Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Without The "Ta"

After we sold Jin the search began for a new horse. Sara wanted another young Western Pleasure prospect that she could finish. Again, the internet was searched and calls were made. A couple of appointments were scheduled, but were cancelled at the last minute by the sellers. It seemed that anything that caught Sara's eye had a big fat price tag attached to it or was too far away or it had some concerns that would cause us to look elsewhere.

But one little horse kept coming to the top of the list. For the life of me I don't know why Sara was drawn to him. The sales presentation was horrible. We were sent two teeny little pics and a poor quality grainy video that was taken on a cellphone. These are the actual pics, and no, they don't enlarge if you click on them:
I'd find Sara at the computer studying that low quality video over and over. I'd just shake my head. Sara would email the seller a list of questions and the reply would come back with maybe half of them answered. I thought it was a waste of time. Sara thought she saw something there, some untapped potential in that blurry 30 second video.

I could tell that Sara had the itch to get a new horse, and soon. I told her to take her time, the right one would come along. She told me that she thought she found the right one in those tiny pics.

"You sure?" I asked.

His home was in central Illinois, about a seven hour's drive from here. We tried to schedule a time to go see him, but the thought of making two trips didn't sound too trip in the car to look at him, and a trip back with the truck and trailer if we liked him. We discussed just making one trip with the rig, and if we didn't like him we'd just be out a bunch of gas money. But the thought of dragging a 30' trailer through Milwaukee & Chicago didn't appeal to me too much. After much discussion we decided to take a crazy chance and buy this guy, sight unseen, and have the seller's deliver him. Sure sounded crazy. In fact, it still does.

We made the offer to the sellers, and they accepted, delivery included. They readily accepted. Maybe too readily.....

So, we bought this sight unseen (in the flesh) horse from someone we've never met from a land far away. Stupid? Maybe. Crazy? For sure. I just hoped he had that untapped potential that Sara saw.

He arrived June 12th on a cold and windy day. The poor boy was all shed out from his warm winter hair, and it was 40 degrees and nasty. My first impressions were not good. He was short. His feet were long and his shoes were falling off and no two hooves were trimmed at the same angle. And he was thin. Ribs showing like a xylophone.

Did I tell ya it was a crazy idea to buy a horse sight unseen?

But he was quiet and cute and sound and he moved nice. Sara still had hope.

Mega's Doctor Time is his real name. But they called him Mater. That's right, like the hillbilly tow truck in the Pixar film. Mater, like tamater without the ta. Yeah.... But we kept the name. It fits him.

We got his shoes pulled, trimmed his feet up right, got him some good groceries and attended to anything else he needed. Sara worked on his training, and it needed a lot of work to bring him to where she wanted him. It was frustrating for her at times. She kept expecting him to perform as well is Jin did, but she had to realize that he was far from being where Jin was in his education. Take a few steps back and remember how to teach the basics. With Mater being the same age as Jin, it was hard for her to grasp that he just didn't have the training that she was accustomed to. But they worked hard and Mater had the talent and brains to learn it all.

About a month after we got him, Sara thought it was time to try an open show to see how far they had come along in his training. They loaded up the trailer and headed out with the plan to show in a few open walk/trot classes. I wished them well and saw them off. When they came home that evening I asked how they did, and Sara had a weird look on her face and her hands behind her back. I asked if everything was ok. That's when she showed me the pair of etched wine glasses and blue ribbons that they earned that day! Turns out lil' Mater Mater Sweet Poo-tater took 1st out of 20 in open walk/trot and 1st out of 27 in open walk/trot horsemanship.

His training and showing continued over the summer, and he kept proving that he had all the potential to be a champ.

In the six short months we've had him, he's shown us that he is everything and more than what Sara saw in that blurry video. A big heart, tons of give, and a calm disposition.

We sure lucked out with this sight-unseen lil' pony.

Mater, like tamater without the ta
Mater Mater Sweet Poo-tater

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Blog Link

I've got a new blog listed in my blog links in the right column. I suggest that you regularly check out Sleep Talkin' Man . I find it hilarious.

Dreams are amazing things, and this fella vocalizes them. His dear wife then records all of his crazy mumblings and posts them for the world to see. Some of it is very "adult", so be warned.

Put your coffee down and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Perfect Jin n Scotch

I've been putting this post off for many reasons. It's hard to put all of these thoughts into words, at least words that everyone can understand.

Parting with a horse is not an easy thing. A horse that has been a part of our daily life for years. A horse that has given so much of himself and has rewarded us with so much pride.

