Fishing for Unicorns
In order to understand what drove me to the madness of buying a horse two months into my first big-girl job, it's important to know three things.
1) I was finally taking lessons again consistently, this time with a new trainer. I wanted to jump again (it had been a while) and she was fun and encouraging and I really liked it. Endurance had lost some shine for me, since the distance to the barn and the time-sink were making competition nearly impossible. Jumping over things and running around an XC course sounded like absolute heaven. Still does. And the new trainer had a host of cool horses to ride, many of them thoroughbreds.
2) My family and I have an agreement that allows me to live at home and pay a reasonable rent while I pay double into my student loans. This will (hopefully and all fingers crossed) allow me to pay them all off by the end of 2018.
3) I have wanted a horse for as long as I have been able to form conscious thought.
That created the perfect storm. A storm in which I was in love with a new discipline and breed, making smart financial choices, and driven by a lifelong desire.
Oh, and my mom was all about it.
So, after careful discussion with several knowledgeable horse friends and my mother (not horsey but fully enabling), I came up with a list of criteria. I wanted an event horse with a brain and the chance to move up, and if it liked to go on the trail, that was great, too. My budget was low, so I accepted that I would get something green/unbroke/not restarted. That was fine. If I was honest with myself, I wanted a bay thoroughbred mare. (Spoiler alert: I did not get one.)
In early November, I put my ISO out there to Facebook. it was tailored toward finding an OTTB, but what was incredible to me was the variety of response. I'd never seriously shopped before, but I knew what I wanted. OTTB groups were massively helpful with tons of options that fit into my criteria. On a whim, I posted in Arabian and Warmblood groups, too, as well as some local places. Several Warmblood people pretty told me, kindly, that I wouldn't find much on that budget (I saw that coming), and one well-known Arabian breeder got pretty nasty at me about my expectations versus price. I shrugged; OTTBs were plenty, and I wasn't interested in a battle.
Funnily enough, right beneath the snarky comment, an old friend I'd ridden the 3-Day 100 back in 2012 with commented. Would I be interested in Java, her 5 year old half-Arabian?
This was a horse I'd been stalking since he was born. Gorgeous, great movement, beautiful face, awesome build. But it was a grey, Arabian gelding. But he fit the bill.
Mom took one look and that was that. We scheduled a time to go meet him.