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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Too Good to be True—Part I

Tanner was the first horse to set hoof on Bent Barrow Farm, to my knowledge, and it was with Tanner in mind that I gleefully leapt into home ownership. With a million acres of timber land and mountain ranges at my doorstep, and with a little pasture behind the garden, bringing him home from the boarding barn seemed the thing to do.

The thing about Tanner was that he was not at all the sort of horse that one rides boldly into the timber land. He was, in fact, not at all the sort of horse that an out of-shape, postpartum housewife rides anywhere at all, except perhaps within the confines of a small arena under the guidance of a skilled trainer. Tanner was a bit beyond my skill set, to tell you the truth, and after three years and two babies I had made rather less progress with him than I liked to admit.

I had gone in 50/50 on Tanner with my mother (and favorite enabler) by way of Paypal three years earlier, never anticipating the years of mental rehabilitation (his) and equestrian growing pains (mine) that we had ahead of us. In 2004, newly married and with a baby coming, I was relocating my young and amenable husband to my parents' rural island town a continent away. The schlep from Boston to Whidbey was no obstacle to my equestrian dreams, nor was my expanding waistline. Having been an avid rider in high school, and having graduated college with the promise of a lucrative career in—bear with me—writing, I was sure that I needed a horse to compliment my new life of freelance journalism and stay-at-home motherhood. Having spotted him in a seedy online dealers' catalog, and having convinced myself and my husband that I was horsewoman enough to judge him, sight unseen, from a nation away, I emailed payment and arranged the west coast pickup for a month later. Packing up our worldly possessions, my husband and I departed New England as the proud new owners of a PMU gelding.

Tanner was a Belgian draft/quarter horse cross, by anyone's best guess, and had drawn very lucky cards when it came to inherited conformation. Reflecting the best of both parents, he was beautifully put together and gorgeous in glossy buckskin. Described as a "potential husband horse," Tanner was easy to justify and easy to look forward to. I hadn't met him, and I was already in love. My husband, who had never ridden outside of one rent string experience in his sullen teenage years, was already promised a mount of his own. "I'll ride him a few times before the baby's born," I promised him, "and if he's everything we expect then he'll be a perfect mount for you." Mentally preparing to set my husband upon the docile Tanner, and go myself in pursuit of a fresh eventer, I looked forward to the restful leisure of brushing up the draft cross during my last trimester.

 . . . . to be continued . . . .

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