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  1. #1
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    Apr. 10, 2006
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    Default I did ok choosing my husband...

    ...but have been hopeless at choosing horses.

    The one pervasive theme I see throughout my adulthood is that I like projects and end up taking on horses that are not currently doing what I want them to do. So I gamble. And while I can honestly say I learned something from each, they were all bettered by being in my care... I'm still left without a riding partner at the end of the day.

    I am now retiring an 8 year old TB mare who has been intermittently lame since the day I got her last year. My husband and my mom and I had dinner last night and they both said said NO MORE PROJECT HORSES. (My mom flat out said no more horses but I don't have to heed her advice, lol. The joys of being a grown-up.)

    However, I do need to make better choices. The horse I had growing up was a QH stepping down from the A circuit. He wasn't fancy, he wasn't expensive, but he was a good, sound horse who did his job. How do you find one of those? I don't see them floating around like you used to, or maybe I am not networking in the right places.

    I am hoping to find adequate retirement for my mare and then go back to lessoning or doing a partial lease for a long, long time.

    Anyway just wondered if anyone else suffers the same plight as I. This is my manifesto, but feel free to chime in. I take full responsibility for my poor decisions.... hopefully now that I am 31 and not 21 I will start to be a bit smarter about what critters I bring home...
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.



  2. #2
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    Apr. 6, 2006
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    Yes. I have owned my own pony/horse since I was 10 (I'm 38 now), but my current horse will be my last one for a long time.

    Once she retires (she is 18 now) I am not going to jump back in to it like I have always done.

    The heartbreak, money issues, and stress is just not making it worth it anymore. I can't remember what it's like to just go to the barn, tack up and ride a sound horse, and then go home is like anymore.

    Just riding and letting someone else deal with all the details sounds like a luxury!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    Aug. 12, 2011
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    I heart you Flash! You are way overdue for your perfect partner and the horsey Gods will bless you soon! You are a much stronger Mama than I, and each of your ponies was lucky to have you.



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaintPony View Post

    Just riding and letting someone else deal with all the details sounds like a luxury!
    I know, right? I am just going to take myself OUT of the dating pool so to speak. Half lease, here I come.

    MP, heart you too. Hug your red mare for me.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    Haaahahah dating pool. Love it.

    My last couple horses were not right, I think I finally found a tall dark and handsome who may work.

    Of course, DH doesn't like him. It's ok, he doesn't like DH either.
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.



  6. #6
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    Yeah, I am kind of like this in that I look for a project. Then you never know what you will end up with. My current horse hasn't really turned out to be what I hoped/thought he would be when I got him. We've had our share of soudness issues, suitability for the job issues, etc. But in the end, I'm really happy with him and really glad he is with me because there is no doubt in my mind that he belongs with me. I have absolutely no regrets, as this horse was born to belong to me - no doubt in my mind.

    If I could have my ideal scenario, I would always have one like him (something I bought as a green, just-raced TB and retrained) and then something more made and already competing, etc. And, maybe someday I will have that. My problem is that I'm really drawn to the TBs coming off the track, and I enjoy seeing how they progress and what they turn into. And I figure that if I have the skills and resources to do it, it is a nice thing to give them a new career. Since I don't buy for resale, my projects are permanent. Since I can only afford one horse at a time...well...I have not had that many projects, lol (unless you count those I helped others with, which were fun).

    I think the way to find what you are looking for is to look for kids going off to college. A lot of times, those horses are very nice but priced reasonably because they need to go quickly. A lot of those sellers will also negotiate on price because they are often looking for a great home for a loved pet.



  7. #7
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    Nov. 15, 2005
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    NY
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    FlashGordon, maybe it's not you.
    If you think about it ANY horse, even the perfect, sound, wonderfully sane horse can step in a hole the day after you buy him/her... there are no guarantees and for every project that doesn't pan out there are those that do.

    Please note my own FLF [from way before there was such a thing] cost me $1200 when he was 6, and caused me very, very few problems [ok soundness problems! LOL] until he was 23. Five years later, he's doing ok, and honestly if it wasn't for those fetlocks he would still be hacking out. I think so many times it boils down to luck.

