Well my OH and I have just returned from travelling a round trip of 1900kms (1186 miles) to see Darcy. It was a very interesting drive as we hadn't seen this part of Australia before so the landscape was interesting, very flat and not hugely fertile through the middle of the trip.
We arrived 30min early and the owner was already there. I was introduced to a dirty, paddock condition, wet, nervous horse. Darcy was tied up in a stable and could not stand still. He appeared quite on edge and nervous. The farrier was due that morning and still had not shown up. We were just starting to have a look and chat about him when the farrier turned up so we waited while two new shoes were fitted and the back hooves trimmed. His hooves were so long and the farrier commented that it had been 3 months since he was last shod!!!! His heels were very under slung, I wasn't impressed. He kept moving his leg that was being worked on for the farrier and certainly wasn't relaxed about the whole process.
Finally we were ready to saddle him up and see him move. When the tatty rug was taken off he certainly was in paddock condition. Not skinny just no muscle tone. The story had been changing a lot about how much work he was in and on Saturday afternoon they story was that the owner hadn't actually seen the horse for 3 weeks (he agists) though on the phone the weekend before he couldn't talk as he was taking the horse to Pony Club? I am not quick enough with my thought process to pick up on these things at the time so I couldn't question this.
Darcy was not impressed about having a bridle put on, threw his head a lot and once on kept chomping the bit. His teeth were badly over due and looked quite long. We headed out to the grass arena, the indoor was being used for a clinic. The weather was terrible. It was very, very cold, windy, raining and the chill factor I am guessing was about 3 degrees. The owner proceeded to lunge Darcy (I had been told that you could get straight on anytime, no working down required), he showed some acrobatics but nothing too bad and he showed me a lovely trot. I was finally starting to like what I was seeing.
I was asked to hold Darcy as the owner needed to go back to the stables to get his helmet. Darcy could not stand still. I kept backing him back away from me every time he stepped towards me but he was so on edge he wouldn't really listen to me and just could not stand still. The owner came back and somehow climbed on board. Off they walked around the arena. Darcy had a very high head carriage and took about a circuit to finally listen and drop his head carriage. He couldn't keep walking and started to jig jog so the owner let him trot on. The trot was tense but I still liked it. Rhythmical and even. You could see that Darcy wanted to speed up at times and was finding it hard to control himself. He finally let go, shied, ,lept and reared sideways. The owner bought him back to walk, walked around the arena and came up to me and said it was my turn! I was already very disappointed at how tense Darcy was and pretty sure he wouldn't be the horse for me but I didn't travel this far not to have a ride. I did question the owner on his temperament. One of the main reasons I came was because he was advertised as a Schoolmaster. The owner commented that he had never been like this before.
We adjusted the stirrup length and the owner held him still for him. I mounted, lasted all of about 10 seconds and dismounted. I felt like I was about to pelted to the ground. He terrified me! We thanked the owner and left. We started to head back on the 9 hour trip drive home. We hadn't even made it down the drive way and I burst into tears. I think from shear disappointment (I was sure he was going to be the one for me) and from the fear.
I have gone through a range of emotions, fear, sadness, questioning where I had gone wrong, whatever and anger. I have now moved on, I have a new list of questions to ask about the next horse before I even set my bottom down in my car!!!!! I guess it just wasn't meant to be!
On a good note I rode Sam today. He has had 2.5months off and went quite well. We even went over the road into the reserve where he showed me his acrobatics, but really he worked well considering it was cold, windy, a little rain and 2.5 months off!!!!! He was stiff and didn't stride out well but that will all improve with suppling exercises and work. I am looking forward to bringing him back into work. He seemed to hold up reasonably well with his lameness issue - it felt the same as before he was turned out so I guess that is a good sign!