"What are you looking for? You mentioned mares, which helps to narrow things down somewhat, but do you have anything more specific in mind? And do you know how much you are willing to spend?" Iggy questioned briskly.
"I'm looking for mares that are of breeding age, but who are on the young side of breeding age. Possibly between five and seven arcs old?"
Iggy nodded, and gestured for her to continue.
"I want all three to be trained to ride, and to have good paces, but I don't need anything too fancy. I'm not looking to race them, or anything, nor do they need to be trained to pull a cart or carriage. Also, if you have any pregnant mares available for sale, I would like one of the mares to be in foal."
Iggy nodded again.
"And what kind of a budget do you have?"
"Three hundred and twenty gold nels."
"I think we can work with that. Come with me."
Iggy led her to a large stable with an enclosed pasture. Several horses were milling around the pasture, and some of them watched curiously as they approached.
"These mares are all of good stock, but none of them are the more popular breeds, such as the appaloosa. Those would be out of your price range. Each of the mares here are young, but are of breeding age. None of them have been bred yet, though, so they are not proven breeders. But they are all trained to ride, and have good paces. I'll let you browse around for a while. If you see anything you like, you're welcome to ride her around the pasture a bit, or try her paces out on the lunge line in the arena over there. These mares are all trained to accept voice commands while on the lunge line, so you shouldn't have any problems testing them out if you want to. I'll come check up on you later, okay?"
Lei'lira nodded. Iggy was showing a lot of trust in her by allowing her to ride his horses, or work them on a lunge line without him being there to oversee her. But they had known each other for many arcs, and she had volunteered at Meadow Farms countless times since they'd met when she was a child. So a certain amount of trust was to be expected, and Iggy was a busy man, after all.
A lot could be learned about a horse, simply by observing it for a while, so Lei'lira started by doing just that. All of the mares were beautiful; Iggy knew her tastes in horses since they had worked together so often in the past, so he knew exactly what would appeal to her in a horse. But more importantly, these mares were of good breeding. They had good lines, and they all moved well as they went about their business. A proven breeder would be worth more than an unproven one, so by buying a younger mare, her budget would stretch to allow her to afford a better quality one.
None of them were of the best quality, of course. There were no purebreds here. But they were fine, beautiful mares that showed no signs of any bad habits that would have to be trained out of them. None of them lashed out at the others if they drew too close, proving that they would all mix with a herd well, and that none of them had vicious, dangerous tempers that would make them unsuitable for what she wanted. Nor were there any signs that any of the mares had old injuries; there were no scars that would suggest they had been fighting among themselves.
Watching a horse could tell a keen observer a lot about their personality, as well. Some of the mares frolicked about the pasture, much to Lei'lira's amusement. They had a bright intelligence in their eyes, and a sense of playfulness that Lei'lira liked. Such horses could be a challenge to work with if they decided that they wanted to play rather than be ridden, or if they found ways to amuse themselves that were less than desirable. And playful horses could often be stubborn ones, too. But they were often worth the extra work.
A few of the mares seemed to cluster around the feeding trough, unwilling to stray too far. Such horses often proved to be lazy, and unwilling to work, so Lei'lira dismissed them out of hand. Others appeared to be timid, watching Lei'lira carefully from a safe distance across the pasture. A timid horse could prove to be a skittish one, but that wasn't always the case; some horses just needed time to get to know someone before they warmed up to them.
After half a break, or so, Lei'lira had narrowed her choices down to a few that interested her especially. Since she only planned to buy two of these mares, she decided to work with each of the three mares to see which ones she liked the best. So she entered the stable to get the lunge line, and a halter. Then she approached the first mare she was interested in slowly. The dainty little mare gave her no trouble as she put the halter and bit on, and attached the lunge line. Lei'lira led the mare into the nearby arena, and got to work.
"Walk." she said firmly.
The mare began walking immediately, a slow, even stride that looked like it would be very comfortable for a rider. Lei'lira watched closely as the mare made several laps around the arena before giving her next command.
The mare sped up, moving at a brisk walk now. Her strides remained even despite the increased speed. Lei'lira liked what she saw. The mare was obedient, quickly responding to verbal commands. She wondered if a horse could be trained to accept verbal commands when not on a lunge line. It seemed reasonable since they could take verbal commands while on one. Lei'lira made a mental note to ask Iggy about it some time.
Lei'lira watched as the mare's speed increased once more when she shifted into a brisk trot. Her movement was good, and from what Lei'lira could tell, a rider would feel comfortable with the pace. It was hard for her to be certain though, since she herself rarely rode at a trot, given her own uncertain riding skills.
The mare's stride lengthened as she shifted paces once more. She looked good while moving at a canter, and while Lei'lira had no personal experience with riding at such a speed, it looked like an easy movement that a rider would find pleasant, and comfortable to sit.
The mare was really moving at speed now as her stride lengthened even further. She was a beauty to behold, and Lei'lira enjoyed a brief image of being on the mare's back and racing along the road, or across a field at such a clip. But although she savored the mental image for a few trills, she didn't allow it to distract her from what she was doing. That could turn into a disaster quickly.
Lei'lira was pleased by what she saw. Satisfied, she called for a walk once more, and gave the mare a good cool down before removing the lunge line, and giving her a good grooming. Then she brought her back to the pasture. Lei'lira tried each of the other two mares on the lunge line before making her final choice.
"Did you find any mares that you liked?" Iggy asked when he returned.
Lei'lira nodded, indicating the two she had chosen with a grin.
"They're perfect." she said softly, with more than a little awe in her voice.
"I'll get them ready for you, then. In the meantime, would you like to see the pregnant mares I have available?"
Lei'lira had high hopes. The other mares she had been shown had been exactly what she'd wanted. And the last time she'd had money to buy a horse, she'd gotten Star. So she was confidant that Iggy knew exactly what she was looking for. Perhaps in the distant future, when she had her own breeding farm, she too would be that good at matching prospective buyers with horses that would be ideal for them.