Monday, 30 March 2015

Don't Fall In Love Too Early



We last left off after we found Uno, the cutie pictured above.  Uno is a 7yo Selle Francais who was, in pretty much every way, perfect for me.  He was brave. He was chilled. He hacked with no qualms. He wasn't a spooky idiot. He learned quickly, and though his flat work needed a lot of help, that's something that I'm really quite good at.  He was authoritative and blooded to the jumps. He would jump *anything* from *anywhere* and give zero shits about what was under it. He held my hand and took over when I made mistakes, and I made one really big one where he just dealt and didn't think twice about it. Liverpools, scary fillers, the open water - he didn't care. I got on and jumped him bigger than I usually do at home and couldn't WAIT to go bigger. It felt amazing. His jump was easy to sit, unless he really launched. The horse competed to 1.35m in France, so the scope was there too. We negotiated him down to what was more or less the perfect price, which, with my budget isn't very easy, particularly for Florida.  It was easy to get him to Wellington for a several day trial, and he was a perfect monkey in the ring. The universe seemed to be on my side.  I fell for him, and I fell hard.


I fully admit to knowing I should have waited, and that it's never good to give your heart to a horse you're trying when they haven't yet seen the vet.  But we were so hopeful - he was 7, he had had perfect X-rays when he was imported, blah blah blah.  I was so confident in it that I gave my notice on my lease with Riley.  Yeah, whoops...

Saturday began the longest weekend of my short life.  The vet, who was incredible, and apparently does all of Kent Farrington's horses (there's a good recommendation if ever there was one!) She appeared midmorning and thus began the most extensive vetting ever.  First we did blood, then flexions.  He flexed slightly positive on both stifles, which we had actually expected given his fitness level and conformation, and weren't worried about.  But then he flexed slightly positive on the right front, vet thinking coffin.  Uh oh, says we.  We move to flexions under saddle, same thing, but the horse works better when packaged, which vet is philosophically optimistic about, thinking the fitness and greenness is causing some of it. Well, it isn't too bad, and we think it's worth the X-rays, so onward and upward.



So, on to the X-rays we went. The first thing the vet did was pull his front shoes, and that's where things got a little iffy.  He had been wearing half pads (cut out to support his heel, and no pad in front... stupid really, since that just lets everything compact under the frog) and he had terrible thrush, as well as the beginnings of white line disease and both his front feet had small splits up the middle. Vet is unamused, makes it all sound very dire, and tells me white line is a maintenance nightmare. But, she is also mildly optimistic that it's not very far advanced, and could be at the point where it's still able to be completely eradicated.  Let's X-ray the feet, she says, and see how far up it extends, and also see where this split goes.

So we X-ray.  The front feet turn out to be fairly okay - the white line is not advanced, and the split is not advanced either.  Not affecting internal structures, and nowhere near them really. He is positive to the hoof testers, but she believes it's due to the poor foot care he's been receiving. He is also trimmed very oddly and unevenly and is due for a shoeing.  We go on and take the remaining X-rays, and she cheerfully tells me that she's seeing else pop up.  Upon her recommendation, she calls a farrier who is, apparently, the best in North America, shoes for the US Team horses, etc etc and is excellent with foot problems and any foot therapies necessary.  He agrees to pop in in a few hours and volunteer his opinion.  So we wait with bated breath until he appears.  I am somewhat beside myself, knowing if this farrier decides the horse has some serious foot issues that it will have to be a "no."  I am hopeful. All the barn staff and trainers are holding their breath.

So, the farrier shows up. He pulls out the horse, proceeds to quietly trim him and assess.  At the end, he stands up and says, "I would not be afraid of this horse's feet at all. If the feet are the deciding factor on whether you buy him, I would buy him. It's obvious they've been neglected, and there are several months of work ahead of you to fix the issues, but even with this trim I was able to even out his feet, take the pressure off his heels, and trim away about 50% of the white line issues.  I think if he is taken care of correctly, you will have no problems whatsoever in the future. I don't see any of this being an issue." Additionally, the way he was trimmed (low heel, pointy toes) led him to believe that the horse's split toes (worth noting exactly the same on both feet) were due only to poor trimming. He believed the flexion we got on the right front was due to the horse's tendons being extended the wrong way for so long, and that any horse would flex when they were pulled back the other direction, and that we shouldn't worry about that either if the X-rays are clean.  Excellent!!!! Says we.  I am stoked. Excited. Grinning again, the stress removed. I am so happy. I do a dance down the barn aisle. This horse is going to be mine, he is going to come home to Canada, we are going to jump the 1.20 this summer and maybe move into the 1.30s. He is perfect for resale, his age is ideal, he's brave and he's just wonderful.


