had eventing show experience.
I rode him around the dressage ring a little bit, and they told me I could go try him out in the field and try a little gallop and some jumps. He easily cruised around the field without spooking or trying to go too fast; I felt very comfortable jumping him over stadium jumps and more solid cross-country fences. My friend told me I had a huge smile on my face the whole time!
It was pretty clear which horse I preferred, although he also had the highest price tag. But still, I would be saving a year or two of training a green horse to get to the same level. So the decision was made to buy him! I called a local vet to do a pre-purchase exam for me, and was holding my breath all day waiting for news. You see, my luck with pre-purchase exams isn't very good; eventers need to be extremely sound, and at least 50% or more of the horses I've vetted over the last 20 years of horse ownership have "failed."
But it was with great relief that I heard the words "totally clean legs"—and the next thing I knew, I was the proud owner of another horse! We've decided to call him Dexter around the barn.
Dexter and Zephyr get along very well, and are still enjoying trail rides together for the time being. I still love Zephyr, and it's heartbreaking to think of him leaving my life, but I hope to always keep tabs on him and give him a good job teaching the next generation how to jump with confidence.
Dexter has been with me for two weeks now, and yesterday we took advantage of some beautiful late-November weather to go cross-country schooling with a group from my barn. He was a superstar, jumping all kinds of different obstacles, including banks and water, with honesty and a calm demeanor. I'm really looking forward to what's in store for 2010!
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