Jin came about after many months of searching for a new show prospect for Sara. Many hours were spent scanning the ads on the internet, viewing videos, and talking with sellers. Many miles were spent in the car looking for just the right horse. We got it narrowed down to three prospects, with Jin being the youngest of the three. Sara really didn't want a yearling, but she always had a soft spot for a Palomino Paint. A lucky turn of events found her dad near where Jin called home, and he took some time out to go look at him for us. He called us that evening and said he couldn't find one bad thing to say about this little yellow horse. We called the seller, made arrangements to go pick him up, and hooked up the trailer.

I'll never forget that trip. It was mid December and 9 degrees above zero. About an hour into our trip we discovered that the heater in the truck was stuck on high. We had to drive with the windows open so we wouldn't melt. When we finally arrived without any further incident, Jin was all cozy in his stall waiting to meet us. He was adorable. And all legs. He was nice and quiet and a little shy, but he warmed up to our scratching fingers soon enough. We put a blanket on him to keep him cozy for the trip. He'd never had a blanket on but accepted it without a fuss. He loaded into our strange trailer without a fuss and stood quietly for the entire ride. We got home well after dark, and he unloaded just as quietly and followed Sara's lead thru the dark to the barn door. It was a big day for him, but he handled it all like a big boy.

There's not a lot of things you can do with a late yearling. Sara and Jin just spent a lot of time together that first winter. He learned how to lead and lunge and mind his manners and they even did some simple showmanship practice. It was fun to watch him grow and learn. He seldom needed to be shown something twice.

His second year was spent with more learning. We took him to the occasional open show and he did well in the 2 year old lunge line class. We knew he was going to be a nice mover when his body and brain finally caught up to those legs. Sara started him lightly under saddle at 2-1/2, and his first ride outside was on Thanksgiving day. The smiles on Sara's face were priceless.

His third year was spent at many local open shows, where Jin and Sara earned many firsts & seconds. He was beginning to excel in showmanship and hold his own in Western Pleasure. We have an entire wall in our rec room dedicated to his winnings.

The APHA has a program that allows Paint Horse owners to accumulate points at open shows, and it's known as the PAC program. This is to acknowledge that while you may not be showing at breed shows, your APHA horse is still capable of earning points. By the end of that third year he had earned certificates of recognition in Showmanship, Western Pleasure, and Equitation. In addition, they received year end awards from a local open show circuit - Grand in Novice W/T Horsemanship and Reserve in Open Showmanship. Not a small feat by a little yellow horse that was raised and trained by an amateur owner.

His fourth year was when it all came together. Jin & Sara started taking a lesson once a month from a local trainer. Sara had done very well with him, but they both needed that push from an experienced trainer to point them in the right direction. They polished those rough edges and got ready for their first breed show.

I'll never forget that first show. I felt like the smallest fish in a big pond, but everyone was so nice and friendly and helpful to us rookies. I remember watching the competition and realizing that there were a lot of really good moving horses there. I wondered if we made a mistake by going to those breed shows. But we soon realized that the biggest difference between open shows and breed shows was the quantity of the quality. At an open show you'll have three or four good horses and 15 not-so-good horses in a class. At a breed show you have 15 really good horses in a class. But you still compete the same. The goal is the same. You try to do your best just the same. Anyway, I don't even recall the outcome of that first Paint show. They did well enough to not get discouraged.

There was one defining moment to that first big show. We were walking Jin back to the barn after one of his classes when a big trainer walked past and said, "Hey, you have a really nice looking colt there." I turned back to see Sara smiling from ear to ear. She was six inches taller as she floated back to the barn. We knew then that they had a good chance of doing just fine at those Paint shows.

And they did well at their fist year on the circuit. Sara set big goals for the two of them, and they achieved all of them and more. They ended the season winning year end awards in every class, earning points in Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Equitation, and Trail, a Register of Merit in Showmanship and Hunter Under Saddle, Reserve Champion in Novice Amateur Horsemanship, Reserve All Around Novice Amateur, Grand Champion in Novice Amateur Showmanship, and Rookie of the Year, which was accompanied by that big shiny buckle.

Sara and Jin continued to work and learn new things that fall. They spent the winter working on nailing those lead changes. Jin was about as good as he was gonna get, so we decided to put an ad on the internet. Just to see if we'd get some nibbles.......

The phone was ringing within two hours of placing that ad. Details were worked out and a thorough vet exam and x-rays were done.

It all happened so fast.

We sold that little yellow horse. He has a wonderful new owner and a nice new home in Arkansas. Of this we have no doubt. We hope that he brings his new owner that same sense of pride that he brought us. We hope to see him continue to excel in the show ring and bring many ribbons and awards home for his new person. We hope that they bond as deeply as he and Sara bonded.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Masked Man

Don't feel bad, buddy...
My mom used to dress me in hand-me-downs too.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Or better yet,

1. the state of being solicitous; anxiety or concern.
2. solicitudes, causes of anxiety or care.
3. an attitude expressing excessive attentiveness