Milo Chronicles: P1
There's a new kid in town! Milo will be starting his journey towards eventing this fall, and you can follow along here on my blog where I'll be doing regular updates throughout this adventure.
I began casually looking for a prospect while taking stock and trying to figure out how to honor both my goals and my horses. Soulman is a wonderful, kind horse with a huge heart, but he was struggling to keep up with the demands of eventing at Training level. I felt that he had reached his limit, and I couldn't push him past his abilities. I was wrestling with changing my goals to keep my horse, versus changing my horse to pursue my goals. I was most hung up on the idea that I would be breaking the commitment I made to Soulman by taking him on, and I had to talk myself out of feeling like a failure for moving him along. I struggled internally with letting go of my sweet boy, but ultimately found him a great home in my local network. That is a benefit of how small the horse community can be- I know someone who knows someone who is a great match! His new home is a better fit for his capability, and I know he is being well cared for and loved. I thought I had gotten used to seeing horses leave, having sent over 50 OTTBs off to new homes through New Vocations. That is not the case, it was hard, it will probably always be hard, no matter how great the new situation is.
After making that decision, I got serious about my casual search for a new partner. Since I wholeheartedly enjoy starting from the bottom with young horses, that's where I began looking. Anyway, I didn't have the budget for a fancy-shmancy made horse, or as it turns out, even something that was starting to show promise. The internet revealed a whole lot of OTTBs in the same price range as weanling and yearling warmbloods. I have time, but don't want to wait a few years to actually see what I bought, so baby warmbloods were out. Seemed like an OTTB was the way to go!
Here's what I was looking for (and my reasoning):
3-5 y/o gelding (I know myself, it's just not a mare for me)
Low starts/unraced (in my opinion, more races = more let down time)
Not yet restarted (sat on a couple times is fine, but nothing that had developed habits)
No vices or neuroses (he will be boarded, most boarding barns prefer horses that are "normal")
Kind personality, enjoyable to work with (I want to develop an easy partnership)
Athletic and capable of competing at the upper levels (includes a relaxed way of going, ability/interest in jumping, soundness, etc.)
Other considerations include conformation, location, breeding/pedigree, and of course the ability to pass a PPE with the intention of upper level eventing.
Here's what I found:
0 starts, recently out of race training
No vices, getting along in group turnout 24/7
Easy going, kind
Above average gaits and seems to be cool with jumping
In addition to solid conformation, good bloodlines, no history of lameness or illness, JC papers in hand, good relationship with racing connections, and being nearby.
Scar Face Tony (Slumber x Devil's Chance) was sourced by Amanda Birriel of Wildflower Sport Horses in Georgetown, Kentucky. He had been in a field for about a month after leaving race training, and a video she had posted of him free-lunging really caught my eye, I reached out. You can check out that video by clicking here. After getting all the basics covered through talking with Amanda, I scheduled a PPE and committed sight-unseen. He got a pretty glowing report from the vet with the note that he has about a year left of growing and maturing, and he is due for dental work. The vet said 'this is not a horse that will go training level next year', but he was impressed overall both with his findings and the horse's temperament. I also sent photos to my regular vet and farrier in case I missed any red flags. I was sold.
I picked him up on my way home from Flying Cross Farm HT in September! I had forgotten what 3y/o TBs look like, especially uraced kids, and he really does have a lot of growing to do. He loaded and hauled like a champ, just had a baby horse brain about backing off the trailer ramp when we arrived. He settled into his new stall for the night, and I did a happy dance. So far he is settling in well, and I'm having a great time getting started with him!