I - and everyone else - am so confident about this that we crack open some cocktails and celebrate. I go buy a halter, complete with nameplate, and an Uncle Jimmy Hanging Ball.  Uno falls in love with this since he is, after all, a mouthy 7 year old gelding who is somewhat busy minded and food motivated.  I have figured out his favorite treats - he loves and adores carrots most, puff mints, apples and Meadow Mint cookies.  He is not a banana boy despite my best efforts.  I go to bed that night, following the penultimate WEF Grand Prix (and yet more cocktails....) and dream happy dreams.


I'm awakened at 8am after far too little sleep by the Assistant trainer calling me.  Her voice gives nothing away at first, until she interrupts my stories about the night prior to say, "I have some news, and it isn't good."

At first I think the sellers will not negotiate further on price. (We had him at a great price, but given the foot issues, we were advised to negotiate further, which was very much fair.) I am thinking to myself, well if they won't negotiate it down more, that's kinda fine, it's not a huge deal.

But then she goes on to say that the vet looked at the X-rays in a dark room, which of course allows them to see things more clearly, and give close examination.  

And it turns out that my horse-to-be has a very terrible issue which appeared only in the past seven or eight months since his import. It's a bad issue. Like, really bad, leads to horses being put down sort of thing.  The vet says it may never bother him, but the fact that he's not flexing 100% on that leg leads her to believe that it will, if not shortly, become an issue at some point in the future - and that also, for resale it will be an impossibility. It is the sort of thing that sends a potential buyer screaming for the hills. It's the sort of thing that drops a high $$$ horse from being worth absurd amounts of money to $5,000 instead.  It's the type of thing an insurance company will never insure. It's the type of thing that, if and when it becomes an issue, the horse is in pain forever and lame as can be, and most end up being put down.  It is, in short, serious, particularly due to this particular placement.

And so the Assistant says, I have talked to Trainer, I have talked to the vet, and we think it's not a good idea.  If it were me, says she, there is no way I would buy him. You may get many years out of him, but you would never be able to resell. You might have him for two weeks before he goes lame for life.  We just do not know. 

And so my perfect angel of a potential new horse turned into a great big "no."  Just like that, the bubble popped, and the dream ended.


After some quick leg work by the amazing barn staff, Uno found a place on a transport heading back to Ocala which left in several hours.  I went to say goodbye, give him some more of his favorite treats, and stroke his silky soft neck.  He didn't understand, and it wasn't his fault. He was visibly upset getting on the trailer, and kept staring at me like, what is going on? In such a short time, we had developed something. Even if he just thought I was the Treat Lady, he still knew me, and had no idea what was happening to him.  I had to load him on the trailer myself, and it really hit me then. I knew I shouldn't have given my heart away to this horse, but I had, and I cried and cried, kissed his nose and told him to be a good boy.  The last look I had of him before the trailer door closed was him staring at me, ears perked, for many long seconds.



And so it is over.

As I type this, I think to myself how ridiculous I must sound.  I only knew him for six days, but I came to love him so terribly quickly.  He was easy to love. I really feel horses like him don't roll around too often. He had the perfect amateur brain, and that's hard to find.  He was the perfect size, he was a lovely color (I'm trying to stay away from greys [cleaning nightmare] and really dark bays [only ever had terrible experiences with them; it's a superstition now!]) and just super cute to boot. Plus, he was so much fun to ride. I'm not kidding when I say I've never felt more confident jumping a horse in my entire life. For someone like me, who is anxiety ridden when jumping, that was a huge deal. Instead, I couldn't WAIT to get on and jump him.

The whole thing has been depressing as hell, and when you mix it in with all the stupid crap and drama that occurred in Wellington (more on that later, maybe) it just turned out to be two weeks that were pretty terrible.  There were good things, of course - I got to ride this lovely soul, I had a fantastic time with my friend, and even had a horse showing at WEF for the first, and probably last, time in my life. I even kept the number to prove it!  Those things are amazing, and I am so grateful that I got to experience the time with him and enjoy showing him.  But I am so, so sad that it didn't work out medically.  He really passed every test we gave him with flying colors, and then some.  It's not his fault. It's anything BUT his fault.  It would have been so much easier if he turned into a jerk, or started to be spooky or take off to the jumps, or stop, or something, but instead he tried his little heart out and did everything we asked of him cheerfully and well.

