WHAT to LOOK FOR in a HORSE and HOW ONE HORSE TURNED INTO THREE!
Our immediate search was for one well behaved Pony for our little (i.e. slight) 8 year old girl Paige to make her dreams come true.
Now, my wife being far more horse knowledgeable than myself knew that even though Paige had been attending weekly riding lessons and Pony Club for almost 3 years finally owning your own pony and hacking out is a completely different experience to riding in an indoor menage. We knew we should aim for a pony that had done the rounds, was about 12 years old and was reliable as the sun rising and setting.
The search starts typically on the Equine Club For Sale Shop and then onto other on-line horse ads in search of availability for candidates meeting this criteria, preferably local.
Now this first step was not as easy as it seemed with very few, too far or already sold, or in foal! Hence you then start to consider alternatives encouraged on by Paige who was more excited about the pictures and the look of the Pony than suitability or age.
On this occasion we found what appeared to be an ideal 4 year old as he met everything even though quite rightly he was advertised as “green”. Oscar is the name of the delightful chap.
My wife, next door neighbour (note how important it to have someone to ride for you when away – see my article on keeping horses at home), Paige and Luke head off to see Oscar.
The end result is love at first site and trust in the selling owners. So despite our initial requirements Paige and Oscar seemed comfortable with each other and a deal was done. Even when I met Oscar I adored him and I know nothing about horses. I was advised by those that do though that the tell tale sign is in the horses eyes and that is something I could relate to (no different to humans) and Oscars eyes told a nice story.
Part of the deal was that the owners much preferred Oscar going to a home with another horse as they had owned Oscar from 5 months old and he had never been alone so was not too sure how he would settle in on his own.
As Sharon wanted a horse for herself so she could accompany Paige on a hack it was said that this should not be a problem but of course speeded up somewhat the search for the second horse.
The requirements this time were different as Sharon being an advanced rider and an owner in her earlier years of two ex-race horses she wanted something with a bit more spirit and about 16hh. Although the requirements were different the search started the same way with the Equine Club For Sale Shop and with a slightly bigger budget!
Sharon still went looking with our next door neighbour (another advanced rider) but unfortunately this led them to horses in fields of commercial dealers and the experience was not a pleasant one with many scary rides and scary horses who may not have had a pleasant time in their lives to that point.
My suggestion was to only look at horses being sold by an approved Riding School as knowing the fabulous members of the ABRS I explained it would not be in their professional interest or manner ever to advertise a horse which does not do what they advertise it can do.
By sheer luck Sharon decided to turn up at Attridges Farm in Essex to look at horses for sale and there and then she too fell in love with Jubilee and a deal was done that day.
When I went to pick Jubilee up with Sharon, again the story was in the eyes, such a beautiful loving horse but with obvious delightful spark that a horse of that quality should have. Indeed I noticed the lovely eyes of all of Attridges horses.
So yours truly has got everything in place for keeping horses at home (see my article on such) and on one day both horses are collected in a hired trailer and there is excitement all round the Baker clan as they arrive to inhabit our newly prepared land and stables.
Here is where it gets interesting and only when you can appreciate the true and marvelous unpredictability of horses.
You see Oscar; a four year old gelding was now with a lovely seven year old Mare Irish Sport Horse. He was absolutely in his element and a friendship was made within minutes.
The problem (s) that created was this:
1. Oscar did not want to really go out on a hack (or any type of ride) without Jubilee
2. Oscar did not want Jubilee to go anywhere without him! (in fact he absolutely flipped in the nicest and most adorable way as I would be left to watch him).
However, we had to reflect that the main reason for the first Pony was so that Paige could ride in confidence and although Oscar was fine if Jubilee was with him he was not the ideal learning Pony and would have quashed Paige’s confidence.
So, guess what! Yes Sharon is back on the For Sale Shop and finds the Pony she was first looking for even though it was out of distance in Canterbury in Kent. She heads off with Paige in the early hours of a Sunday morning, calls me and says Paige is in love and they have purchased Amber. My task that immediate hour is to hire a horse trailer, drive to Canterbury, get the money out and bring Amber back!! (Yes hun!).
Who am I to refuse?
So we end up with our trio (three times the muck, three times the riding, three times the feeding, three times the shoes etc but more importantly three times the love and affection).
Oscar was now simply in his element – two women whom he could boss around (that is unless it is about food and then Jubilee will scare the pants off Oscar).
Not only that despite having unfortunate hiccups (see my article on Horse Experts) all horses/ponies have settled in incredibly well.
Oscar has now settled down and is not so fussed about being out on his own as he knows the girls are always there now when he gets back and even he is not so bad when Jubilee leaves but boy can he gallop when he sees her returning.
So that is how one horse turned into three and I would not have it any other way.
All I have to do is to learn how to ride these beasts as I think they are fed up of cuddles!