My original goal when I first got A horse again was that I would keep it at the local boarding barn. I HATE fixing fences and making sure all that is farmlike is just functioning. I have a horse, I want to be with my horse not doing farm chores. There is a nice boarding place about a mile away from the house that I had utilized in college and thought it would be nice to return.
The day we got Piper I decided that I was going to be cheap and keep her at the house. The cost for boarding was around $250 (not bad for full board) but I got to thinking how much cheaper it was at my own house. I already pay the mortgage. I have the money invested already and the land available. The trailer is at my house so there was little reason aside from an arena and maybe the round pen. I HAD been looking for some camaraderie though but taking a tour of the barn didn't reveal the environment that I had left years ago. If I was going to be on my own, I might as well be at home.
So the thing with horses, even brave headstrong, head mares like Piper, is they still want to be around other horses. Our property isn't really protected from wildlife and I've had my old boy Athos run through the fence before when he was housed alone. Within a week, Piper was permanently set up in the corner nearest the closest horses and wouldn't leave it.
So yes, the need for another horse (or to commit to the boarding place) was upon me and fast. I knew what I wanted: something that lived off of air, was useless and would just be a companion. I didn't really want to train another horse and I didn't expect my family to participate in horses. I cruised my normal online places and began to entertain the idea of something more like I would "normally" own: taller, more TBy, possibly less of an easy keeper... I could have it be the yin to Piper's yang... And while I was in my Genetics 301 lab "working" I found her on Craigslist for $800.
I loved her eye and I loved her alert but not panicked look mixed with the relaxed pose. She was a little thin, but so is everything you find in dark corners with horses these days. I texted the "owner" and found out they were cosigners that sold horses for other people.
I like middle men.
Middle men are great because while they are trying to sell a horse, they have to maintain a reputation. Granted most horse people don't have that great of a reputation but it is what it is. I asked some basic questions the ad didn't address: height and age. She was 15.2 and "at least" in her mid teens. I liked the first answer but the second one didn't make me excited at all. I started pulling away and then when I got home I debated the pluses. If she WAS older and WAS kind like I suspected, maybe she was a nice ride? She'd probably seen and done a lot and while that can be bad, it can also be very good.
She was literally 5 miles from my house so I made arrangements to meet her that night. She was a bit head shy but not overly so and the lady warned me of some habits they had found out. Oh and she revealed they had only had the horse about 3 days. That's a plus in my favor normally. We went to ride her and the lady mentioned that she was hard to mount and proceeded to pull her head to the side as she mounted the slowly spinning horse. Um. OK? But then the mare went through all three gaits nicely each direction with nice transitions and I was like wow. Easy.
Now it was my turn and the lady held the horse for me. There was no spinning, nothing so I just got on. We worked through our paces and she was a very kind horse. There were items of a horse nature littered around the arena (barrels, cones, poles, etc) that she approached each with a "go around this?" "go over this" type of attitude. All three gaits were simple and while she needed some work on balance, it was a nice difference from Piper.
At this point I'll talk about some things people don't like to mention about horse ownership. First, when you're away from horses you lose your confidence around them (if you're a smart person that understands horses). The idea that they're likely to kill you in 10000 ways becomes more apparent when you return. While I had owned Athos and Marco for a while, I had ridden them little. I hadn't done ground work with them. Aside from feeding and making sure they were healthy, I'd done little since before my son was born. Now that I was horse hunting, it had been almost 5 years since I'd ridden for any duration and basically 15 years since my glory days. The muscle memory is still there and the knowledge is still in my head. When I get on a horse, I feel like I'm home. None of that had left. What HAD left was my muscle STRENGTH. They KNEW where to be, but I couldn't keep them there. Old injuries I had rehabbed from before my son were now borderline dangerous in their stiffness and inability to function. I had no abs. I have no shoulders. No leg definition. After years of being tight as a tick on a horse, the feeling that you can't keep things where they should be when a horse is behaving makes you nervous for when it won't. Knowledge tells you that you need to just "get back in the saddle" and work on those things.
As much as I like Piper, she needs a lot of work. She's very catty and fast and sometimes its hard to stick. Not exactly a confidence builder. What I found in Katy was what I needed: a treadmill. This was a horse that I could use to get into shape while I trained Piper up and provided her with companionship.
I hopped off and began looking at her legs, teeth, etc. Her teeth were worn completely off in the front (cribber probably) and even broken into a V formation. I was lost on that at the time but later realized she had a penchant for cribbing on T posts, hence the weird wear pattern. Her ears were very sensitive and she needed weight. They had no current coggins on her and there were a few other things. I firmly offered $500 after pointing out that they would need to put that into her for feed/vet bills. The owner was called and the deal was made. We picked Katy up the next day and brought her home to begin the next chapter in her life.