    But I do 'get' what you are saying, and wish ya' the best!
    Last edited by Angela Freda; Feb. 25, 2013 at 02:54 PM.



  8. #8
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    Jun. 18, 2006
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    Right there with you guys... after 15 years of just doing lessons 1-2x a week and riding the occasional whatever horse I could get my hands on, when I finally got my own about 5 years ago I thought "wow, lucky me! I'm set!"

    One torn suspensory, 2 fractured swiss-cheese navicular bones later and my 8 year old was given a 50/50 chance of returning to flat-riding soundness... up to 16 mins of trotting and now lame again... it's heartbreaking. Vet appt tomorrow to reassess and I'm just holding my breath.

    I keep trying to remember that there is a reason or purpose behind everything and maybe there is a reason I cannot see, but the $1000's upon $1000's, blood, sweat and tears poured into a horse that I may be supporting as a pasture animal for the next 30 years is just overwhelming. You can't help but look at your friends with sound horses with envy. Especially when we sacrifice so much just in order to HAVE a horse, you wish it was one you could ride.

    Keep your chin up. You aren't alone!

    With you on the half lease... wouldn't it be nice to just ride and not worry about everything else?
    "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11



  9. #9
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    Nov. 18, 2004
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    It's not you, Flashy. I bought a horse that I knew well, who was doing exactly what I wanted to do when I bought her. Who vetted clean. Who my instructors approved of. Who my vet approved of.

    Got 1 year of fun riding and 4 years of Adventures in Lameness from my KatyBug, and after retiring her this past weekend, I too am in the market for a half lease. No more horses from the Island of Misfit Ponies. Those are for people with money, land, time, or all three.

    Katy will likely live 20 more healthy but retired years on my dime.

    It is imperative that one not do the math on that.
    I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
    I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09




  10. #10
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    Jun. 20, 2009
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    Maine
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    While fortunate not to have ended up with a poor fit due to lameness issues, I can't tell you how many thousands of dollars I've spent on horses, and I've never spent more than $4500 for a single horse. My friends joke about how many horses I've owned and moved on because they just weren't the right fit for me.

    My first pony was "perfect" except that he was only 12.3 hands high; I think I've spent my life trying to find another one to fill his shoes. I've had horses that ended up beyond my time and training ability, horses that were good guys but just not the right fit for what I wanted to do, and horses that I outgrew ability-wise. My last and most expensive purchase was a huge learning lesson. I bought a project horse that appeared to be a good fit for what I wanted to do, but in the end he never really improved mentally beyond where he was when I bought him, despite the four months of full training, countless lessons, and many instances of hope and heartache.

    I almost wish I'd stayed with a lease after giving that one away; it would be easier on my pocketbook. However, I am loving my bargain-basement easygoing little horse. I just changed my own expectations for what I wanted/needed.



  11. #11
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    Aug. 30, 2011
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    Massachusetts
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    Flash, I think that's just horses. They go lame, they die, they don't become the horse we think they should be. I am very sorry you are going through this with your mare. It's hard and frustrating to retire them so young.

    If it makes you feel any better, the same stuff happens to people who buy purpose bred horses, and people who spend a lot of money on horses who are out doing the job that the buyer wants.

    Don't give up yet. These horses happen to all of us. Get your mojo back with a lease, and then when you buy next, look for a horse that is presently sound and in work. That's the best anyone can do, and hope all goes well after that.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    I'm glad I posted, because I feel a lot better after reading these responses. Not cause folks are stuck in the same crappy position-- but because perhaps as some of you have said-- this is just the name of the game.

    A friend told me, never risk any money you can't afford to lose. That for sure is true. Because they DO die, go lame, whatev.

    It's hard as someone who boards and has the income for ONE horse. If that horse goes lame, it is game over. Where am I gonna retire it? What am I gonna do with it? Will I ever ride again? So I think that ups the ante and the stress a lot. Then again I know people who have their own farms and multiple horses and heck, they all go lame...

    Anyway I was REALLY beating myself up yesterday so I appreciate all the responses and the reminders that this is just how it goes. It doesn't necessarily mean I suck at horses, or choosing them.

