Do you want a project horse?
I don't care.
Its a registered APHA (solid bred) and is like 17 hands tall.
*sigh* Where is he? How old?
Here in town! One mile from your house in fact! 6 years old.
*grumbles* Fine, I'll look at him.
Lets review that at this point in my life, I have 3 horses. They're all mares ranging from 13h-15+ hands and 8 years old to about 20. I've spent most of the past year working on them and myself to make them walk, trot, canter and not flip out over dumb crap. I'm in the home stretch! I'm about to be able to start them in reining, dressage, jumping, WHATEVER.
So I don't need a horse.
I looked up his registered name online and naturally, he was bred perfectly for what I'd been lusting after for about 10 years but assumed I'd always been too cheap to buy. Here's his dad (7x World Champion, 1x World Challenge Champion, 6x Reserve World Champion; Multiple Reichert Champion , 2x APHA World Show All-Around Horse, 2010 APHA High Point English Horse The Big Sensation) and I've been obsessed with his maternal grandsire for like ever. Who is that? Artful Move of course... So yes, I was going to go see him.
Upon arrival the previous owner showed me to his stall and proceeded to thump thump thump on his forehead in greeting. Any of my previous horses probably would have backed up at least or thrown their head up. This horse just stared and took it. OK, problem one might be checking out under stress. The reason he was free was that the current "owner/lessee/etc" needed to move and wanted him gone ASAP. He'd had an illustrious career of going to various trainers and while he was great to ride, he would randomly and unpredictably buck when you went to mount.
I don't believe in unpredictability. Nothing with horses "just happens out of the blue."
So I pulled him out and decided to stress him in hopes of seeing him act up. I stood on a muck bucket and had him move around me. I pushed on him, I grabbed him. When he crowded me, I cow kicked him out for being rude. When he was calm, I was calm and he quickly reacted positively to that. After about 15 minutes he was standing still and receptively with me on the bucket. Hmmm. We took him to the round pen so I could see about hi moving laterally. He did it well, but cluelessly. At this point he was doing the "young baby horse" thing where he's just trying to get you happy so he can escape the pressure. But again, no blow ups.
We ended with a mounting block and me jumping up/at/on him. His head was up but he never flinched or moved away. After laying on his back with no reaction, I slid off and said I'd think about it. I've NEVER pushed a horse that hard when meeting them but I wanted to see what sort of volatile beast I was getting. When I pick out a new project, I have rules. No bite, buck, kick, or rear. I don't like fixing those things and I worry about a horse's trustworthiness over time.
That night I talked to a friend of mine who works with her husband with "fixing" horses to see what she thought. I was thinking his foundation just sucked and he was anxious as a result. She agreed and I was left to make the decision. "I don't need/want another horse" was the main phrase that went through my head that night. But he was a sad lost little guy and while I'm not sentimental, he was also a hell of a horse and something that I'd always had on my "horse bucket list."
So I got him. He's a hot mess of worry, but with time, consistency, and patience we'll get there. And test my training skills in the process.
All photos in this post are from previous owner and previous life.