Thursday 23 February 2012

yadda - yadda - yadda - the end.

No, is not REALLY the end of the blog.

I am sure you are all as sick of hearing about horse shopping as I was of actually horse shopping, and as I am of writing about it here now.  So it is the end of that.

But before we move on...

I know that half of you are saying:

- "I can't believe she actually bought the funky cross - what a loser"

While the other half are saying:

- "I can't believe she actually bought the funky cross - what fun"

And 100% of you are probably wondering by now, if you were to meet me in real life and watched me riding around the arena - would you laugh and point, just point and back away slowly in horror, observe quietly then mock me on UDBB, perhaps choose to ride your own horse at a later time so as to avoid death by collision...

Or maybe...does Dressage Curmudgeon weigh 400lbs, are her half passes actually leg yeilds, does she really bounce alarmingly during extended trot, do the funky bobbing chicken thing during her changes, and lack the ability to count to 4, 4x in a row?

There are so many possibilities, so many things you are probably pondering... and on closer inspection, they all boil down to one thing...

You are asking yourself  "am I going to waste my time reading the training journal of someone who actually - really - sucks". 

And I am here today to help you to decide whether or not you want to blow your lunchhour with me, rather than hearing muffin recipe secrets of the woman in the cubicle next door, or whatever the hot topics may be in your office during breaks.

(I am hearing about why she chooses to eat kraft dinner for lunch right now...innnteresting.  Now - she is discussing belly dancing...oh, there is a visual I could live without). 

To accomplish this... I will also share with you THE END of the story, big picture.  As in... how Ms. V turned out.

(Oh, now she is on about the movie "Alive" for some strange reason - you remember, the one where the plane crashed, and the soccer players ate each other.  NO, no NO... they didn't eat each other in a sexy way, seriously, you are a sicko.  They probably all shit their pants when the plane was crashing, I know I would - so that is the last thing you would want to do to any of them...)

Anyway... to help with your decision...I bring you... a video.  Of Ms. V and me - the one and only video I will ever post.

I think it is only fair since so many of you have committed serious time and effort to following my somewhat lucid ramblings - there have been close to 65,000 visitors to the blog even though it is about dressage AND is completely free of porn - who would have thought it possible?

In return, I ask only three things:

1.  That the first person who feels the overwhelming need to comment on my lack of a helmet - takes my heartfelt invitation to fuck right off. Go discuss muffins and kraft dinner.

(In fact I do always wear a helmet, but the coach at the time insisted that in a sales video, lack of a helmet shows that you are not afraid of dying if your ride without one.  Apparently a "selling point").

2.  That as time goes by and I post tales of my trials and tribulations working with my 4 year old / 5 year old / 6 year old... every time someone who has not clued in to the fact that this HAS ALREADY HAPPENED suggests that I sell my horse, try a new saddle, consult horse communicator, drink vodka, have her teeth checked, smoke weed, take up Rumoli - whatever... that it will be the responsibility of you, my dear readers,  to point them to this video.

I can't be on here 24/7 explaining the meaning of "retrospecive".  And I am not climbing aboard the way-back machine to try any of these innovative solutions.  So thanks, but no thanks.

(In fact, I am thinking of designing a t-shirt or badge that I can send out as a prize to the first one who says "WATCH THE VIDEO, ASSHOLE" to the offending parties). 

(No, no no..the t-shirt itself would not say WATCH THE VIDEO, ASSHOLE.  Although it does have a catchy ring to it.  It would say something pithy about being a dressage curmudgeon.  )

 I am telling you, if we just go back in time to 2006 and whack her in the head with a parelli stick thingy, all your problems will be solved!
Thirdly - if you feel the need to critique - knock yourself out. I am not afraid to take my turn. As the quote goes.."There is nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?" 

Of course there isn't.  Otherwise... none of us would be here reading, would we?

Monday 20 February 2012

The Decision....

And so, videotapes in hand (remember those?), I headed off to get a second and third opinion, on my first, second, third.. etc. horses - and ultimately, with any luck, to make a decision I could live with.

Realistically, my other option was to pack it in for the season, and start shopping again in a few months.  I was already struggling with less than perfect conditions - as we headed into winter, the horses were only going to get furrier and muddier, the footing lumpier, and the experience all around less appealing than it was. 