    My trainer has some interesting lease prospects for me, which would be ideal. Now hopefully I can get the lovely grey mare into the perfect retirement scenario.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Aug. 8, 2001
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    up the hill from the little river (that floods alarmingly often)
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    FG, I've only owned one horse, but that experience sure made me reluctant to own again. I thought when I bought that mare that I'd done my homework, and while there were certainly aspects of that situation I could and should have done differently/better, there were also things about it that no one could have predicted. You never know when a horse is going to go lame, or whether that lameness is a mere abscess or a career-ending tendon injury. You can hedge your bets and buy something already doing what you want to do, but that's not a guarantee. It's just usually a better bet than buying an unstarted youngster. But it's all just a crapshoot in the end.

    I'm in the same boat you are; I'd be boarding, and I can only afford (and I say "afford" with a wry chuckle) one horse. So, if that one horse goes lame, or decides working for a living ain't her thing, or displays some lovely behavioral/training issue I don't have the tools for, I am SOL. I have to call in the experts, get their opinions, pay their bills, figure out a plan B, and a plan C, and a plan D, etc. It is expensive, it is time-consuming, and it is very stressful, particularly when you know you don't have the whatever-it-is your horse needs you to have.

    I'm dabbling in dog agility now. It is not riding; there's really nothing that comes close to the feeling you get when you are cantering across a field on a crisp fall day and the world is nothing but lovely around you. But it's infinitely more accessible than horses ever were to me, and quite a bit more affordable.

    It's way more laid back than riding lessons/horse showing, and while my dog's talent far exceeds my own, I don't feel like my lack of talent/lack of athleticism is nearly the hindrance to my dog as I felt it was to my horse.

    I also have a lot more autonomy with the dogs than I did with the horse, and that is a relief in so many ways. I can pick my vet, my trainer, my dog's diet, his supplements, all his stuff. I have far less dog knowledge than I do horse knowledge, but I feel far more competent as a dog owner than I ever did as a horse owner. I have tools for when my dog has a meltdown. I have tools for when my dog doesn't want to hold a stay, or doesn't ride well in a car, or doesn't come when called, etc. I am far more able to teach my dog to be a solid citizen than I ever was my horse.

    So far, agility is fun ... it's fun to do, it's fun to watch my dog having a ball, it's easy (well, most anything is easy with a dog if you have a bag of cubed ham), it's pretty stress-free.

    But it is not riding, and it will never be what riding is/was to me.
    Full-time bargain hunter.



  14. #14

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    Yes, horses go lame, but sometimes they come back. Mine did after taking 5 years off and being on the "mommy" track.



  15. #15
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    Feb. 1, 2001
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    Finally...back in civilization, more or less
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlashGordon View Post
    I'm glad I posted, because I feel a lot better after reading these responses. Not cause folks are stuck in the same crappy position-- but because perhaps as some of you have said-- this is just the name of the game.

    A friend told me, never risk any money you can't afford to lose. That for sure is true. Because they DO die, go lame, whatev.

    It's hard as someone who boards and has the income for ONE horse. If that horse goes lame, it is game over. Where am I gonna retire it? What am I gonna do with it? Will I ever ride again? So I think that ups the ante and the stress a lot. Then again I know people who have their own farms and multiple horses and heck, they all go lame...

    Anyway I was REALLY beating myself up yesterday so I appreciate all the responses and the reminders that this is just how it goes. It doesn't necessarily mean I suck at horses, or choosing them.

    My trainer has some interesting lease prospects for me, which would be ideal. Now hopefully I can get the lovely grey mare into the perfect retirement scenario.
    FG,

    First, I am sorry that your current horse did not come sound. That just s*cks.

    I do agree that it is true that horses can and do go lame, prove unsuitable or whatever... whether they were "project" types or made campaigners.

    But I am going to go against the grain here and say that not all horses are equal when it comes to that "crapshoot" scenario.

    Personally, I think it really makes sense to try to stack the deck in your favor when you buy a horse... and IMO, that means staying away from rehab/project types. Especially if you can only have one, which is the case for most of us.

