I went to see horse #12, henceforth and ever after to be known as Pie. The owner opened the conversation saying that he'd decided to keep him, and send him out to Montana permanently for his ranch working horse out there, if I didn't buy him. He was exactly what I'd expected to see, and even more so, since the photos I had of him didn't allow me to see his confirmation. He was out in the pasture, as I had requested, and we went out to get him and I caught him and led him in. We groomed and tacked him - he was slightly resistant to picking up his front feet but I wasn't using the same signal as his owner, who's been the only one to handle and ride him. I immediately liked his confirmation - nice big feet - no shoes and has never worn them - solid bone in the legs and good overall proportions - slightly long in the back but I think that makes for a smoother ride. Good angulation in the joints, nice front pasterns - just the right amount of slope. Slightly straighter in the hind pasterns, but not excessively so. The tiniest bit cow-hocked behind, but hardly noticeable. A bit narrow through the body, as his owner had described, but not in a displeasing or out of proportion way. One blemish - a lump on the outside of his left front leg between the knee and pastern - which seemed to be old and cold, was probably due to an old injury and which the owner said he's had since he got him as a yearling.
His head isn't his prettiest feature - he's got a bit of a Roman nose - his owner says he wouldn't win any prizes for pretty - but I like it just fine. His personality shows through and there's nothing wrong with what's between his ears.
The owner rode and I rode, in the round pen in the arena - the place available to us. He was responsive in all respects, but very easy to slow or stop. Nice back, nice sidepass. When you give an aid, he responds to the slightest touch but doesn't overreact or rush. Glad to stand still for as long as you wish. Stands still for mounting and dismounting. The whole time we were riding, huge construction trucks - dump trucks, asphalt trucks, etc., were crashing, roaring and banging their way back and forth in front of the open arena doors - the barn, arena and pastures are in the front yard of a busy sand, gravel and asphalt company. No problem with road noises! Comfortable gaits, and a nice natural head carriage. Due to his size and shape, he fits me very well and I feel very comfortable on him. I rode him around briefly in the parking area and along the driveway to the street while the trucks thundered by - he called a few times but did what I asked. The only hole in his training so far that may need filling is that he hasn't spent much time riding out by himself - he's done it a few times when working cattle.
I couldn't have been more delighted. I was able to arrange a vet check the same day - he was very good for all the tedious flexion and other tests and x-rays, and the extra shots (rabies, intranasal strangles and flu/rhino) I had him get to supplement what he's already had. We did some trotting outside on the pavement/gravel and he was completely sound even over stones. He passed the vet check with flying colors and got numerous compliments on his feet, bone, overall confirmation, good manners and patience. The vet will e-mail me her report and the x-rays for my records.
His owner gave me some nice photos of him, including some baby pictures - I'll get these uploaded and put them up when I get home. He is the first horse I've ever had where I've got baby pictures. He was born in April of 2006 on a ranch in Montana, and the the owner got him as an almost unhandled yearling since he already had his full brother who is two years older (I saw him too). The owner was the one who started him and has been almost the only one to work with him since. I must say he's done an excellent job - the horse is calm, responsive and a delight to work with and be around. No problems trained in here - I've got a good example to live up to.
Here are the few photos that I managed to take that were worth saving. Here is his body - I'm delighted with his overall balance, structure, bone and feet:
Here he is, making his "I'm four years old and I'm bored and this lady (the vet) keeps poking me and doing other things and I wish she would stop" - I think this is going to be known as the "Pie face":
And here's what he looks like when he's not making the Pie face:
I'm hoping by the weekend my Pie will be home. He's exactly what I wanted - between 4 and 10 years of age, between 15 and 15.3 hands, excellent feet, bone and overall confirmation, with a short chain of custody - I know the man who trained him from a yearling, a calm, willing personality with plenty of go when asked, and with lots of very good training already in place. I knew if I just kept at it and stuck to what my requirements were, that a horse just like this would be out there.