Today marks the one year anniversary of Jack becoming my horse! It is funny to think back to last summer when Dave and I did a whirlwind tour of looking at other horses. Jack was the first horse I looked at when we started to shop. Everyone told me not to buy the first horse I looked at. Obviously this is good advice. You don't want to just look at one horse and have nothing to compare it to. But my first ride on Jack was so good! We looked at him as we drove down to watch my friends at the Inavale Farm Horse Trials in Oregon. Dave took a bunch of pictures and videos of both me and his old owner, Meg, riding him to show my trainer, Anne. We showed everyone the footage when we got to the show. It was fortunate that the trainer that Meg rode with was at the show, too. Anne chatted with him to see what he thought about Jack and his prospects for the future. He said that Jack was a good boy who didn't stop, and that had the potential to move up from Novice level eventing, which is where he was at, but he wouldn't make it with Meg. They just weren't the right match. So, with that information and the videos, Anne told me to ask if we could all stop to see him again on the way home.
We arranged to meet Meg at her trainer's stable, Caber Farm. I had tried him at her house, but she didn't have many jumps or a lot of room to really try him out. Anne looked him over and then watched Meg ride him on the flat and over some jumps. Then I got on. It felt good to get on him. I put him through his paces, then we went over a few low jumps. Then Anne sets this jump, a pole over a barrel, it looked huge to me! She says it was only 2'9" but it looked at least 3' to me. That may not be big to some of you, but I hadn't been jumping for very long at that point, and this was only my second ride on Jack! Anne says, "Okay, just pop over this jump." Now when I say pop over a jump, I think a tiny cross rail! When Anne tells you to do something, you pretty much just have to not think and do it. So I picked up a canter, circled toward the jump, grabbed his martingale strap and went for it! He went right over, and we came around again with no problem again. It was great! I even got to take him out in the field and go over a log on their cross country course. I think after all that, I knew how much I liked him, but didn't want to like him too much since I hadn't seen anyone else.
So that next weekend, Dave and I drove all over and I tried three more horses. This of course was after contacting dozens of others, but not thinking any of them were worth the time to actually go see them. It's definitely good that I kept looking. There was one horse, Riley, that I thought I liked better than Jack. So I had Anne come up to see him. But the second ride did not feel as good to me, and Anne thought he looked a little off. He also didn't have the same sweet personality as Jack. He had been used as a school horse for awhile, and he just seemed a little reserved. Not that I blame him! Being a schoolie can be hard work! It was good that I had another horse that was a good contender. It made me really think about what I wanted and which horse was the best fit for me.
So we vet checked Jack with no problems, and decided he was the one! We had a trip to MN planned shortly after the vet check, so Meg brought him up the day after we got back. I was so excited! Jack is the first horse I have actually owned. I leased a horse, Buddy, back in middle and high school. But it's so great to have Jack all to myself! I love my horse!
Here is a picture of Jack during my first trial ride on him at Meg's house. He was chubby and you can see how he has no topline muscles on his neck. He was also ridden in an elevator bit, which we got rid of right away. He goes like an angel on cross country in a plain snaffle!
This is Jack just a few weeks ago. His messy mane kind of hides his neck, but he's getting really nice muscles. He's also lost just the right amount of weight. His tail has also filled out a lot, I think due in part to the supplements he gets for his feet. I just had an amazing dressage lesson on him tonight. Anne and I were talking about how far he's come, and I'm dreaming of where we will be in another year!