A very popular question.
THE STORY. The beginning (the rub).
I knew we would be moving back to Grass Valley, so I wanted a well-trained, happy to go solo Trail partner.
I’m sure you are all saying, “What about Dalton?” and you’re right… Dalton was going to be that guy. However, after 2 years, riding trails with long-rider Gillian Larson, Dalton is very well trained BUT, he is not a very confident horse. He loves to go on the trails with another horse, but if solo, he prefers the arena. In fact, he loves the arena. And, I think I will see how he likes trail trials or arena trail competitions.
But what I really want is to go on trails – and often I’m alone.
So. I thought about it. And I figure that I got lucky when I purchased Aladdin. He was exactly my kinda horse even though I picked him out at 4 months-old. Mama Tess was exactly the show horse I thought she would be when I found her at 2 years-old.
Beginners luck, I think.
Because after that, I’ve learned that not all horses are naturally good at what you want them to do. It is best to train them to their best aptitude. Buy the horse who you have a good hunch is going to want to do what you want to do – or buy one who is already trained and happy doing that work.
It was time to buy the right horse for me at this time in my life.
I saw an ad – that I’ve seen a hundred times before – in COWBOYS AND INDIANS Magazine. It was for Luxury Trail Horses – full color, full page ad. I think it is in there every month. I knew I had seen the ad but I had never thought much about it, but this time I decided to go to the website. Hmmmm. They sell fully trained quarter horses. Lots of Videos. Come out and meet the horses… Some might say that the horses on the site were expensive. But, when I thought about it… you are getting a fully trained horse that does what you want it to do – happily. I’ve bought horses and then had them in training for months/years and didn’t end up with what I had hoped. Not because the trainers were bad or the horses were bad; it was because the horses didn’t love doing what I wanted him to do.
When you add up training costs plus the cost of the horse, it gets very expensive – and you still might not have the outcome you want.
This time, I wanted what I wanted. And I was willing to go find him/her and pay for him/her already formed.
I followed every Morgan trainer and asked after trail horses… and followed every advertisement and website for sale Morgans and subscribed to the Morgan Magazine and followed the Morgan Grand National.
No one trains Morgans for trail. They say they do, but they don’t, really. “Yes, she’d be great on trails…” isn’t the same as “She’s a professional trail horse.”
(I understand why Morgan trainers don’t train for trail. They train for show because that is what clients want. I get it.)
I wanted the tried and true, trained, goes over bridges and through water, up and down hills calmly, understands traffic, dogs, cars, bikes, can negotiate trail obstacles, open a gate, mount, trailer, bathe and has been doing it all a lot … .
(There are a few trainers in Montana, Wyoming and Canada who have tried and true Ranch Morgans, but MT and WY didn’t have any for sale that would fit my size – at that time. They were all huge.)
I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t find a short, well trained, trail Morgan. But, there were none out there.
I decided to go along the lines of the ad in COWBOYS AND INDIANS, just with an upheaded horse like a Morgan.
So, I started searching through the fancy Trail/Ranch/Cow horse sales that happen a few times a year. These are the sales where there are vets on the scene or you can bring your own. The event is over 3 days so you can see the horses in many situations, parades, riding, with cows, over jumps, exhibition and you can have them tested, etc. The horses aren’t cheap, but you get to poke and prod and watch and ride and really take stock, over three days.
I was following sales that were not happening in my state. So that meant I would have to rely on people there on the ground, and I’d have to really do homework and watch the You Tube presentations over the three days. (Yes, it is ALL on the internet.)
The sales brochures are online, and you can also go to the individual trainer’s website or YouTube channel to see videos of the horses. And, you can request special viewings with the horse doing something you want to see, or you can watch the 24/7 (almost) goings-on that are all either live or recorded for later. On the last day, they have the horse sale. Some bidders are in the actual room, some are on the phone and others, like me, were online and chatting with people who were there, to bid for me. Wild.
It is all state of the art.
I wanted to practice or observe how this all went down, so I signed up for a sale in June. I didn’t win the horse I wanted – he want for waaaaaaay more than I was willing to pay – but that was OK because I was learning the ropes. Lots of competition for handsome, well trained, fit, specimen horses.
I figured I could only win a horse if he wasn’t exactly what everyone wanted. The problem with that idea is that trainers don’t bring those types of horses to these types of sales. This is their opportunity to make large dollars for their good works, so they bring their best horses.
And the bidders bring all of their money to get the best horses.
I saw one horse go for $500K. Many more in the $120K range.
I felt hopeless.
And then, September of 2022 hit with all the financial stuff and the halt in the housing market.
I knew there was a sale already scheduled for September. I knew all the trainers were already in route to the sale. I kinda felt like the numbers wouldn’t be as high for this sale.
And I was right.
Yes, some horses were going for high dollar, but not like previously. This was bad for the trainers, but good for me.
I had my eye on a few horses that I had studied from the sales brochure (looked at all of their videos, reviews, photos, past buyers…). But when it came to the actual bidding process, it is all a wild crap shoot. You see, the horses are all in a bidding order. The three horses I wanted were #3, #30 and #79 inn the lineup. I either had to pick the 3rd horse to be auctioned, the 30th or the 79th. Do you see what I mean? What if I bid on the 2nd horse and won – then I’m out for the other two. Or do I wait… and get outbid and go home with nothing?
I’m not much of a gambler but I do love strategy.
So I thought about it long and hard.
I decided to see how #3 (Dominic) went, and if I could afford him, I’d throw my hat in the ring. If not, I’d move onto #30 and just go in order. It felt right. I mean, I really, really liked #79, but I thought a lot of people would be waiting for him, so I’d have much competition. And if I waited for #79, I’d miss a lot of nice horses. Crap shoot.
