It was not long before Punch's owner arrived at the barn. By then they had brought Punch up from his stall only to discover that he had lost one of his front shoes. Tommy sent one of the girls to go back and look for it, but it was no where to be found.
Punch is a beautiful bay horse in really good muscle tone. He had a kind eye but he did look a bit concerned. I knew he was not in full time training, so I am not sure how often he was brought up from the other barn to be ridden or worked. In the tacking stall, he was figity. He bit the side of the wall and removed a sliver of wood. I cringed and Tommy took notice. He told me Punch does not crib or chew his stall. That was good to know since our barn was a creation from my heart and although it has been in use now for 12 years, it is still in very nice shape.
They tacked Punch up and brought him into center ring, walked him past me and into the round pen to warm him up. The young lady leading him, placed the reins around the back of the saddle to keep them from falling forward while she lunged him. Imediately, he reared straight up. I bit my lip.
When he came back down, the girl moved him forward and about the round pen. He went from a trot to a canter and back to the trot. He lunged forward and then slowed his speed dramatically. He did not stay on the rail, often cutting straight accross the center. I understand why some horses need to be lunged before being ridden, Oliver at the age of 15+ still needed that, but the disorganization of Punch during the exercise concerned me.
After 10 minutes in each direction, Punch was brought out and Tommy asked me whom I wanted to ride him, referring to either myself or Joy. I laughed a bit and said, "You!" He gave me that look and put the young lady on him who was lunging him. Punch would not stand still to be mounted. That was a huge negative for me since this horse would need to be worked at our farm, sometimes by me... who is here all by myself most days.
Once aboard, the young lady took him over to the rail. They walked about half way around before starting to trot. Although she was a good rider, Punch was very distracted by ....well just about everything. He again did not stay in gait. He spooked by a large pile of shavings in the corner and surged and slowed just as he had done in the round pen. The young lady trotted him in both directions and then came into center ring.
Tommy asked Joy if she wanted to ride him. Honestly, in my opinion, it was already over, but Joy was game and able to get on mount the moving target. To the rail they went and it was much more of the same. Going the second direction, she was able to rein him in a bit and he had moments of looking more in sync, but shortly after that, a spook and surge almost dismounted Joy... which is why I almost fainted when she asked Tommy if she could canter him!
Wisly, Tommy told her she would have to start in the round pen and then he went on to say that this horses canter was stiff the first few strides. Joy looked at me and we burst out laughing as we both mouthed the same name, 'Larry'.
Larry was a lesson horse Sue Roby owned. We knicked named him "The cement trampoline" because his canter was as such... so jarring the first 2-6 strides, you could feel your brain rattle about in your skull!
Canter they did in the small round pen. I cannot even remember if she cantered him after that in the riding arena...I just remember her getting off and me signaling to her this was not the right horse for us. By no means was I saying he was not talented, or unfit or even mean spirited. He just was not finished enough for us. He really either needed a few more months of full time training or someone with more experience than Joy and I to finish him. I hated telling his owner this, but I knew it was the right choice.
I then took Joy aside and asked her how she felt about Southern Revival. She obviously thought he was way out of her price range, but with a bit of discussion, we made an offer and he came home with us that very day!