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.  


  1. We seemed to have had the opposite problem when horse shopping... I always saw athletic horses, "Oh look at him gallop! Oh look at him crow hop with his owner!" My friends being great friends would usually say something supportive like, "We drove three fricking hours... Your going to get on this horse." (point point to her little video camera)... I did end up buying one of the "crow hoppers" and later sold her as a 4ft jumper... Ask me how much time I spent with cowboys trying to get her to stop throwing me in the dirt?! LOL good time...

  2. There are plenty of people out there using Morgans for sport. Now, not many make it to upper level dressage -- but that is true of all breeds, including Warmbloods!

    It really sounds like you were looking at the wrong Morgans; if you'd researched a bit better you might have found something more to your liking. Not all of them move like sewing machines (mine covers a lot of ground and while she does have some knee action, she has way more forward action), or are round (though they do tend to be easy keepers.) And they do tend to be small... which some people prefer.

    1. Aww man -- where were you when she was doing her original Morgan shopping way back when? Your knowledge could have saved her all this trouble!!

  3. I learned my lesson that conformation does not necessarily match athletic ability/movement in a similar way. We found a drop dead, gorgeous TB prospect with beautiful conformation and the darn horse moved like a pony a quarter of his size. I still don't quite understand it.

    And, I've seen horses that look as if they are "put together by community" that move beautifully. Go figure.

    Really enjoying your story....kind of been there, done that myself. *G*

  4. My experience with morgans in general is that they're cute, calm, and lazy. Perfect 80y/o lady horse or child's mount... not so good for anything else.

    Oh, and there's an award for you on my blog. I always feel incredibly awkward saying that...

    1. Funny... The morgans I've ridden and known were mostly cute, yes, but also HIGH energy! There are definite different types within the breed.

      Many suited to Stephanie's wish list at the time? Not likely. However, high energy and VERY forward is pretty common in some lines.

      I'm really enjoying reading this blog, too. Thanks, Stephanie! While it's mostly just entertaining, there are all kinds of "remember to use your brain" nuggets for all of us. :)

    2. Hey Kate - thanks so much for the award on your blog!!

      But for some reason my post there doesn't show up? I don't know what I am doing wrong. In any case - I do appreciate it.

  5. Any breed can have some that are lazy, but in general Morgans are not. They are smart, have great energy, and love to work. Mine is 16hh and very athletic. My vet will tell you that even my 15hh Morgan has, size-for-size, the extension of a Warmblood. Cute, calm and lazy?


  6. I just noticed the lines on your photo... Actually one of the funnier things of my day! So funny.
    As for Morgans, don't get me wrong, I love them, in fact, my little dressage pony thing is a Morgan. And he is super smart, very sweet, loves his job, and is VERY cute(what can I say, I love my horse). No doubt about it, Morgans with potential are absolutely out there. But it's harder to find a high-level potential Morgan than to find a high level potential horse from a breed specifically bred to be dressage horses.