Every so often, I get new-horse-fever.
It’s an offshoot of my inability to sit still. Not in hour-to-hour living – although I admit, after an hour of doing nothing, I’m starting to feel anxious about projects left unfinished – but in day-to-day, Where am I going and what does it all mean? kind of living. I need to be on the move. I need to have projects. I need to be going somewhere.
Kind of like those foolish, high-strung Thoroughbreds I love so much.
So from time to time over the years, I have had a sudden and urgent desire to acquire a new horse. I might already have a very nice horse – Rillo, for example, or a barn full of someone else’s show horses to ride – but that didn’t satisfy my need to take a horse with potential and start bringing it out, day by day. I like starting horses. I like green horses. I like the very visible changes you can bring to the surface with each and every encounter.
I didn’t need a new horse, of course, what I needed was a head check, to get fired, to go back to college, anything to get me out of the Funny Farm I was working at (by the way, don’t name your farm that, not ever) before the boss ran me into the ground and failed to pay me my last month’s pay. But I didn’t really see that bad ending coming – even though that is what always happens – so instead of being content with riding Rillo with some pretty swank trainers (in exchange for keeping the farm’s daughter and prized junior A circuit competitor riding with the swank trainers and not wandering off to other swank trainers – did I mention the horse business is full of crooks?) and competing all over Florida, from Fox Lea to Canterbury to HITS, I decided I needed a project horse as well.
Nothing quite like tying yourself down to a bad employer with multiple horses you are boarding for “free.”
I was on a pretty limited budget and I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, so I just scanned the internet. This was pre-Dream Horse and Equine.com; it was probably even before the nationwide roll-out of craigslist. The listing that caught my eye was on Yahoo Ads. (Yahoo is a website which used to be pretty significant on the internets.)
The ad was all in capital letters – a sure sign that you’re going to get to the ranch and find either a total steal or a confused donkey: “SWEET BAY TB YEARLING COLT – $600.”
Sweetbay was not at the time a grocery store name. Now, you put the name of a grocery store in front of a horse description, I’m going to think the wrong thing. Anyway.
I thought, oh! A yearling Thoroughbred. Well this could be interesting. And because I was in Ocala, even though I was at a show barn, riding with a top event trainer and a top hunter/jumper trainer, I thought maybe I can race it!
I really did. I always had the racing bug, even before I started working with racehorses.
I showed the ad to Cory and told him some nonsensical story about starting young horses and amazing potential and what a great price and Cory, who wasn’t yet the knowledgeable horseman/capable Natalie-handler that he is today, approved an excursion to inspect the Sweet Bay TB Yearling Colt.