“The most important thing is to enjoy your life- to be happy- it's all that matters”. -Audrey Hepburn
Prior to losing Finn I thought long and hard about the right thing to do. In the two years I had Finn I spent more money and more time than I care to say on an animal that ultimately I couldn't help. While I am happy that I have the closure of finally finding out what was wrong with him, I really regret trying all sorts of alternative treatments for two years when his back was always the issue, when I should have just paid the couple of hundred dollars it would have cost to x-ray his back. It would have costed me a lot less heart ache in the end.
When I made the decision that I wasn't going to keep Finn anymore, which was really more like 6 months ago, then just a few weeks ago, I thought about giving up horses. My family, my parents, are not advocates of horse ownership. They feel, or I think they feel, that once you have a child, your world should revolve solely around your child. No career, no date nights with your husband, no friends, no nights away from your child, and definitely no horse. Because I am a total people pleaser, especially when it comes to them-- I really do want their approval-- I did think that maybe it was time to “grow up” and give up the whole I want a pony thing. So, for a while that was where I was headed. Settling into the “mom” role, where absolutely everything revolves around your child, not for me, but for the people I wanted to please. I do not have a bad relationship with my parents, they've just never been the sort of people that understand the horse thing, and while they did take me to all my lessons as a child, I know that they always felt I would grow out of this.
So now I found myself in this weird sort of version of adulthood. Married to a wonderful, supportive man (who totally gets, and loves, the horse thing), with a super smart, independent, funny toddler that I feel like we're doing a great job raising, and we both have careers that we love. Everything seemed to be falling into place. And for most, that would be enough. That would signify a full life. But for me, it wasn't. I didn't outgrow the horse thing, and at some point in these last couple of months I have realized that this is MY life, not the life my parents want me to lead. Having a horse that I work hard to keep and give the best life possible, is something that will always be a part of my life. I want my daughter to realize that her mother is a strong, independent, and dedicated person who has her own hobbies, and things that mean the world to her. I think that lesson is an important one, and one that my parents unfortunately didn't teach me.
I vetted a few horses. Packer types, and a young TB fresh off the track. None of them passed the vet check 100%. There was one, an Appendix, that I was very interested in, and although he was young, vet felt he would need hock injections “down the road”. When my vet first looked at Finn at 7, she also felt he would need hock injections down the road. We see where that got us. After the past two years I didn't want anything that wasn't 100% (which I know is basically impossible, horses are fragile, etc, but you know what I mean).
So I set out looking for a hardy, easy keeper with a heart of gold. I knew I didn't really want a Thoroughbred even though I loved their quirky personalities, and their giant, willing, hearts. I wanted that in something hardy with great feet. I wanted an easy keeper, a horse that was smart, willing, wanted to work, and could go for days. I wanted a smaller horse that my daughter could eventually ride. I have met a few Haflingers in my life and couldn't get over how god damn smart they were, while also being able to do anything and everything well. I've known Haflingers that do endurance, event, jumpers, are little dressage superstars, and bond wholeheartedly with their person. But they are also stubborn and will test you constantly. I like that. I began searching for Haflinger breeders. I found a 10yr old gelding about 100 miles from me, went to test ride him, and he had a lot of bad habits. I started talking to a breeder in North Carolina that breeds the sport horse variety of Haflingers. She told me what she had for sale, and after telling her what I was looking for, she emailed me back with pictures and videos of a 1.5year old Haflinger, as well as a few other older ones. I fell in love with the filly's movement, and her calm, willing attitude. She was described as sensitive, but smart and easy going. While I never, and have no business owning, thought I'd own a baby, after doing a couple of PPE's on horses that were a little more broken than I'd be willing to deal with, I got a full PPE on her from the best sport horse vet I could find in Wilmington, including a full set of x-rays. The PPE and x-rays cost nearly more than her, but I didn't want to find out about any sort of OCD's or anything later on. Of course she passed with flying colors. The vet described her as having a wonderful personality for a baby. While I had never met her, and it's completely insane to buy a baby, I did, and found transport to get her up to me.
Two weeks later she stepped off the trailer. When she stepped off the trailer, after her 20 hour trailer ride, I was in heaven. How could you not love a little golden girl?! She walked calmly up the driveway next to me, and took in all the horses in their paddocks looking at her. She was definitely nervous, but didn't spook. She has spent her life on 20 acres and a run in stall. She has never been in a stall. She walked right into the barn, into her stall, and immediately started eating hay and drinking water. She has been here since Friday and I've spent every day with her since. She is such a wonderful little horse. She ties, picks up all her feet, is great about grooming, leads and immediately stops when saying whoa. I even pulled my clippers out of my brush box yesterday and used them briefly on her--- she didn't mind.
I think the main reason that she was so appealing to me is because she is not broken yet. Not broke to ride, or physically broken, but broken on a mental level. Her life experiences have all been positive. There is nothing holding her back, or holding us back from being everything we want to be. I feel like when I got Finn he had had so many negative experiences in his life that, as much as I tried, I couldn't change the way he felt about anything. Everyone--- meet Avalon!