Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Horse-y Shuffle

Years ago, Ginger set up and ran a riding program outside of Dallas which was very successful - but she was not in on the ownership end of the deal at the time. She's dreamed since then to do this again - for herself. Times and circumstances evolved to where she decided to enlist some partners in the plan, and here we all are.

Consequently, integral to the plan to create Sun Pony Ranch was the purchase of lesson horses with which to run a riding lesson program. Dave and I have only ever acquired Jordan - and that was by adoption after I spent a month or so being his exercise rider at the Colorado Horse Rescue. This was certain to be a brand new experience for us.

Our search began in earnest 2 months before moving to the ranch, several weeks before closing. Ginger enthusiastically took the lead in researching horses for sale, and we saw a number of horses between Boulder and Elizabeth. The day we went to Elizabeth was a frustrating one - it's a long way down there! On top of that we made a second stop in Castle Rock and it turned out that not only was the seller was unable to be there that day but also his father had taken the horse that we were to look at for a trail ride! On the way back through Denver we decided to call one more lead. Reaching the owner by cell phone we took a side tour to meet Spanky. She was quite the flashy girl, young, and looked to be very healthy. Young she was, timid around us new comers, but we figured her attitude was willing and that she'd come around. She passed her vet check with flying colors ... and THEN we discovered that we had misunderstood that the seller's agent would be able to keep Spanky (imediately renamed to Shoshoni) for 6 weeks until we moved onto the ranch. So, here we were with a horse, but no place to keep her.

Jordan, (my horse of 3 years) was stabled at Joder Arabian Ranch and extremely happy there. However, we weren't financially prepared to pay board fees of the like that JAR charges to keep Shoshoni. There also is the issue of moving her twice when once would be far preferable. We called around and identified a couple of potential places for her.

We mentioned our predicament to the sellers of the ranch, and they mentioned that they had an open pen, offered to let us bring Shoshoni there! They agreed to feed her, we agreed to pay them for the feed, and we were set. So that is how Shoni ended up moving onto the ranch 5 weeks before we did. Which, actually, gave us ample reason to go spend time at the ranch - which was useful to gradually adjust to the idea of living at such a spectacular place.

Shoni arrives home

The day before we moved Shoni, we saw a few other horses from a horse trader recommended by an associate of ours. One we liked, and ended up purchasing him on the condition that the trader would hold onto him for the 6 weeks. He was quite willing to do so for the cost of feed only, and the deal was struck. The trader deals in so many horses that none of them get names - so for 6 weeks we had nothing to refer to our third horse by other than "Old Guy".

Old Guy

So that Shoni wouldn't be left alone at the ranch once all of the seller's horses were moved to their new place (the sellers are breeders of Appaloosas and Miniature horses; they had about 50 horses total here which were moved in groups over a period of about 2 weeks) David moved Jordan to the ranch 1 week before we moved in. I didn't get to help, being in Dallas for a confrence. But the move went fine and Jordan and Shoni were placed in adjacent pens.

We moved in Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday at 4:30 am Ginger had to leave for a week for her conference. We decided to leave Old Guy where he was until Ginger returned the following week. Well, disaster struck. Ginger called the trader from California to schedule the pickup, and she got the terrible news that Old Guy had coliced and died! The trader had been unable to locate our phone number to notify us.

So here we were with a place for a horse, but no horse! We really didn't know what to do. This is when the cynics started to show up - "there is no such thing as an honest horse trader" was mentioned by a number of people we spoke to. Did the horse really die? Did the trader decide to just sell the horse to another buyer? There isn't really any proof we could get that the horse died or if so, why - without speaking to the vet he said autopsied the horse to confirm twisted gut. But asking for that information would have undoubtely have offended the trader, and he did have $1000 of our money which we were hoping to still recover - at least partially.

The trader promised that he'd "do right by us" if we bought another horse. Again - are we throwing good money after bad? All sorts of indecision here, but we thought we had to at least see if he could make a deal that satisfied us. If not, we write off the loss and find horses elsewhere. So we went out to try two other horses. One - roaney - was a big stout fellow but just a bit too hot for our needs although he rode well. The second, though, we were pretty taken with. Appy is a tall, scrawney appaloosa, whose mane was totally roached - shaved off. Really, quite ugly. But, he was a very sweet, gentle and willing soul, which is exactly what we're looking for. We put down a deposit but insisted on coming back for a second ride.

Wednesday we went back out, and the trader had purchased another horse that day from auction with us in mind. He'd known the owner for 10 years, who had recently passed away. So the trader called them up and told them to bring the horse to the auction because he already had buyers he thought would be intereseted in him. This undoubetly demonstrated, to us at least, that there is value to being a trader with the contacts gained from that position. And - he was right. We liked this horse enough that we didn't even bother trying roaney a second time. We are calling him HW because of the brand on his right hip.

'HW'

We did get Appy out again, however, and found we liked him as much or more than we did on Sunday, so we were pretty thrilled.

'Appy'

We did some light haggling and reached a price we were all happy with. AND, the trader is going to trailer the horses to us for no charge. To be sure, we will potentially be good networking for him as we're opening not only a lesson program but also a boarding stable. So if he wants to go out of his way to make us happy I'm more than willing to take him up on it. And, my advisors can rest assured we've learned our lesson: we will not pay the balance due until the horses are safe and sound here at the ranch.

Anyways - our two new horses are to be delivered this afternoon! Now we have to name them.
Here's announcing the "Name Our Horses Contest". We're having a house warming party next Saturday and we decide we'd have a contest to see what names are suggested by our party-goers. (My sister suggested that we call it our HORSE warming party). For those of you who won't be able to come by, here is your chance to email me your suggestions.

monica.signer@colorado.edu

Guidelines: Submissions must be received by August 21st. Extra consideration will be given to names that use the initials HW for the sorrel, and we genearlly have vetoed human names for animals. (yes, yes, I know my horse is named 'Jordan', but I didn't name him!) And Harvey Wallbanger has already been ruled out as well. ;)

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