If that was possible.

The other issue was that word on the street is that people with nicer horses give up on selling for the winter, send the horses out for 60 days training, and try again to sell in the spring as started 3 year olds with price tags to match.  So, my window of finding a bargain - and being able to identify it as such, under a crust of snow and filth - was closing fast.

Although my pregnant friend has not been able to join me on many shopping missions, she was coaching me from the sidelines.  Based on the information I had provided to her, she had thought Don Donutico sounded like a good bet as well.  She was familiar with the stallion, and had heard decent things about him.  That said, she also thought there was some potential in the Viva offspring based on the limited information available on him.

And best of all - having been involved in equine genetics for many years - she had an exceptional understanding of one of the most fundemental principles of horse breeding, one that I think can be difficult for someone less experienced such as myself to grasp. 

You can have the world's best sounding horse on paper, and still wind up with a dog in the barn.  And vice versa.

So, we watched the videos, discussed, and decided. 

Ms. V it would be.

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.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Do you *know* what the hell you want, Curmudgeon?

I arrived at my friend's farm outside of London, and broke the news to her - as much as I'd love to spend the afternoon canning Salsa and discussing cross-stitch (while Mr. Motard drives combines and grain buggies and other cool things with the boys) what I really needed to do was go horse shopping. See you around.  

What?  You already have a horse.  Why do you need another one?


You have all been here. Insert ...some futile attempt to explain to the non-horsey friend that your Arab pony (what's an Arab?) is not a dressage prospect (what's dressage?), and so you are buying another one... here.  Why?  Well, it has to do with...(oh, look at that.  Her eyes are glazing right over...)

Just stop right there.  If you are a horse person, you have been down this road before. Although your non horsey friends expect you to remember every minutia of the lives and times of their boring children (oh they are SO unique - just like all of the other children), to colour with them and model little plasticine pigs for them, and dig in their cat shit infested sandboxes with glee...they can't be bothered to spend 5 minutes trying to understand what the hell it is you do with your horse.  Enough said.

Give me a sec.  I am making you some magic clay.

Well if you are going to see a horse - can we come?  Little Sally loves horses.  


And so, I headed out to see Ms. V for the first time with a non-horsey friend and her 5 year old daughter in tow.  Yep, there is nothing that someone showing a 2 year old horse likes more than having a non-horse savvy 5 year old on site trying to get their head kicked off during the process.  Sure.  What the hell.  All aboard!

The farm was a very nice private stable, with a beautiful arena.  Only very limited amounts of mud.  Thank the lord.  Ms. V was standing quietly in the cross ties, neatly groomed with a slick show-sheeny tail, and presented to me by a pleasant mom and daughter.  Reason for selling was immediately obvious - the daughter already towered over me.  So although they had bought this horse in-utero... things were not going to work out based on her size.  

So far so good.  I poked, prodded, asked polite questions - no club feet, roach back, or alarm bells of other sorts. She was very friendly and well mannered, which was nice.   The other nice thing was that her dam was also on site, so I got to check her out too, and she was similarly friendly and well mannered.  Neither did anything frighteningly crazy, and flames did not shoot out of any orifices as I had expected due to the Saddlebred influence.  (Kind of disappointing, really).

The one thing that really stood out in my mind - is that she was small.  Really small.  Large pony small.  And she really looked every bit a nerdy, gangly two year old.  If horse shopping were high school, Ms. V did not yet need a training bra without a whole lot of kleenex, whereas the other horses I saw would have already been using tampons and getting Brazilian waxes.  

If you are not used to shopping for young horses, seeing one that is still just emerging from the ugly yak conformation phase does shake you a bit.  Looking at their little dented in knees, giant butts, and sea horse necks - none of this brings to mind the shining finished beast you plan to own.  

Don't panic, Curmudgeon.  Wait until you see her move.  Remember the story of the ugly duckling.  

Off we went to the arena.  

And for the first time, I got a really good feeling about this little horse - you could tell right away that she loved to move.  No longe whip was really required - she took off at a big trot, big canter, monster bucks, here there everywhere - and didn't stop for about 10 minutes, scaring the crap out of my non-horsey friend and her child as they cowered in the centre of the arena.  It wasn't freaky scared running all over the place - it was "woo-hoo, look at me go, I am loving the footing in  here" zooming around.

