Was there ever anything harder than closing a farm?
It’s never easy selling horses, even when that’s what you supposedly do for a living. Compound that – sell all of them, all at once.
When I was eighteen, interning at a breeding farm (we specialized in draft and Thoroughbred crosses that make me blush to think of now) the farm owner told me, standing over a foal that had been born dead, “You have to be hard.” Yeah, I thought. I can do that.
In the years to follow I’d sell horses, and give horses away, and some I’d check up on, and some I wouldn’t. Some I wish I had. Rapidan – whatever happened to Rapidan, my amazing Thoroughbred stallion? Truly, The One That Got Away. Too bad, too bad. Horses come and horses go. I worked hard at being hard.
Last year, I sold my first two home-breds. Off went Sugar and Emira, Sugar whose impending arrival we discovered during a commercial break of “How I Met Your Mother,” (nice and early, wasn’t that nice of her?); Emira, who would be born, find her feet, learn to canter, and start nursing while we slept, her mother being in the dictionary under the heading Sneaky Mare. My first foals, they kicked me and bit me and stomped me, ran away from me, made me generally crazy, until suddenly they were following me around, rubbing on me, looking for me over their stall doors. I tacked them and started them, and then I put them on a trailer, and they left. I worked very hard at being hard. But I missed them very much. And I worry.
Sugar and Emira’s dams left two weeks ago. Mercedes and Princess came as a pair, lived as a pair, left as a pair. They were turned out in a huge new pasture as a pair. Their new owner is knowledgeable and will take care of them. I drove away and left them, dry-eyed. Hard. But I’ll worry about them from time to time.
Charlie left two days ago. The little black stallion, age unknown, breeding unknown, history unknown. I found him on Craigslist for $50. I gave him to a girl with a beautiful little farm and a collection of fat and attractive geldings. No doubt he will run the place. I’ll worry about him, too.
Bonnie and Wicket live here yet, and saying good-bye to them will be especially hard. I’ve ridden both, I love both, they are beautiful and intelligent and royally bred. Watching them in the paddock is practically a pastime for me. I will have to work extra hard at this one. The same goes for my 2010 yearlings. Their futures are bright – we may seem them on television – but sending them out into the big scary world – oh, I’ll worry. I’ll work hard but – I’ll worry.
And Final Call – what can be said about him? He’s lived with me briefly, but his personality is like no other. I could put in his sales ad, “Will Work For Cookies – But a Head Rub Will Do.” And require that whoever takes him buy his favorite cookies, and rub his head just so, and remember that he likes to pick up his off hind leg before his near hind leg, and his flanks are ticklish, and – I’ll work hard at being hard. But, I’ll worry.