As those of you who read my blog religiously will know (and I cling on to the hope that somebody out there somewhere reads every post with interest, even when I'm rambling or talking about not-so-interesting topics), I sold Merrington Missile back in September into a ridden home. This was his second (and hopefully final) bite at the cherry that is a 'forever home', the type of home that plenty of people proclaim to be able to offer but that very few can actually deliver on. After the first time where, through no fault of his own, he found his way back to me, I was obviously wary of this second attempt. From the moment the hammer fell at Builth in October 2013, Missile became my responsibility and although I am aware that once sold he becomes somebody else's, a part of me feels as though it was still my responsibility to place him in the best possible home with as secure a future as anyone can give an animal.
Due to the slightly uncomfortable moving in period where Missile went temporarily lame (thanks to some over-zealous hoof trimming and him being an absolute drama queen) during which time rumours were spread that I had sold a horse unfit for purpose (which reached the new owner), I was mildly concerned not to have heard from his new owner since October, when I'd last heard that he was sound, happy and bonding with his new human. I was even more nervous at the prospect of contacting the new owner to enquire about him, in case something had gone wrong or they had changed their minds about him and sold him on without letting me know. They say no news is good news, and plenty of people more sensible than I would have let sleeping dogs lie, hoped for the best and concentrated on the horses still in their care.
I am not sensible.
Yesterday I built up the courage to contact the new owners, because my well-documented overactive imagination had all sorts of scenarios playing out in my head, none of which resembled the true situation. Within minutes I had the reply I had hoped for - that he was as happy as a grumpy old sod like him could be. His new owner, Sahrina, is hacking him out on a near-daily basis, and on days when she can't take him out, she spends time with him in his stable. He has re-started his jumping, which sounds as though it is going well, and together they are looking forward to the summer when they can enjoy the good weather and continue his re-education under saddle. It sounds as though he is a firm favourite with the family, and indeed at the livery yard, with his characteristics and personality.
You can't begin to imagine the sense of relief I felt when I received that reply. Even better were the photos that accompanied, and the promise to keep in touch. I am not an interfering ex-owner - I simply like to keep track of my ex-charge's progress, especially when it has the potential to feature in my favourite part of the STAGBI newsletter (the bit about retired Standardbreds, which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea but is my way of trying to find secondary careers for the breed).
I worried that Missile would be a misunderstood soul, that the characteristics and traits that I found so amusing and endearing would be seen as hostile and undesirable by everyone else. He was serving a purpose to me as a racehorse and as long as his behaviour towards me didn't hinder that purpose, I was able to tolerate, and eventually appreciate, them. Once that purpose changed to essentially being a pet, I feared that they would have such an impact that he would be deemed not suitable for someone who wanted to fuss over him. Which was frustrating, because as a riding horse he was, and is, a delight. I miss him terribly, because as much as I didn't want to admit it, he was in some ways a better riding horse than Star. His natural head carriage, his swagger, his sensible head even when 100% race fit...he was a much more willing horse to ride than my own stubborn, spooky, unpredictable-at-times mare that I am keeping. I feel guilty for saying that because I don't like finding fault in her after how far she has brought me since I started riding her, but to acknowledge Missile's strengths requires me to acknowledge Star's weaknesses.
Fortunately, and this is where I will wrap this up, we found him someone who loves him just the way he is. Someone who looked at him and saw the beautiful face, the athletic build and the blank canvas that is a newly-retired racehorse. Someone who accepts the groaning, the ears back, the tail swishing when the girth is done up. Someone who has managed to do something that I could never do - get him to like her!
So I wish them well, and I hope to visit when I'm next in the area. Here are some photos of Missile in his new home (courtesy of Dawn & Sahrina), where he goes by the name 'Sgt Bash' (and no, I haven't asked where he got that name from, because I simply don't need to know!):
Over and out,
#1 Proud Groom