Como se dice, Spain?

Part 1

First thing when you want to buy a horse?

Know what you’re looking for. 
Did I know what I wanted? Hells yes. Did I get what I wanted? That and much more. Did I get what I was looking for? No, not at all. 
I left for Spain with a very specific image in mind.
I wanted a seal bay gelding (or possibly a stallion), aged between 3-7, between 150-165cm and lightly ridden so I could mould him further. If you go to ‘Who’s Who: Horse Edition’ you will see that Quincy does not fit *any* of those parameters.
Why did I want a gelding? Well, I personally have no need for a stallion (I don’t have plans to breed, I don’t want to do competitions or conformation competitions), I also didn’t want a mare. I don’t mind mares at all, I’ve actually ridden and worked with more mares than geldings in my 21 years with horses. But I just wanted a gelding. No real reason.

Is there a website where you can just find your perfect horse? 
Nope. No, there is not, in my honest opinion. There *are* website that can help you in that search.
And I have looked. I spent days and weeks perusing so many websites, facebook groups and forums. After a bit I gave up and started looking at people who had already bought spaniards. I then asked them how they went about it, who they spoke to, what they had to look out for. 
And that is how I was set on the right path. 

I am so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by supportive women. My mother, Bieke, and several friends I have made through instagram. Now, more on Bieke. She is the niece of a family friend. She bred her two young Lusitanos herself and trained them up from nothing. They are gorgeous and so sweet. Her eye for horses is worth a lot. And her eye for humans. She’s an all around great person to be honest. I definitely wanted her there with me when I would be seeing possible horses. Furthermore, this future horse would have to live at her house with her boys. So she also needed to feel comfortable with him.

Three of these amazing women are Quincy’s godmothers, two normal, one fairy (you know who you are dears). All these women supported and pushed me to reach for the stars, not to settle, and comforted me when one horse, one gorgeous young stallion was sold right from under my nose. It was not meant to be, but damn it I wanted it so badly.

This guy is now in England with his new owners. And I hope he is doing fantastically.

Eva put me in contact with the woman who helped her buy her stallions. This did make it all slightly easier. I made a list, checked it twice, and sent it her way. We talked about what I wanted out of a horse, what my future plans were and what background I’d like my horse to have. 
And then… then I had to wait. 
Why the wait? Well, one very odd truth (odd to me, obviously considered normal by a lot of people) is that a lot of these Spanish horses are bought, sight-unseen, and shipped to their new owners. I cannot do that. I could not and that is why we….

Planned a trip to Spain!

I sat down, called Bieke and my mom and told them we were going soon. That I needed one weekend where all three of us were free. That would become the weekend of November 1st. That was two months away. What’s two months after two decades of waiting for your dream?
But no really, those two months were so difficult.
I couldn’t keep away from the websites, and would you know it, they had GORGEOUS horses, and all those gorgeous horses disappeared from under my lustful eyes. So I started reading about training techniques and mentalities in the horse-world to keep myself occupied. There’s a lot out there kiddos. A LOT.
[More on this later]

The last two weeks
AKA I thought the last two months were torturous

Finally, the end was near. A flurry of WhatsApp communication started, from Belgium to the UK through way of Spain, to Norway, Germany and Holland. So much back and forth. So many hilarious moments. So many pictures of horses. So many horses.
So, before I left I made a “final list” (which would prove entirely non-finalized) of eight horses. Eight horses in two and a half-days. Totally do-able. Not too much. More than time enough.
Or so we thought. 

Now. I will be entirely honest with you guys. Even if what we saw wasn’t glorious. I’m all about honesty and transparency. What I have to say might not be how you experienced it, might not be how your friends experienced it. But it is what we experienced that weekend. 

DAY 1:

November 1st. Also known as All Saint’s day. Also known as, probably not the best day to land in Spain, all things considered.
We went to the finca associated with the woman who was guiding me in my choices. We had left a grey and rainy Belgium and landed in sunny southern Spain. So we immediately took off all useless sweaters and got something to eat. We then made our way to the first stable we were to visit. 

