In this story, Goldilocks will be played by me, and not to worry, I am not nearly as finicky as the fairy-tale protagonist. I have however, learned enough about myself and the kind of horse I want as MY personal ride and the journey to finding said horse is not unlike the fable of a girl with yellow hair and too many opinions.
In the first installment of the story we meet Riley:
Riley and I met in the spring of 2013, by chance at my (now) trainer's barn. He was a resale project for her that she let me ride once. The second and third time I rode him I took him to paper chases and he was foot perfect. I was an out of shape rider, and he was a barely 4 year old OTTB with a super chill attitude. We spent three years getting to know one another, and in the end, we fought more than we got along. He was crooked on my bad side and he got my number early enough in our relationship that I started to resent him for his antics.
|2009, 16.1h gelding|
|Sometimes, he'd actually try.|
|I'm 5'6.5" with a 31" inseam for reference.|
Part two OR when you buy the opposite of the horse you just had (mostly).
I knew in this next installment that I was going to look for a small project to bring along. Maybe I'd keep him, maybe I wouldn't but I was looking for something wildly different than horse #1. My parameters were under 16hh, gelding, and fancy... Meet Nolan:
|2013, 15.2h gelding.|
|When you trot like this out of the box!!!|
We fit quite well, which was why I originally wanted a small horse. Though small in stature, he had a very big barrel and took up a decent amount of leg. As such, a variety of riders looked good on him, partially offset by his conformational balance and long neck.
|Such a cutie and a good fit!|
And here's where we meet the "juuuust right".
Scout was a resale horse that should have been snapped up in a second. He was tall, dark and handsome and just a really good fellow. I went to meet him at the post-track farm, and I can still recall him shoving his face into my chest in the aisle. We knew we wanted him as a resale project then, but I had no idea I was going to fall in love with him! There's plenty to like at first glance:
|2013, 16.3 (and a half)h gelding.|
|Expectations met, the sucker can move!|
|First time in the jump school, NBD.|
|First ride, all smiles!|
You see, despite his large stature, we fit REALLY well. I'm not sure how but my leg is able to wrap solidly around his barrel and hang lower than it did on Riley. He's a really nice combination of having a nice mouth and being forward off my leg. He's overall very straight and doesn't come with the typical asymmetry I'm used to. With all those things working in our favor, we made a nice pair... and as it turns out, this horse really LIKES me. Not to sound hokey, but he goes very well for me in a way that he doesn't for others. That makes me feel super confident when I'm riding him and as such, we've been able to progress quite quickly with our rides. It was an easy to decision to buy him as I felt like I had truly met a partner to grow with.
Goldilocks had finally found her horse that felt juuuuust right. And when she swung her leg over and took a deep breath and pointed him into the unknown, she knew he'd be right there with her, every step of the way.
|All the smiles.|
So tell me readers, if you were the protagonist in this story, which one would you choose and why? Beyond conformation, what's important to you in terms of personality, ride-ability, natural talent, bravery, and movement?