We all have them. Those friends that are very bad influences and try to get you to spend money when you both know you shouldn’t. They’re the same friends that know you already own six horses, when you can actually only afford about three, and they still insist on sending you horse ads. Just because. I mean, maybe I really do need seven horses. One never knows for sure…
So Christian sends me an ad. The horse is adorable. I know what you’re thinking. “Shallary, you think every horse is adorable.” Now that may or may not be true, but I don’t want to buy every horse. I’m rather disinterested in the horses that appear to be falling down a hill and are forever stuck in the downward dog yoga position. They’re cute enough, but I just don’t need to own one.
So now that I have clarified, the horse in the ad was obviously REALLY cute, or else I wouldn’t have wanted to try him out. Obviously. The ad says he is a 10 yr old Thoroughbred that has been used in the mountains to round up cows. Seems legit. I messaged the owner, Bolton* and asked if I could come try him out today or first thing tomorrow. (I mean, why wait?)
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Bolt replies, “Sure, what time tomorrow?” I suggest 9:15 a.m. Bolt says he can’t do it at 9:15 and asks if I can come at 9:20 instead.
I said, “Sure. Also, I guess I should ask… is he lame?” Bolton assures me he has all four legs and is indeed sound. He got cut last year but it healed fine. I ask where. “Just a back leg,” Bolt says. Oh okay, just his back leg. Well that’s not really important or anything.
So Jared and I go out to Bolton’s first thing in the morning. On the way out, Jared told me he already knew I was going to buy the horse, unless it had something really wrong with it, like only three legs. I told him that if it has three legs, we should definitely buy it, because it would probably be pretty kid friendly.😃
It’s 19° when we arrive… so not too chilly. We pull in and see a sign that reads, “No alcohol or persons under the influence of alcohol allowed on the premises.” Phew! Good thing it was only 9:20 on a Sunday morning or else I might have been hammered!
Bolton comes out of the house with some bailing twine. We go to the field, and amongst the broken down cars, piles of cinder blocks, and piles of wood with nails in it, he catches the horse. Bolt informs me that he calls the horse Turbo. Turbo is a bit on the skinny side, is hairy as a yak, covered in a sheet of ice, and has his bottom lip hanging down. I think to myself, “Turbo doesn’t look very fast, but maybe Bolt knows somethin’ I don’t.”
I’ll admit I was expecting a halter to arrive on the scene at any moment, but Bolt just led him with the twine over to the round pen and started raking the ice off him with a metal curry. Turbo stands there, unimpressed. Bolt gets him de-iced while I feel Turbo’s legs. Nice and cold. The cut on his “just a back leg” seems fine. It did scar, but not in a bad spot. I suspect Turbo just uses it now as a conversation starter with the ladies. I asked Bolt if we could use his tack to ride since I only brought my helmet. Bolt disappears inside the house. He leaves the pasture gate wide open. His other horses look at it unenthusiastically. They aren’t stupid. There’s only more snow and ice in his yard. Why leave the field? I clip my helmet to the fence while we wait. Turbo checks it for treats. This is a good sign. I know how to train the ones that like cookies. I check Turbo’s lip. No tattoo from what I can tell. Of course, I couldn’t hold him overly still since he was still not wearing anything on his head and obviously not tied.
Bolt comes back with a western saddle that has seen a thing or two in its day. Now, I’m not a western saddle connoisseur or anything, but I’m fairly certain that the flappy part near the front where you tie things on… is not supposed to be hanging off the saddle with about 6 nails sticking out of it. Good motivation to keep my butt in the saddle at least.
Bolt gets the saddle on. Turbo is still just standing there, chillin’. Bolt says, “Just to tell you, he’s a bit cinchy,” and proceeds to nearly pull Turbo off his feet in the process of tightening the cinch. Turbo puts his ears back in alarm. Bolt tightens it some more. Turbo gasps for air. Bolt tightens it some more. I mean, I have never seen a cinch so tight before! It literally could have been used as a tourniquet if the need should arise. Bolt climbs on. Like- before I even knew what was happening!
Sometimes I’ll have a horse that seems a little cinchy or sore, so I do the rational thing and tighten the girth slowly and walk them around a bit before mounting. But not Bolt. He’s more of a manly man than me. So he climbs on, and tells me that Turbo used to do Indian relay races with his cousin, and he even did the one last year at the 4th of July rodeo. How exciting! A real live OTTB… sorta.
If you don’t know what Indian relay racing is, you should go here for an explanation and pictures: Relay Racing Championship
The purse is $50,000 for that championship. Apparently Turbo once won $800. So I was wrong. He’s basically like lightning. ⚡️Also, I found a bunch of fun relay race videos on Instagram. Just search #indianrelayrace and you will not be sorry you did.
Anyways, Bolt says he’s done “mostly hand work” with Turbo. I like to think I know a thing or two about horses, and I have never heard of “hand work.” Bolt shows me. In case you don’t know about hand work either, it’s like leg work, except all reins. Not to be confused with neck reining. Bolt has his hands wayyyyy up above Turbo’s ears, moving them alllll around, and shows me how well Turbo can turn. He trots him a few steps, and dismounts. I look at Bolt. “Ummm. You have to make him lope too. I refuse to die today.” Bolt laughs and says, “Well I like to have his head to lope,” and proceeds to put a training fork on him. Seems logical. Now we have minimal use of the reins. That should come in handy.
We leave the round pen. Bolt takes off trotting, turns Turbo 90° and asks him to lope. Turbo slips on some hidden ice under all the snow, catches himself, and lopes a few steps. Bolt dismounts.
Well, okay. This has not exactly been the demonstration I was hoping for, but I figured that if Bolt was still alive, Turbo must be a good boy. I asked Bolt what his cue to canter was. Bolt said, “just more kicking.” So I put on my brain bucket and walk-trot-cantered both ways. I even avoided collisions with the other horses, the rock mound, the patch of hidden ice, and the innocent bystanders. We tried with and without the training fork and with and without some form of contact, which was basically me just holding the reins tighter and Turbo ignoring me. Turbo is thoroughly unimpressed with the silly white girl.
Before we go, we thought we should ask him to jump. We fished through the scrap wood pile and found two poles with only a couple nails in them, and rigged up a cross rail with fire wood and spare tires for jump standards. I made the jump small because I didn’t want to impale myself on the saddle horn, and because Bolt said Turbo had never done anything like this before.
I walked Turbo up to it. He sniffs it. Steps over it. Rolls his eyes. So we walk to it again. He sniffs it again.
Still no drama. So we trot to it. He trots until the very last second, then slowwwwly steps over it at a walk, and trots away, all proud of himself for having figured it out. Adorable. I managed to make him trot over it after a few tries and more kicking.
With enough video evidence to send to Christian, we thanked Bolt for his time. I told him I would let him know if I would take him after Christian watched the videos. Bolt and Turbo were very tolerant of my weirdness, which I appreciate. I dismounted from Turbo, and he just stood there, wondering who on earth these idiots were. Little did he know…
Up next! Buying A Horse: Wyoming Style