It was late.
It was hot.
My client was exhausted.
And we still had one more horse to go....
- - - -
We went to Tampa early and the first horse was a bust. Sweet, but too rough gaited for a wounded lower back.
The second horse was all the way up in Ocala.
He was a bust, too. A really bad bust. Filthy language was lobbed our way when we refused the horse after seeing how badly deformed his mouth was. (Sigh... seriously lacking southern hospitality.)
The third horse got on The List. Up top - way up top - after he calmly stopped while my client was riding and the van skidded and then crashed into the truck on the road right beside the arena. Yay. At least I had one. I had reservations, he was green, but nothing a bit of training wouldn't cure.
Number four was, .....well... he was gorgeous, injured, brimming with personality, and WAAAAYYY too much horse. He was a lot of fun for the agent's exercise rider, though.
So the agent took us over to see horse number five.
The place was neat and tidy. All mowed and trimmed. The ancient barn was clean, but dimly lit. The exercise rider came along to help out. She waltzed into his stall with her bridle and saddle and I watched him politely leave his food. The way she approached, he should have pinned his ears.
Unceremoniously, the exercise rider bridled him, then saddled him and led him out. She was in a hurry to get home. But I'd already seen all I needed. I knew we'd found him.
I locked myself into trainer brain, blocking out the agent's non-stop chatter and followed the horse out to the ring. The seller walked beside me in silence. There was something going on between them. I kept a mental eye on that. Whatever they were hiding, I would find it or the vet would find it.
Still, trainer brain told me this horse was perfect. He was big enough, his barrel was wide, like his chest. He wasn't strong, he'd been starved too long to be strong. Fixable.
His shoulders were bigger than his hindquarters; he was trained to pull himself along on his forehand. Fixable.
He sauntered up to the mounting block and stood stock still. Yay! He did not move while the exercise rider mounted. Another yay. When she gathered up her reins, he softened to her hand. Oooooo. YAY! When she moved him off, he offered slow and careful. Then he made the connection. "Ah ha! You can ride! How about something more lively?" And I watched him walk right on out, big, steady, even strides. He figured the rider out fast. And I heard the seller quietly say what a good boy. I glanced over at her and had to agree. Then Danny Boy tried something else. Every few walk strides, he'd lift his neck and head and hop on his right front. The exercise rider and I grinned at each other and she let the reins way out. His offer to canter was unmistakeable. She rubbed him and moved him off into a swinging, smooth trot. She gathered him into vertical and showed us he wasn't bracing against her hand. She let him back out and he never changed speed. Yet another yay.
We found the perfect horse.
I wanted to yank that girl right off, right then, and put my client up. Patience, patience!
She put him through some wonderful work and he responded with purity and delight. He lifted his shoulders and arched his neck. He loved having someone other than a little kid up there. He flopped his ears a few times to let her know. Fab.
She demonstrated his canter to the right. Spectacular. She wasn't able to get the left lead, but that was not his fault. I didn't want it to turn into a fight and I asked her to leave it alone and hop down.
We adjusted the stirrups long and my client got on. He treated her with the same respect and dignity he offered the exercise rider. He had my client figured out in an instant and then proceeded to care for her. He slowed so she could get nicely arranged. He moved only as fast as he felt she was capable. I fell in love. He was perfect. When she asked for more, he gave her exactly what she wanted.
As I observed all of this, the seller quietly approved of my client's riding. I was beginning to like her, trust her even. I called out a few pointers, and then told my client if we were going to purchase this horse she'd have to canter. The seller immediately spoke up and overrode my comment, "You don't have to canter right away, just take your time and do it when you're ready!" I smiled at her and KNEW I could trust her. She passed the test. We needn't have worried, either one - Danny Boy up transitioned to canter and did a cute little rocking horse all the way around the ring.
The perfect gentleman.
I asked the seller what she wanted for him - she replied and the agent got upset. Aaahhh. I figured out the trouble. Firmly, I asked the women to work out the price and give it to me. They spoke quietly and when the seller came back with the number, I was delighted.
They had no idea what they had.
I didn't squabble even one single penny.