Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Trail Training #113 - A New Adventure Begins…

A New Adventure Begins…

There are only two things that seem to help me when I lose one of my beloved animals. The first is time, and the second is getting another animal to distract me. I decided I didn’t want to wait for time, I would get another horse, instead.

Nothing can take away the loss of Mingo, but a new project would get my mind off those last horrible months. Just looking for a horse helped me stop looking at the past and got me pointed toward the future.
I wanted another Morab, like Cruiser, and I wanted a gelding because he would fit in better with the rest of the family. So, a few weeks ago, I found myself heading out to Indiana with Kevin at the wheel. We were going to look at a 4-year-old Morab stallion at a breeder. Smokin Cole Train was black, 14.2 hands and never been ridden.

When I am bored at work, I have been known to look at Morab breeders’ websites just for fun and to give me fodder for my daydreams. I have been looking at Tamar’s Ventures for years. I remember when she posted pictures of Cole when he was just a baby, and I watched him grow up. I never imagined I would be going to go see him.

The trip took us three hours. We only got a little lost, but with the help of my cell phone, we arrived safely. (Just over 20 years ago, the same thing happened when we went to go see Cruiser, but we didn’t have cell phones back then. What a nightmare looking for a payphone out in the middle of nowhere!)

I was determined to go with an open mind and not just buy on impulse. That is how I ended up with Cruiser just over a week after my first horse, Brandy, died. No, this time, I would look with a critical eye. When I got out of the car, looked across to where I saw a black horse, my heart skipped a beat and jumped into my throat all at once. I told it to get back where it belonged. I was going to be objective. Besides, I knew she had other black horses. At this distance, it might not have been him.

Tamara came out of the house and took us right over to him. That was Cole, my new horse Cole. No, I was going to be objective…

He had had a saddle on a few times, so she suggested we try, again and see how he was. I thought it was a great idea. With that and the very, very strong wind, I would be able to see how he acts under adverse conditions. That is one way to see the true character of a horse.

She caught him and brought him over to the round pen. He allowed her to saddle him, but I could see the wind was making him nervous. The wind was making me nervous, too. She let him loose and he went straight up in the air like a bucking bronco—twice. Wow. The wind had caught the saddle blanket and flapped it around on his back. Cruise would have been startled by that, too, but I don’t think he would have jumped that high. No, Cruiser would have dashed forward at top speed.

He acted rather disturbed about the wind and the blanket for a couple minutes as he danced about the round pen, but then I saw him gradually relax and start to work. He trotted and cantered very nicely. I really liked his trot.

He is 75% Morgan and 25% Arabian, yet he looked more Morgan than most Morgans. At 14.2 hands, he was as big as can be. It wasn’t just because he was overweight; it was because he had that Morgan big-horse look. I started thinking to myself, “Am I going to buy a draft pony? I can’t believe I am buying a draft pony?” I started to wonder if his father really was a Morgan or if one of those Amish horses got loose one night…

I remember when I got my first horse, Brandy, a Morgan. When we backed him off the trailer, a bystander exclaimed, “Wow. What a big horse.” He was just over 14.2 hands, himself. I was going back to my roots.

Tamara gave me the rope so I could lead him. As I walked him about the round pen, I could see he was looking at me—watching me—paying attention. It took me years before Cruise would pay attention. Half the time, he still isn’t. Cole would stop, I don’t know why, and refuse to go. I would just step him slightly sideways to the outside, and he would proceed. I’m not sure if he was testing me or if he was just unsure of himself. Either way, we worked it out easily. My gut feeling said that not only did he pay attention, but he was a thinker. Yes, there was a little Mingo in him, and that isn’t a bad thing.

I asked her to hold him while I lifted his feet. Not only did I want to take a look at them, I wanted to see how he acted. Of course, he wasn’t like Cruise who lifts his feet like a dream—but we have been doing it for years and have a routine. He wasn’t like Mingo, either, who always pulled his back feet away and you had to wait for them to come down. I’m glad to say he wasn’t how Ranger can be, making evil faces and acting like you are going to kill him. Though Cole wasn’t quick about it, he did fine with only slight coaxing. In time, I could see him being like Cruiser.

Kevin wanted to Tamara to lead him on a straight line, so she took him out and led him down the driveway and back. I took him and did the same thing. He led fine and traveled well. Kevin wanted to try. I told Tamara this would be a good test because horses didn’t listen to Kevin. Mingo never did. Kevin got him to the end, turned him around and Cole refused to move. We all started to laugh. Kevin yelled over, “What is it about black horses. Why won’t they listen to me?” He swung the rope to Cole’s side, and he dance away in shock. I saw that Tamara never had to use any serious pressure with him—a good sign. Kevin got him moving and brought him back.

To tell you the truth, I was not sure what to do. He was a good horse that was just a bit chunky and needed his feet trimmed, but I couldn’t find anything glaringly wrong with him. He had a terrific temperament that made you forget he was a stallion. Yet, it was such a big decision that would affect me for years to come. What to do?

Tamara put him back in his pen, and she took us on a tour. Wow, she has a nice barn, but all the horses lived outside in paddocks and pastures. I saw lots of beautiful horses, and most were related to Cole. She had one black stallion whose face reminded me so much of Mingo, it was uncanny, since they were of such different breeding. He also moved like Mingo—like a horse who didn’t have to be anywhere. It was surreal.

I still didn’t know what to do, so I decided to call Ellen. I told her all about him, but she didn’t know what advice to give. Then she confessed that even if she was there, she wouldn’t tell me what to do, either.
I sighed. In the end, I followed my heart. The negotiation was simple and painless, and it didn’t end with a handshake but with a hug. I believe Cole is going to make a fine trail horse, and now he’s mine. I think Tamara might have figured out what a good home he is getting, too.

Tamara agreed to take care of the gelding. Just going to a new home is stressful enough, he didn’t need to have an operation when he got there. So, now I wait...

On the day that I bought Cole, Mingo would have turned fifteen.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

OMG! I just looked up the breeder's website and he is absolutely friggin GORGEOUS! I love him! From the sound of it your got yourself a great horse. I didn't know until this post that he'd never been ridden. I look forward to hearing about your adventures together. I'm selfishly hoping to pick up some tips for when Chrome is ready. :D I'm also seriously considering buying your book because although I love dressage I'll always be a trail rider at heart. :)