A Dressage Diary with Josie Sandra TF
A Dream Come True
The pictures above captured such a special day. I was all smiles. Josie was mine. Many thanks to Nicole Dlugosz for her photography skills and suggesting a fun photo shoot. I have a wonderful collection of shots that allow me to relive that day for many years to come.
I have owned this wonderful mare for a year and she has been making all my dreams come true. If you follow along in the “It’s My Life” blog, you will learn just how meaningful this moment was to me.
Josie is such a perfect partner and I know we make a wonderful team. In looking back though, this lady was pretty far from the unicorn I had thought I wanted at the beginning of my search. I had created a list of what would define my perfect old lady horse. My sights were set on a gelding between 7-10 years old that was schooling 1st or 2nd level. I wanted something super safe as I was done with explosive, dangerous horses. My body couldn’t handle the falls anymore.
The further into my search I got, the more I realized my budget was not even close to finding myself a well schooled dressage horse that fit my criteria. I broadened my search to include a wider range of horses and increased my budget. I tried a few horses, fell in love with one, and rode the roller coaster of emotions as I tried to find my dream horse. I was not taking this purchase lightly. I had accomplished a lot to get here. This was my chance to own something nice. I needed to make sure I picked the right one!! I cried, I fretted, I drove myself crazy. How would I know when I found my horse? And how on earth could my unicorn be within my budget??
For every horse I found, I felt that every person I told had a different opinion on whether it was suitable or not. My head spun. And here’s the other thing I haven’t thrown into this story: I was planning on getting married during all of this. I literally went to make a decision on a horse the day before getting married. Yep. I’m that girl. I did pass on that horse but I was heartbroken. I really thought he was my unicorn. I also felt guilty for letting my horse search consume me when I should have been focusing on our wedding. But that is another reason why my husband is a good partner; he does not question my passion for horses!
After the wedding, my trainer, Tori (Retamoza) Scott had given me the phone number of breeder she knew in Indiana. Tori highly recommended the horses that K.C. Dunn of Timbach Farm produced. They had good brains and were bred for dressage. I had no idea how expensive these horses were, but I made the call anyway. I figured Tori knew my budget and would not be sending me on a wild goose chase for something that was out of my price range.
What perfect timing! K.C. had a 6 year old KWPN mare in Lexington starting her training under saddle. Although I did not want a mare, especially a green broke one, the personality K.C. described of Josie struck my interest. And after spending some time learning what my money could actually buy, this option had potential!
Tori, Jane (Tori’s mom and the owner of Wanaja Farm) and I drove to Lexington to see Josie. Jane has a lot of horse experience and has a great eye! I needed a team effort for this! The minute Josie walked out of the stall I caught my breath. I had yet to feel this way about any horse. She was well put together, was kind and stood like a lady to be groomed and tacked up. Her steering was pretty rough and she was more of a kick ride which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. However, for 30 days under saddle, she was doing well. She received rave reviews for her ability to settle into a riding horse and could care less about the dogs and other horses meddling about. She was the same horse whether ridden once per week or five. I was loving everything I was hearing.
We saw her being ridden in a western saddle in a field which was the norm for the youngsters in this program. Josie had been ridden outside, around cattle, and they even roped off her (to a dummy cow). I needed a horse that could handle all the things you’d find on a cattle farm, minus the roping. I had no intentions of doing that! But I did need a horse that could handle cows and being ridden in a field. Josie seemed to check all those boxes. Safety first. I needed to not hit the dirt every other week.
I trusted my team of advisors (aka Tori and Jane) who were in favor of Josie as my new partner and took a giant leap of faith that I was making the right decision. I called K.C. to let her know I was very interested in Josie and I closed my eyes (maybe even held my breath) as I asked about price. To my absolute surprise, Josie was in my budget! I arranged for a vet check and she came through with a clean bill of health. Holy crap this is happening! Josie is really going to be mine!
Instead of bringing her home right away, I chose to put her in a month of full training with Tori at Wanaja Farm to continue her basics. I had remaining funds from my horse budget and felt it to be a wise investment in our new partnership. Best. Decision. Ever. My confidence since hitting the dirt just about every other week over the past 2 years had really hit rock bottom. I knew Tori would give Josie a great start and would be able to provide me with feedback on how to ride her effectively. Usually one day a week I would hack Josie around their farm. We needed to get practice being outside!
I brought Josie home at the end of November and have continued to pinch myself almost daily that this is my horse. I own something safe, talented and kind. The journey to get here has been a long road but it has created the ability for me to appreciate this type of opportunity with gratitude.
Enjoy this short video of our progress from May – November at a local schooling show.
Keep checking back for weekly updates on “It’s My Life”, reviews on exploring the Dressage Today OnDemand website, and fun updates on my progress with Josie!!