Monday, August 5, 2019

The Search Is Over

No, I did not buy a mare.  LOL. I've loved many mares in my life, but I prefer geldings.

Every so often, the Universe give you a nudge.  You can ignore the "nudge", but not for long.

While in the midst of searching for my perfect unicorn something unexpected occurred.  I received some news I neither anticipated nor desired, my gut reaction was surprising, and this news changed the whole course of my Unicorn search.

I spent a long week feeling that my gut reaction would wear off, and my head would take over and I would realize that I was better off staying the course I'd set for myself and to just ignore this new information.  I began to make a list of pros and cons. 

But as the days and weeks moved on, that gut reaction had settled itself into my heart, and equally into my mind.  In my 4 decades of life, I've learned that when all three: gut, heart, and head are in agreement..... you should probably take notice.

I continued looking at horse ads.  I even posted my ISO ads incase a better Unicorn would show up and I would see that my plan was the right plan.  Every ad that grabbed my attention went through a series of "oooh that one's pretty!  Oh but____________."  If the horse did fit my criteria (very few did), I would then think "Ugh.  Do I really want to start over?  It's such a gamble.  What if it's not the right horse after all? What if? What if? What if?"

The nail in the coffin was when I got a text from my reining trainer that my favorite lesson horse might be for sale.  This horse FIT my Unicorn criteria EACTLY- and for a split second I got excited, but it didn't last.  I knew then that I had already found my Unicorn.

"I want a Kevin."
"I want to take a smooth pleasure horse and teach him Ranch stuff."

How long was I going to say those things and NOT just buy the actual Kevin?

So five years and two buckles later, on August 2nd, I took ownership of Kevin. His Now Former Owner is now his leaser for the remainder of the show season.

Nearly five years ago I met him.   I had lost Junior in 18 months previous and I was still emotionally and financially too fragile to become a horse owner again.  I happened to be at the barn trying out a vintage saddle I'd purchased and he was there as a test-ride for another friend.  I saw his lope and said "OMG can I try that!?!"  I rode him, he tested me, and I declared "If I was buying a horse today - I would buy him right now."    I knew it was not the right time for me to be a horse owner, but I began leasing him just because I liked him and wanted something to ride.

I was given the opportunity to take him to shows and spent the next summer teaching him Trail and Boxing and Showmanship, and how to extend his little pleasure jog.  By the end of the summer we'd earned my very first buckle: Champion Green Ranch Rider.    His owner considered selling him and I considered buying him, but he wasn't "perfect" so I started looking for a Reiner, not a pleasure horse, so I could be more competitive in the Ranch stuff.

I found Huck.  And we know how those two years turned out.

Since my back was messed up and I again needed to recover financially, I asked his Kevin's owner if I could ride/show him again after I sold Huck and that year (2018) we won our second year-end high point buckle:  Open Ranch Champion.

This year I began the search for my Unicorn while still riding and showing Kevin.  I knew exactly what I wanted.  I wanted "a Kevin."  Specifically a younger Kevin.

And then the text came, the day before the show in June, that he was going to have to be sold.  I knew right then that everything had changed.  I was no longer looking for "A Kevin."  I already had my Kevin.

I did much soul searching, comparison lists, and I spoke to lots of folks about their opinions on "older" horses because Kevin turned 15 this year. I was looking for 12 at the absolute max - preferably in the 6-8 years. That was the ONLY piece of my criteria that Kevin didn't fit.   So, Britnie guessed right!

Here's why I decided it was okay to go off-list with age: He's proven he can do what I want him to do.  He's starting to get stiff in one of his hocks so we're probably looking at some maintenance before long. But he's still showing ALL day for both me and his (now former) owner, and he's such an easy keeper.  Keeping Kevin eliminates SO many unknowns - so many potential anxiety-causing possibilities.  I KNOW Kevin.  I know his quirks, I know his stubborn streak and how to deal with it.  I know that we don't have to lunge at shows, I know that he has a tendency to get scratches on his white foot.  I know he likes to be scratched on his chest, his fetlocks, and belly, and that he doesn't like extension cords moving on the ground and he can be a brat to load.  I know that he takes a LOT of riding and consistency to perform well. He's not a horse you can leave sit and then expect him to ride well.

Could I have found another unicorn that would be also easy to keep and easy to show and "better"?  Maybe.  But truth be told, I love this horse and I am not ready to let him go.

I don't yet know if I'll keep him forever or if I'll ride him for a few years and then lease him out to a kid/newbie, or if I'll send him to a retirement field.  Maybe we'll get another 10 years of showing together.  Maybe we won't.  I am concerned about his teenage status, but with good care and good living, he will be just fine. I would have NEVER sold Junior, and he would have been 19 this year.

I thought I wanted a young prospect to take up through the ranks.  Instead, I'm keeping my best buddy and continuing on the path we started 5 years ago. 

Sometimes you think you want something and then you get lucky and get what you need instead.