Last month I made the decision to buy a new horse. Very exciting and not something I thought I'd be doing at my age.
The thinking was that Max maybe needed to just rest and see if things improved. However, I'd also agreed with my vet to do a bute trial and this started a couple of weeks into October. Unfortunately it didn't make any difference to Max, he still didn't want to canter and there were no other noticeable changes. He still remained lethargic, although he was happy to hack out in walk and trot.
After the bute trial the vet and I agreed to just let him be. Hack quietly now and then, but mostly rest and chill in the field. Normally this would have left me very frustrated as I love to ride, lots! But I was on a mission to find another horse which can be quite time consuming.
Older and wiser than I was when I bought the last three, I was being a lot more cautious. I made a list of what I was looking for including the price limit and the location of any prospective purchase.
The first mistake I made was seeing a horse which was available on a weeks trial. Great, I thought. However it was over 100 miles away and I forgot that if I didn't like it I would have to take it back! Archie looked good in the advert, photos and videos so off I went to view.
There turned out to be some confusion about this, as when I arrived I was told I couldn't try him there, I just had to take him away for the week. This is not what I had agreed. When they opened the stable door it was clear that Archie's conformation left a lot to be desired. One of his front legs was turned out quite badly from the knee down. I said I wasn't sure if it was worth me taking him but they insisted, and to give him his due, Archie was a lovely horse. Just not what I needed to do dressage on, as confirmed by my trainer. So off we trundled back to his yard. I just hope they found him a nice home as I really enjoyed my week with him.
The next horse for viewing also looked good in his videos but on riding turned out to be very set in his ways and, at his age, it would have been impossible to train him differently. At home I was messaging and emailing lots of possibilities and it was a minefield, not to mention the stupid prices that horses were changing hands for.
Then another horse turned up that looked promising. His sales video showed him schooling in a large field with long grass which made me suspicious as I suspected they might be trying to hide his legs for some reason. On viewing it turned out that the sellers thought it would be good to school him in a field to show that you could! And that he wasn't phased by it! Which was pretty good, considering he was only 4 and a half and only backed in April in Ireland. An impulsive unseen purchase, the owner then decided that he wasn't suitable for what she wanted (hunting), even though she'd had a 5 stage vetting and xrays taken. Her loss is my gain because I decided he was what I was looking for.
We've named him Zen, which is short for Zeniah. His breeding shows that he's from show jumping lines, which is fine as I like to do a bit of everything. He is an Irish sports horse with a lovely temperament. He's athletic, powerful, and definitely has an engine, but he's not sharp or spooky. He arrived at my yard on October 9th and on October 11th he was doing an in hand Trec competition, which he scored 88 out of 100 for!
Since then he's done lots of hacking (very bold), a pole clinic and a flat work/pole session at another venue. He took both these outings in his stride and everyone is amazed how mature he is, physically and mentally, for his age.
It turned out that Max's saddles and rugs fit him, so I only had to buy him a bridle. He has little issues but they're easily sorted. For instance he decided he didn't want to load to go out but is very sensitive to the whip, so after a couple of goes with the whip (not beating him, mostly just waving it around!), he now loads fine.
As a baby there are going to be things which he needs to learn, but my experience with Max and other baby horses will stand me in good stead. So far he is being an absolute star, long may it continue!
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion