Long long ago, when I was young and adorable, I went to Germany to look for the horse that would be Billy. Billy was the first horse I sat on on that trip, out of about 20, and I kept coming back to him. My mom kept saying, really? Really? The first one you sat on? But it was true; I just knew.
I put out my feelers when I started looking for a young horse a month ago, posted on Facebook, emailed everyone I knew. It happened that Belinda Nairn, many-time member of the U.S. team and widely respected importer of fancy four-leggers, had one I had to see. Except that he was too green and too short. But Belinda and her husband, Bill, live in Ocala, and I could take the long way home from Wellington, overnight in Ocala, try the horse, and then spend the next night at my wonderful Wytheville, Va., client’s farm and do a little teaching, and it just all was going to work out so smoothly that I couldn’t say no.
I rode Johnny, not-yet-4, skinny and shaggy and only a week off the plane from Holland. And I loved him, skinny, short; loved him a lot. And I called Michael.
“I need you to talk me out of buying this horse,” I told him.
“When you rode him, did everything just click? Did he just make sense?” he asked. I said yes, it did. “The last young horse to give me that feeling took me to the Olympic Team.”
I needed some time to get home and get my @#$* together post-Wellington, but on Tuesday, I flew back down to Ocala to try Johnny again. He’s shed out a lot in the last few weeks, put on a little weight, and gotten a little taller. He seems to have temporarily misplaced his ability to turn right. But the delightful ease in how he uses his body, the confidence in how he takes the bit, the cocky little glint in his eye were all still there, and a lot of things were even better in just a short time.
There was no turning back: My first impression was the right one, and after an exceptionally boring vet check (my favorite kind!), Johnny belongs to me!
Belinda was so kind as to snap some excellent photos, and her assistant trainer, Anna (who is one of the only women I’ve ever met that I have to, literally, look up to), took some video. It’s below.
So the long and the not-too-short of it is this: Meet Johnny Road, a 2009 GOV gelding, Johnson-Roadster-Donnerhall. I’m hoping to have him home soon!