by Brigid Sexton
I, along with many readers, asked for a pony every single year for Christmas from age 3 until age 13. Once I had been showing semi-regularly in the hunter divisions and having lessons for 4 years (and of course after months of asking, pleading and bargaining with my parents) I began the hunt for a horse. As a 16 year old, my goal was to get started in the equitation divisions to prepare for college equestrian teams. So, my list wasn’t a steep one: forgiving, able to do the local and possibly rated equitation, and versatile. Now, for some riders, this may be a matter of giving your trainer the word and having a new import in the barn in a couple weeks. However, that was not the case with me.
I am not an AA circuit rider, I do not have a six figure budget, and I do not have a fancy show barn to do all the work for me. So, I set off online searching and searching for hours, sending countless emails, and calling numerous owners. After spending my weekends driving hours with my mom and boyfriend, trying many OTTBs, I found my dream horse.
Belle was a chestnut Thoroughbred with chrome, floaty gaits, and a textbook jump. Better yet, she was $500 under my top budget. Seemingly perfect, we had her shipped to my barn the following week for a trial. My trainer loved her, and we arranged to have her vet checked that week. I knew I had to keep things in perspective, because OTTBs often had vetting issues, but I couldn’t help falling in love with her cute little star and loving eyes.
That Wednesday, our vet came out and after the usual pre-purchase tests he delivered the news. I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it, nor that I was surprised, but I was devastated nonetheless. Bad hocks and minor lameness in the right front. Her owners came to pick her up and I said my goodbyes. Even now I still wonder if I will ever find another horse like Belle. And so my search continues.
Since Belle, I have tried 7 other horses, yet still no luck. Beautiful horses, everything that fits my wish list, but I didn’t feel like they were “the one.” I feel like a 30 year-old woman looking for a husband, and quick! My search continues today, and hopefully soon I will find my perfect match. So, to all riders who are on the same search as I, don’t give up! I know I will find the right one and so will anyone else frustrated by this looming horse hunt. As my trainer always says, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince!”