I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, and a year ago when I Paypal’ed my $1,250 to a trainer I’d spent five minutes on the phone with at 5am while I was heading to a horse show, I was pretty well convinced that I’d gone off the deep end.
I’d found Eli’s ad on the Finger Lakes Finest FB page the day before and he sparked my interest enough that I sent a text to his trainer asking if he could give me a call.
I heard nothing all day, then on my way to the horse show at 445am I got a text saying “if you’re up give me a call about that brown horse.”
I immediately did and chatted with Eli’s trainer, Mike. I told him I was looking for a project and Eli was my type. He responded with “he’s tough to gallop, but he’s a good horse.” Because I’m not the best decision maker and I AM the best impulse buyer, I was sold. He accepted my offer and it was a done deal.
The looks on everyone’s faces when I walked into the horse show office and announced what I’d done were priceless.
Ashley (who’d also found a Finger Lakes horse a week or so earlier) and I set off bright and early the next morning to pick up the boys, and when we walked into Eli’s stall we both wondered what the hell I’d just done.
He was absolutely insane. His front legs were crooked as shit. He’s got weird eyes anyways and Racetrack Eli was a sight to behold. There was a lot of kicking all the way home.
After a bit of a rough introduction to turn out (ace is our BFF), he settled into his new life reasonably well.
I discovered him to be a handful but without a mean bone in his body. (The time he picked me up and chucked me out of the wash rack doesn’t count.)
On the ground he’s quirky. Lord help you if you touch his ears. He will NOT stand to be clipped, even under incredibly heavy sedation. He will not have his mane pulled… we can barely shorten it with scissors. He LOVES to be bathed, but can barely manage to be brushed. He adores when you scratch his crest, but don’t brush his mane.
In the saddle, he’s tough, but there is a kindness in his disobediences. He’s probably the most immature 5 year old I’d ever sat on. He can take one hell of a joke. Outside stimuli is our biggest challenge, particularly other horses. He wants to touch every one he sees. He gawks and runs into things. He was so very weak.
We went on adventures to horse shows, starting with GMHA. We tackled the bridge, the warm up ring, and walking into the creek. We had an amazing first experience, and he grew leaps and bounds.
We went to Fieldstone, which was the first “A” show either one of us had been to. We learned about the merits of schooling at 5am and avoiding the horses being lunged. We loved Fieldstone!
We tackled Vermont Summer Festival, which was chaotic and exhausting. We had a backslide ending in a rearing fit in the warm up. We went home with a new plan, and an adjusted trajectory.
I made the decision to scratch from the Retired Racehorse Project, and was relieved when I sent the email. The atmosphere down there is so big, and one competition wasn’t worth my horse’s brain.
We injected his SI and his back, and I have an infinitely better horse for it. He needed almost three weeks off to adjust to this new feeling, and I was happy to give it to him.
He’s gained almost two inches and a few hundred pounds. He’s still immature and quirky, but he’s the kind of horse that I know has so much try and so much give, I’ll feel secure galloping down to any size fence.
It’s been so slow. So, so very slow and I’m fine with that. He’s needed it. He’s not a horse that will be rushed or pushed. Physically he’s a completely different horse than what I brought home and mentally he’s fragile. This first year has been all about getting him to a point where his body and mind is simply trainable.
I cannot wait to see where he is in the next 365 days, and am so looking forward to another year’s worth of adventures!