Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do you remember the moment?

The moment when you knew that you had to be your horse's owner?  I know I'm not alone in this, because I've read about it on other blogs too.  It's a special moment of sharp mental clarity, almost like an electrical impulse, when you know with every fiber of your being that it's what you have to do.  For a second there, all the practical concerns (Are we suited for each other?  Can this horse do the job I want him to do?  Do I have a place to keep him?  Can I afford this?) are silenced.  There is just you and this horse, the rest of the planet falls away, and you know that you belong together, and you'll figure the rest out from there.  (From what I understand, this happens occasionally between humans as well, but I wouldn't really know about that one.  It appears to happen to Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks with surprising frequency.)

It could be a special way they look at us, as though they've chosen us, or that we see something particularly special in them that calls out to us, or maybe it's just our own need to replicate some feeling they've just sparked in us over and over into the future.  I remember exactly the moment it happened for me with Tucker, like it was yesterday. 

We were in Connecticut, a few weeks after we came back from Florida for the winter, and it was still chilly in the morning.  It had been decided that Tucker, now that he was weaned, needed to be sold (yearlings really have no place in a show barn, and he was taking up time and energy, and a stall, that could be much better served elsewhere, from a business perspective).  I had been working with Tucker quite a bit on the ground and he was becoming more and more well behaved -- though the reports were that he wasn't exactly easy to catch while I was away over the winter.  Since we were going to need to make a video or something to get this gangly thing sold, the trainer and I decided Tucker was first on our to do list for the day, and we were going to free jump him in the indoor over a little cross rail and see what he thought of that. 

So, we turn him loose in the indoor, and he bucks and plays for about 30 seconds and then turns around and trots toward me, stops and bumps me in the stomach with his big old head.  I laugh, send him back out to the rail, and we repeat the play/trot/head bump routine.  He then stood in the corner, watching curiously as we built a little jump chute, absent-mindedly chewing on a roll top.  Once we were all set, we got him going at a trot on the rail and the first time through he sort of tripped over everything (just ground poles to start), then stopped at the other end and turned to look at me for help.  I led him back down to the other end, we got his trot going again and this time he was slightly less disorganized and managed not to actually step on any of the poles.  Again, he stopped at the end of the ring and turned to face me, and I led him down again.  This time, we made the last ground pole a cross-rail, no bigger than 2 feet.  I got him going toward the chute at the trot, and then his ears went forward, he picked up his canter, rocked back, swung his shoulder and jumped it like it was 4 feet tall, his knees tucked up under his chin.  Then he landed and bronced and shook his head all the way around the end of the ring, clearly just delighted with himself.

I stood there with my hands shoved deep into my pockets, a smile creeping over my face behind my scarf.  I turned to the trainer and said, "I want him."  I've never been more definite about anything in my life.  I remember she turned slowly to look at me and said, "Really?" and I told her yes, and told her to talk to his owner and figure out what it would take, told her how much I had saved and what I could afford.  I ended up working my last four weeks there for free to make up the last payment.  I can't even remember how I came up with the extra cash to ship him down to New Jersey. 

Best decision I've ever made.


  1. Oooh. You're good. I'm replying to this via blog post. Watch for it!!!

  2. I remember when I realized that my life wouldn't be complete without Mosco. My best friend owned him & lent him to me for 9 months while I was in college, because she didn't have time for him (psh, like vet school is time consuming :-) ). I knew the situation was temporary & he had to go back that summer, but somehow I still just fell in love with him. I didn't realize how much until she called to schedule him coming back. I hung up and was inconsolably sobbing off & on for the next 3 weeks. I didn't know I loved him that much! We are/were entirely unsuited for each other: he's 17hh & BIG, and 5'3" and not big, he was green green green, I was in school full time, double majoring & working part-time, etc. A month or so later, she called my fiance & asked if we wanted to buy Mosco at a steeply discounted price as a wedding gift. Turns out, he wasn't happy not being my horse either :-) My now-husband showed his true worth by immediately agreeing, even though we were absolutely broke & had nowhere to keep a horse. Minor details! So we've been happily together since, even though we are STILL entirely unsuited for each other, he's actually filled out even more and 5 years later he's still pretty green because I'm in grad school. Despite all that, I wouldn't trade him for anything and don't know what I'd do without him.
    When you write about Tucker & how much you love him, it always reminds me of my own big goofy brown horse. They're everything, aren't they?

  3. I was a life time horse lover. But I’d never owned my own. My friend was managing a barn and invited me with her on a big trail ride with a bunch of her friends. She loaded up a horse that she thought would work for a greenie like me and picked me up at my place. We got to the location and she unloaded my horse. I remember saying “UGH! NOT HIM!! Any horse but him!!” It was a palomino gelding that had a bad attitude towards life. Every time I’d seen him at the barn he’d pin his ears and try to nip at me. But she told me he’d be great. When the ride started I had no idea what was going on in his head, it was like he kept fighting me. I figured something out, and a light bulb went off in my head…he was a western pleasure trained horse he wanted his head and nice long reins…bingo! The rest of the ride was amazing. He was the only horse that didn’t hesitate to cross a wooden bridge, then he happily crossed streams. I fell in love. I started working at the barn with my friend and I started spending more time with him he sweetened up to me and everyone else. He no longer pinned his ears or tried to bite anyone. Little did I know that before I started bonding with him he was about to be sold, but my hard work paid off and he earned the right to say. It was a year after I started working there that I got my birthday present from the owners of the barn…it was signed transfer papers with his name on it. He was MINE! Best present ever. We had a lot of adventures in the time I owned him and he was my dream horse. I always got complements on him and people threw offers at me of insane amounts of money they wanted him too. December 19th 2008 he was suddenly taken from me his time on earth was done and I miss him for many reasons. All I wish is for one more gallop across an open field with him.
    If you have time I could tell you about my new monster too…lol…

  4. I totally remember every detail about finding Pongo. I was trolling Dreamhorse.com when I saw a picture of an adorable appy yearling with a big looking trot. I clicked the page and read about his breeding, my interest was further piqued. Chocolate Confetti grandson...mmm...eventing is literally in his blood. I decided a 4 hour road trip to upstate NY was a fine way to spend upcoming Saturday. I met his crazy breeder first, then got to meet Pongo. He let me run my hands over every inch of him and he stood perfectly still. We just took each other in. I held my breath as they turned him out to run around and prayed his movement would be if nothing else, just good enough to rationalize buying him. I was pleasantly surprised to see his movement was adorable. The tried to shake a plastic bag on a stick at him to get him to run around. He looked at them like they were crazy..."what, is that supposed to SCARE me?". The deal was sealed when he galloped full tilt and by his own volition, free jumped a big shrub in the field. S-O-L-D! As I put him in the trailer to take him home a couple of weeks after our initial visit I was beyond ecstatic for the journey I knew me and my spotty baby were about to embark on, it was the first day of the rest of BOTH of our lives!

  5. I think we've all had these moments. Glad you and Tucker are together, it almost seems like they pick us to be their humans sometimes doesn't it.

    My boy Erik was a 3 yr. old and I went to the farm where he was to actually look at another horse. I had no interest in a grey horse at the time. He followed me from inside his paddock and watched me look at the other guy. He kept nickering to me until I looked at him. It was love at first sight and that's how we came to be a pair for 15 years until I lost him 2 years ago.

    Great post. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Enjoyed this post very much. Have a wonderful Thankgiving!

  7. love it! so much!
    im pretty sure mine was when i went to see granite and se tried to get him to run in the pasture with his pasture mate and instead he trotted right up to me and picked my bright pink purse up from my arm in attempts to play with it. I knew I had to have that clown!


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