First, a little about me. I’ve always loved horses but never had much chance to ride when I was a kid. When I was in my 20’s with a job and my own money, the first thing I did was buy a horse, an off track thoroughbred that everyone told me not to buy. I still have that horse and he is a rock star all around horse. He trail rides, jumps, ponies the kids and is generally a joy to be around.
I’ve only been riding for about 8 years as an adult, so I still have a lot to learn. I used to really want to show, but the stress and expense of it made it impractical for me. I’ve learned that I love training and working with horses as much as I love showing them. Instead of putting my money into trainers and show fees, I decided I would put that money into a project horse that I could work with and hopefully resell. I wanted to find a horse with some problems that were big enough to be an issue but not big enough to get me killed. Kill pens in America are full of horses with minor problems that no one took the time to fix, or perhaps the owner caused the problems to begin with.
My goal is to help a horse become safe, trustworthy and fun, thus helping to ensure a good home for life. It’s a win/win. I gain experience and a horse that might otherwise wind up in the slaughter pipeline becomes a valued member of someone’s family. I’m not a professional trainer. This is a hobby for me.
Earlier this year I started looking at cheap project horses, mostly on Craigslist. I wanted to spend about $500. Then I saw an ad for Heidi on a facebook horse sale site. This was the first picture I saw.
Look at that butt. That’s what you call an engine. I thought she looked like some kind of draft cross. Turns out she is a paint/thoroughbred cross. I contacted the seller and found out that she sat in a field for 2 years and was sold to a barrel racing barn as part of a package deal with an Arabian gelding and a mule. They wanted to use her in their lesson program but she was extremely overweight and had an attitude about being ridden. She was arena sour and wouldn’t move forward in the arena. She did well on trails and they let an 8 year old ride her on the trail. In the arena, she bucked. A couple people tried to work with her but it was frustrating and they didn’t really have time to give her what she needed. They needed a horse that was earning its keep, and Heidi wasn’t. The picture below is Heidi in her field, at her fattest, almost 1500 lbs.
They sent me some video of her being ridden and it was exactly what they said- she didn’t want to go forward and she was obviously pissed off. The pictures below are some screenshots.
I could tell that, despite her unwillingness, she was a really pretty mover and she had potential to be a fantastic horse for someone. I wrote the seller an email and said I couldn’t afford to pay what they wanted, but that I really liked her and I had plenty of time to work with her and help her get over her issues. I explained that I’m really into classical dressage and that I would spend a lot of time lunging her and doing groundwork before I would do much of anything under saddle. They wrote back and said they liked me best out of all the inquiries. We agreed on a price (over budget for me but a big cut for them) and I drove five hours to pick her up.