Sav­ing Frankie

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.

EQUUS - - Truetale - By Joan E. Den­ton

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

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