Finally got on one of my own horses yesterday, for the first time in over a month. Although I ride a lot of horse when I am on the road, the time I get to spend with my own horses is very limited. Sadly, I didn’t get to ride my horse Dually, whom I haven’t been on in a month. Two trips out of town in December, plus the scramble for the holidays, just got in the way of my riding plans. Does that ever happen to you?
My brother and niece are here for the holidays and we’ve been enjoying lots of skiing at Monarch Mountain. The conditions are excellent and except for one day of frigid weather, we’ve had warm bluebird sky days like today. You can see for yourself at http://skimonarch.com/main/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=114 .
Rich and I only have five horses right now—the fewest I’ve had in decades. We each have our personal horses, Dually and Diggs, plus I have three horses for sale. Normally I like to have about six sale horses in my barn, but I haven’t been shopping for a while. I have two more old mares that are leased out to people that will pamper and love them until the need to retire and come back home.
I have two wonderful barn workers that keep my horses safe, fed, exercised, clean and comfortable for me seven days a week. Susan and Dianna take such great care of our horses that I can leave town 45 times a year without a moment’s concern for my horses. What a luxury! But due to circumstances outside our control, Dianna has been unable to ride for the past month.
It certainly doesn’t hurt the horses to have some time off-- all of whom are well trained and worked steadily throughout the year. Especially since we pulled their shoes a couple weeks ago. One of my stated goals with both our personal horses and our sale horses is that they can sit idle for months, then you can bring them in, saddle up and head out for the ride of your life. But until the horses actually go a month with no riding, you don’t really know for sure if they will get a case of the freshies.
Since Dianna has not been riding and since I have a buyer coming to look at horses next week, I knew I had to get some riding done. I went to the barn and saddled Luke http://juliegoodnight.com/horses/tequlo.html. He is the youngest horse I own, coming five. Most of the horses I buy for resale are about 10 years old—a minimum age in my mind for solid, reliable horses that I can sell to novice horse owners. But I fell in love with Luke’s temperament the first time I saw him—which is as solid gold as his color.
We’ve had Luke for four months now, which is about how long I like to keep a horse before finding its perfect rider. By then we’ve really gotten to know the horse and can be totally confident that there are no holes in his training. Luke has passed every test we’ve given him with flying colors and has shown himself to be a lovable and gentle horse who tries his guts out to please you. It was a good test to see how such a young horse would do after a month’s layoff. I only wish the buyer had been here to see it.
Luke had also never been ridden in the indoor arena, since up until the end of November we had beautiful weather here and Diana had been pounding the trails with him, since that was the weakest spot in his training (having been in two solid years of reining training). Although I have to say I was not surprised at how well Luke did, I can say it made me love him even more. He worked quietly and steadily from the first, only gawking once at our stuffed calf that hangs from the cutting machine (I can truly say that one gets 100% of the horses the first time they see it, because it looks like a dead calf). The tarp hanging on the fence made him a little uptight the first trip around but on the second pass, he boldly reached out and snuffed the tarp with his nose. Gotta love that!
We had a great ride. I sure do like this horse and I am excited about finding him the perfect human. Although he is gentle enough to promote as a beginner’s horse, I will not sell him to a beginner because he is too young. It would be as unfair to the horse as it would be to the beginner buyer. In my mind, Luke’s dream owner is an experienced rider—one who can appreciate a well-trained and responsive horse. A rider that wants to have a fun recreational horse to ride to church on Sundays, but who will also take advantage of his excellent training to progress their own riding skills. Luke is a finished reiner but he has excellent all-around potential. With his big scopey build and his gorgeous way of going, he would make a great English horse too, either hunter or dressage. So I hope to find someone who is looking for just this type of horse. I think I may have found the perfect match—we’ll see next week!
I’ll try to ride him again today, then maybe I can spare some time to get on my own horse later this week. Tonight is the big torch light parade and fireworks display up at the ski area; I haven’t missed that in the last 15 years (it’ll be Rich’s 32 year!), and in fact, I used to be in charge of it back when I worked winters at the ski area (that’s where Rich and I met). So I’ll head up there this afternoon and get some runs in with my brother and niece. We’ll toast the new year up on the mountain at about 7:30, then head down for a party in the neighborhood.
Wishing you a fun and safe new year’s eve, and a healthy and prosperous 2009.