Plain is in the eye of the beholder – Orange County Register

As we grow older, we’ve experienced so much, that after a while, we think we’ve seen it all, and therefore know it all.

Although I try to keep learning, I often find myself learning what I thought I already knew.

In June, I wrote about having to retire my show horse. Snoopy is enjoying his retirement in Temecula, where I bring him a carrot, then go wine tasting. It’s a win-win for both of us.

But I decided I wasn’t finished showing horses. There is still one goal I’d like to reach, which meant horse shopping, something I’ve never done. My mare was already at the stables when I bought her, and I helped pull Snoopy out when he was born. How was I supposed to ride a horse once and decide to buy it?

Was it like trying on a wedding dress and knowing it’s “The One?”

I set out with a few rules. First, I had a budget. It had to be a horse I could ride in a show arena without a lot of extra training. It had to have a quiet mind. And although I know not to pick a horse by its color, I didn’t want a flashy animal.

Snoopy turned heads at every show. He’s big and black, with white on his legs and his face. He’s so flashy, his registered name is My Flashy Investment. Retiring him was hard on me. I didn’t want constant reminders.

I wanted a brown paper bag with four legs.

My trainer and I looked at horses up and down the state. I know we drove a lot. My tush was in a lot of saddles. We saw young horses and older horses, trained and not.

Each time they’d bring out a plain-looking horse with no white on them, I would think two things: 1. Wow aren’t they pretty, and 2. Is this my horse? The answers were always yes, but no, keep looking.

Then I tried a horse in Norco. He was a big red horse with lots of white on his legs, a fat blaze down his face, and a little over my budget. I dismissed him as being in the “too flashy” category, but I climbed on.

Without getting too technical, this horse carried me around the arena like we had been riding partners for years. He stopped, started and turned without any argument. The few times I had to push him with my legs, I felt confident. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t throw a tantrum about it.

I dismounted and looked at him again. Was this my horse? He wasn’t plain, but I didn’t see him as pretty. Quite frankly, he looked like 100 other horses I’ve seen at shows. Average.

We kept him in mind while my trainer and I looked at other horses. Prettier, plainer, cheaper horses, but none that rode as…

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