(I didn't ask myself at the time... "will this horse ever want to STOP?"  Which may have been a valid question. After the balky Platypus, seeing this horse go-go-go was just so refreshing.  There can't possibly be anything bad about a horse who has excessive energy, can there?)

I was also impressed that every time she went to accelerate, she sat down and pushed off with her hind legs instead of just rushing faster with all four feet like Fred Flinstone (no, I know he doesn't have four feet.  But you know how his legs just spin in a circle when he runs?).  Which, of course, gave her front end the look I was after - big and spidery.  Not just dime-a-dozen floating feet.

He moves a little out behind, and is on the forehand, don't you think?

And herein lay the problem.  This horse did not look or move anything like any of the hunters I had ever owned or ridden.  The upright conformation (the seahorse neck came out of her back at approximately a 90 degree angle), the knee action and flinging front legs (no daisies would be cut or otherwise maimed as this horse trotted by)... the snappy hocks - it is what I thought I wanted, but now that I saw it before me, I just wasn't sure.

Because in the back of my mind I kept thinking "what if you hate dressage.  This horse will NEVER be a hunter - she is too small, and she moves like a freak".

There would be no turning back.  If things didn't work out for this girl as a dressage horse, I would be stuck with a small jumper or eventer - two activities I just didn't (still don't) have the balls to participate in.  Even the big clunkers at WXYZ could have made respectable hunters...

I thought maybe I was over reacting, and worrying too much, so I came back a week or so later to see her again - accompanied by a hunter friend.  She was polite, watched quietly, but I could see it on her face... as soon as we got in the car she said I was insane to buy this horse... especially when there are so many good ones over at TnG!  Let's go there!  (oh, fuck ooofffff!!!  Don't worry. I did NOT go there)

And so... sigh....back to   

Sunday 12 February 2012

Saddlebreds are kind of like mopeds...No, wait. I think I have this joke all wrong

I must admit, I have been holding out on you.  Because the very first horse I looked at ended up being one of my front runners, three months and three visits later (the seller no doubt thought I was the tire kicker extraordinaire).

Late in August, just as I was sending the Platypus off to be sold, I saw the advertisement for this horse.

See, I seriously did draw little lines on my pictures.

Who knows why, but her picture caught my eye.  I thought she seemed lean and athletic, and I liked her hind end - it looked like she would have a hell of a motor.  I was sick of looking at pictures of overfed meatball two year olds with little wimpy stifles and big round asses.  I also kind of liked the look on her face, which I know should not count for anything, but hey, I am only human.

The other thing I did like about her was that her sire was Viva Voltaire, one of the young hot stallions at Charlot Farms - she was from his first crop of foals who were all just rising 3, so who knew if they had any talent...pfft, minor detail.  Viva Voltaire was himself a lame jumper, not a dressage horse in any way, shape or form...errrr... again, minor detail, as long as the bloodlines were in there somewhere.  Right?

WTF...Yes, for shit's sake, I am on about Charlot Farms AGAIN.  I am not too proud to admit, I had a Charlot Farms complex.  I was convinced if only I could afford a horse from Charlot Farms, the birds would sing, heavens would shine down upon me, and I would passage on off to dressage Nirvana.

Well - if I could not afford a REAL Charlot Farms horse - at least I could afford one of their offspring.  NO, she was not a wonderful, all talented Rio Grande baby like El Muddo, but what the hell, still close enough.

There was of course something I really didn't like about her.  The fact that she was part Saddlebred.

I could rationalize away Arab, had a childhood lust for Morgans - but..the Saddlebred thing was hard to swallow.

Why?  Well, there were several factors.

First, I had never met a Saddlebred in real life, so I really had no frame of reference.  I had only seen pictures.  Pictures that looked like this:

Now don't get me wrong, I am not knocking this horse and rider at all. Maybe if you are a Saddlebred person this is a total mouthwateringly georgeous picture, but as someone who knows nothing of the sport - what is good / bad / freaky - it just looks weird.  It also does not look anything like what I envisioned my dressage horse resembling.

Next - Saddlebreds undoubtedly have a reputation as being - uhh - nuts.  I know people think Arabs are nuts too, but I had dealt with Arabs all my life, so I had a pretty good idea of what variety of nut I would be dealing with in an Arab, whereas I had no clue exactly what awaited me in the mind of a Saddlbred.  Brazil - or filbert?  Tree, or ground nut?  Who knew.