But now I don't know what will happen. The owners took little Uno back, and still plan on selling him for "money" - whatever that means. We tried offering to lease, we tried offering next to nothing for him, because realistically he is not sellable with his condition.  For $5k or something I would have been happy to take the risk. But not for what they wanted.  We tried, we really did, but they were not open to anything, and now I really don't know what happens to him. I don't know if they try to continue selling him, or if he gets put down.  I hope he lives a long and healthy life and that his condition ends up never bothering him... but that's not very likely.

Additionally, I have no idea what will happen for myself.  The horse show season is around the corner; give or take five weeks and it begins.  I will have no horse. Yes, I currently have Riley, but they've already found a new lessor for him, and that ends for me at the end of April.  We'll keep looking of course, but I don't know what's out there, and after the past several weeks of trainer wrangling I don't exactly feel hopeful that they'll find something for me.  So that sucks too.

Post of depression, y'all. But what a sucky, sucky weekend.




38 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry :( he seemed way too good to be true and I guess it turned out that way too. That's insane that they wouldn't consider a lease or a super low price on him... at least then he'd get a good home. They seem to be in complete denial about it! Hopefully they come to their senses and he lives a long, happy life. Keeping my fingers crossed that the next one is just as perfect and also passes the vet check with flying colors :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He really was too good to be true! I've never really met a horse like him. The closest that a horse comes to him is Riley, but even he can turn into a complete idiot sometimes. An idiot with clean X-rays, though :)
      I have no idea what they'll do with him... I mean, if anyone else does a PPE on him the same issue will come up, it's not like they can mask it, you know? It's not just something you can lie about. It will be right there, in the same place. Urgh. It's just stupid.
      Thanks though, I hope to find one eventually! It will be hard to find one like this one though.

      Delete
  2. That's a shame they wouldn't let him go to a good home if they can't actually sell him honestly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I have no clue how they plan on selling him now. Nobody with a brain would even consider purchasing him with that issue. Although maybe some rich idiot who doesn't care will just buy him without thinking twice about it. Happens more than you'd think :P

      Delete
  3. I'm so sorry it didn't work out. Keeping my fingers crossed for you both - surely something good will come out of all that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure hope so. Trust in the universe right?? Serious blah though!

      Delete
  4. Wow. I'm so sorry. I feel just sick for you.

    I hope they come around and just, like, give him to you. They really should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah pipe dreams :) Thank you for your kind words!

      Delete
  5. I'm so very sorry for you both :'( I too tend to fall hard and fast. Can you leave the sellers yor contact info in case they can't find something? It sounds like you really connected with each other. Thinking good thoughts for you. I'm struggling too in that I can't afford to lease a horse, but I've topped out on what the Mareface I ride can do. I'm basically stuck at 2'9"-3' for the foreseeable future. My lesson partners are passing me by, and my trainer said she'd have me jumping 3'6" if I had something that could do it. I keep telling myself it's an opportunity to perfect my riding, but it still sucks :-/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry I dumped my stuff on you, it wasn't appropriate. My sleeping meds had just kicked in and your post had me feeling rather melancholy. Sending you virtual hugs.

      Delete
    2. Hey, please don't worry about that at all. First of all I take sleep meds and totally get it (you should see some of the crap I've posted...), second of all you weren't dumping anything on me at all. I like comments that have depth to them and yours certainly does.

      I also really feel your pain with your mare. That's where I am with my boy (Riley) right now, whom I love absolutely dearly but is realistically scoped out around 1m. Yeah he can jump around the 1.10 (3'7") but it's touch and go and if I'm inaccurate at all he will simply say no, mainly at the oxers. And people wonder why I have an oxer phobia. Not that I blame him really, but it's nerve wracking as hell. I never know if I'm going to come out alive! My trainer is also fond of telling me I'd be jumping around the 1.20/1.30m if I had the right horse, and I thought this was the one. With my budget it's just not really possible to sail out and pick out anything I want and that makes this all the more difficult. I don't even know if I can attain the goals I have - even moving to the 1.20m - due to the almighty dollar. I try not to think about it too much but it's always at the back of my mind and makes my brain and heart hurt.

