23…old enough to have some freedom yet young enough to not have any serious financial obligations…that was until “Hey Janice, hope all is well. I wanted to ask you if you’d be willing to take Oscar back…”. My soul-mate horse who I had leased for 2 years and had been sold a year previously was now in need of a new home again. And just like that, with one little text forwarded to me, my ‘roaring twenties’ with “no serious financial obligation” were over.
I received that text on October 14th and by November 5th he was mine.
Saying I was terrified is an understatement. I visited Oscar prior to purchasing him. He was entirely too skinny, had overgrown feet and offered up a lovely display of bucking, and hopping when asked to canter. My “test ride” lasted all of 15 minutes. So, at 23, I had just purchased an 18 year old horse, without a vet exam, whom I couldn’t ride successfully based on my test-ride. What could go wrong, right? All I knew was that this was my soul-mate horse who needed love, patience and lots of calories! He carried me around for 2 years without ever taking a wrong step and it was my turn to return that favor.
He was placed in a week-long quarantine at his new home, Fence Post Farm. He was hot, agitated and probably terrified. This was his 2nd time in a year he had been ripped away from his friends and home (which for any horse, let alone a very herd-bound one, let’s face it, is traumatizing) and plopped in some strange place he didn’t know. I visited him everyday and just watched him pace in his quarantine paddock.
We immediately placed him on a fat booster (Nutrena Empower Boost) to add to his grain and lots and lots of hay. The farrier came out within 3 days to address his hooves. The bulbs of his heels were completely on the ground and his hooves looked like pancakes. Luckily we were told with a couple of regular shoeings, we should see his hooves become more upright again. After a week, he met his herd mates and was turned out with the group and moved into his permanent stall. Surprisingly, he began putting on weight very quickly and settled in remarkably fast.
My next task was riding. Finding a saddle to fit an 18 year old, high-withered horse with no topline whatsoever proved to be a challenge. I took 6 different saddles on trial, none of which fit. Finally, I was able to get the saddle I already owned to fit after purchasing a pad with shims from Dover (Dover’s brand worked just as well as the name-brand for us and was over $100 cheaper!). After also buying a breastplate (Wintec sells a pretty affordable one that does the job for now!) to keep the saddle in place, we were in business. We began slowly with just walking and trotting for short intervals. After a week or so, we tested the canter to see what we were working with. It was explosive to say the least. It felt like we always had onlookers when we rode, no doubt waiting to see what “the crazy team” does today, though that could be my imagination (knowing what our rides looked like I’m sure).
We pursued onward and worked over poles, to cavalettis and within 2 months after gaining weight and some sanity, were able to actually do some jumping.
Everything was going well for a few months until he began showing some signs of being off toward the end of February. We called the vet out to evaluate and she said his hocks looked extremely painful. Her ultimate advice was #1 to eventually get some x-rays done due to his previous diagnosis of a lollipop on his front leg due to Navicular (luckily zero lameness though), #2 put him on “bute-less” to see if I could alleviate some of his discomfort, #3 get him some U7 for digestive health, #4 put more weight and muscle on him, #5 just walking, trotting, pole work, hills, etc. for the next month, #6 ride 5 days a week to keep him moving and working and #7 to inject his hocks. She said she recommended waiting a month in hopes that he would put on another 50-100 pounds and be more fit to make the most of the injections. But if all went well, that should take care of his issues.
Now this all may make working with a 17 hand, 18 year old, hot and spunky yet out-of-shape Thoroughbred sound almost easy. But it has been anything but. My patience, commitment and sanity has been tested at every turn. There were days when I wanted to walk and Oscar wanted nothing but trotting and we argued about who was in charge of the ride for that day. There are days I would finally think I was done spending money for a few weeks and then be confronted with “one more thing” he needed. I have shed tears over my rides, finances and my stress level on more than one occasion. I may have no idea what I am doing and no idea what the future holds for me and Oscar but I do know one thing: Oscar is my heart horse and I will do everything in my power to make sure his “golden years” are full of love and comfort. I never thought I would see the day where I owned Oscar. And I often find myself asking: “What do you do when all your dreams have come true at 23?”
Stay tuned for more updates from the “dream team”! Thanks!
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