But I would say the biggest turnoff with respect to Saddlebreds had to be that the Saddlebred sporthorse industry unfortunately has some total hard-core freaks representing their numbers on the bulletin boards - the thought of being associated with this group in any way was frightening to me. Remember that at this time, I was still regularly visiting COTH and UDBB.  There was a particular poster there who made me want to vomit every time I read her self promoting, bullshit posts on her stupid stallion - who happened to be a "horse of colour" as well.  Coincidence?  I think not.

(You may wonder why I kept reading her posts.  Good question.  They had that irresistible train wreck quality about them that keeps you coming back for more).

I would like to be able to say that the Saddlebred spothorse movement has come a long way since then, but unfortunately, I don't think it has.  One Harry Callahan versus a few very vocal jackasses that keep promoting whacked out bullshit (like thinking that Totilas is actually Kenyan, not American... (no, no, wait, I am confused again) - is actually a Saddlebred descendant, as are all KWPN horses...) make it a really big uphill climb to reach the realm of sanity and well accepted sporthorses.

(And yes, this same nutbar woman still appears to be highly active on UDBB, although lucky for the Saddlebred people, she seems to have new genetics to flog).

So, when faced with a Saddlebred prospect, just like the old joke says - I thought they might be fun to ride, but I wouldn't want my friends to see me on one.

But...I happened to be visiting a friend in the London area, so I figured I would stop by to see her.  What the hell.

Oh - just to be clear - that would be London, Ontario.  Just down the road from Paris, Ontario. I was driving in from the town formerly know as Berlin, Ontario - but now called Kitchener, due to that nasty "we hate Germans" sentiment that cropped after the war.  We aren't very original in these here parts when it comes to naming our towns.

Bottom line - No, I still wasn't jet setting around looking at horses.  Unfortunately.  Sigh.

Mr. Motard visited the Saddlebred Museum on his Kentucky cycling trip

Saturday 11 February 2012

Everybody loves a Winner. You could be a winner too. If you weren't such a sucka.

Well I can see I hit a bit of a nerve with Morgan lovers out there.  I am not saying all Morgans suck.  I am saying that the ones I looked at did.

I do agree that not all warmbloods make it to FEI levels of dressage, just like not all Morgans do. I would argue that rider ability might just have something to do with this, for both Warmbloods and Morgans.  I would also argue that anyone who thinks your odds of getting to FEI levels are even remotely as good riding the average Morgan versus the average Warmblood is a delusional crack smoker.  (See "yummy sweet lemon" post from days gone by)

However, regardless of the breed, the point is... wasn't picking one that had FAIL stamped on its head to start with.  It wasn't a breed thing.

Horse shopping is like shopping at Winners (do you have Winners in the states?  No?  Can someone provide a similar store for reference?).  I have friends that LOVE Winners, only shop there, and find beautiful things every time they go.

After many visits and many hours rummaging through racks of messy crammed together shit, I have yet to find anything that isn't either ugly, priced ridiculously (WAS $300! (WTF - where?) YOU PAY $250! (no, I don't!)), and only available in size 0 or 18 or the colour puce.

It is all in the timing, and I don't seem to have it when it comes to designer clothes at low LOW prices.  Or beautiful, athletic, FEI bound Morgans.  Apparently.

Now there's one thing that I am sure we can all agree does suck more than Morgans... and that would be selling horses.

I know, I have been relentlessly mocking horse sellers for the last few posts.  While I was complaining to anyone who would listen about the crooked legged roach backed horses I was seeing, no doubt some parent somewhere was at Starbucks complaining to her friends about the balky little asshole pony that their daughter Suzie tried out last Wednesday.


I think there is really only one other situation in life that sucks as much as waiting for your horse to sell.  That would be looking for a job when you are unemployed.  Or maybe looking for a husband when you are 35 and desperately want kids before your ovaries shrivel up and die.  I am not 35 or in the market for a husband or kids so I can't totally vouch for this one, but I would imagine it is in the same ballpark. (winding up with kids would, in fact, suck more than selling an unemployed 35 year old horse or any combination of the above mentioned in my books.  But that's just me).