    I know there are lots and lots of people who really enjoy a project horse, and do a good job with them. Nothing wrong with that at all, of course... though IMO, stacking that deck in your favor means buying something that is sound with good conformation for the intended purpose. I have a great deal of regard for folks who gamble on the ones that are NOT sound or who have other big issues - but if you do that, you really do have to go into the transaction with eyes wide open, understanding how big of a gamble it really is.

    Put another way, as my old skool horseman/mentor told me many times: Only buy a horse that you can happily live with as they are the day you buy them -and even if they never get one bit better in any respect . If they end up improving with training, veterinary intervention etc, then great - but it's not a given.

    Buying a nice, sound, proven horse is not a guarantee of future happiness... but it's a lot less of a crapshoot than buying a horse that is more of a project. A horse that is doing well at the job you want your horse to do has demonstrated that they are most likely built for that job, happy enough to do it, and are most likely going to be able to keep on doing that job for you in the future. They generally cost more (unless you factor all the downtime/vet bills/psychotherapy required with the ones that don't work out, LOL) which is of course WHY they cost more in terms of purchase price... but there are plenty of them out there, especially if what you really want is a kind, fun, all around horse rather than something that can be a world class (insert discipline here) type.
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina


    2 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16

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    I'm in the same boat with all of you too! I own three horses. My first horse is an OTTB I bought at age four, to train myself. HA! I was not ready to be training an OTTB, so we had a hard time for quite a while. Then he became unsound, and I retired him at age seven. I still have him, seven years later, and have resigned myself to the fact that he will be living in my pasture and eating my hay for the rest of his life. My trainer asked me, "Do you really want to be paying for him for the next fifteen years?" NO, but I don't have much choice.

    Next, I bought another project. He wasn't as green, but he was brain-fried from some poor riding, and was a biter, a rearer, and bucker (not anymore--I did fix those problems). He's also a hot little pistol, and extremely opinionated, and anxious as hell when away from other horses. I've owned him for seven years and can finally trail ride him alone without him going bonkers, but getting on him is always kind of a crap shoot--you just don't know which horse he's going to be from one day to the next. I love him to death, and so does my husband, because he's one of the sweetest puppydogs ever, so he will be ours forever, too. But he's no easy ride.

    Finally we bought my husband's horse, yet another project! She came with a stellar personality and temperament--truly a beginner-safe horse, in the sense that she's not going to hurt anyone and will follow another horse down the trail all day long, but she was completely green, started but that's pretty much it, when we bought her as an eight-year-old. So I had to pay for a bunch of training on her, and she still doesn't really know how to canter and steer at the same time, LOL. But I still consider us lucky to have found her, because she's so, so safe and awesome, and she is the easiest keeper EVER and poops all in one small pile in the corner of her stall. That alone makes her worth her weight in gold!

    I don't plan to buy anymore horses for a long, long time. But when I do, it will be a horse that is actually trained...at least first level dressage and can jump. I'm done with projects.



  17. #17
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    Apr. 10, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucassb View Post

    Put another way, as my old skool horseman/mentor told me many times: Only buy a horse that you can happily live with as they are the day you buy them -and even if they never get one bit better in any respect . If they end up improving with training, veterinary intervention etc, then great - but it's not a given.
    I am taping this to my fridge. Seriously. I need to be reminded of this every day.

    In college I worked at a barn that had a LOT of horses come through from low end sales and dealers. We usually found a way to make them "useful" and I think I got my penchant for projects there. Unfortunately I often forget that for every horse we rehabbed and either utilized in the program or resold, there were probably 2 that were so lame or so crazy they ended up back at the low end sale.

    Anyway I am going to take a long break from ownership. For the first time in my adult life, I have a trainer, and I trust her evaluation of my needs and ability and I think I will rely on her to find me something.

    I am NOT taking on any more lame horses that I feel sorry for. I need to stop with the bleeding heart syndrome.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    FWIW, just also remember that the expensive horses break just as severely and, I think, just as frequently as the less expensive ones.

