When she first arrived at my barn, the 3 month old filly had never been outside before, except for her trip from her stall to the trailer. She was an "oops" baby, and a young man purchased her dam plus one out of the kindness of his heart. He saw the chestnut mare locked in a stall and decided that he could afford to buy her, releasing her and her foal from their stalled prison.
My barn owner, Silver, decided to keep them in a stall with a run for a while, allowing both mare and foal to acclimate to the outdoors before placing them in a pasture. The filly was so excited, she ran straight through the stall and out the end of the run, bucking and leaping with joy. She was caught without much trouble and returned to the run, where she learned what a fence means. Her dam was cautious about being friendly, having learned that humans can lock her away without a thought.
Ella, however, was not so reserved. When she saw people, she came right over to say hello. She sniffed my hand delicately, then let me run my fingers through her soft, fluffy coat. Her eyes were warm and interested, not at all afraid to have a stranger rub her neck. Ella stuck her nose up to smell my face, and we exchanged breaths until she was satisfied.
When she was freshly at the barn, I remember admiring her markings. She was a soft sorrel color, and I figured she would deepen into her dam's coppery hue. She has four white socks, the hind ones rising above her hocks in the front, and the front ones coming to her knees. With her wide blaze, I could see what she would look like as an adult, her white legs and face would be quite striking to see.
I was wrong. Ella did not shed out her baby coat to match her mother's chestnut one. Instead, she turned butter yellow with a thick white mane and tail. This little angel I was falling for turned out to be palomino, the color of my first beloved mare. If I could afford it, I would have bought her months ago, when I still thought she would be chestnut and her mane was only wispy curls above her neck.
Her owner doesn't do anything with her. Ella just turned a year old this fall- more evidence of her being an oops baby. The owner doesn't drive, so he relies on friends to bring him to the barn. Silver says she usually only sees him when he drops off board checks once a month. He did put Ella's dam into training with Silver, to get her riding. I've seen him out a few times to tool around on her, but the last time he was out he planned to get on her after not seeing her for a few months. He didn't know how to put the saddle on, and when my mom went to help, cautioned her that "the mare has already bucked today."
He isn't a bad person, he simply isn't able to or doesn't put time into his horses, into learning to be a horseman. They are now out in a pasture with other horses, where they receive all of the vet and farrier care they need. I itch to take Ella out, teach her to be a good young horse that leads, stands quietly for Silver to trim her, and start ground work that will make teaching her to carry a rider someday so much easier. I could even pony her behind Rocky, a good exercise for him and for her, getting her out on the trails to explore more of the world.
Right now, she's a mostly unhandled yearling. Every other month, Silver takes her out for a trim but otherwise, she's a pasture puff. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think she should be in any sort of intense training. However, it's much easier to put manners into a young horse than into a large, adult horse who has had plenty of time to decide how things should be on their own.
I debate what I should do about this situation. For several months, I avoided Ella's pasture because I was becoming increasingly attached to her, and again, I simply can't afford another horse. I don't know what the owner's plans for her are, or if he has even considered her future. Right now, my guess is that she is going to be a fairly tall palomino Quarter horse mare, not registered (to my knowledge, anyway), with decent conformation and a good temperament. I think she could really be worth something, if she had even basic training to fall back on. She's going to look flashy once all of her growing is said and done, and she seems to have a laid back, calm attitude.
I wonder if he would have any interest in paying me to work with Ella, but I suspect he may not. Like I said before, he did put her dam into training but hasn't done anything with either of them since. I keep telling myself that I should stay out of their business and mind my own, but now Rocky has been put in her pasture. I can't avoid seeing her anymore, and it tugs at my heartstrings to think of all the potential being wasted with this filly right now.
I read Fugly Horse of the Day, I know what happens to unregistered, untrained yearlings if their owners' financial situation changes. My other worry is falling in love with her, only to have her disappear after I've worked with her and spent a good deal of time with her. I think I may ask if he would be interested in paying me almost anything to put some training on her, and if he ever decides to sell her, that I would "help" him find someone appropriate for her. I have no problem with Ella going to someone who is going to love and care for her, so I think that may be my best bet.
Thoughts? Have you ever been in a similar situation, and what did you do?