People who have known me for a long time will remember my magnificent Trakehner gelding, Kronefurst. But hardly any knows how close he came to being auctioned off to pay back board. It’s a story worth retelling because it shows you how quickly even a much loved, well bred, sound horse can find himself in dire circumstances through no fault of their own.
Many years ago, when I was looking for a new horse, one of my friends in upstate NY told me she’d found one that I had to see (thanks, Kathy!). A mutual friend had him at her barn. I was skeptical. Our friend had a Quarter Horse barn and is an avid Western rider. But I flew up to try him out.
I found a fairy tale horse. Kroni was six years old, almost black and had a sculptured, Arabian head (Trakehners have a lot of Arab blood). He was at my friend Hope’s barn as a last resort (thanks, Hope!) when the barn he was at threatened to sell him for back board. Kroni had been used as a breeding stallion for two years but when he wasn’t approved by the American Trakehner Association, his breeder gelded him and sold him to a teenage girl.
Unfortunately, that young woman had some family issues and ran away from home.
Her parents refused to pay board on the horse and the barn wanted to put a lien on him. That would have sent him to public auction, with no guarantee of the quality of his home. And that might not have ended well for him because Kroni had some quirks that made him a tricky ride. His had a low palette and a thick tongue, which made many bits uncomfortable. His sire was known for having a temper and Kroni definitely showed it at times, especially if he’ll felt trapped. He could throw a wicked tantrum when he didn’t want to do something and if you started a fight, he was determined to win.
Enter Hope, who was Kroni’s guardian angel. She paid the back board and told the teenager that she would help her sell Kroni to a good home for a fair price. I flew to upstate New York to try him, he was vetted, passed and I brought him home.
Kroni was a challenge for me to figure out. I was lucky to have some excellent trainers who found ways for me to work around his quirks and convince him to be on my team. One of my trainers commented on how lucky he was not to go to auction. One of his evasions was rearing, and had he gone to the wrong home, it could have gotten worse (he was truly surprised when I after he reared I didn’t get off an put him away). With that kind of “baggage” his chances of finding the right situation would have diminished quickly. People would ave bought him because he was beautiful but they might not have been prepared for the training challenges that he presented. Honestly, even I had my doubts at times.
The real breakthrough came when I took a bit out of his mouth. Bits were uncomfortable for him, but he responded very well to subtle pressure from a bitless bridle. Without the bit, the tension left his body and he was very tuned into my seat and leg.
We also had to find him a job that he enjoyed. The first time I hunted him, it was obvious that he had been waiting for us to figure out that he was a foxhunter, not an eventer. I hunted him first flight in an LG bitless bridle and he was always a perfect gentleman — brave, obedient and keen to follow the hounds.
He foxhunted right up until the end of his life, which was cut short by an aneurysm. He was one of the lucky ones, kept out of the “system” and channeled into a discipline that suited him. Not every horse is so lucky.