I ended up having to pass on Gambler because of the vet findings. The vet in Aiken brought the x-rays around for a few opinions and everything came back pretty dire. The results were particularly concerning considering the young age of the horse. Alison told me that she wouldn’t want to take that chance, so I had to push emotions aside and listen to the professional. It hurt my heart a bit, but I have to believe that I made the right decision, but there is going to be a very big part of myself that’s going to always wonder if he was “The One”. I still carry the memory of my huge shit-eating grin while riding him cross-country that day -- I felt like I could do anything with that horse.
Fast-forward a few days and Alison emailed me about another horse she knew of for sale locally a few towns away. “Louie” is a 12 year-old thoroughbred who is owned by a former student of Alison’s, actually a girl who was a working student with Alison a few years ago. Louie and his owner spent some time down in Aiken at that time, so Alison knows him pretty well. So, I went off last Sunday to give him a try. Ann graciously went with me. Immediately it occurred to me that Louie is pretty big! About 16 hands, but built big for a thoroughbred, more like a warmblood almost. Anyway, Ann rode him first and got some very nice movement out of him. Then I got on. I found him reasonably easy to get on the bit and to track up to a nice frame, even though he was really out of shape. I found his gaits very big and bouncy, however, I was a little bit all over the place. Ann and the seller (the owner’s mother) then set up a couple of jumps that we popped over nicely. We noticed that the rain had stopped, so we then went out to the outdoor ring to try a few of the jumps out there. We had a couple of rushy-rushy jumps and a few where I had to try and sort out my body position after the fence (since I’m used to horses that you need to gather right back again and I guess Louie is used to a very neutral position), but we sorted it out after a few fences. Afterwards we spent a lot of time talking to the seller about Louie, his history, his training, what he’s like, etc. And I came to realize that he’s also a very sweet boy on the ground. He was a bit like a big puppydog. So the seller suggested that, since she knows and trusts Alison, I could perhaps take him on trial for a month.
I followed the tryout immediately by talking to both Alison and Ann and everyone seemed to think that Louie could be a nice match for me. So we spent part of the week trying to make arrangements for the trial. Alison had a stall opening up and so we were going to start the trial for this Sunday. The seller threw a last minute wrench in the works however, as we were making the final arrangements that she suddenly had another buyer coming out to see him yesterday and that she would get back to me today. It seemed a little bit odd since the horse had apparently been for sale for a long time, was out of condition and hadn’t been in any kind of consistent work, but whatever. Anyway, the seller followed up today to say that she’s decided to sell him someone else, but hey, thanks!
I’m surprisingly disappointed. I mean, I didn’t spend enough time with Louie to get very attached, but still, I was looking forward to exploring whether we were going to be right for each other. Part of me is also beating myself up a bit too. I wonder if I did something wrong, did the woman not like me, did she hate the way I rode her horse, or that my butt was too big? I don’t know, and I guess I’ll never know, but I’m finding myself somewhat down on myself nonetheless.
So, I’m back to square one in the horse shopping arena. This is something that I’ve been waiting for my whole life and I have to say that so far I sure am NOT having fun. I’m not sure now if I should be reading and responding to horse ads, or if I should wait more for the “word-of-mouth” type of leads -- Alison knows pretty much everyone in Eventing in the area after all, she is bound to hear about some nice horses here or there. So I’m feeling a little lost and depressed and overwhelmed about it all and not sure what direction to go in next.