      I'm not sure what your situation is - if you're able to switch your ride, not sure if you own your mare?... or if selling or lease termination is an option. I'm terrible at keeping up on peoples' blogs just due to having like no time! I can't even keep up on my own :p

      Thank you though, for the e-hugs and the comment and the words and please do not feel bad about it at all. I appreciate you telling me your experience :)

      Delete
    3. Thank you for understanding! Re: my situation, it's actually not a lease or own. The horse's owner pays for full training but can only ride once per week, so I'm allowed to ride her whenever I want (right now during my 2x per week lessons). As a gesture to her owner I split any big costs like teeth, chiro, vet, her monthly depo shots, but I don't pay any board or training outside of what I pay my trainer for individual lessons. It's kind of a weird deal, but it works for everyone. I'm just kind of stuck now that I've maxed her out. I'm planning to gamble my butt off (like $2-300) in Vegas next month while I'm at the World Cup, in the hopes of winning enough for a year lease 😜 Any chance you'll be there? I'd love to meet up! PS, no blog for me, hence the comment purge 😉

      Delete
  6. I'm so sorry sweetie *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  7. Awh man, I'm so sorry. :( I always fall quickly (and hard) with horses like that. It's definitely hard to let them go, but I'm sure you did the right thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure I did too, but unfortunately it doesn't make it any easier! He was just too cool. Thank you though :)

      Delete
  8. I'm so sorry :( I vetted a horse that I was SO excited about this past fall. It was a 6 yr old and I thought the vetting would be fine.... It flunked miserably :( I know it can be SO discouraging. If you're ever in Virginia, let me know. I know some really nice young horses that are good amateur rides. Good luck, you'll find the right one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh that's awful. I guess it's why we vet them but jeeeezzzz it sucks! Virginia's a bit out of my usual range but hey, you never know :)

      Delete
  9. Im sorry. That is always so disappointing but you will find something even more amazing. Things seem to work out that way. Wish I had known you were in Ocala as I could have directed you to some other nice prospects. Your horse is out there and he or she will be great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so, trying super hard to trust that things will work themselves out and I'll just find the ~perfect~ horse for super cheap that I'll love even more! I mean, you never know, right? Not that it's super easy to keep that mindset presently but... well... one day at a time! I hardly knew I was going to Ocala; it was kind of a last minute thing!

      Delete
  10. So sorry for your heart break!

    ReplyDelete
  11. what a huge disappointment - sending many hugs your way!! he definitely sounds like a difficult one to say 'no' to :( wishing you all the best in finding something suitable soon!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ridiculous disappointment UGH! Thank you so much, I hope so too.

      Delete
  12. Oh how heartbreaking. Very sad, but it means the right horse for you is out there still looking for you. Most likely the current owners will write off your vet's concerns as "just one vet's opinion" and advise future potential buyers to do their own vet-checks rather than rely on yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully! Trying to keep that mindset! I'm sure there's one out there... somewhere.

      I suppose they probably will; if I had to guess the issue won't be disclosed at all and some other unsuspecting soul will pay $2500 for a vet check too. Philosophically there may realistically be someone out there who won't care about it and just take the chance if they're a millionaire that treats horses like disposable diapers. We all know those people are sure out there.

      Delete
    2. Holy crap $2500 for PPE?? Those are Welly prices alright! I typically pay $1500 including x-raying feet, legs, and stifles

      Delete
    3. Yeah welcome to Wellington. My last PPE in Canada was extensive and around $1600. We X-ray everything but the back and neck, run blood etc.

      Delete
  13. I'm sorry :( There isn't much more to say besides that and I'm pulling for you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Now that's a kick in the gut. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Big time! My stomach still hurts thinking about it.

      Delete
  15. Just wanted to add. You can find deals out there, even when if seems impossible. Try not to lose heart :( if I told you what I paid for my AO jumper, who had a 1.45 m record in Europe, you'd probably think I was lying. She's easily worth 3x what we paid. She has a few quirks, but is SAFE and KIND, so I will gladly put up with those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whaaaaat.... give me your hookup! :P

      Delete
  16. Oh man, I am so so sorry :-( That really sucks. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that as this door closes, another one opens for you <3

    ReplyDelete
  17. If you ever need a pad to crash at for a euro shopping trip I'm nestled between Belgium, France & Germany with the Netherlands readily accessible also ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. So sorry it didn't work out for you...maybe something better is just waiting for you round the corner :)

    ReplyDelete