On December 28, 2009 I came home with this:
She had no topline, no butt muscles, and no hair on her rump due to rubbing it all off on the fence posts. She could care less who I was or what I wanted.
My horse search was pretty mundane. Looking online, I reduced the horrific number of sales ads by including only picture ads for mares over 15H and between 10-15 years of age. I didn't even know endurance existed or that there were horses being sold for the sport. A few horses peaked my interest enough to contact the sellers, but I never took it any farther. Nothing seemed right.
Then one day in the middle of December I saw a no picture ad that read:
10 year old Arab mare, bay, 15H $800.
That's it. No description of her personality, training history or current status. For the life of me I don't know why I emailed the seller, why I convinced the hubby to drive 2 hours to see her, or why I gave a 16 year old boy a check for $800 and drove off to find a suitable boarding facility.
When I went to look at her she was standing in a shed in the front yard all alone. She nickered out at us, but it was a call for food, not attention. She was filthy, about 150 pounds underweight, horrid feet and so full of worms you could almost hear them in her belly. I didn't ride her. I didn't care what her training was or where she came from.
The boy dropped her off at her new barn and I got to work brushing out her filthy coat. Only then did I fully realize how underweight she was under all that hair. She hated the attention. She tried to rear in the cross ties. She tried to bolt away. She was uncatchable in the paddock. She wasn't mean. She wasn't violent. She just saw no value in making friends with some strange human who was probably going to ditch her or not feed her or ignore her anyway.
We had the vet out and she was healthy otherwise. The farrier came and took an hour to get a single shoe off. Her feet were angry. No, I didn't do a pre purchase exam on an $800 pony that I had no clue what I was even going to do with. We made a nutrition plan and I signed up with a trainer at the barn to figure some things out.
The beginning posts of this blog are a retrospective account of our first few years together, so I won't rehash it all here, but I will say that she was emotionally distant, stubborn and would oscillate between refusing to move at all and bolting wildly around the arena looking for an escape. She had no respect for me or anyone else and in general seemed upset with life.
After many hours, days, weeks, months and years of working with her this is what I now have:
It doesn't even look like the same mare, does it?
Emotionally and mentally she has changed a ton too. While Gem isn't an "in your pocket" type of horse, she does come greet me or at the least stands still and watches me walk over to her with ears towards me and a light in her eyes. She gets angry when I go too long without visiting. She has her moments where she reverts back to bad manners and behaviors, but I can forgive those when I remember how she used to be. She is the prettiest horse in the world to me and I am forever thankful that I looked at the single line ad with no picture. I couldn't imagine tackling the trails upon any other animal and hope to see many, many more years with her.
She will forever have a home with me.
Happy 5 years Gemmie!!!