We made our way just past the Shaker Village entrance to a grand old Kentucky farm. It’s seen better days. Knocking on the front door it had the air of a place locked in the 19th century. Nobody answered the door. Curious, I wished I could see the inside of the house. It had a tall russet colored or more claret colored door probably 9 feet tall, a wide veranda and high pillars across the front with gingerbread at the top of each one. I hesitate to say how old it is, but the old log house behind it in complete disrepair may be telling, my guess 1790.
We fetched the farmer in the white double wide past the grand house. He indicated that we should follow him in his truck. We weren’t sure we wanted to drive on the wet and slick grass on the farm lane but we had four wheel drive so off we went.
Way out in the back forty the object of my desire had been living for the past couple years. The white queen was standing among the bay and chestnuts. They grabbed her by the neck and threw a rope around it, pulling her out of the fenced enclosure and towards our trailer. We stood ready with a new leather halter and lead rope.
This horse business can be a strange thing to me. The element of ownership could be about timing. I wonder exactly when the horse moves past the threshold of theirs and then is ours. Sometimes the old owner lets you load the horse on the truck; they figure it’s yours once they hand the rope to you. Others will load the horse; maybe to show that when they say they load they’ll show you how they do it. After the horse is technically off the ground, it’s yours. This time it was the latter.
As the white queen was walking towards us she was of course unaware this transaction was happening. She was more concerned about the trailer with a ramp. Balking at first, the farmer said she always loads real well. We accepted his comment but were wary of the claim. When she didn’t want to load the farmer told us she doesn’t like the ramp. We were patient; it’s the best policy with any horse you don’t know.
I found myself watching the animal trying to find any sense of remorse that she’s leaving who’s owned them. The farmer interjected while trying to stuff her in the trailer; Have I had ridden her? I said no, he said, she rides real good. We knew some of her history, maybe part fiction, part fact, all these things we’ll be finding out really soon. And as he was claiming her good riding merits, I mused on the thought of what a good riding horse was.
I didn’t notice any concern about leaving her field mates. The white queen was more interested in the ramp. I fetched the grain from the truck and went in the side door. She immediately responded to the rustling of the grain. In she came and dived into the grain eating greedily. We were relieved that she was in, but alas after we jumped in the truck and made haste to leave; my friend told me that the butt bar wasn’t hooked; the guys just jammed the ramp up and bolted it.
The older guy made mention several times that we got a heck of a deal on that mare, he couldn’t believe what we bought her for, if you knew what the owners paid for her. I answered the horse business isn’t good right now. And left it at that.
As we drove out my friend told me she liked her even better after she’d seen her the second time. We both shook our heads and commiserated about how we get into things like this. This is a risky thing to do, buying an unknown horse, but I knew that the valued packer isn’t easy to pry from owners even if they don’t use them anymore, most of the time they’re passed along to another person, never hitting the ads in the paper. And an imported Hanoverian mare isn’t something you find often in the local pet ads.
Back at the farm on Oregon road, she backed out perfectly. She snorted and craned her neck and looked around at her new surroundings. Dirty, unkempt, with burrs in her tail, stains on her legs, tail and mane; we can fix these issues quickly. But she’s very thin and hungry, and weak, no muscling at all. The vet will be out tomorrow and we’ll get to work on helping her back to health and happiness.
This mare wasn’t standing in a feed lot ready to be auctioned and shipped off to Canada; but she was one tick off from that fate. Her owners had the best of intentions but this mare was falling through the cracks and we closed it.
A beautiful mare, she was very regal in her demeanor. I was pleased with what I saw.