No matter what you do - keep everything neat, clean, trimmed and good smelling, try to be charming and interesting - you really have very little control over the situation.  And a multitude of things can derail the process that actually have nothing logical or sane at all to do with you, your horse, or whatever.  Colour, gender, number of socks.. you name it.

Price is of course one of these things that can derail the deal and actually makes sense, and here lies the most difficult part of sending your horse to a sales barn to be sold, as I did. Especially when you have a cheapy cheap hunter pony like the Platypus, and you are anxious to move the little bugger, and each month of board eats considerably into any money you may actually wind up with in your pocket at the end of the deal (note I did not say "any money you may make".  Because you are not going to make any money.  No, seriously.  Dream on).

I would like to offer 3 suggestions to ease the process of selling your cheapy cheap hunter pony via a local sales barn.

1.  Be sure the price of the pony is advertised somewhere/anywhere/everywhere on the internet, so everyone involved is on the same page re: price of said pony

2.  Be sure the price of the pony is advertised somewhere/anywhere/everywhere on the internet, so everyone involved is on the same page re: price of said pony

3.  Be sure the price of the pony is advertised somewhere/anywhere/everywhere on the internet, so everyone involved is on the same page re: price of said pony

Now - don't get me wrong.  The problem won't be that the sales barn is trying to sell your cheapy cheap hunter pony *too* cheaply.  Not at all. 

On the contrary, let me present to you a totally hypothetical situation, that just might occur IF you DON'T  advertise somewhere / anywhere / everywhere on the internet, so everyone involved is on the same page re: price of said pony ...

They pony may mysteriously not sell.  At all.

Which seems so strange to you, really.  He is no Popeye K, but he is entirely sound, relatively sane and suitable for the job, has a show record, and based on the other stuff out there - surely worth the $5000 you have said you want out of the deal, as well as the 15% the coach has asked for too.

But - the reports you get back from the seller is that all of the kids are too small, or too fat, or too young, or too old... or..or..or..or.  But don't worry!  No, no, never fear!! he will sell soon. 

So, you just keep on paying board, vet, blacksmith, trailering, show fees for the coach's students to show the pony at local shows, where he does well, wins ribbons - yet... STILL.. no buyers.  Weird.  Really weird.  Especially with all of the connections the coach has. I mean, that is the reason you decided not to go it alone in the first place... to SAVE time and money.  And it just isn't happening.  Huh. 

Until you catch wind - maybe true, maybe not - that a pony sounding strangely familiar, presented by the same coach, is up for sale for a low five figure price.  Interesting.  What are the chances that she would have TWO ponies, so eerily similar to each other, yet one worth twice as much as the other?  That is the only explanation.  Right?

Only one way to find out, really. 

Call the coach up and say "sorry, but the well has run dry. Yep, I am coming to pick up cheapy cheap pony at the end of the month".  Thank her for her efforts, yes, it is a tough market, I know, I know.  Maybe he would sell better after the Royal, when all the ponies start moving, yes, good point.  But - time is up, my friend. 

Oh, by the way, I know you are busy, busy, busy.  How about I go ahead and post some ads on the internet FOR you.  Yes, I know you have been meaning to do it, and how hard it is to find the time to do things on the internet these days - especially with dial-up, you poor thing!  Always go-go-GO!  I feel for you.  Well, let's see.. $5000 + 15% is what we agreed I am assuming you have been asking around $6000 - $6500 for him... right? 

Let me post that ad for you.  No, it is no problem.  No, seriously, I will do it right now.  Yes I will.  YES.  Good-bye!  La-la-la...

Then - something magical happens.  The perfect buyer walks through the door - that week!  Can you imagine.  Thank goodness you didn't leave sooner!  You just almost missed this bus.  Whew! 

So there you have it...whether shopping for Morgans, designer clothes at low-LOW prices, or selling ponies ... timing is everything, isn't it. 

Oh, by the way... now that my entirely hypothetical story is over... did I mention the Platypus finally sold?

I am outta here, stupid dressage woman.

And it is a good thing too.  Because I had my two front runners chosen - I was ready to buy a horse. 

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Justin Morgan had a horse. No one said it was a dressage horse, did they.

There was only one problem with my plan. 