    And, I've seen a LOT of really broken horses showing quite competitively on the A circuit, so a good show record isn't always an indicator of a good chance of continued soundness. You never *really* know all that is done to keep some of those horses going. I mean...I've seen some absolutely shocking prepurchase results on actively campaigned horses.

    Hands down soundest horse I've ever owned was the cheapest one I've ever owned. She was $2,500 after being off the track for about a year. Had been pin fired. Small gray TB mare. I don't think she ever took a bad step in the two years I had her, and she had excellent feet.

    Someone also once offered me a very sound little QH for free. I was leasing him at the time, and he could quite capably jump 4'. He was a bit of a wonder horse. I couldn't afford to board him at the time (I was in college), so I passed. The person who ultimately bought him still owns him. He's 20 now. Still sound and doing lower level eventing.

    Anyway, I agree with Lucassb to a degree on setting yourself up for success, but, honestly, I've had better luck with complete crap shoots than I have with horses I've actually done some planning on. I would say this has also been true for many of my friends. The crooked-legged, awkward horse is still going around sound and the well-put together one that was big and pretty and sound and sane had an accident and broke his withers. Stuff happens.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2008
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    Florida
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    A guy at my barn is shopping for a horse. He's got a big budget so he's looking at some very nice mid to high 5 figure horses. I told him I was so jealous of him, in a good way, because I'm happy he's able to pursue his dream, but at the same time, I wish I had his budget! He said to me, don't you have a nice horse? He must've cost something. I said, nope, I usually just pick up the leftovers. That's the bleeding heart in me. I love the project.

    My current horse is a 10 yr old, 17H TB who looks like a warmblood, because he's got a lot of bone and is built like a tank. But he's been unsound for a long time. A year ago, he was diagnosed with proximal hind suspensory lesions. He wasn't so lame as to be unrideable, and had other issues as well, so the vet told me to keep riding him on the flat only. That's what we did for a year. I took him back to the clinic in Wellington for a reeval on Monday, and he's improved enough to try some jumping again. HOWEVER, we have also found that he has arthritic changes in his neck, which could explain a lot of his tripping, ect. I don't know what his future will be, but I suspect its limited.

    This horse is a wonderful fit for me, in temperament and abililty. He was well bred and I love him to pieces. But he was a gamble, because I knew he might have some problems. I took him over from someone who didn't pay his board. He came from a problematic background. I went in knowing that so I have no one to blame but myself.

    OP, I really hear you about taking time off from horse ownership. Maybe its a good thing for you right now. You'll have time to "mourn" or process it all.

    I'm knocking on 60 and didn't own a horse until I was 50. I have decided I want horses in my life for as long as I can. So I probably will get another one after this. The thing I am taking with me from it is knowledge. Knowledge of lameness and anatomy and what I want to do with a horse. I'm hoping that the learning curve I've experienced will help me the next time. And I won't pick up the left overs next time.



  20. #20
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    Jun. 7, 2002
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineAlready View Post
    Yeah, I am kind of like this in that I look for a project. Then you never know what you will end up with.

    If I could have my ideal scenario, I would always have one like him (something I bought as a green, just-raced TB and retrained) and then something more made and already competing, etc. And, maybe someday I will have that. My problem is that I'm really drawn to the TBs coming off the track, and I enjoy seeing how they progress and what they turn into. And I figure that if I have the skills and resources to do it, it is a nice thing to give them a new career. Since I don't buy for resale, my projects are permanent. Since I can only afford one horse at a time...well...I have not had that many projects, lol (unless you count those I helped others with, which were fun).
    I could have written this, word for word!
    My Ottb mare isn't exactly what I hoped she'd be, and makes me long for a made, been-there-done-that horse at times. Ideally I should have both, so that when I am bored with the BTDT I can go back to riding my fruit loop.

    I have thought about just selling / giving her away and just hitch rides / lessons here and there. Such savings it would mean, too!

    But then I know I'd miss having my own horse. Plus this one cracks me up. She's really not so bad, IF you don't take her on the trails solo. She HATES being on the trails solo, always has. That's really the one thing I don't like about her. Oh well.
    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!



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