I felt I had a chance with Dominic because he was early in the bidding (people wait to see how the numbers were going – and for horses later on…) and because he was short. He was listed as 14′. That’s it. He was the smallest horse in the brochure aside from the kids’ ponies. The brochure said he was half Gypsy – the other half unknown. (Yes, there are no papers on many of them. This sale is about the training. Although several of the quarter horses had papers.)
I had been watching the sales You Tube channel all weekend. Truly, what they do is impressive. This is a real show. All of these horses are put through their paces, according to their talents over 2 full days. I was nodding my head at the amount of thought that went into showing these horses. The cow horse division was awesome. They even had a pony division – for kids only.
I saw Dominic in a parade, with fireworks, his talent display, his riding display, obstacles… all kinds of work. He had his X-rays online. I hired a vet in Texas to go and eyeball him and do stuff with Dominic that a vet would know to do…. I had a friend go and observe how the trainer was behind the scenes. I read all the information I could about all of the trainers – I dug deep.
Then came bidding day, Sunday.
What’s interesting and astute was that in order to get a number as a bidder, you have to submit quite a bit of information at least 2 weeks beforehand. Also, they encourage you to get insurance and arrange for transportation – whether you win or not – just so you are ready and secured should you win. And that came in really handy.
So I did all of that. Then, on the day, I was at my computer, ready, at 9am. I had my bidder number, I had a strong internet connection, I was live on chat with my bidder in the room who was dedicated to me. I had the live video up of the auction room – so I could see what was happening in real time – and my room bidder could watch the bidders on the floor.
I was ready and it started exactly on time. They brought in the first horse. I watched it and listened well. He didn’t go for a high price. Hmmmmm. The second horse came in – same deal. He didn’t go for a really high price.
Maybe I had a chance with Dominic!
Dominic was up next. #3. He walked in. He was so cute. Little, stout, big eye, sweet face. Upheaded. Blue roan. Short.
I bid. No one else bid. I thought I was good and I started to sweat and get excited. Then someone bid. I bid again. And waited. The auctioneer was doing his thing. The other guy bid again – at the last second.
So this was how it was going to go.
I bid again.
And then it started. Bid after bid after bid. I was going to lose out. And then the bidding stopped. It was as if the people said “OK, that’s my limit” and stuck to it. Except that one late bidding guy. He kept bidding.
Now it was on. I was vested. I hadn’t hit my limit yet, but I was close. I was chatting with my dedicated guy on the floor and he was watching this other bidder. He thought the other bidder was done but NO, he bid again. So I bid again.
There I was, alone in our house in Paso Robles, early on a Sunday morning, only one cup of coffee – and I’m in a bidding war for a fancy horse with NO ONE around to yell with me or cheer or whoop or whistle… I was alone and this was all happening very, very fast.
And then, he quit.
(All this time, Dominic was standing there, calm as a cucumber while the trainer’s kids were crawling under him and pulling his mane and tail and playing with plastic and doing all the things that kids shouldn’t do around horses…)
I heard the auctioneer winding up his rapid fire ratatatat. The gavel came down and my bidder number was called.
HOLY CRAP! I JUST WON A HORSE I’VE NEVER MET BUT LOOKS AWESOME!
And I had NO ONE in the house with me. Not a soul. No one to share this with me!
Immediately, my chat guy called me on my phone and put me in touch with management who organized the sale. Then the insurance person asked if I wanted to enforce the policy I had created. I said YES. Then the hauler asked if Dominic should go on the truck in the morning. I said yes. Then the facilities person asked if I wanted a stall for the night and what kind of food should he get…
And it was done. He was mine. He would be cared for over night and leave in the morning.
To be continued…
IN THE MEANTIME, HERE ARE SOME OF DOMINIC’S SALE VIDEOS AND PHOTOS.
Here is what they said about Dominic
This is one incredible Gem of a horse. Dominic is a grade 2018 Gypsy cross gelding that stands 14 hands tall. He will truly fit into any program that you have in your barn. He is a one of a kind sweet soul that will go out of his way all the time to please his rider. He has been ridden by all ages and all levels of riders and he is always the same. He will take you through the woods, over bridges and through water with his brave heart. He not only rides awesome, he is also very well trained to drive too. He can be driven by anyone as well and will go in heavy traffic without any issues. Dominic is a lot of fun and has been so easy to take through our program. He never gets upset about anything new that we show him or teach him. He just goes and does it and loves making you smile with his willing attitude. He is a small but mighty horse that can carry adults as well as children and looks great doing it. He can be let sit for months and taken out for a ride and act like he never missed a day of work. He has three very smooth easy to ride gaits and knows how to neck rein and direct rein as well. You can ride him in an English saddle, a western saddle or just go hop on him in the field and go for a stroll bareback and bridleless. He has been on numerous trail rides and trailered to lots of different places. He comes off the trailer like it is nothing. He will stand perfectly tied to the trailer while you get him ready, spray him with fly spray and tack up and ride right off from there. No maintenance type of horse here. He is wearing shoes right now because of where we ride, but he has also done well barefoot. He stands wonderfully for the farrier and vet and is a true gentleman in the crossties for you to get him ready for your ride. He has been kept in a stall and out in the pasture and does not have any bad habits no matter where we keep him. Dominic is one of the barn favorites because of his size and easy to ride capabilities. We know that we can truly put anyone on him and he will take care of them. If he is the horse that you have been looking for, please give Duane Yoder of Buckeye Acre Farm a call at 330-231-2324. Dominic will be sold at the Best of Texas Premier Horse Sale on September 8-10.