I have to find a link for this, but when I was a junior rider there was a locally famous young lady whose horse, Charlie, was a scrawny, potbellied yearling at the cheap auction that her mother just couldn't leave there, so they brought him home, fed him up and took care of him, and discovered that even though he always looked like the fugly beasty he was born, he had a natural athletic gift and kept his rider, and the other kids that were privileged to ride him, in the top rankings of the little local show circuit.
Sportscar, the USEA (Eventing) 2003 Mare of the Year was purchased, as a weanling, off the meat truck at the Marshall (VA) Auction. The buyer had to pay the meat guy to unload several other horses to get her off.
Mighty Mouse was a 14 hand Arab (freeze brand unreadable) that was found running loose by my friends in the early 80s. No one claimed him, and I bought him from them for $200. We evented in Area IV at Novice and Training level and were very successful... in the last few years of his career he won almost every Novice event we entered. He was also successful at Training level, never placing lower than fifth, and winning several events, including winning the Hill & Dale Perpetual Trophy at the Fox River Vally Pony Club Horse Trials in 1992 for the lowest training score of all divisions. He was truly my Cinderella horse. He died at age 21 from an adrenal tumor.
My best friend bred and raised, till he was 3, a red chestnut TB. She was a vet student/just starting out vet at the time and the last thing she wanted was to train and compete an ARROGANT, OPINIONATED, SNOT-NOSED LITTLE BRATTY red horse. I asked her what her plans were for him, she practically threw him at me. He was pretty poisonous. Cantankerous and a know it all. But oh my, was he ever talented. We had a love-hate relationship, we each had huge respect for each other but there was no snuggling-best-friend stuff going on with us. I trained him up, each thing I asked of him he said Yes (after quite a lot of discussion) My farrier had known him since his first trim and always growled he should have been put down early! The horse and his vet/owner/breeder were always at war but for some reason, I got along with him. We competed together for about 17 years, he was the USEA and USEF Preliminary horse of the year, we did a bunch of CCIs together, he topped out at Intermediate. He severed his SDFT walking in his field outside my kitchen window while I was looking at him. I put him down when he was 24. We had a great run, made even sweeter bc no one who knew him ever thought he could or WOULD do anything worthwhile.
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
My old trainer was driving around and saw this shaggy pony in a field and offered to buy him on the spot. She brought him home and fixed him up, and he cleaned up at A shows in the 90s. Now he teaches up-down lessons and is loved on by a whole generation of kids that learned how to jump on him.
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden
The story goes something like this. A young Canadian boy traps coyotes and with the money bought a Krugerrand gold coin. Later he used that to buy a rank bucking horse that he mangaed to use in Pony Club. He later went on to take that horse to the Seoul Olympics in three day event. His name is David Wilding-Davies and the horse is Crusader. Unfortunately, the horse was spun at the vet check and never ran at the Olympics, causing furore because the men who did the vet check refused to give the horse a second chance at the trot-up.