Since Newboy is the horse I work with the most besides Jack, I figured I’d introduce him second. Now, there’s something you may notice about any Newboy story: many details about him may be vague or inconsistent. There’s a reason for this.
Last year I received an intriguing text from my trainer: “I saw a nice horse today. Small, bay TB, nice mover. Free, they just want him to have a home with someone familiar with training TBs. Call this number.” Now, my trainer is an FEI 4* judge, so when he says, “nice mover”, I listen.
I call the number, and am put in touch with the barn owner. I ask some questions, and it’s immediately apparent there’s something fishy going on. Barn owner only knows the horse is an OTTB and his approximate age, but does not know his name and is being really vague about who the owner is. As an added bonus, the horse has an old bowed tendon. Just what I always wanted! A sketchy OTTB with no name, no owner and an ugly tendon. But, I remember that my trainer said he’s a nice mover, and also that free OTTBs with old bowed tendons often end up in very bad places. I needed to at least give him a chance. I wasn’t certain I was going to pick him up, but I wasn’t going to make two trips, either, so I brought the trailer with me to go look at him.
When I actually get there, I learn a few more details. The barn owner was vague about the owner because he’s been abandoned. The barn owner apparently acquired him with the property, and no one is even sure how long he’s been there. They’ve been calling him “The Boy” and all agree that he’s very sweet, but that’s all they know. I look at his tattoo to get his age, he’s pretty young. The bow is big and ugly, but it’s cold and tight. So, I ask to see him on the lunge line. It’s immediately apparent that he doesn’t know how to lunge, but he is a beautiful mover. I get his coggins and vaccine record from the barn (both have him listed as “The Boy”, which I found quite funny) and load him on the trailer.
(In case you haven’t noticed yet, I frequently make impulsive decisions concerning the acquisition of horses.)
I get him home, he unloads perfectly and settles in calmly. “Great.”, I think to myself, “He’s been drugged.” But as the days pass, his calm demeanor remains and I realize that’s just his personality. Win!
I was initially going to let sleeping dogs lay and not try to find out who he was. His past doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things: he’s a gelding, he’s got a good home here, he’s moving on to a new life. But eventually curiosity got the better of me and I looked up his tattoo. It’s a tough one to read, and he doesn’t like it being looked at, but I narrowed him down to a few different horses. One of the candidates is a horse that last ran at a track my friend trains at (the same friend I got Jack from). I texted her the registered Jockey Club name and the name of the last trainer, she knows the trainer and asks him about the horse. Within a half hour I have a text from the trainer and Newboy has been identified.
Turns out, he was stolen and his last trainer has been looking for him for years. Newboy had pulled up lame in his last race, and was retired. He was sent to a farm to rest and heal, and then disappeared. No one knows how he ended up in the barn I found him in, or what became of the person who stole him. It’s still a happy ending, though. His last trainer is thrilled that Newboy has a good home and doesn’t want him back (he was supposed to have been retired and rehomed, anyway).
I did learn from the trainer that the person who stole Newboy is a certifiable crazy person. The trainer did not know this at the time (the crazy person uses many aliases), but learned about it after Newboy disappeared. I’m not sure if the crazy person is the one who abandoned Newboy, but I do know that I really don’t want to tangle with a crazy person. For this reason, I’m intentionally vague about who Newboy is. His age, name and the details of where and when I got him will either not be listed or will be changed. I may eventually get over my paranoia and use his real name, but not until I’ve owned him long enough to be sure crazy people can’t make trouble.
He’s been a really fun acquisition, though, and I certainly don’t regret taking a chance on him. He’s willing and handy, with a good brain. He’d make one hell of a polo pony if he were a little shorter. As it is, he’ll do just fine as a fun, steady horse for me to trail ride and hunter pace with, and as long as the bow stays tight he’ll make a fine dressage horse, too.