My trainer gave me good advice. Of course. She suggested that I make a list of the qualities I am looking for and evaluate each horse against that list. That way, I can keep my feet on the ground and reality in sight instead of falling madly head over heels in love with a mismatched prospect. Secondly, she said that when I try the horses I should only consider a horse that I don't want to get off. A horse that I dream about that night and am obsessed with thoughts of when I can ride him again.
This morning I made up my list of qualities:
Must have dressage quality gaits but not so huge that I can't ride them
Must have trail exposure or experience and must like the trail
Light off my leg, yet sensible
Confident, brave, smart, kind
A pleaser with lots of "try"
I don't want much, right? Amazingly, I have found four prospects in Northern California. Brett and I will be doing a road trip at the end of the week to try them.
The first one is that amazing four year old Oldenburg I posted a picture of a few days ago. The seller has said his price is negotiable -- down to what I could do, although it would be a stretch. My trainer likes how he moves. I think he is drop dead gorgeous. He's sensible and has trail experience. When I try him, I want to see how light he is off my leg. His owner said he doesn't require spurs or whip, and although he isn't the most forward horse in the barn, he isn't a clunker either. For those of you who missed the earlier picture, here he is again:
The second horse is this one's half brother. He is further along in his training and priced way out of my range. However, the owner said a good home is important and if I like him, she'll drop his price to the price I told her I can afford. He's much bigger than his brother -- 16.3 hands v. 16h. I've really enjoyed Jackson's size (15.2) so while my long legs can handle a tall horse, it isn't necessarily what I am looking for. I think this one has a very pretty head.
The third horse is a five year old Oldenburg. He has trail experience, is kind and affectionate and smart. He is not particularly brave or confident and while he goes on the trail, he needs reassurance through contact. He worries on a loose rein. Hmmmmm. I'm kinda concerned about that part. I don't have a good picture of him but he's greying in a cool way.
The last horse is young. He's a three year old Rheinland Pfalz Saar (yeah, I can't pronounce it either). I was concerned about his age but my trainer said that if he is sensible, it won't be a problem. He's also very tall -- 16.2 and growing. With my long legs, a tall horse isn't a problem for me other than the issue of low tree branches on trail rides. I don't know as much about him (his owner/trainer is not chatty), but his ad says he is good on trail and very sweet. He's also uncomplicated. I love how his ears flip back and forth on the video: listening, listening. For those of you who are curious, here is a video. Oh, and he's affordable. BIG plus.
I've seen ads for other horses that interest me in Washington State and Oregon. I'm going to look at the ones that don't require airfare first...
Which do you like best?