The 9 year old in me is generally a pretty shrewd negotiator, but no amount of debate could get her to convince the somewhat rational 30 something side of me that there was anything Anky about the horses I looked at.  

They were two nonathletic meatballs on sticks, owned by two very nice, very earnest sellers who prepared them carefully for my visit (brushed, groomed, pre-wrangled), and painstakingly showed off their lack of athleticism to me in great detail.

The first one actually made me feel really badly.  To start, I got hopelessly lost getting to the farm, and was about an hour late, which I do realize would soundly earn me the title of "horse buyer who sucks" on the average bulletin board (this was before the days where every Joe out there over the age of 3 has a cellphone too, so the poor woman was waiting around for me all that time wondering if I was dead in a ditch somewhere, or just your typical horse buying asshole). 

Next - she could not have been nicer.  Example - I was moronic enough to leave my sweater behind, and she was kind enough to contact me and have it returned to me all the way back in Kitchener (blushing - yes, I am a total loser).  

The horse was an adorable little bay, about 15.1 hh, impecably groomed (the woman did have an hour to piss away after all), well started on groundwork and ready to strut her stuff.  

Oooh, I am giddy with excitement.  Let's see her on the longe!

Hmm...Well, ok, maybe strut isn't the right word.  Maybe sew is a better descriptor.  As in... make a repeated poking motion with legs like a sewing machine.  Pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter...Don't panic, Curmudgeon, the ground is not perfectly level, there is a stone or two, maybe she is not 100% confident lettin er' loose on the longe...I am sure there is more horse in there somewhere...

Uhh.... can I see her free in the paddock?  Yes, yes, she is excellent on the longe, only started her 2 weeks ago eh?  Wow, well what a temperament.  Just excellent.  I am still interested in seeing her moving freely.

Yep, she was still quite the seamstress.  On the line or off.  

Sigh.  Figures, doesn't it.  

The most depressing thing about this was that I had received photos of this horse.  Lots of them.  Perfect photos, where she was well groomed, on level ground, standing squarely and appropriately for a hard core conformational evaluation.  And based on these, I was SURE she was going to be a drop dead beautiful mover.  

Uhh... no.  

I searched through my old pics and emails to see if I could find the photos that were sent, but unfortunately you will have to take my word for it, as they are all gone.  

But I swear to God... I studied them at length, got out my rulers and protractor, drew little lines here and there to evaluate sloping, straight, uphill and downhill... none of which predicted the depressing movement that I witnessed in person.  

Artist's rendition only.  Actual product was not exactly as shown

Which really made me wonder how much all of that conformational evaluation shit really matters.  Sure, it can probably identify a serious train wreck, but beyond that... I think it is a crapshoot.  Not that you would ever get this impression from the message boards...

To be fair, if I were 80 years old, with a hip replacement, and looking for something truly georgeous to mosey around on in the arena, this would have been my girl.  She was cute as pie.  And as athletic as pie, as well.  

(Not a spicy Jamaican patty type pie either.  Think banana cream). 

At least a little good did come out of the viewings - the second one, an equally nonathletic chubby black dufus named Mr. X was actually quite a cute little lump, and was stabled at a boarding place just down the road from Chez Motardmudgeon. And he was already started under saddle.  The owner was a university student who like virtually all university students with horses was stone cold broke, and so was actually looking for a buyer, part boarder, leaser, sugar daddy, pimp... anyone who would help her to pay some bills and ease the burden of the insane cost of horse ownership.  

And so, at the end of the sales call, although I was 100% certain that Mr. X was not my future dressage prospect, I actually agreed to a part board deal for the short term.  So, at least I had a horse to ride now, until the Platypus finally sold.  

Hey by the way - what is up with that anyways, Curmudgeon?  How long DOES it take to sell a horse. Surely he must be gone by NOW!?  

Ha ha, you crack me up, italic font know-it-all.  

NO, the Platypus was NOT gone. In fact, it was time to turn up the heat a little in that department.  

Sunday 5 February 2012

Waaah! I deserve strawberry pink farts. Waaah!

Morgans, morgans, morgans.

I really did want to love you.  I had high hopes. Alas, it was not meant to be.

The problem was that I didn't manage my expectations - I was expecting something truly exceptional and ready to take the dressage world by storm... and what I saw... well, just wasn't.

