Updated: Apr 26, 2022
Read Part 1 of Mystico’s Story here
Once I had decided to purchase Mystico, I was anxious that it all happen quickly as I wasn’t able to ascertain the mood of his owner. She finally returned to my booth and I told her I had decided to purchase him. She nodded perfunctorily, and suggested we go to the auctioneer to make payment arrangements. As we walked to the auction office I was in a daze. To her this was a business transaction, but to me it was a major life decision.
Further discussion with her revealed more reasons why perhaps some of Mystico’s flighty and borderline aggressive behaviors weren’t surprising. It was clear that she was the decision maker in regards to the horses she and her husband bred and raised. However, when I inquired as to his personality, she could not even comprehend the question. Instead, she began discussing his performance potential. I realized it had never occurred to her to think of him as anything other than a collection of bloodlines. I mentioned his odd habit of sticking out his tongue, and said the only other horse I had ever seen do this was an orphaned foal. She shook her head, saying he wasn’t orphaned, and asserted his behavior must be a “stallion thing”. Then she blithely told me she weans all her foals from their mothers at three months (at best half the recommended age) because she believed foals receive better nutrition from human feed. When I asked if he had been turned out with other foals as companions, she stated that he had been born late and she felt he was too young to play with her other foals so he had been kept alone. I asked how he had been handled and trained, and she replied that he was halter broke, then sent to a trainer (the one I spoke with who hadn’t remembered his name) for “30 days”. It became clear to me that this horse had been weaned, then isolated, and then forced into training with little understanding of his sensitive nature. Add to all of this his hormonal charged nature as a stallion, and he was a time bomb waiting to go off.
We arrived at the auction office and I said that I wanted to make arrangements to purchase a horse outside the auction; the official explained that it was possible, but that I would still have to run him through the auction. They would let me bid on the pretense of normal bidding, and if his price went above the $5,000 I was paying for him I was to keep bidding, so long as I was the last bidder at whatever price. This seemed very unusual, but I had to do whatever they said. I told them I was afraid that I wouldn’t know how to handle the bidding and I would make a mistake and lose him to someone else, despite the fact that I had already paid for him. They assured me this wouldn’t happen, and introduced me to one of the auctioneer spotters, who agreed to help me in the bidding.
Mystico was the second horse in the auction. I was so nervous my palms were sweating. I was sorry that Mystico had to go through this strange experience even though I had explained to him that everything was going to be all right.
When the first horse entered the ring, the auctioneer spotter looked at me and started bidding on the horse, even though I had stayed intentionally still. He caught my expression, and whispered “This one?” I shook my head, “No!” He nodded and stopped calling out my fictitious bid. I was nervous enough already without the prospect of buying the wrong horse!
Then it was Mystico’s turn. As was traditional – two handlers drove him into the tiny arena on long lines, and he was directed to walk quickly down a wooden plank for the sound effect of his quickly pattering Paso Fino hooves.
He entered the ring dramatically quick pacing with his neck arched and the voices of the crowd rose in a roar of sudden approval. I allowed myself a moment of pride, thinking, “This beautiful creature is mine, none of you can touch him.” At the same time I knew that he was pacing out of total panic, and what others saw as talent, was merely fear. The bidding started in a rush, and I trying to pay attention to the spotter and watch Mystico at the same time. Within minutes the bidding had reached $3,000. At least two other people were bidding against me, I couldn’t keep up with the rush of it all. They bid $4,000, I bid $4,500… They bid $5,000! (Just keep bidding they had told me) so I bid $5,500… a pause, no
other bids were offered. The auctioneer declared SOLD! and pointed to me.
I heaved a sigh of relief. Thank goodness it was over. Mystico was truly mine. Despite my personal feelings about the owners, I was satisfied that they would not feel they had undersold their horse. Nor had I paid more than a “fair price”. But price was irrelevant to me, I was just grateful that he hadn’t been more expensive, because we had a long and expensive journey home.
