Friday, May 24, 2013

Meet Rock

Do you notice anything strange about this picture?

I see Bombay.  I see Gabbrielle.  I see Lostine.  I see... another horse?  Meet Rock.

He's a grade Quarter Horse gelding.  He's only six years old, but already a pro on the trails.  Oh, and he's a dun.  See his stripe?

Remember when I said that my husband wanted a horse big enough to carry him?  We've been keeping our finger on the pulse of the local horse market.  One problem we had was that my husband wanted a gelding, and most of what was out there that fit our criteria were mares.  It seemed every horse was too tall to mount and dismount on the trails, or too short or petite to carry my husband's weight.  So, we started concentrating on stout horses with muscle.  But the strongest looking horses were that well toned because they were being used for barrel racing or reining or roping.  I was worried that a horse with such an intense job and competitive instinct would get bored just plodding down the trails and might develop some vices.

So, it was imperative that we found a proven trail horse, one that can go out alone or with other horses, one that doesn't spook much, and one that seems to enjoy exploring.

I did consider the gaited breeds, but kept coming back to Quarter Horses.  We looked at some horses at a rescue, but it seemed everything needed too much work.  The 17-hand OTTB was more nervous than my Arabs.  We found a wonderful Oldenburg, but he had a jumping injury that could possibly affect his ability to be trail ridden.  Though we wanted to help out a horse in need by giving it a home, we didn't need to drain our bank account with vet bills.  Our dog already does that for us.  We monitored websites and were waiting for a particular 15-hand Palomino gelding to come on the market, but he disappeared off the face of the Internet.

We found a buckskin QH gelding that was advertised as "so easy that almost anyone could ride him."  He was gorgeous and a bit out of our price range, but I called anyway, thinking I might be able to get the seller to come down on the price if he was a fit for our needs.  She recommended two additional horses over the phone.  I set up an appointment to bring my husband out to look.

When we arrived, we learned that one of the three horses had sold the night before.  Of course, it was the one that was best suited for a beginning rider like my husband.  She brought out a different buckskin gelding and rode him for us.  His spine was like a roller coaster and he twisted his hind feet as he moved.  I suspected he'd keep the equine chiropractors in business, and suggested that we move on to the next horse.

She then brought out the buckskin QH gelding I originally inquired about.  He had the most amazing gold or amber eyes.  They looked like jewels.  She rode him, and then left me in the round pen to ride him.  He was scared of the mounting block, so we had to desensitize him to it.  I couldn't do much in the tiny round pen and I wanted to try out his trot, so we took him to the large arena.  I think I scared the seller, who is also a riding instructor, as I moved him up to the trot.  He had both a bumpy walk and a bumpy trot, so I couldn't get into his rhythm.  I tried sitting it, then tried posting it, but nothing really worked.  He was also really tall and fat in the haunches and carried his head low, so I felt like I was perpetually leaning downhill.  If the saddle horn weren't there, I would have slid right down his neck.

When my husband mounted, the seller said that he was too much of a beginner for that horse.  She told him to get off and took the horse away.  We thought that was the end of the line, but then she mentioned that a friend of hers brought over two horses she had up for sale for us to consider.  They hadn't been advertised yet to the general public.  One was a gorgeous QH buckskin gelding that her son had been roping on, but he wanted a different horse because this one wasn't meeting his needs.  That one was too short for us and kept weaving in its stall, so we didn't waste the seller's time by trying to ride it.

The other was a grade QH dark bay dun that the owner had bought for her husband, but he wasn't riding it, so the wife was riding it out on the trails every day to keep it active.  People who knew the horse reported that it was very easygoing.

The seller lunged and rode him first to make sure he was safe.  She discovered that he was lazy.  It took a lot of work to get him up to a trot, but once he did trot, she was really impressed with how smooth he was.  She encouraged us to ride him.  Sure enough, both his walk and trot were super comfortable.  He proved that he could carry my husband, and my husband actually had better luck getting him moving because he had stronger legs.  We were feeling like this was the right horse for us and our purposes.

We liked the fact that he had been trail ridden every day.  We loved the fact that he prefers to walk.  We liked his name:  Rock.  Like rock solid.  Or maybe like a horse that moves as fast as a rock.  The only negatives I could see were that he needed more ground training, like learning to stay out of people's space.  He could lead on a rope better too.  But I know how to train a horse to do all of that now, and I've got help.  P.S. will be coming by three days a week during the summer until school gets back in.

I originally didn't want to get a fourth horse until after summer, but now that I've got help with training, exercising, grooming, and riding from P.S., I felt it would be best to get a horse now.  She and I have had a lot of heart to heart talks lately, and I can see that horses are a passion for her.  Not just any horses, but my horses.  She says she loves my horses because they are so personable.  She can build a relationship with them, and they all have such unique personalities.  She says I did a good job with them, because they love people.  They aren't just livestock, but family.  P.S. really looks forward to playing with my horses, and I don't expect her to lose interest and go anywhere else soon.

Anyway, I normally would take more time in deciding on the purchase of a horse, but things were coming together in miraculous ways with this horse, and I just felt that we were being given a gift, and we would be stupid to dawdle.  First off, I found the timing amazing in that the owner and seller just happened to talk and arrange to get the horse to the stable in time for us to see it.  However, there was some real pressure, because the seller had been showing horses to potential buyers all week, and some more were going to show up in a few minutes.  She said that horses had been selling like hotcakes because kids are getting out of school and parents are buying them horses.  I guess the economy is improving.

