I remember going through a tack trailer that was on the grounds and finding a new, black cutback style English saddle for sale. I had recently slid through the mud with my hunt seat saddle when Logan fell at a show and my dad was paranoid that the family relic would be destroyed by my clumsy horse. (Or at least that is why I assume that he bought me the saddle I found at the auction.) It wasn’t a name brand saddle or anything, but it was made in my lifetime, so that seemed to be a plus. My hunt seat saddle was ancient (a family heirloom from the 1950’s) and wasn’t appropriate for the style of riding that I was doing. So I was beyond excited that I had a new saddle! I just thought we were looking around for the fun of it, I never expected to get a saddle!
We put the saddle in the truck and proceeded to wander through what seemed to be an endless assortment of horses. There was definitely an air of chaos to the place. I’d been to my fair share of cattle auctions and looked through the corral panels at cows before, but I wasn’t used to looking through the panels only to be startled that there was someone riding (generally quicker than necessary) through the aisle behind me. I don’t remember anything specific about the horses that were going through the sale. I was on cloud nine because I was getting a new saddle for the horse I already loved.
When the auction started, we took our places standing on a balcony to the right of the auctioneer. The horses were brought in below us either under saddle or by halter when their number was announced. I don’t remember much about the auction, except being tired of standing. In the midst of being tired, I realized that my dad was bidding. What?! Thirteen years later, I’m still in shock. I looked down in the ring and someone was leading a chestnut filly through the ring. The auctioneer had announced information about her, but at that point, I wasn’t paying any attention. Now that we were bidding on her, I was much more interested. Why had I been so bored, this is so exciting! Four hundred dollars and a few minutes later and my dad was telling me that I had a new horse.
My younger brother and I were still in shock when we went down to meet the filly, who was then going by Luv. She was tied to one of the panels in a stall with several other babies. At this point in my life, I had zero experience with baby horses. None. I’d only ever dealt with old school horses and Logan (the king of old school horses). So we petted on her for a while, picked up her feet and picked them out, and petted on her some more.
I don’t remember the specifics of how we got her home that night. I do remember that the next morning, I went into our stock trailer that was parked in the middle of the field behind our house and watered a wild baby. She was very bewildered and spooky. And had very likely been drugged the night before so that she would be calm for the sale. At this point the only fenced in area that we had was the cow field, which is all well and good, but you don’t really want to toss a 6 month old, freshly weaned filly into ~80 acres with cows. Dad knew someone who would board her for us until we had fence built (but not where Logan was currently boarded. Dad probably traded this guy some cigarettes or something, who knows). So we hauled her down to his place and put her in their little paddock. I played with her lots when we took her down and she became puppy dog friendly with all of us instantly. Of course, like every totally sane just weaned baby, she saw other horses and lost every bit of her mind. Suddenly she was a skilled jumper. She loped around the enclosure a little, neighing to the other horses, before flinging herself over a plank fence.
Anyway, that didn’t end well for the fence or her front legs. So she got her first taste of vet work early on in our relationship. She also had some respiratory funk that she picked up at the auction, so we got to bond over playing doctor and patient after the vet left us our instructions. And she did successfully make it to the other horses, so we had to catch her and keep her in a stall for a while to remind her that she wasn’t really ready to be a jumper.
I didn’t particularly like the name Luv. It was weird to call to her by that name, so I looked at her papers and saw that a previous ancestor had “Robin” in their name, It suited her, so I went with that.
Robin still lives with me (and will for the rest of her life) and is still a big puppy. She loves food and scratches and is the sweetest mare ever. She does have her quirks…she’s spooky and jumps at things that she has seen for months. This summer we had round bales in the middle of the barn and the rustling of the hay was terrifying. Somehow she has gotten past that moment of crazy mare and is perfectly confident eating the same bales that were terrifying a few months prior.
I’m sure I’ll share several more Robin stories on this blog. She’s a special mare.