A week ago today I got a text from Brian. I read it and immediately got up from my desk. I left my office, changed my clothes, hopped into the car, and drove out to the barn. The cloudy sky was spitting when I arrived. I moved some horses to make access to the pasture gate easier. Just as I made it back to the indoor arena, the drizzle shifted to something more significant. I sat inside while it poured. After about ten minutes, the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and a truck and trailer pulled into the driveway. I walked outside to receive our new horse. That would be this guy:
The inevitable twist
It’s been a busy five weeks since my last post. Some things have changed. First, we spent a couple weeks really focusing on Nevada. And we discovered she is not sound. I have noticed a little hitch in her step on and off for a while now, but every time we paused and looked into it there didn’t seem to be anything solid to point to. But after doing a lot of groundwork and light rides on a regular basis, the problem worsened enough to be definite.
We had a vet out and he did the vet thing. I knew she was lame but I thought it would be the sort of thing she’d be able to heal from. Based on the information we now have, that doesn’t actually sound like it’s the most likely scenario. The vet wanted to start with imaging. Even to get a solid understanding of the problem would cost $500+. And then treatment from there with results TBD.
The news was a blow. Honestly, it nearly knocked the wind back out of our sails. Brian and I had a mutual moment where we felt ready to quit horses entirely. Not so much because this one thing was such a big deal, but because it felt like the latest link in a long chain of really bad luck. We literally considered finding Nevada somewhere to retire and keeping Steen only until the end of his days.
But happily there was this horse we’d committed to putting 30 days on. And the weather was lovely. We couldn’t say inside and lick our wounds. We began with Aslan thinking he’d be something for me to fill the time with while Brian worked with Nevada. That pretty much flipped and Aslan became someone for Brian to work with while we returned to horse shopping in earnest.
In search of the next project
Shopping felt hard this time. Part of it is that we do actually feel open to so many different sorts of horses. When we still thought Nevada would be Brian’s main focus for a while, we were looking for a third horse akin to Zoey or Oliver and Aiden. Which is to say an adult horse that is broke to ride but has some serious issues and is therefore on the verge of landing in a pretty bad place. The goal with those horses was never to keep them long term, but to give them a reset and a much better chance going forward. But at the same time we weren’t closed to the thought of a young horse, or even a horse that wasn’t started.
After the revelation about Nevada, we shifted our search. We started looking less for a project for both of us and more for something primarily for Brian. After looking at several candidates of various kinds, we ended up getting back in touch with the guys we bought Brian’s first horse from. They’ve evolved in the years since we first dealt with them. Mostly they move roping horses now. But we thought it couldn’t hurt to ask if they had anything green but with potential they were looking to move along.
At first, we didn’t hear anything back. Then they told us to check back in a couple of weeks. In a couple of weeks, we saw a 4-year-old gelding pop up on their Facebook page. We called immediately and drove up a day or two later. We even took our student with us. All three of us rode the candidate. It wasn’t a hard decision to buy this horse.
Our next chapter begins
He came without a name. Although he’s registered IBHA, nothing from his papers was usable as something to call him. One horse we noticed in his lineage, however, is Taris Catalyst. This got us thinking about one of our favorite series of books, Realm of the Elderlings. It’s a massive epic fantasy saga by Robin Hobb. The main character in several of the trilogies is named Fitz. In the lore of these books, he is something called a catalyst. Bastard of a prince, his mother something of a mystery, he comes on the scene and changes everything without entirely meaning to.
It seemed to fit for this guy. So we’re calling him Fitz. His breeding is a little funny. You can see it here on All Breed Pedigree. He’s got Quarter Horses all over but with a couple of Paints on the bottom that look like they were never registered with APHA. The story we were told is that he was bred and started by the Amish and sold at an auction earlier this summer. The woman who bought him got him home and realized she didn’t have time for him. She sold him to her neighbor: the guy we bought Bear from.
As for Fitz himself, he’s a remarkably well-adjusted, level-headed four year old. He’s green, of course. He needs refinement. But the broad strokes are there. He has loads to learn but no real problems. So far he’s proving to be a super relaxing horse to work with.
Aslan has come a long way also. His owner is riding him again. She’s very happy with the results of our time and has asked us to keep it up for 30 more days at least.
So hopefully our luck holds. At the moment, it looks like we’re poised for an excellent fall. Also, there are more photos of the new guy over in our photos section.