Also, I didn't bring my horse trailer with me, because I had no intention of buying a horse that day.  I considered buying Rock, and arranging to pick him up this weekend, but the seller was going out of town for the holiday weekend.  We would have to race home, get the trailer, pump up its tires, race back, and trailer the horse home in rush hour traffic, or we may not be able to see the horse until after she returned from her vacation.  The seller made a phone call and found that she had to postpone her vacation for a few more hours anyway, so she offered to deliver him to our house, which was over an hour away.  We jumped on that opportunity, because I hate driving through this city freeway traffic as is, and it would be really stressful hauling a horse I don't know in a trailer in stop and go traffic.

The clock was literally ticking away and we had to make a decision fast.  I called around to see if any vet had any cancellations and could come out to do a pre-purchase exam on the fly, but no one was available.  So, I did my own pre-purchase exam and didn't find any issues other than that I would want to put a little more weight on him, and he was a bit overdue to have his shoes removed and hooves trimmed.

While making arrangements to purchase and ship him, a trash truck rolled up right behind Rock.  It picked up one of those large rolling trash bins, dumped it, making a loud raucous noise, and roared off.  Rock didn't even flinch.  The horse couldn't have cared less.  We were grinning ear to ear, because one of the problems I have right now is getting my horses across the street on trash days.  They are terrified of the trash trucks.  So, seeing Rock's laid back lack of reaction to the trash truck sealed the deal.

As I was writing out the check, the next set of buyers showed up, and they made a beeline for Rock.  I suspect that had we gone out to lunch to discuss buying him, we would have returned to find him sold.

When he arrived at my place, my horses had varied reactions.  They were all excited, of course.

But in different ways.  Lostine would sniff his nose, but then strike the ground and squeal like a mare in heat. Bombay kept arching his neck over the railing and couldn't decide whether to groom him or bite him.

When Bombay did bite him, Rock bit him back and Bombay did not like that.  He reared up and struck out. Gabbrielle was the worst.  She wouldn't even let him sniff her.  She just wanted to kill him.  She was swinging her butt toward him and kicking the railing, rearing at him, which I've never seen her do before, and striking like a snake.  Rock was smart and stayed away from her.

I brought out carrots as a peace offering, and Rock proved to be a mugger.  I fixed that pretty quick by rattling the bag and forcing him to back away from me.  Then if he stayed back and didn't attempt to step forward, I gave him a carrot.  But as soon as he stepped into my space, I backed him out of it again.  He learned fast.  I took him for a walk around the arena and didn't even have to use the lead rope.  He just latched on to me and followed wherever I went.

I have all four horses locked in different stalls for the night, and will introduce them to each other slowly under supervision.  I don't need a vet bill caused by a fight.  They can work our their pecking order from a distance.


fernvalley01 said...

Well congrats!!! looks like a nice fellow

Paint Girl said...

Congrats on Rock! This is so exciting! I am so happy you found the right horse for your husband, and you of course. Can't wait to hear about your first trail ride with this guy!

Laura said...

cool! what great news!! he is quite the handsome fellow! I can't wait to hear about your (and the hubby's) adventures with him.

Camryn said...

So handsome, I can almost feel his mellowness thru the camera. Maybe someday my Hubs will want his own. I can only dream.

redhorse said...

What a great find! Congratulations to you and your husband. Everything seems to be coming together for you. Don't you get chills up your spine when dreams come true?

Sam said...

Oh awesome! He is handsome. It sounds like you were really meant to have this boy.


strivingforsavvy said...

That is so exciting! He seems like the perfect horse. You may just find yourself switching to Quarter Horses!

gowestferalwoman said...

Wow - he looks nice!

I am really interested in how the herd dynamics are going to play out - mares rule usually, and it goes from there...

Ian H said...

Looks like a great horse!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

gowestferalwoman - It's looking like he's trying to insert himself in the middle of the pecking order. Lostine remains at the top, Bombay remains at the bottom, and he and Gabbrielle are still vying for the upper hand on each other, so we have to keep them separated until they can work it out in a civilized manner.

ellie k said...

He is really pretty, you are right a few pounds on him will be good.

Cheryl Ann said...

COngrats! He IS a beautiful fella for your hubby! I hope he has lots of rides on him.

Crystal said...

Oh nice find. He seems sensible and just what you guys need.

achieve1dream said...

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!! So exciting!!!!! :D Rock looks amazing! Your husband is going to have so much fun with him (and you too because I'm sure you'll be riding him too hehe). Poor ground manners wouldn't put me off either. That's way easier to retrain that under saddle issues lol. I hope your herd accepts him with no problems. :D Congrats!!!!

ryde2rope said...

Looks like you found a GOOD one. I have been looking for months and haven't found anything that will work for me. Its a very frustrating thing to look for another horse. You lucked out!! many happy Trails..

Reddunappy said...

Thats how you find the good ones! Being in the right place at the right time! Congrats!!

ryde2rope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cindy D. said...

Congratulations, he looks quite handsome.

Once Upon an Equine said...

He's beautiful! Congratulations.