I walked back to the stall and greeted Mystico and his former owners. He was sweating and I suggested that he might like to be hosed down. The owner could tell I was unsure about handling him so he accompanied me to the shower stall. I tried to move slowly and get to know him, I turned the cold water gently on his legs first, so as not to startle him. He danced around nervously, and the owner rudely took the water hose from me and indicated that I needed to act with more authority, and began blasting Mystico’s body with the hose. Mystico danced around, his eyes wild. I kept quiet, and fervently longed for the owner to just go away. This was just the first lesson in a series of experiences where I needed to learn to be less timid and to speak up for Mystico.
Finally we led him back to his tiny dirty cramped jail cell of a stall and the owners shook my hand. Then, without a glance at Mystico, they walked out of his life forever. I held the halter, unsure what to do next. I had a new horse I knew nothing about. I didn’t even know if I could lead him safely much less get him on a horse trailer.
First things first, Cora suggested we move him to another stall that had been offered by a trainer she knew. I eagerly agreed, and we moved him to a larger better stall with walls and clean shavings and fresh hay. He began eating voraciously and I petted him and told him he was safe now. I watched for awhile and then left him to settle in. When I checked on him later, he was laying down in his stall. After the tension of the last few days, it was so wonderful to see him relax. It also meant that for a few precious hours, I could relax as well.
I began researching how I could trailer him home. I had to board him somewhere while I waited for a nationwide trailer company to pick him up, which could take at least 3 weeks, and I had to go home to Washington State, where I would have no way of overseeing his care. The woman I had met earlier, Jo, who was a fan of my art, kindly offered to trailer him home with her horses and keep him for me. Then my friend Cora said, “Why don’t I keep him for you at my barn. Then you can come out early and stay at my house and get to know him?” It sounded like a good idea at the time. Though I had often questioned Cora’s ability to recognize the emotional needs of her horses, she was kind to them and had a beautiful barn at her home with her stallion and two mares, a young filly, and one empty stall. The one problem was there would be no secure turnout for Mystico as all she had was a pasture with an electric fence and she wasn’t sure he’d respect the fence. But for the short term it seemed like a good option.
Cora’s friend, a Paso Fino trainer named Alex offered to trailer him to Cora’s place on her way home. At least he would be riding in comfort in a six horse trailer. The next morning as everyone prepared to go home from the show, I went into his new stall. He was happy and seemed more confident now and he was eager to get out of his stall. I explained how everything was going to work, where he was going and that I would see him again in a couple of weeks. I led him around the parking lot for awhile. It was a strange feeling trying to get to know him in this brief span of time before he headed off to Cora’s. He was a little pushy when I led him on the halter but he was curious and excited and there were no signs of any of his previous fear or aggression. He loaded into the trailer with no problem and I smiled in relief, well that was something my other horses didn’t do!
I had just bought a Paso Fino stallion I knew nothing about, We were in Georgia, almost 3,000 miles from my home. And somehow once I got him to Tennessee to Cora’s place, I had to wait three weeks to get him from Tennessee to my farm in Washington State. Leading him was daunting for me. My ex-racehorse mare Darma had been a challenge to work with and I had taken horse training workshops in that had given me some skills with leading and groundwork. But I knew I needed an entirely different level of horse handling skill to lead a stallion, much less one that wasn’t well trained. Plus there were all the unfamiliar decisions I had to make for his welfare.
I decided to enlist the help of a clairvoyant teacher I had been working with who had been teaching me about empowerment. After my mother’s death in 2000, I had gone through a period of depression and had felt increasingly unsure of myself and my place in the world and my ability to make choices and feel confident. The workshops I had taken from Vera had given me a positive sense of understanding more about myself and I had grown to rely on her insights. In addition though she had very little horse experience she seemed to be a talented animal communicator. I asked if she could consult with me on Mystico’s behalf and to help me get through this process of getting him home. She said she could, but that in this type of situation with him long distance she would have to be intimately involved in every decision making process so that she could “read” the best possible outcome for his needs and for getting him home. I agreed. I felt I could use all the help I could get. I believed that her psychic power would assist me in making the right choices. I thought I needed outside help to guide me, but Mystico was about to teach me what self reliance really meant.
Read Part 3 of Mysticos Story here