Some of you who followed the great horse search may remember this guy:
Here's his pedigree. His name is Drifter, and I went to visit him in October of last year - here's my write-up on the visit. Although he was very close to what I wanted, I ended up turning him down because I have no indoor facilities permitting consistent arena work over the winter, and some of Drifter's issues would have required that work. I kept looking, and found Pie, and he suits me very well and is already able to take me down the trail.
But for some reason, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Drifter. I really liked him - he's got fabulous legs and feet, is beautifully sound with athletic movement and has an intelligent, responsive mind (proved by some of the work I was able to get done with him in the one ride I had). He does have a number of holes in his training, and he's learned some things (like bracing in the bridle) that he needs to unlearn. I liked his owner too - she was very honest with me and cares a lot about what sort of home he goes to.
I'd kept his information and was planning to contact his owner in February to see if he was still available. Over the weekend, I checked my e-mail and there was a message from his owner asking if I had found another horse or if I was still interested in him. I replied that I was still interested, despite having found Pie, and we have arranged that I will vet check him in early March and, assuming all is well, he will come home with me then at a time of year when I can start more consistent work with him.
Here's my thinking on getting another horse, and this horse in particular. In 15 years I'll be in my early 70s. If all goes well, I should have about 15 years of time to do some good solid work with several horses with the objective of ending up with great equine partners. After that, who knows? I may be up to that sort of thing in my mid-70s and I may not - I sort of feel like this is the last significant stretch of time in my life when I can really focus on my horse work. I like Drifter enough to take a chance on my ability to work with him, building on his strengths and dealing with issues he has.
In the scheme of horse work challenges, Drifter to my mind is an Intermediate. He'll take a good bit of work, but he'll be a good horse to work with and I have a pretty good idea of how I want to get from A to B to C and so on with him. I suspect that Pie is going to be an Easy - there's plenty that needs doing but he has no bad habits trained in and already has a good basic foundation, and he is strong in the horse "virtues" - which means they haven't been "trained" out of him (see yesterday's post about this). Dawn's an Advanced - one of those ski slopes with the black diamond. Working with her is a real stretch for me - she takes great care and attention - it's a bit like defusing explosives - and I'm still feeling my way although I think she's already made amazing progress and I'm getting a clearer idea of where we're going and how to head there.
In 15 years, if all these horses are still with me, healthy and sound, and I'm still physically able to ride, Dawn will be retired in her late 20s, Drifter would be about 25 and close to or at retirement and Pie at 20 would probably have some trail miles left for an older lady. That sounds about right to me. In addition, I believe that Drifter as he's trained up will make a good trail alternate for Pie, and I intend to do a lot of trail miles. Having a back-up horse isn't a bad idea anyway because we all know that horses can have ailments and injuries that take them out of action for periods of time. I don't know if Dawn and I will make it onto the trails or not, even when she gets into her 20s, but that's for the future - we just may make it there someday and there's a lot to do with her that doesn't involve the trails. This whole scheme, with whatever modifications events require, makes sense to me - I've got the time (I'm retired), I'm ready to step up with my horsemanship and this provides the opportunity, and I think it would be fun, fun, fun, and isn't that what my life with horses is really all about?
So if all goes well, Drifter will join us in March. I'm looking forward to that, and to spring!