Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Right Man for the Job, Part II

"Huckleberry" is old-timey slang for "The right man for the job" and that is what I hope Huck will be.  Huckleberry Hound was a less old-timey cartoon character who was a little bumbly but nevertheless got the job done.

Huck came to us as Bandit.  Not sure how long he'd had the barn name.  I still use it a bit and in my head I combine it as Hucklebandit or Huckleberrybandit.

When I saw his ad, something caught my eye.  He was listed as a 7 year old "trail horse" that had been "originally trained in reining".   He was within my price range. I kept thinking about the ad and B had been encouraging me to try some other horses before committing to Kevin, even though we both love him.  Even the judge/trainer we got Kevin from said he'd like me to have a horse with more talent.

When I asked the seller for video and more photos, I got no photos, but I did get a copy of his papers and a video of him at a reining show with a youth rider.  I sent the info to B and she said "nice horse".   Usually when I send her sale videos she just says "no".

After the August show, as part of my soul searching, I asked B if she would go look at this horse with me as he was only about an hour away.  She suggested we have our farrier (trains/shows reiners) to look at him first as he lived in the same town.

Bob went to look at him and called B right away to say "if she doesn't buy him I will."

I started googling the horse's name and found his 2-year old sale ad listing him as "certainly one of the most talented Night Deposit Chex colts we have started. Out of AQHA Champion/Supreme reining and working cow horse mare.  This colt has the looks to be a top stallion and he has the potential and athletic ability to be a top reining horse or cow horse.  Lots of bone, shape and feel."

Of course a sale ad will say all the right things, but it just so happened that Bob knows the guy who campaigned him in his 3-year-old year and took him to the NRHA Futurity in 2011 so we also got some info from him about how great he was from someone not trying to sell him.  He was even started on cattle and "loved his job." So it seems that this very talented (though not NRHA World talented) gelding simply slipped through the cracks and got to take a nice long break from competition.

Four days later (same Saturday as the little show with Kevin I mentioned in the last post) we were out to try him.  He's been a pasture pet for two years.  The kid switched to Hunter Under Saddle right after the video I saw, but the Mom liked the horse so much they moved him to their back yard to a nice big grassy field.  Now dad wants to use the field for cattle so the horse needed to find a new home.  He was living with goats and ducks.  He ran up to us in the field and is super friendly.  He's a little jumpy, but considering he didn't get much interaction other than putting him in a stall at night with grain and letting him out in the morning, I think he's going to be fine.   He's shiny, healthy, sound, and a bit on the chunky side. Only known health issue is that his teeth haven't been done in at least 2 years, which we're fixing asap.   He bucked and freaked out while trying to lunge (owner warned us but I needed to know the full picture) so much I was a little afraid to get on him.  BUT something made me do it anyway.  I even made B lead us for a second so I could be sure he was relaxed and he was totally relaxed under saddle.  We only had the field to ride in but he did everything I asked, including spin! On grass!

Part of me wanted to hate this horse so I could just go back to Kevin. Instead I was kind of in love.  He has a Western Pleasure jog which is super rare for Reiners.  He was difficult to get to lope but he never fought.  I chalk that up to fitness level. After I untacked him he hung around near us.

The owner said he had someone coming over from Indiana to look at him the next weekend.  I knew I had to make the decision fast.  ANYBODY who saw this horse's breeding and rode him would see what we were seeing and snatch him up.  His ad didn't flatter him, but in person you KNEW he was something.

I had to make the decision fast and it was a lot easier to know what my decision would be than to admit it out loud to anyone.  It went against all of my intellect to buy the ONLY horse I looked at, but Junior was the first horse I looked at and he was the right one, too.

So I bought him.  I feel badly about Kevin but I know that if his owner decides to sell him we can find him a good home and we have the judge/trainer we got him from to help out with that.  BUT I decided to make the decision based on competing rather than having a pet.  I loved Junior and I would have never sold him even though we would not have been very competitive in the Ranch Versatility either, but I loved that horse and I would have been fine with that.

