Anyone who knows me would agree that I am not the best person in the world when it comes to dealing with the unexpected or unknown. I thrive on knowing the facts, gathering data, and making logical informed decisions. But recently, I have learned the value of finding joy in the unexpected.
Here is a little story of how…..
Over the last few months I have been pondering ways to work on my horsemanship, learning from more horses, but in a way that maybe “breaks even” financially for us- or even be a little bit profitable. As many horse(wo)men can relate- the journey is not often one paved with gold.
I already have my husband sighing in defeat-since we currently own- not one, but TWO, OTTBs until at least October. He has quickly realized they require twice the care, eat twice as much, and that they need to be wrapped in bubble wrap and a nightly prayer to the Gods for no mysterious injuries the next day.
So, in comes my bright idea. I have lost *almost* enough weight to ride any size pony, but am defnitely good to go on bigger med/large ones. Well trained ponies bring big money, especially fancy ones, and ponies are fairly easy to upkeep and mostly live on air- so what better way to work on restarting more horses AND keeping us from getting more in the red- than to buy a few ponies and restart them. Then, we can resale them over the next year and all is well.
So I put out an advert in several pony Facebook pages, looking for a cute, cheap project over the winter months.
Enter stage left- Shamen’s Falcon (aka: Shermie). Now his owner said he was a halfinger cross, and sent some pictures over. She gave me a little background on him, and we arranged an appointment to come see him. She even sent me a few pictures too.
I have had halfingers in the past, so I thought- hmmm, large pony, stocky enough for small adult to ride, I like their mild tempermant- what a GREAT fit for our first go round with re-training a pony.
I hooked up the trailer, told everyone how excited I was to be going pony shopping and headed out on my adventure one Friday afternoon in late December.
Well, needless to say- 2 hours later the site that greeted me was unexpected. As I pulled off the ice- lined gravel road I had been traveling for 6 miles, I was greeted to the sight of a rather LARGE painted HORSE dragging a woman around the yard for dead grass near an aging farmhouse.
As I got out of the truck and approached, I quickly realized this was more than I bargained for- LITERALLY. Sherman was huge! In my defense (as an experienced horse person should be able to tell the difference in a horse and a pony) the pictures literally had no discernible “frames of reference”- no trees, no human standing near, and no other horses. Additionally, I had put out an advert for a pony- so I guess I expected responses to be….. ponies.
The older couple who owned Sherman explained his background and told me how long it had been since anyone had done anything with him (years), that he had not had his feet done in a while (years), and that he basically had stood in the field for the last little bit with his friends (again, YEARS). As he stood there staring off at his friends in the field, and hollering every other minute- I looked deep in his eyes and something special was there.
I sighed and asked the woman if she would take a paltry amount for him, IF he loaded easily into my trailer. She agreed, and once Sherman hopped on the trailer, we exchanged formalities and paperwork and down the road we went.
The first call I made was to my husband, who was a little in disbelief that I bought another horse. I think the conversation went as follows:
Me: Hey, Honey….. so I am headed home.
Dan: Did you buy the pony?
Me: Well, I bought him….. He is about as tall as JT (my 15.1 hh QH) and as big around as Zeus in the winter (my hibernating WBX around 1400 lbs)…
Dan: So…. a HORSE. You bought ANOTHER HORSE. (SIGH)
As I headed home, for every stop for gas, or for every red light, Sherman starting kicking, hollering, and rocking the entire trailer. I questioned my sanity many times on those 2 hours home. Mostly, as I stopped for gas in $10 intervals- because that was all I could pump before the trailer started being kicked to death- thank goodness for steel trailers I guess.
Once home, Sherman was a mess for about the first week. He was buddy sour, hated being in, could not make a friend outside, and was pushy on the ground. But, as we started to work together, I saw that special something in him come to light time and time again.
Fast forward almost 60 days and Shermie is a bright light in my day more and more. When I go to the barn and feel tired or stressed- he is the first of my restarts I reach for. Why? Because he makes me smile, and feel joy- often like when I was a child. When I just worked with horses for the sheer joy and happiness they brought to my soul. Is he always “perfect” or “good” for our training sessions? No, of course not, but he is always honest and genuine with his feelings and he makes me smile and laugh and appreciate life.
He has come so far. He does great ground work, stands tied, picks up feet nicely, tarps and ropes are no big deal, and he has massively improved with bridling and saddling issues, as well as learning to stand at fence for mounting. He really just had to re-learn all the things he already had been shown by humans- but in the right way. We have now had a handful of quiet rides in the indoor and I am looking forward to continuing to help him thru his challenges the next month or so.
With around another 30 days, I hope to find Shermie a new home. A home that will appreciate his charm, will understand his personality, and will be his friend- day in and day out. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him, and I am so glad that I was able to find such joy- in the most unexpected place- with a horse, NOT a pony, named Shermie.