“Do you have any carrots?” asks Reggie. Photo by Justine.

Once a Horse Junkie, Always a Horse Junkie

Checking horse for sale ad sites, like Dreamhorse.com and Equine.com, have been a part of my daily “sites to check” ritual for who knows how long now. I don’t even think about it anymore. I wake up, grab a cup of a coffee and browse through the most recent ad postings much like how I peruse the Internet for news.

I wouldn’t say I’m in the market for a new horse, no matter how many cute off the track thoroughbreds I star as favorites, or how many times I watch the sale video of a handsome young warmblood over and over again. But it doesn’t hurt to look, and maybe daydream, right?

It’s been more than four years since I’ve last owned a horse. I wrote about my experience selling my longtime equine partner while I struggled to pay for my own groceries, (let alone his,) during college. Now that I’m an “adult” with a couple of years of stable, paying work under my belt, there are times I’ve convinced myself that now’s the time. If I’m ever going to buy another horse, I should do it now before I start accumulating more expenses, like owning a house, or another rescue dog, or who knows!

But just because I haven’t been a horse owner doesn’t mean I haven’t been around the sport. Being free of the debt that comes with caring for a horse has given me the time and cash flow to expand on my riding abilities. I’ve made some money giving lessons to young girls on stubborn ponies, which taught me more about horses and riding in general than I ever expected. I’ve worked as an exercise rider, riding springy green horses and some that were just downright crazy. I’ve tried new disciplines by taking on a part-time-ish working student position under a dressage trainer, and paid for lessons on schoolmasters who showed me REAL way to do a flying lead change and a leg yield.

But then I met Reggie. A handsome blood bay six-year-old Hanoverian gelding, while working for the breeder who raised him. I was exercising her sale horses several times a week, which included working with Reggie. He quickly became my least favorite horse in the barn. He was pushy on the ground and stubborn under saddle. He knew his size and wasn’t afraid the throw his weight around, nor would he hesitate to tell you when he didn’t agree with what we were trying to do during that particular work out. But I didn’t give up, no matter how frustrating he was some days. I saw him as a challenge, and every evening I left the barn, I spent the night coming up with ways to approach each new set of problems that came about.

Potential buyers came and went, always finding a reason why Reggie was just too green for them or maybe wasn’t the right size. So our work outs continued, and eventually Reggie’s attitude slowly began to change. Instead of the pushy horse that might run you over on the way to pasture, Reggie began to understand what was my space versus what was his. In the pasture, he’d nestle his head in my lap and let me scratch behind his ears without trying to bite me. I guess you could say he grew on me too.

Whee! Photo by Nick, Justine’s boyfriend.

When I had the opportunity to take on a new job with an employer on the other side of the state, I was sad to think that I was going to leave Reggie behind. Although he was listed for sale at the time, I never considered buying him, until now.

What kind of life would I live if I didn’t take a little risk sometimes? I knew my finances would more than cover my routine costs and his, so why not just go for it? After talking it over my partner, family members and equestrian friends, it just made sense. Here was a horse I knew – I knew his quirks, what he was good at and his potential. So I made an offer, and down came his for sale ad.

My stomach is still in knots as I think about it. I’m still slowly getting settled into my life in a new city, but the butterflies still arise every time I think about him. It’s been fun making plans for us by visiting farms and narrowing down trainer choices in my new town. Instead of browsing the “horses for sale” ads in the morning, I’m scouring saddlery catalogs and websites, checking off items and accessories I’ll need for my new friend. Reggie’s set to have a pre-purchase vet exam this week. Keep your fingers crossed all goes well and that by the next time I post, Reggie will be here with me!

Justine

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