New pony!
But as much as I like Kevin, he's not my Heart Horse. Junior was.  It's okay because I have been fortunate to have had a whole year with him. I wish I could keep them both, but after only 4 days of trying to ride two horses I am done entertaining the fact.  Kevin was a great horse to start at these Ranch shows.  He was sane and sound enough to try things and give me a taste of what could be.  I will miss how easily and smoothly Kevin lopes and how far we've come with opening gates which is pretty flawless now. I think if I had bought Kevin last fall I would be in the same boat right now.  I'm ready for the right horse for the job.

I attended my first Ranch show with Junior and we placed in Trail.  I attended 3 (soon to be 4) Ranch shows with Kevin and we are in the lead for a buckle.  With Huck, who knows, but the 2 minutes we worked the flag last night got me pretty excited for the possibilities!!!

We brought him home on Tuesday and he's settling in.  He loaded in slow-motion, one foot at a time, but he didn't freak out or get super nervous.  He unloaded a little loudly, but easily. Still a little jumpy in general but improving.  We've had a few sessions of quiet ground work and a few rides.  I tried to take him through the water in the trail course be he wasn't having it.  We'll try that another time.  He went over the bridge after some tries but he didn't seem to have much experience/confidence working around a gate.  The first day he didn't want to walk into the wash stall, four days later I led him in and tied him and hosed him off with no issues. :)

He was VERY excited to see other horses and he was put in the smaller paddock over by the one mare and he bucked and reared and considered jumping the fence when she disappeared into her run-in. So now they're just in together as that seems safer.  She squeals a lot at him but (so far) he doesn't have a mark on him.  Feeding time is causing some drama but I think they'll work it out.  The other geldings aren't that thrilled that the mare has a boyfriend but they'll all chill out eventually. Thankfully he still lets me catch him and lead him away from her without fuss.

Huck and Jackie falling in love.
We had a clinician come yesterday for a session on Ranch maneuvers.  Huck was a bit amped up so I opted to ride Kevin instead and put the work towards our show next weekend. After we were done I tacked up Huck, who seemed a bit calmer, and rode during the break.  His spins are getting faster and I'm learning how to move my head so I don't throw up.  He's loping longer but I'm being very cautious and only loping a circle at a time.  Once I get a good full small circle we're done.  We're jogging serpentines and circles and taking lots of walk breaks.  It'll be a while before he's back in condition and we can really see what he's got.  So far I like everything.  Even though he's a little wonky, he's so wide that he feels completely stable, which is a new feeling for me!  I guess I've needed a 4x4 this whole time!

SOOOO many adventures are ahead of us and I know there will be times when I think I made a mistake, and maybe I have.  But I can tell there will be times when I know I made a good choice.  And yes, I'm completely terrified that something will happen to him but I'll save my list of Overanxious thoughts for another post... or all the other posts. ;)  Oh, and he's 14.2 so he really is a pony!!!! (15 at the hip) I can mount from the ground!!!

I have a feeling this blog will liven back up to it's original purpose, now that I am officially and once again The Overanxious Horse OWNER.

Partial Blue!

I promise I don't actually ride with reins this uneven.


  1. Oh my gosh he is ADORABLE! It was fate!

  2. He looks really nice, and perfect for you. You should have a lot of fun next year.

  3. He is ADORABLE. Seriously so cute! Hoping he continues being great and it works out perfectly!!

  4. Argh - just typed a comment and then it disappeared! Congrats on the new horse - what a great find. I love that he has the training and background that you were looking for. He will surely come around quickly now that he is being worked regularly. Can't wait to hear more about your progress with him.

  5. He's small like Lilly! I love the short, stocky horses! He's so cute, and I can't wait to hear about all your adventures! :)

  6. So cute! Sounds like a good guy, too. Excited for you!

  7. He sounds totally awesome - definite diamond in the rough! So happy for you!!

  8. What a cutie! And sounds like a good brain to go with the looks! :)

  9. Super cute horse. I love those smaller QH. He sounds like he has a lot of fun buttons, too. You're going to have a blast together.

  10. Congratulations & so excited for the adventures ahead of you! :D

  11. I am just thrilled for you and SO glad you found your new partner. :) I just have a good feeling about him and think you and Huck will have wonderful adventures together! Congratulations!