The lessons I learn

I get a call the other morning, these people have seen my facebook page and need some help with a horse they have and want me to come evaluate her prior to them selling her. I have some free time and it is not far away, a couple extra bucks for an evaluation are always welcome. I head on over, it sounds fairly easy. I am so freaking stupid some times.
The Mare is very cute, not the greatest conformation, but passable. She has a really cute head and neck, but she has a look in her eye that tells me there is less sugar than spice in this little girl. They had told me they thought they should be able to get $4000 for her, I am halving that right off the bat.
I ask the couple about her back ground. The mare was register able, but they had never bothered, they still have all the paperwork though. I explain at her age this is not cheap and easy, so most people will not be interested in her for her papers as it will cost them a fair bit of change and so she therefore would not be sold at the price of a registered horse. They are not happy about this and argue the point. I finally have to explain, if the mare as a registered horse is worth $2000, you don’t get $2000. Because to register her it will cost the new owners $600, and so that means she would have the value of a grade mare. They can try to register her themselves and pay out the $600 and then try to get $2000 for her, and may only get $1200, then they have only gotten $600 for her, so they are better off trying to sell her for $1000 if she rides well and then use the fact they can register her if they want to as a selling point.
They are needing to sell her as they are moving out of state. They bought her when she was young, then sent her off for training for 60 days to a woman in Scottsdale when she was 3. The woman charged $800 a month for board and training and they hoped to be able to get some money back when they sold her. (This generally never happens, just so you know.) Nothing was ever really done with her once she came back, she had not been ridden since leaving training. I asked them why they did not contact the woman who did the training when they were getting ready to move, the man replied that they had wanted to, but she was no longer there and they had been unable to find her. Also the people at the stable did not want to talk about her or provide any information. This sounds a little fishy to me, but I let it pass for now.
They tell me they cannot get a halter on her and that is why her feet are long. They are really not too bad, she has the type of feet that wear pretty well and have no major chips or cracks. Her feet are a bit long, but really look ok. The mare will go into the trailer to have her grain, so she has been to the vet for her shots and de-wormer, the vet just did them while she was in the trailer through the side door. I tried to go up to the mare to even pet her, and she was having none of it. I asked about that and they said they didn’t pet or scratch her as someone had told them she would get spoiled. (Yes, my horses are spoiled rotten.) I felt a little bad for her at this point, there were no other horses there, and none close by, and the owners did not even have a dog for company for her. So instead of chasing her around or roping her, we put grain in the trailer and she hops right in. I opened the side door and put a halter on her, then after she had her grain, I let her out with her halter and lead on. She fussed around for a bit, but not really trying to be bad or anything. I picked up her feet and she was actually pretty good about it. The man had some tools as he had taken the 2 week horse shoeing course thinking it would save them money if he could trim his own horses. So we cleaned up her feet a bit. The guy actually was not bad at trimming for only having taken the 2 week course.
I tied her up ad she fought it for a few minutes, but settled down after she found she could not get away. I started scratching her and trying to find her sweet spot and she acted like I was molesting her. I finally found she like having her belly scratched behind where the cinch went. She acted pretty ticklish in the cinch area for a horse that had 60 days training on her, but I figured she had not had anything done with her for 2 years so maybe she was just more ticklish than some. My estimation of my intelligence is rapidly declining as I write this. I should have had some inkling of what was coming.
I got out their saddle and it really fit her pretty well. They had bought it from the trainer. She acted pretty raw about the whole process of being saddled, but wasn’t mean, just antsy. I should have been using my brain at this point, but nope.
