Yes, I know I’m crazy! I’m getting married in two months (and planning the whole thing), I have a 1.5 year old filly (and three other horses), and I do work full time, too. So why in the world do I need another horse?
Well, that’s an easy one: I don’t. Does anyone, really? But! Here’s what happened:
I noticed some minor swelling on Fancy’s front right leg, and since she’s my #1 horse, I didn’t hesitate to call the vet. He came out in June and confirmed she had some disorganized fibers in her DDFT. While it wasn’t quite a “bowed tendon”, it was on its way. Luckily, I caught it in time, and we were able to come up with a game plan to get her healed up. He came back and month later and confirmed that the fibers had realigned, with little to no scar tissue. THANK GOODNESS. I was seriously a wreck for over a month (my fiancé will tell you). My vet recommended light riding, and that it would be in her best interest to keep her from heavy work until Spring, to allow for complete healing.
Well, here I am, in the middle of the summer, with no barrel horse. Gracie, of course, is too young to be riding (although I spend a lot of time working with her). Comet and Scotch are both pretty much retired, and while Scotch is sound, she’s a pleasure horse and really not meant for barrels.
The idea of adding another horse to the herd had been tossing around in my head for awhile – something fairly young, but old enough to be ridden, that I could make into my backup barrel horse. Fancy is seriously the best horse ever – while she might not be a 1D barrel horse (not yet, anyway), she is the safest, most honest, and most fun horse to run. Unfortunately, she’s not all about being trailered. Plus, I’d like her to be able to have a break if there are multiple shows I’d like to go to, and be able to take a different horse.
So, late at night one night, I decided to check out Craigslist for fun. I figured there wouldn’t be anything great available, but wanted to get an idea of what was for sale locally.
About three minutes later, I found Phoenix’s ad.
Her name was Vega, before she became mine (spoiler: I bought her! Like you didn’t already know.). She’s a five year old, 15 hand grade Quarter Horse mare. A beautiful dark palomino, with this gorgeous, long mane. She was listed as having worked extensively on the ground (walk, trot, canter), and having been ridden in an arena setting as well as on the trails. She goes barefoot, and is a super easy keeper.
So I reached out to see if this beautiful mare was still available, and lucky for me, she was! We set up for me to come out and try her that Saturday.
Fast forward to Saturday, my fiancé and I drove up to Pennsylvania (about an hour and a half from my home) to visit Phoenix (Vega). She was waiting for me, tied up, to be brushed and saddled up. She was perfectly well behaved for me to get her brushed up, and didn’t mind being saddled up at all. She stood nicely until I was on and ready to go. Myself and the seller set out for a trail ride, since there wasn’t an arena on site. We mostly walked, but Phoenix really didn’t mind anything going on around her. We rode through woods, fields, and past a little mini stud who seemed very interested in her. She picked up the trot fine and I noticed how comfortable it was. When I asked for the lope, we were riding uphill through a narrow, wooded area. There was some kind of issue, where it seemed like she popped up a bit, but it was hard to tell, considering the circumstances of the footing. I tried to lope her again at a different point, and a similar thing happened. I was 50/50 on whether she was misbehaving, or if there was a small log I missed that she might have been trying to avoid/jump/trip over.
Other than the loping issue, she was perfectly well behaved. I could tell she would definitely be a project, but since Fancy is pretty much out of commission until Spring, I figured it might be fun.
A month later (today), I had everything squared away on my side, and went to pick up Phoenix. She’s never been shown, and therefore not really trailered much, so I was nervous that I could have another trailer-hater on my hands. She actually loaded up just fine, and was completely quiet the whole way home.
She unloaded just fine, too. I let her look around a little, and then let her loose in an empty field that connects to the field my kiddos are in. She looked around a little, and then went to eating grass. And now, here we are!
I’ve entered this journey with Phoenix cautiously optimistic. I’ve been extremely lucky (almost unbelievably so) in the past when it came to bringing horses into my life, so hopefully Phoenix and my story together will also be a happy one. I know there are going to be some issues, or at least several little things that need to be tuned up. I’m ready. I’ll be taking the time to make sure she’s 100% on the basics, before starting with barrels. I don’t have any type of timeline yet, but I’m excited to get started. She’s going to be more of a project than I originally planned on, but I sense so much potential within her. I cannot wait to get started!