This first stable was not glorious. The people there were nice enough, they were a part of a huge traveling group of equestrian performers. The owner showed us videos of their performances. And they were stunning. Six stallions performing levades, caprioles, anything you could imagine and more. Horses legitimately dancing. And then we entered the stables.
And what we saw was saddening. These gorgeous horses were scarred and scared. They all had either open wounds on their noses or deep deep scars from serretas.
Serretas. I do *NOT* agree with them. Not in the least. 

These are serretas and the effect they have on horses. Not particularly cool is it? No. No they aren’t. But they *do* teach a horse difficult movements very fast. Guess why? Cause they know that to escape pressure they better fold. But this isn’t a trial of the serretas.
The horse we had come to see was 5 years old, a gelding, that they had started to use in shows recently. When he came out he was calm, but we could immediately see that he rubbed both his mane as well as his tail. Then when we came closer his nose wounds were obvious, and to top off the horror that was his condition he had two open wounds on his back. When I asked them what had happened to him, they said he had bitten himself because of flies.
I of course politely declined seeing him ridden, and told them they could put him back in his stable, that I wouldn’t want to see him ridden. And here comes the absolute topper. They were offended. And the man accompanying us was too. He said he would want to see him ridden to take pictures to put on their website.
So sadly we had to wait there and watch this poor boy be ridden in the state he was in. While we were waiting they also showed us this three year old stallion. Beautiful horse, but the way those reins are looped over the saddle to force him into collection… well… not my thing.

I do promise it only got better 
after this stable.

DAY 2:

November 2nd. Spain had awakened. We were introduced to a charming Spaniard who would be accompanying us. Luckily my Spanish is okay. But he gave me a run for my money! Spaniards talk SO fast, I talk pretty darn fast but this dude. He was a whole other speed class.
Anyone who’s been to Malaga knows this, but it is a very hilly place. Belgium on the other hand is absolutely flat. So my mom and Bieke got to drive around, up, down, across all of these hills as all the stables were rather far apart. I can only drive in Belgium, so I could relax haha (big win!).

So into the hills we went off to see some gorgeous horses.
I was very excited about the first stable we would go to see. It was a *huge* relief when we arrived and the stables were filled with horses without wounds who looked well cared for and were treated with respect. 

It was a much needed palate cleanser. Here we saw a gelding and a young stallion. The gelding was beautiful but just didn’t leave much of an impression on us. He was highly schooled and was even trained bridleless in the high school movements. But no click.
Then I saw this gorgeous young stallion. 

He was a rising 5year old, and had only been brought in from the campo four weeks prior. He was just stunning. But he was *so* scared and did not want any human contact. When I opened his stall door he turned right around and turned his butt towards me. He stayed perfectly calm but his energy was very clear: “Leave me alone”. So I gave him his time, I just stood there not looking at him. He did get a little curious, but he was so incredibly wary… It took more than 10minutes for me to put on his halter. When we let him move, wow, just wow. This guy really had such amazing moves, he was gliding in the arena. But once he was lose, he was gone.
We just could not catch him again. No way. So they just opened the door of the arena, and he bolted out, straight back into his stall.

Really broke my heart. They did saddle him up, he was entirely calm and respectful during tack up, was very well behaved. Honestly, I think they broke his spirit. I wanted to take him home there and then. But Bieke and my mom were right.
This horse would probably have been amazing, and yes, I would’ve rescued him. But he also would have been a true wildcard. I don’t know if he will be able to heal. And the fact that my intention is to do liberty work with my horse just didn’t really work in my own mind with this broken beauty. They were also asking an insane amount of money for a green horse without papers. So, out of my budget, and too much for me to handle as a first horse. 

That’s it for today folks!
I don’t want each blog post to be too long, and (even though you know how this story ends) I want to keep you in suspense!
So thanks again for reading, have a cookie!
Much love from Belgium,

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