I walked her around until I got the hump out of her back, stopping to scratch her and tell her what a good girl she was. I took her over to the built in mounting block they had. So I throw my leg over her and realize immediately I should not have had the saddle on her, or me, or even the non existent dog. This horse had NEVER had anyone on her back before. She starts hopping around, she is confused and scared. I can’t step off her without scaring her more and potentially one of us getting hurt. It is not that easy when you are old like me to gracefully hop out of, and clear a saddle, when the horse is trying to buck and jumping around. If you admire older riders for staying on a bucking horse and riding it out, keep in mind it is because we are too old to get off easily. I figure I am in it for the long run at this point, so I keep talking to her in a calm voice. She has no balance and doesn’t even know how to buck right now, so basically she is just jumping around, stumbling and trying to figure out how I got up there and how to make me go away. She was like a perpetual motion machine. She kept going for what seemed like an hour but was probably only about 5 minutes. But if you have ever been on a fractious horse, 5 minutes is forever. She did one pretty good jump and came down wrong and went to her knees when she couldn’t balance. This scared her and she stopped hopping around. She stood there huffing and puffing like she had just ran a marathon, and I took this opportunity to hop off while she was holding still. I may have been stupid for getting up there, but all the jumping around had gotten my brain going again. Me hopping off actually didn’t spook her, which I took as a good sign.
The couple come over to us at this point and ask me why I had made her do all that, and why I didn’t just ride her? I turn and look at them unable to even speak yet and wondering what in the heck they were even thinking? After I catch my breath and loosen the mares cinch and give her a couple good scratches and turn to them and ask them why in the name of little green apples would they think I had “made” the horse do that? They both look a little confused.
Then I then ask some questions I was obviously too stupid to ask before I threw my leg over an untrained mare. “Did you ever watch this woman you paid to train your horse ride her? Did she ever send you video of her riding her? Did she say how many days a month she was actually going to ride her? Why would you pay someone $800 a month to do work for you and not make sure they actually were doing something? This mare has never had anyone on her back before, she has no idea how to balance weight, and was scared and confused. I would never have gotten on this poor girl if I had any idea she had never been ridden. You threw away your $1600 and it is a good thing you never tried to ride her!”
They really did not want to believe me, only me offering to video tape one of them getting on her made any impression at all and that was not much of one. Then a young cowboy wandered over, he was their neighbor who works at the local feed lot. He asks them what is going on and that he thought they had said this mare was broke? They say she was broke and then told him about sending the mare up to Scottsdale to be trained and how I was trying to tell them the mare had never been ridden or trained, and would he get on her? He shook his head no, and said he could see she wasn’t broke and there was no way he was getting on her. He asked them if the trainer was named such and such and they agreed it was the same one. He then goes on to tell them that that woman had actually been a fraud, having the same name of a big name trainer, she had went to several stables and using the name, taken in many horses for training, never doing much of anything, then moving on with a lot of other peoples money, tack and whatever else she could get a hold of including some horses she had taken in “trade” for her training. She had finally been caught, and was now in prison for fraud, theft, animal abuse and neglect, identity theft, breaching a contract, horse theft and many other things.
The owners are very upset about all this and I can understand their point of view. Then they ask what the mare is worth. I am kind of floored at this point and tell them whatever they can get is what she is worth. If they can find someone who wants an unregistered, unbroken, mare who is not socialized at all, they should take what they can get. They come back with “Can we get our $1600 back?” No I tell them, you threw that away. It is like you took your car in to a mechanic to get a new motor and never looked under the hood or tried to start the car for 2 years. You will be very fortunate to get $400 for her. They ask what I would give them for her? Nothing, I don’t want her. They tell me I can train her and make a lot of money. No, I tell them, I can’t. She isn’t worth that much even trained, she doesn’t have great bloodlines, she isn’t all that exceptional, she may come around to liking people but the horse market sucks. If I put 90 days into her, then I would maybe be able to sell her for $800 if I am lucky, and I would be out 90 days of hay, and 90 days of my work, besides the fact she isn’t thrilled with people and objected to me on her back. They are now mad at ME, and tell me to leave. Oh well.
What I have learned that I had forgotten, don’t believe anything anyone says about a horse, don’t get on a horse you don’t know with a saddle on or at all, always ask for your money for an evaluation up front or they may decide not to pay you, and bruises on your seat tend to hurt more than when you were young!

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