Wednesday 21 December 2011

Is it time to start kicking tires yet?

And so, after a few tries, and a few close calls with weirdness, I decided that maybe part-boarding wasn't the way to go right away.  I still had my hunter friends who always needed a horse or two tuned up, so I figured I would get my riding fix there and instead start some virtual shopping.

Now remember, the year was 2004.  Horse shopping was a lot different than it is today.

Well - let me rephrase that.  Because many parts of horse shopping, virtual or not, have not changed at all, in probably, oh, 500 years.  Things like showing lame horses, and really hoping the buyer doesn't notice. The part that has changed is the "virtual" side of the game.

Back in the day - it was actually acceptable to post an ad with no pic and expect someone to call you.  (I actually bought the Platypus from a Toronto Star classified ad. Remember those?)  Now, I won't even click on an ad unless there is a multi-media show awaiting me.

This is good... and bad.

It is good in that - if a horse is a conformational horror show - a good pic will usually bring this to your attention fairly quickly.  The bad side of it is - if a horse is not a conformational horror show - a stupid owner will be able to mislead you into thinking it is, by posting a really bad picture.  I am sure some good opportunities got away from me due to the strange compulsion of some sellers to depict their horses as mud encrusted camels with their front legs in a hole.
I get that you are busy.  So am I - that is why I am not going to drive all over Ontario to see if there is a beautiful beast hiding out under the wild child exterior. I don't care how wonderful your baby is (remember, I was looking for a 2 - 3 year old, so not the sexiest phase to be viewing horses in the first place), it cannot really wow me if it is filthy with a long tangled mane, standing in 6 inches of manure.  It can't be a blurry picture snapped from 500 yards away, with the horse fleeing at a strange angle like that famous picture of bigfoot.  The horse should not be huddled with 7 other muddy friends.
"Ground covering stride"

It is good in that - pretty much everyone posts a youtube video these days that you can check out, typically before you even call.

It is also bad in that many owners create truly horrific videos that are impossible to watch for more than 25 seconds.

Some like to show off their horses "suspension" and "uphill gaits" by scaring the snot out of them and having them rip-snort around the mud/manure paddock, sliding into fencing and doing bad, hoppy Pepe LePeu canter with frantic disunited changes thrown in here and there.

Again - you could have been a contender!  (If your owner wasn't stupid!)

Equally as bad are the people who have slapped a saddle (typically something that says "redneck", like maybe a purple wintec) on the horse, and then show it doing a slow catatonic western jog type trot on the longe line.  Extra nice when this is performed on frozen, lumpy ground.  First - I have mixed feelings about the 2-year old that is ho-hum bored on the longe line - how much have they been longed?  Secondly - how does this show me anything about how the horse might  move someday when it is actually allowed to GO?

I guess it is better than the "longeing" videos that are depicting "owner flying horse like a kite".  You know the ones with the little bugger ripping around with its head cranked to the inside and the owner trying not to be launched across the field and into the fence...

The ones I can't even watch are the ones where the owner wants to wow me with the fact that they can kick a giant soccer ball at the horse's face, or drape it in a tarp, or some other bizarre Parelli / natural touch shit without the horse going nutso. (I swear, I just made this example up as sort of an amalgam of my memories, but then found a perfect example on on in my very first search.  Wow, that is only the second time you have whacked her in the head with a plastic bag on a stick, eh? Hmm....great.  I guess).  Hey, you know what would really impress me instead?  Showing me that the horse can tolerate getting a nice shampoo, having its mane trimmed and braided, and can do something sane and showy on the triangle, while being handled by a handsome, long legged, fast running guy.  He should also be shampooed.  Yah, that would be nice.  You can drape me in a tarp any day, baby.  Ooops, my mind is wandering isn't it.

I know I live in Canada, and therefore we have Winter.  Not everyone has an indoor, and lots of babies live outside.  But I love the responses to sales inquiries that say "Oh, I don't have any pictures of him without six inches of winter coat and a head and body so furry, you can't tell where his neck starts or ends".  Winter is not a surprise that sneaks up on us. (WTF?  It is cold AGAIN? Wow, that's just crazy...!).   Even if you live in Northern Saskatchewan, there is a month or two when I hope to hell this horse does not look like a Yak.  Plan ahead, and snap some pics THEN.  Heey, good idea, eh?

Yes, things are much better as I virtual shop today.  Back in the day, I only had maybe one or two good pics to scrutinize, before picking up the phone (remember back when we called people to verbally ask stuff?) requesting that the owner mail me a VHS tape to look at (sometimes having to pay shipping/handling for the tape).  Which means that I  had not much to work with, and lots of time to daydream about how wonderful the horse would be, before the depressing Pepe LePeu, soccer ball to the head video arrived.

And so, I started the long, slow process of horse shopping.  Step one though, was really deciding what I needed.  Something "registered" would be nice.  Hey, what is this "Canadian Sport Horse" thing anyways.  Sounds interesting....


  1. you have just described my pain.

  2. Where is the "reactions" button for "Oh so true!"

  3. I will see if I can add this. Mr. Motard has already requested a "stupid" box.

  4. I went through this last year. Originally, I wanted a horse with half-way decent conformation, started in dressage (training level), a great brain, and well-mannered. After a couple of weeks, I dropped my expectations to: legs all go the same way, and won't kill me the second I walk near it.