But it is not the fault of the little meatball horses that I met, they were probably just fine specimens of what one typically sees when they shop for $5000 morgan crosses.

No, I know that a perusal of the Psychology Today blogs will tell us that really the problem stems from my childhood, as do most of the problems that make me the surly curmudgeon that I am today.

The problem was Adanac Reidagirb.  The magnificent, rainbow farting Morgan from my youth.

The fact that I can remember this name, now 30+ years later tells us a few things right away.  First, it tells us that I need a lot more on my mind.  It also tells us that this Morgan must have made a big impression on me, back in the day.

(I can also remember all of the lyrics to "Afternoon Delight" and many other useless things that were part of my life in the late 1970's.  Skyyyyyrockets in FLIGHT! *vrrrrrooom*  Afternoooon DEEEELIGHT!  AAAAAaaaaAAAfternoon DEEEELIGHT!).

Reidagirb was one of the resident horses at Derryvue Acres, back in the day, along with Senhor Cavaleiro and his freakshow of cattle and lusitanos.  

Now, whereas Mrs. Curmudgeon may have thought Senhor Cavaleiro was magnificent, I was smitten with Reidagirb.  He was like a Breyer horse come to life - black, with an archy neck and flowing mane (unlike the ewe necks and horribly pulled mohawk manes of our own ponies).

To make him even more impressive, his owner was an adorable little barbie doll of a girl, probably around my age, with long wavy blonde hair and a turned up nose.  I, on the other hand, was a smeary, lumpy, chunk of a child, with a horrifying bowl cut (thanks a lot, Mrs. Curmudgeon) who wore husky Levis and the same t-shirt for days on end.  

Any guesses?

As I recall part of what made Little Barbie girl so intriguing is that although she was adorable and all, she was also a tough as nails little bitch in the making who barked commands and ruled over this horse with sort of a Nazi mind control level of intensity.  

This combination of beauty and scariness was fairly disturbing, and I often thanked my lucky stars that she didn't attend my grade school.  Although she was always very nice to me at the barn...chances are good she had charmed a posse of hired goons who roved the playground kicking someone's ass at recess each day. Chances were also good that it might have been me, had we been classmates.

Whereas my pony was wearing the pants and definitely running the show, she had Reidagirb by the ... well, geldings don't have whatever part of the part of the anatomy one grabs and twists when controlling a eunuch.   

He had a subjugated, hen-pecked husbandly air about him, and would, as far as I could tell at the time, do it all and then some to avoid any version of grab-twist punishment.  On any given day, he would school some form of English something or other with a big curb bit and flashy browband, a variety of slow-mo Western things, or pull a buggy.  Beyond this, he ground tied without wandering off, pawing like an annoying idiot, or weaving his ass back and forth incessantly, even with a pile of hay only feet away (in retrospect, this seems like a cruel thing to do to a horse, but the 9 year old me found it very impressive).

So who knows what ever happened to these two - a bit of internet stalking shows that Reidagirb was a champion Morgan several years running, so all of the grab/twisting evidently worked.  As far as Little Barbie girl - I can't remember her name at all so stalking is not possible, however I would hazard to guess she maybe married a rich nerd who now stands hopefully in front of her hay pile nightly without getting to actually have any.  Or, otherwise, she became a high powered dominatrix type call girl hanging out with the likes of DSK.  Or maybe she is just a normal, struggling adult am rider.  Like me. (But how fun is that to imagine. Pffft. Zzzz). 

Annnyway, I am sure you get the picture.  And I probably didn't actually need the help of Psychology Today to understand why I was rooting for Morgans.  I realize that really, I was insanely jealous of the perfect little barbie girl and her beautiful, browbeaten, rainbow farty, flowing maned Morgan.  Some part of me still wanted to own that horse myself, 30+ years later. 

And now my chance was here.  

The good news was...over the ensuing decades, more hard core rainbow farter breeds had moved in and soundly kicked the crap out of the Morgans and stolen their "most useless and decorative horse breeds" crown - after all, many of them can really DO stuff, and not too shabbily either.  There's not much time to fart up rainbows when you are busy actually performing.  

Which left me with a dream situation...  If I could find a perfect Morgan, I could secretly satisfy my inner 9 year old's desire for a horse with colourful flatuation, while still seemingly being focused on buying a respectable "dressage horse"..