Sunday, August 15, 2010


Her name is Fiona.

Well, to be fair, her name was originally Savannah, but I didn't much care for that. My trainer suggested Princess Fiona, and that sounded good enough to me.

Let me back up and fill in the blanks, for anyone trying to figure out what I'm talking about. My adventures in horse shopping? Took a very interesting twist. I had a listing on Craigslist forwarded to me with a chestnut thoroughbred mare that needed a home by Sunday. It was close to my office, so I went to take a look.

Please keep in mind, I don't like mares. I really don't like chestnut thoroughbred mares. I don't know what I was thinking. Temporary insanity, I guess.

So I went on my lunch break, totally on a whim, to see this mare. The ad said that she jumped 2'9" with a previous owner and had dressage training. I pulled in to the farm, walked past the chickens, turkeys, dogs, goats, and other horses to meet this pretty mare. I call her a pretty little girl, even though she's 16.1 hands. She was led to her stall without a halter, just a finger hooked in her flymask. I watched with no real surprise when the mare promptly turned around, trotted out of her open stall, and went for a run.

There's nothing like standing in a barn, leaning on a fence and watching your prospect run loose around the property with the owner trying to catch her. But nice gaits, lovely movement.

So the mare is caught and brought back. I start going over her. Lacking in muscle just about everywhere, but very polite and willing to let me handle her everywhere. A couple of questions reveal that she is worked about once every two weeks. There's an old bow on her front right that I poke and prod at for a good ten minutes. Looks old, cold, and set. Even after her impromptu sprint, no heat and no limp. Trotting in the parking lot shows nothing.

She's tacked up and led up the hill to a small, rough ring. The rider climbs on and I watch as the mare jigs about and trots in tight, tiny strides. She's in a kimberwicke with the curb chain very tight and a very tight standing martingale. The mare never gets nasty, but when confused and stressed, she starts to ball up and bounce. This ends with the rider hitting the sand.

Before I get on, I loosen the curb chain as far as I can safely go and take off the martingale.

She's a good girl. When she doesn't understand, she still tries. Walk, trot, canter. Very much afraid of the bit, but that's understandable. She's tight and tense but willing. I even have her hop over some things, up to a two foot vertical. She's not too sure what's going on, but she's very willing to try. She offers a flying lead change, and I'm pretty much sold.

There's no time for a vet check, or even to really think about this too much. The mare needs a home ASAP. I think about it for about as long as I can manage before I sign on the dotted line and buy a horse. A couple of phone calls and I had a trailer on the way. That night, there was a new resident at my barn. A cute little mare that had been renamed Fiona. In the span of eight hours, that mare had gone from backyard horse that was ridden once every two weeks to a future eventer. Poor baby.

Will she stay sound? No idea. Will she ever go to an event? No clue. Will I eat sand retraining her? Probably. Am I going to have fun doing this? Hell yes.

My husband suggested a show name for her. Can't Drive 55.


  1. Found your blog through COTH. Love this post, what a day. Can't wait to hear how things develop with Fiona. Your husband's name suggestion is quite funny, I like it!

  2. I know this is a super old post, but I found your blog through COTH. I was searching for advice on excercizes for a rushing horse and found a post of yours. Funny thing is that the mare I’m leasing sounds so much like Fiona: little red TB mare, super cute and sweet, but some major contact issues. No idea on past, but had terrible teeth and I would guess used in a harsh bit before. But does this sweet girl try despite being anxious of her mouth. Anyway, just had to drop you a comment since the story sounded so familiar!