The Horseless Equestrian

Well folks, it happened. The feat, the big moment, the thing that I thought might take a year–Shiloh just sold. I feel so weird. I thought I would cry, but instead I just feel calm and relieved. Of course, I’m sad that he’s gone. It’s like all the training I put into him and all the time I spent with him was a part of me and now that part is gone.

Shiloh new home2

This process has been a terrible nail biter! Not only did I have to sell my buddy of three years, I had to actually talk to people. On the phone. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely hate calling or taking calls from strangers. I’m a super introvert. Every single time my caller id lit up with strangers from all over my region, I waited for the fifth or sixth ring and took a deep breath, trying to make my voice sound more chipper and friendly. Then I had to answer so many questions that were already covered in the ad, and most of the time I had to turn them down because they sounded wrong.

But you want to hear the happy ending to this story. God shined the light of his beautiful countenance down on me yesterday and gave me and Shiloh the absolute best owner I could have ever imagined. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would sell Shiloh only ONE WEEK after posting my ad. The buyer was a wonderful, kind, gentle man that knew horses and really seemed to connect with Shiloh when he rode him and played with him on the ground. He was about an intermediate rider, which is what I advertised Shiloh as appropriate for in the ad. And Shiloh was really, really well behaved for him. At the same time, I was gratified that Shiloh did show him his faults in their meeting as well. He gave a few unauthorized lengthenings of stride, swerved a little here and there, didn’t give exact, clean halts. So the buyer experienced all of this and I feel that I was honest in Shiloh’s representation and he behaved true to form.

He rode him for almost forty minutes, and even cantered and gaited him a little with no incidents. He’s a man that understands that every horse comes with his own training quirks and he needs to spend time learning where Shiloh’s buttons are. He looked Shiloh up and down, looked at all his feet and his teeth. I felt really comfortable around him and I saw some good chemistry between him and Shiloh. Of course, they will have to form a new bond and it will be different than mine with Shiloh, but I think that they will work it out without a hitch and Shiloh will actually be happier with him than he was with me. I know with absolute certainty that he will be well cared for and used regularly. He will get to roam a massive grassy pasture and will no longer need any kind of feed or ration balancer. Now I have to figure out what to do with this huge barrel of alfalfa, rice bran, and assorted supplements. Also, the buyer was very focused on hoof care, de-worming, and yearly vet maintenance.

I told him to call me or text me absolutely any time if he had any questions. He videotaped me riding Shiloh and explaining how I cue for different gaits and movements, so he has that to look back on , which I thought was pretty smart. Plus, he told me he has lots of horse experienced people that he plans on using for trouble shooting so he understands that the horse rider is not an island and he knows when to ask for help with obstacles he comes across.

He drove over two hours to see Shiloh and hauled his trailer, so when it was said and done, we left an empty paddock and a cleared out tack space at my boarding place. If I had felt the slightest unease about the buyer, I wouldn’t have let him go. Luckily, I did get one more lesson in before I sold him. It was a good, uneventful lesson. Shiloh was soft and compliant and it didn’t take much coaxing to get him on the aids. On my last ride on Shiloh, he was the calm happy horse that I love the best. And the best part is, I feel that now that he is in a new place with a blank slate and lower expectations, I feel that he can be that happy calm horse more without the pressure. I’m so happy for him.

shiloh new home

Shiloh in his new stomping grounds with the owner’s daughter

I haven’t spent much time skimming the horse ads since Shiloh left. Mostly, I just feel that the kind of horse that I want is out of my price range right now and I need to spend some time saving money and riding as many horses as I can so I have a better idea of what I want. I’ve started a list of the things that I think that are important to me right now:

-Small and compact, yet with good proportions and conformation and generally pleasant appearance. Think sport ponies, something between 13.3 and 14.3hh.

-Laid back personality. A horse with a lot of experience under his/her belt that feels generally confident about life and doesn’t worry too much. Not excitable, with a patient, teacher-like attitude.

-Must be FUN to ride. No stress, no drama, no hissy fits. Obviously every horse has bad days, but I’m looking for an individual that exudes friendly confidence to be my foil, the yin to my yang.

-Absolutely smooth gaits and NO rhythm/lead complications in the canter either direction. I’m not looking for an extravagant or floaty mover, just something that is easy and comfortable for me to sit so it’s easier to ride the movements and keep my position.

-Healthy hooves that I can keep barefoot

-Under 15-16ish years old. I’m not going to be jumping or doing any speed events. As long as the horse is sound and has been well maintained to age well, I can handle taking extra care of their joints and make any adjustments to warm up/cool down and diet that I need to. I know that experience often comes with age and I actually wouldn’t mind the extra work of taking care of a senior age. Lots of really nice show horses get sold well before their healthy riding years are over.

-I’d like the horse to have a solid foundation up to first level dressage. If not, I’d like him/her to be simple and reasonably sensitive to the aids, easy to maneuver and change the length of stride.

Other than that, I really don’t have any firm requirements. I don’t really have a preference for sex, color, or breed, but my “in a perfect world” wish list includes:

-Second/third level training if possible.

-A cool color. I love browns, flea-bitten grays, light and creamy colored palominos, and bright chestnuts with symmetrical stockings.

-Some kind of fancy breed or cross. A Welsh pony crossed with a Hanoverian, Trakehner, or Dutch Warmblood (same as Blueberry!!!). Or maybe a Fjord or little Gypsy cob. We can dream, right? I actually know someone looking to re-home a fjord mare. Because she has attitude problems…oh well, something to think about. Never mind my list, this is quite a conundrum. When choosing between two horses of the same price, do you buy the steady eddy average quarter horse with the right qualifications, or the fancy exotic breed with issues?

My list dictates that I go for something I know I will mesh with, but there is a little envious prideful part of me that wants something fancy just for the sake of having something fancy. Which is a mistake I have already made in the past with a fancy pants Arabian fire breather. We don’t need any more fire breathing. Even if the fire is coming from gilded Dutch Warmblood nostrils.

In the mean time, I have about forty odd friends’ horses and ranch horses that I have at my disposal to ride pretty much any time I want. None of them are necessarily talented or super well trained, but they give me a starting point and a reference for size and temperament.

My heart goes out to all you newly single riders out there. Ride around, people!


One comment

  1. Horse Sage · August 23, 2016

    Congratulations on finding the perfect home for Shiloh! What a wonderful story and thank you for sharing it with us. It is such a blessing when you see your horse click with him new person and you can feel that peace and let him go. Still sad, of course…but there is peace and a sense of relief and rightness. As for moving on (having done it a number of times over the last decades with horses), here are a few thoughts: 1) ride as many different kinds of horses as you can, and keep an open mind. Pay attention to your likes and dislikes. (2) based on your current list (keep it open to change), I suspect a large pony may be in your future! I love the ponies, and a good one can be very sound and such a lot of fun. New Forest Ponies are AMAZING (mine went very successfully through 4th level and could go further, but I sold him as a schoolmaster); Welsh ponies are very beautiful. Fjords are cute but not always suited for dressage so be careful. Same with Haflingers – some are good for dressage, others not, and some can be tricky (others are lovely). Keep us posted on your journey – and by the way, I have some horse shopping “how to” articles on my blog ( if you are interested.


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