Finding Keira

Editor Nichole Chirico reflects on buying a yearling sight unseen and how she quickly built trust with the young horse in her letter from the editor in the Winter 2021 issue.

For the last 10 years, I’ve been riding with friends or at local barns to get my personal horse fix. But in July when I found myself without a horse to ride once again, I knew it was finally time to buy my own so I could call the shots and do what I want, when I want.

Originally, I decided I was going to wait until spring of 2022 to find a 2- or 3-year-old reining or cow horse prospect. That would give me time to save some extra money, find a good boarding barn, and research local veterinarians and farriers in my area.

Instead, I was on the phone with my friend and fellow H&R contributor Adam Johnson, going over the photos for our Fall Private Lesson department, when he said, “I think you should look at buying a yearling.” Even though I had started young ones before, the idea of starting my own horse from scratch never crossed my mind. “Yearlings are reasonably priced right now, and you won’t have to fix or change any previous training you don’t like.” Made sense. We ended the call, and I told him to keep me in mind if he came across any in my price range, and I’d consider it.

Thirty minutes later he called me back. “I don’t know why I didn’t think about this when we were on the phone, but I have a customer who is thinking of selling a yearling filly she has.” Still unsure if this was the right path for me, Adam told me everything he knew about this filly, shared some photos and videos of her in the pasture, and then something in my brain clicked. She was everything I was looking for in a horse. That’s when I knew it was meant to be.

Meeting Her

I didn’t actually see Keira in person until two months after owning her, when I was finally able to make the trip to Oklahoma to visit my best friend (who also happens to have my new horse in her front pasture).

The first day I walked up to my new filly, she shied away from me. At this point in her life, she had basically been untouched outside of the occasional foot trimming and basic vet appointments, and was spending all of her time in the pasture with a couple of broodmares. Thirty minutes later, I was finally able to swing a lead rope around her neck and put a halter on her. I took her straight to the round pen and started doing basic groundwork with her, slowly getting her comfortable to brushes and curry combs, and picking up her feet.

After 10 years of not owning a horse, I finally found ‘the one’ when I saw Keira (aka Lucky Vintage Chic) for the first time. Nichole Chirico

Day two, it took 20 minutes to catch her. She was slowly starting to trust me. But by day three, she was greeting me at the gate, letting me put a halter on her with ease. I’ve never connected with a horse this fast, but her trust in me continued to show as the week progressed, and by day four, she willingly let me put a saddle on her for the first time to help with desensitizing her to riding gear.

I left Oklahoma with happy tears in my eyes. I finally had a horse to call my own, and she was everything I could ever possibly want. Now I patiently wait for her to arrive in Colorado. But in the meantime, I’ve been preparing for her arrival by shopping for a winter blanket (see our top picks in our latest magazine), a new saddle pad and saddle, and everything in between.

In This Issue

The horse-buying process can be overwhelming, especially in a market where horses are selling extremely fast. Sometimes things work out in ways you could never imagine, like my filly did, but other times you have to go out and search for the perfect prospect. If you’re on the hunt for a new four-legged friend, check out “Be a Dream Buyer.” We talk with three expert sellers who offer advice on how to make your next horse-buying experience a great one.

And if you’re like me, who is owning a horse for the first time in a long time (and in a new state), chances are, you’ll have to find a new veterinarian to work with. We go over the importance of building a strong relationship with your vet and understanding the five rules of horse emergency etiquette in “Emergency Exit: Don’t Get Left Behind.” However, even if you have worked with your vet for a long time, this story is a great reminder on how we can help make our vets’ lives a little easier when we need their assistance at odd hours of the night. 

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