Thursday, January 20, 2011

A good support system is better than gold

"So is getting a new horse like getting a new car?  Is there, like, a new horse smell?"

All of my family and friends are very excited for me, and happy for me because they know how badly I have wanted a horse and how hard I have worked for it.  But no, there won't be a new horse smell, it will just be the same old smell.  

I remember begging for a horse growing up.  I remember how I would ask my parents to buy me something and how I'd scour the internet for free horses (hint: its not the purchase price that ever counts as expensive).  I even remember the days when my dear mother would look at me sweetly and say "Sure!".  My eyes would light up with glee until I would of course realize this was some sort of trick, and I'd narrow my eyes to get a good look at Mom.  Then, inevitably she would continue the rest of the sentence matter of fact-ly, "When you are 21 and are paying all of the bills yourself!".  I kid you not, that is exactly how it happened.  Mom, are you a psychic?  

I turned 21 in September while I was in Spain, but even before leaving for Spain I was toying with the idea of buying myself a horse.  Thankfully so, because it helped to keep me from blowing all my savings on frivolous purchases like clothes and drinks.  I of course wanted to travel, and so I didn't hinder my experience at all, but was careful to come home with some money still in the bank.  I ended up only spending about half of what I had saved (through the business and summer work) so I carefully budgeted what it would take for me to be successful in this next endeavor.

I knew I'd have to find the horse up north somewhere near home (there isn't nearly as much selection in the south), and so I knew up front that I would be spending $500 right away on shipping.  I also knew that I didn't yet have a job to come home to so I'd have to have the first two months of bills set aside to give myself time to start working (~$800).  And then of course what's the point of having that money if I don't have a horse?  Knowing what my other bills would be I knew I wouldn't be able to spend much on the beast itself, but I also knew that I didn't want to sacrifice quality since my goal is to get farther than I've gone in the past, and eventually resell the horse.  I could call any one of my contacts and find something that would suit me for free sitting around, but that isn't what I wanted.  

Being in the horse business, more specifically being on the sales side (in actuality or even just in the mentality) there are several facts that are plain and simple truths, whether or not they are valid and make sense.  Chestnut mares are HARD to sell.  Thoroughbreds need to be REALLY special to be worth decent money.  You can ask more money for a gray horse or a chestnut or bay with a blaze and four socks than its equal counterpart who is plain with no markings.  At the lower levels a decent hunter is worth more than a good jumper, and event horses sell for a lot if they are easy to ride or if they have potential for the upper levels.  A horse over 12 will sell for less than a horse that is 8, geldings are easier to sell than mares, and the bulk of people think they need a horse bigger than 16h.  Every rule has exceptions of course, these are just some simple things I have noticed.

The biggest criterion when looking for a resale horse for myself was age, soundness, height, athelticism/rideability and potential.  Some of those things can be hit or miss but generally its important to wait around and get the best horse you can find.  Or sometimes the horse you are looking for can be the third horse you look at.  I knew going into the search that if the right horse was the first horse I saw that I wouldn't balk.  Having sat on close to 1000 horses, and knowing my own ability and criteria I knew I'd know the horse when I saw it.  

My girl is a plain bay, 16h (possibly less?), Dutch WB/TB, young and sweet.  She's got a lot of good going for her, but it will take a while to get her to the point where I will be happy selling her.  I know I want to form a bond with her, and really test our limits.  This will be a true test of myself as a horsewoman and trainer, and all responsibility, for better or worse, is in my hands.  There is no outside support financially, so our journey will be interesting to say the least. I'm willing to do whatever it takes though to make this happen.  

Bring it on 2011, show my what you are made of.

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