Thursday 16 February 2012

D is for...Duuhh...Dud... Die Driving...Dressage Curmudgeon

And then... in about mid November, when I was feeling very discouraged and frustrated by my search...I saw the ad.

Don Donutico.  He was the one.  I knew it.  I even loved the way the name rolled off my tongue.  Sexy.  Delicious.

Don Donutico was a beautiful dark bay Oldenburg, by a popular D-line stallion (a slightly dated one, but this still sounded cool to me...), out of an Oldenburg approved mare (which really means....anyone?  anyone?  anyone...?).  Who's only fault was that he was...a midget.  A stout little 15 something hh, with a string test that said there was not a whole lot more growing to do..which knocked him right out of $20,000 prospect country, and dropped him squarely into my price bracket.

No, no, NO!  I said D-Line Hanoverian.   Not D-Cup.  Pay attention!
Goodbye freaky freaks of the wannabe dressage horse world.  Here was a horse I could afford, with the talking points that snotty dressage assholes would approve of.

Now not only did Don Donutico sound like a good bet as a dressage prospect based on his breeding - he already had results to back this claim.  He had been shown extensively on the line, focusing on "dressage suitability" classes - and had done extremely well.  (And we all know how important success on the line as a youngster is when it comes to evaluating prospects, since it correlates so directly with the future potential of a horse to walk quietly around the showgrounds on the end of a lead rope).

I was so excited!  It was meant to be.

Unfortunately, the bad news was that although I live within an hour or two of the hottest horse hot spots of Ontario - Don Donutico did not.  He was a solid 4 hours away, and not a nice 4 hours either, but 4 hours of nasty 2 lane death pass highway and backroads.  He was out in Hinterland Who's Who country, with the Wood Spider and friends.

(Sorry. I couldn't help myself.  I know it is old but it still cracks me up every time).

Where was I ... oh yah...

And so, our long distance romance began.

I went old school and phoned his breeder, and talked to her at length about the life and times of The Donut. How wonderfully he did... well, everything.  Clips, trailers, cooks, cleans... you know the drill.  She gushed on about how talented he was, how he was the last foal from her very favourite mare, how she had always dreamed of creating a perfect dressage horse with this stallion, how the legendary exceptional D-line temperament was absolutely personified in this little horse..

And of course - how he sounded like exactly the right horse for me (do they ever say "yuck! no! All wrong!").

Did she have a video I could see before I drove halfway to hell?

Of course!  It is on the way!

And so I waited eagerly for the video to arrive - and when it was perfect.  Lots of clear, sane footage, made by a person who did not seem to be a moron.  Conformation shots, the triangle, free footage, as well as footage of the little nut being started on longeing and other ground work related things.

Ooooohh!  This is it, I know it!

Only one hitch - someone from the States was coming to see him on Saturday.  So if I wanted first dibs, I had to get out to see him - right away.  Which can be tricky if it is Monday, you work full time, and have already used all of your holidays.

There is no way this was NOT going to happen for me.  I begged and sniveled and got my boss to let me off a little early the next day, and I hightailed it out to the middle of nowhere to see my new boy.  I drove like a possessed maniac and arrived there around 7:00pm.

(Hmm, I don't remember them saying it was supposed to snow.  But then, I didn't actually check the weather forecast for middle of nowhere. Oh well.  Hey speaking of which...when did Mr. Motard say he was putting my snows on again?  Is it this weekend?  I can't remember).

And I met the nice woman and her husband at the house... And we went out to the barn... And they brought out the Donut... AND...

I didn't like him.  Right from the first second I laid eyes on him.

Who the hell knows how your brain decides such things.  But if I can just push aside the scientist within me for a second and anthropomorphize ...he just had a dour, sulky demeanour about him, not out of character for the entitled, spoiled, raised-by-doting-baby boomers child that he was.

I remember that it actually freaked me out a bit, how little I liked him in person.  And for no logical reason that had to do specifically with anything physical - his conformation was perfect, and he was very attractive.  He just didn't have an endearing personality, which I guess if we get really technical, could possibly have translated into lack of heart or drive or pissyness under saddle - who knows.  Or maybe it meant absolutely nothing other than the fact that I am nuts, just like most horse buyers.

Regardless, I shot a lot of video, and continued along with my visit - give him time, Curmudgeon.  He is going to grow on you...

But he didn't.  In fact, watching him run around the arena just cemented the impression in my mind that he was a no holds barred boring horse.  Was he a nice mover - sure, I guess so - but nothing spectacular.  It was almost as though he were part TB instead of hard-core sexy "Oldenburg". (It's a joke people, I know, I know). He had the floating feet thing going on, a nice big walk, clear 3 beat canter - all the shit you are supposed to look for... but that was about it - beyond the checklist he was just... blah.

Maybe this WAS the remarkable D-line temperament I had read so much about.  Maybe what I was interpreting as surly and braindead was actually amateur friendly, calm, sane, and sensible.  Who knows.  After an hour or so of humming, hawing, and staring at this horse from every angle imaginable, I thanked the owners, (Thanks for coming! Don't forget! Buyers are coming Saturday!  Act NOW!) packed up my camera...

And walked out the door into a horrific blizzard, with about 10 cm of snow on the ground already (that's 3 inches or something, FYI), and more falling fast.

Nice.... I like to think of myself as a sane person, but I was pretty sure this was a sign from above (the aliens, of course, who else?)...saying...CURMUDGEON...  Don't buy that horse!

Six hours of white knuckle, no snow tire driving later, I arrived home mentally exhausted and totally depressed.  Faaacccck!

But I still worried that I wasn't being totally objective.  I decided I would take my growing video collection to review with my now very pregnant veterinarian friend and her horse savvy husband.  I needed some fresh eyes on my project.


  1. " (And we all know how important success on the line as a youngster is when it comes to evaluating prospects, since it correlates so directly with the future potential of a horse to walk quietly around the showgrounds on the end of a lead rope). "

    Hahahaha...I've always thought that too. I always figured in-hand classes were the equivalent of dog shows. I don't get dog shows either. Then again, I like to ride horses around in circles, so what the hell do I know.

  2. Watch your horse's hooves hover over your head a few times when trying to lead him at shows, and that success on the line sounds more appealing! Or just don't buy a horse on crack.

    The D-line horse sounds exactly like all the ones I've known. That must be the "ammy friendly" temperament!

  3. Sometimes, you just "know" if a horse is right or wrong. Sounds like Donut was wrong. Too bad, because everything else about him seems "right." (Always a thought in back of my head now, is ulcers. Could account for a lot of his negative disposition....but certainly not worth it if you didn't "click" with him.)

    OK, the TB comment did not go unnoticed! (Think ya got away with it with that weak apology? Huh? Huh? *G*)
    Love my TB's, but like every breed, there are good ones and bad ones. I've been pretty lucky, although my current "middle son," is rather a trial. (By the by, "third son" is a steady warmblood.) Maybe Donut would have been more attractive with a little TB attitude thrown in there, huh? *LOL*

  4. Ooh the plot thicks! I'm very much enjoying the story so far.

  5. Jean,

    Her "Approved Oldenburg" reference implies mama was TB.