These are the days of our lives…
The chiropractor looked at Bella after adjusting Hudson’s shoulder again. “Go ahead and finish out the season, we can keep him going that long.” Red Flag. We can keep him going that long is not how Bella works.
“If I quit roping now, will I be able to rehab him back into soundness?”
“Yeah” says the chiro, “but he’s 21, what are you going to do with him? Might as well get one last season out of him.”
The chiropractor just guaranteed Hudson would never rope again. Bella won’t work a horse into the ground, and she’s well aware that older horses need more care, not less.
What now? Bella wants to stay sharp, keep her roping skills progressing, and compete. Hudson could be re-habbed into complete soundness, sold, and the money put toward a new roping horse. Should be win-win. People lined up years ago: there’s a waiting list for Hudson when he retires. She knows everyone, he’d get a good home, and be able to keep close tabs on him.
She thinks some more. It’s not going to work.
He’s a GOOD roping horse.
Even if purchased for trail or light ranch work, how long will a new owner be able to resist roping off him? The good-home waiting list is all roping people. He needs to not rope again, it’s too much yanking on his shoulder at his age. She imagines kids learning to rope off him, holding on with the reins, a curb bit in his mouth, his head high, back hollowed.
She starts his rehab, depressed, and discusses other possibilities with Hudson’s body worker.
“I think you should market him as a low-level dressage horse”, says Katrina, massaging his neck, “he would be great at training level, 1st, or 2nd. No tight circles.”
“I thought about it” says Bella, “it would work. But I hate tire kickers” She pauses. “I’d have to put up with a ton of looky-loos.”
We all let that sink in. Hudson is not a beginner’s horse, even though he’s safe and kind. He’s a fine-tuned, supersensitive horse that loves to GO. You have to be able to hold him back with your core and seat. People looking for a training level dressage horse won’t be ready for how immediately and intensely he reacts to the slightest movement. He could quickly be labeled a “problem horse” if his owner wasn’t consistently working with a good instructor. We all know what happens to “problem horses”.
In the meantime, Ed (Hudson’s farrier) offers his roping horse (Betty) to Bella, knowing he will get back a lot more horse than he sent over. Betty arrives for roping tune-up while Bella considers Hudson’s options.
I’d buy Hudson in a heartbeat. Shaun and I go over the budget. It’s not the buying, (as you all know) it’s the upkeep. If I can’t promise quality lifetime care, I won’t buy a horse. We figure and re-figure. I can buy Hudson, I just can’t keep Hudson.
Depressed, I sign on for as much rehab as Bella wants to delegate. Dressage work is perfect for his rehab, and my saddle fits him like a glove. We do nothing but walk for a month: long and stretchy, collected and on the bit, big figures, and on the buckle. I love every minute. I use the time to check my position.
Bella gets a call. It’s a long-time roping friend in a different division. “I heard you were looking for a roping horse”, says Joe, “thought you might want Dinero.”
Bella had a standing offer with Joe. Any time he wanted to sell Dinero she wanted to buy him. No. Way. Really? Dinero is for sale?
“Not exactly” says Joe, “I’m not using him, moved to a different horse. He’s sound, fit. Why don’t you just come get him? How’s Wednesday?”
Bella is momentarily speechless.
Joe continues, “If you ever don’t want him, or want to retire him, bring him back. We got a ton of room, he can live his life out at the ranch.”
Bella and I stand at the gate, and watch Betty and Hudson roll, buck and run in the arena. “I think I got it covered financially”, Bella says finally, “three horses is a stretch, but the real problem is I can’t work full-time and take care of three horses.”
I look at her, trying not to stare. I think I stop breathing: “you can count me in. I would take care of Hudson every day as if he were my horse.” I pause. “I tried to figure out six ways from Sunday how to buy him.”
Bella looks at me with a big grin, puts an arm around my shoulders, and says “I was hoping you would say that.”
Wednesday is GREAT.