To feel these feelings
Like I do
And I blame you
— "Behind Blue Eyes" (Pete Townshend)
The Who, from their fifth album "Who's Next" (1971)
Lightning Strikes Twice
Kris asked me to come to the farm with her after work so she could interact with a couple of Stonewall and Sugarbush mares she's considering. Sure, why not? She was already there when I arrived. As soon as I was in earshot, Heather yelled, "You better sit down." I did. "Quaker is up for sale."
Quaker is the one that got away. He's the only horse I've ever cantered, and the one I trusted even more than Jaz, which is saying a lot. The little (14-14.2) guy really had a bead on my abilities. He never took advantage of me, but he did push me ever-so-gently. As soon as he sensed uncertainty, he'd back off. Quaker is nothing to look at. He's the color of oatmeal (sooty Palomino), and his right eye had to be surgically removed (uveitis), but he's well trained and willing. I vowed that if I ever had the opportunity again, I would not let him slip through my fingers a second time.
Quaker's current owner (J) was Rover's (here and here) former owner. I don't know how she got hooked up with Heather, but they traded horses because J was intimidated by Rover. Heather said Ro was the better horse, to which I only half-jokingly replied, "Rover's not a pimple on Quaker's butt!" As both Heather and I have noted, with a little firmness and consistency, Ro's quickly shown himself to be a well-trained, willing partner. I love riding him. In my mind, J traded one awesome horse for another.
The difficult conversation with Mr. Fry
Me: Do you remember me talking about Quaker, the one-eyed QH?
Him: Unnnnhh, oh yeah, yeah!
Me: He's looking for a home again.
Him: Oh nooo! Okay [the "okay" sounded just like Eeyore].
Let the Horse Trading Begin
So I call J, ask her the appropriate questions. I was unprepared for the audacious amount that delusional woman thinks she's going to get for him. He's a short, one-eyed, plain-Jane, unpapered QH! Go on Craig's list and you can get 3 or 4 pretty ones with all their parts for what she's asking for him. Time is on my side, because no one in their right mind would pay that much for him in this market, and if they would, more power to J. The odds are in my favor that I can come back later with close to my original offer and she'll likely beg me to take him.
J gets back with Heather and basically says I insulted her with my offer. Says it "wouldn't make good business sense." Does that sound as funny to you as it did to us? She says maybe she should trade Quaker back to Heather for Rover since she paid a modest-for-then-ridiculous-for-now price for Rover and she'll get more money selling him than Quake, so she can get whatever it is she thinks she wants now. Heather and I are baffled, because both Quake and Ro are wonderful horses. We can't imagine what novice rider J wants that's not either one of them. I would consider myself blessed to own either of the two.
The plan was, if J decided she wanted to trade Quake back for Rover, then I'd give Heather what I offered J for Quake (and prolly a little more, just because it's her). Except for one minor hitch. Ro's mystery lameness is no longer a mystery: ringbone in all 4 legs. Major bummer, and silence from J's camp.
God bless Heather and Kris, who are both the best friends ever and the most evil people on the planet. They have been willing all along to bend over backwards with money and horseflesh so I can get my little horse, whatever it takes. And believe me, the absurdity of the situation is not lost on any of us (with the notable exception of J): we're talking about a deal involving a lame horse (who will never be truly sound) and a homely, (half) blind one. Now that's funny, I don't care who ya are!
Days later, from somewhere inside me, I hear a voice advising me to step back and relax. The four of us (Heather, Kris, Mr. Fry, and I) have been talking about it every darn day, but suddenly, it hits me like a brick to the head: I don’t need Quaker as I once did or thought I did. There is and will always be a special place in my heart for him, but Quaker’s fate does not lie with me. It’s no different than outgrowing a boyfriend and knowing you need to move on, regardless of how sweet the guy is. My heart will ache a little, but I’ll get over it.
In part, I blame/credit this decision on my friends. Heather has mentored me, encouraged me, supported me, helped me. She has taught me everything I know. The progress we’ve made with Poco is nothing short of miraculous. Kris has helped, albeit unwittingly, by coming here and riding with me. She calls, asks when (not if) we're riding, and I pick a time because I don't want to disappoint my friend. I have ridden more often and more consistently this year than in the previous 3 years I've had horses. And because I would not want the liability of anyone else riding Poco (funny, no one seems to want to), I'm forced to ride him so Kris can ride Jaz. It's been really good for me and both of my horses.
I had not planned on talking about this unless and until it was definite, but my decision to let Quake go doesn't completely make sense unless I let you in on the secret.
I have always loved O (here, here and here). He's so much like Poco, and I think he's gorgeous. I understand him. I have also long admired the foundation Appaloosas bred by our late friend, Sigrid Ricco. Heather has offered me Streak, the blue-eyed baby boy, son of O and Arden (one of Sig's horses), for a price that can barely even be called a token. Throw in that Heather will work with him, and help me work with him.
Arden & Streak
Streak (a few weeks old)
- I have to do something with him — a sport or discipline. From the first time I met him, I was impressed at his gregarious, curious, fearless personality. I think he has the temperament for an amazing trail horse. So maybe competitive trail riding? Heather may opt to work him up for something else as well.
- O, the last known standing Sugarbush stallion, has been sold to another woman (coincidentally also named Heather), who shares our Heather's passion for the breed. Our Heather will breed O to several mares prior to his departure in the hopes of getting a "keeper" colt for the Sugarbush line. If she does, Streak will be gelded. If she doesn't, Streak will be collected and she'll try that way. So, I have to keep Streak intact until O's foals are born, or until he is about two. I'm okay with that. O will not be that far away, so trying again with him is not out of the question.
- I added this one. Unless/until I say the word, Streak is for sale. If someone wants to pay "real" money for him, I need to step back. After all, my friends are running a business.
I won't commit to Streak unless/until I’m certain this is the best match for me, all 3 horses, Mr. Fry, and the land. That decision will wait until he's been here awhile for his "big boy lessons".
Quaker is relatively close to the same age as my Boyz, perhaps a bit younger. I got to thinking that if I brought him home, at some point, theoretically, at least, I'll be dealing with 3 geriatric geldings. That could potentially leave me with no riding horse, and I for sure can’t bring a 4th horse on our land, which currently resembles sub-Saharan Africa. But in any case, I think a younger horse makes more sense. A younger horse will continue to teach me and force me to stretch out of my comfort zone in ways that Quake would not. Quake would help me be a more confident rider, but Poco’s already doing that — trial by fire! Think of all I can learn about handling and training with a younger horse. By the time Poco and Jaz are ready to retire or are relegated to lighter riding, Streak will be ready.
I've told Heather that if J does decide to trade back, I will help with Quake’s expenses, and I’ll definitely help care for and exercise him.There you have it. And since I've revealed every other part of the secret, I'll also tell you that if Streak's new home ends up being here, I've already chosen his new name: Daltrey; as in Roger (The Who), the original blue-eyed rocker. It's not that I'm a rabid fan, but isn't that just the coolest name ever?