I made many mistakes when buying my first horse and took risks I probably shouldn’t have, but the experience paid off in unexpected ways.
When I first saw Frankie, he was tied to a rail. I spoke quietly to him as I approached his right shoulder. He turned toward me a bit fearfully, but then his look softened, and he began licking and chewing as I talked to him. He was receptive to my touch, and I was certain his eyes were saying, “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you.”
That look was all it took to make me want to buy him. And so began my yearlong odyssey filled with many pitfalls that more seasoned horsepeople might have avoided. Yet I don’t regret my decision.
I began riding in my 60s, and I’d had about three years of experience when we began searching for my “perfect” horse---a quiet one who could be patient with a beginner. We weren’t having much luck, until Frankie popped up on the Internet. Advertised as quiet, safe and healthy, he was a big, beautiful, 7-year-old Paint
BEST BEHAVIOR: During his trial ride, Frankie seemed like a “quiet, wellmannered” horse, but first impressions can be deceiving. Horse living in a sale barn in Arizona. The photos were beautiful, and given that he appeared to fit the bill and we’d learned that good horses sell fast, I flew out alone for a two-day visit.
Although I was charmed by that first look, good sense required that I ride Frankie and get a prepurchase exam. The trial ride went well. The barn trainer gave me a lesson on him in the round pen. She showed me different tricks he could do, and I walked, trotted and cantered him. He was nothing but quiet and well-mannered. The prepurchase exam didn’t go quite as smoothly. I hadn’t noticed any problems while I was riding, but the veterinarian turned up some lameness after flexing Frankie’s right hock. The x-rays weren’t encouraging---the veterinarian who took them thought they raised cause for concern, and we sent the images to my veterinarian at home, who advised me not to buy the horse. A more experienced horseperson probably would have stopped right there ---but I wasn’t in that