As I pulled into the long drive way, I got a little nervous. What was I doing? Really, what was I thinking getting a young horse when I am still going to college on the other side of the state?! Oh well, I was there so I might as well check her out. Besides, she probably isn't right for me, so whatever.
I met Ann in the barn and we grabbed Dakota's halter as she was still out in the pasture. We walked out there together, me getting more anxious by the second. Dakota was standing next to Ann's chestnut gelding Sailor. I thought maybe they would bolt up to join us cause besides being a brisk and breezy clear December day, they had never met me before, but they just jogged up to us intently instead. Ann pulled Dakota's halter on and shooed Sailor away.
I have to be honest. My first impression of Dakota was not the reaction I expected. She was shorter than I imagined and she had almost no tail. I really shouldn't have been so surprised her being an appy and all, but I just wasn't use to seeing a horse whose a tail didn't get past their hocks. Star's luxuriously thick appy tail touches the ground.... I had to snap out of the comparing this horse to Star, so I stepped back and took a better look. She was covered in mud and I remember not being able to see her feet very well. As you will learn later, feet are a bad deal for me. I would have quit looking at her right then and there if her feet were too small or deformed to severely.
Since I couldn't tell, we decided to bring her into the barn and groom her up. I was looking forward to this because you can learn so much about a horse by just being around them and seeing what kind of ground manners they have. Ann handed me the lead and we headed to the barn. When we were inside, I tied Dakota to the tie ring and grabbed a curry. Dakota stood with her feet still, but she was fidgeting with the rope and liping at Sailor, who had returned to his stall to see what was going on with his girl. I got her curried and got started with a stiff brush. The mud was removed from her coat so I started on her feet. I grabbed a hoof pick and brushed the dried dirt and mud off her unshod hooves. Her front feet she picked up easily, but she was pretty nervous with me handling her hind feet. OK, interesting but not that big of a deal.
That last bit made sense when Ann informed me that Dakota had not really been asked to do much since the last time they rode her, in August. Hmmm.... Considering she had probably just been brushed and messed with on the ground since then, I was glad she was as calm as she was about having a strange person work with her so closely. I remember liking what I was seeing with her, conformationally speaking. She is in no way perfect, but there were no glaring issues that would suggest she would be more susceptible to lameness or injuries.
Now that she was clean and I could evaluate her more accurately, we took her out to the small outdoor arena to take some, more or less, conformation shots. Please ignore that some of these photos did not turn out so good. They were taken with an old disposable camera I found in my closet just before I went to see her. When I pointed the camera straight at her, it ended taking a picture to either the right or left of her. The horrible color distortion of the frames makes the pictures even more laughable. Anyway, this is Dakota/Mercy the first day I went to see her:
Yes, I have been asked before if she was a mule, lol!:
Note the shorty tail... supposedly someone *cough* ate it.... I loved the skunk tail though! I had never seen a tail like that!:A not so flattering shot of her, but look at the mane! How neato is that! She has natural white highlights not only in her tail, but also in her mane. Note how the white mane hairs are longer than the darker mane hairs...weird....:This shot shows her calm eye and relaxed nature, exactly what I was looking for: