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A Spotted Affair

Over the past weekend, my life was turned upside down when not only did our Sport Horse Club run a 2-Day Jumper event at a big event in a town 45 minutes away, but I also had a close friend venture west with two friends/clients of her own, to try out Kidd and take in the event.

The trio arrived late Saturday afternoon after a long drive from North Eastern Alberta.  We had wrapped up our day at the show and I got home just in the nick of time to greet them at my farm.  They got parked and unhooked their trailer in my yard for the weekend and we exchanged introductions and quickly went to meet Kidd.  My friend, "S", who arranged the trip n' try outs is a Para Rider who, although we have been good friends online for over a year, have never met in person. When she learned I was considering selling Kidd pending a successful PPE, she told me about her friend/client who she felt would be well suited and everything seemed to just fall into place.  We did have some concerns regarding her height vs Kidd's, but she was interested enough everyone felt it was worth the risk to venture 700+ KMs to try him out.

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Once introduced, we went to the field and met the horses.  I caught Kidd and we brought him into the crossties where he proceeded to fall asleep as she brushed him and as a group, we chatted back and forth about Kidd and unrelated topics.  I had previously explained to M (girl trying him out) that Kidd is cold backed when you first get on, and it was my preference she be the first one to get on him so she knows exactly how he feels.  While typically I won't get on a horse without seeing the owner ride first, I felt in this case it was important as I really didn't want her to get him home and be like "wtf did I buy?!" when she goes to get on.  Much to my surprise and satisfaction, she complied.  While I wouldn't consider her an advanced rider, she is experienced.  She grew up on the back of polo ponies and eventers in England and was looking for a horse she can to learn and improve her Dressage and doesn't have any intentions to show or compete.  Her partner also rides a little, but is much more of a beginner pleasure rider.

Upon driving home from the show, I remembered that I left my girth at the show grounds to lend to a friend who managed to lose hers.  I knew I had an array of girths at home, but most were either too big, or too small and albeit a little worried, I was willing to get creative if I had to.  Luckily I had a pair of girth extensions at home that I could rely on if needed which, as it turned out, I did.

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We tacked Kidd up and first I attempted a leather 54" Girth.  On the very top hole on both sides, it was a little loose but didn't seem terrible.  Given that Kidd is currently rotund, we learned better when M went to mount and the saddle subsequently slipped rapidly under his belly.  Luckily she landed softly back on the mounting block with her free leg and we took the saddle off while I hunted for the 48" with Girth Extensions; all the while Kidd did not move a muscle.  As the worldly travelers ooh'd and aww'd over how well he handled the situation, I switched out the girths and although still a little loose with the extensions, it was significantly better and we held the opposite stirrup to be safe while she mounted with success.

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Once on, she walked him off with ease and seemed very relaxed on him.  My arena is quite 'scary' right now given that there is a white grain bag stuck in a tree that billows in the wind, half my footing is tore up as we are re-doing it, and there is equipment parked all around it as a result.  Kidd walked off with perky enthusiasm, and while I was still praying he wouldn't be an idiot and buck her off or something silly, his apparent joy eased my anxiety.  After she walked him around for a few minutes, "S" gave her a mini-lesson which, part way through I grabbed the poor girl a pair of spurs, and ended very well.  She's a bit rusty and feels very out of shape and Kidd is very much a 'leg and seat' kind of ride, but she seemed excited at the idea of riding regularly and becoming more fit and strong.  While her hands weren't jerky, she did tend to get his head swinging a little, but much to my surprise he was very tolerable.  He showed us what a great teacher he will be for her, as any time her outside leg slipped back and got loose he would act as though he was going to pick up Canter until she stabilized herself again.  I really thought seeing her on him would hurt my heart a little, but seeing how happy he was had me feeling at complete ease. Kidd has always been a tail swisher, and he seemed to be swishing significantly less than usual, and seemed genuinely happy to have her on his back.  

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As her ride wound down, I distanced myself as to not make her feel pressured to say anything, and I busied myself around the barn and caught Sierra for my own mini lesson with S (next post!).  When I turned around, "M"'s partner "C" was in the saddle and I overheard them giggling as Kidd kept trying to walk off with her after she mounted.  She was clearly a little nervous in her position and Kidd was only doing what he thought she wanted by her clamped-on leg, but upon taking a breath she was walking him around at the buckle with ease and Kidd seemed tickled to be giving pony rides.  I took my time getting Sierra ready not only to give them the space to spend with him alone without feeling pressured of my overlooking eye, but also to free my brain of the twinge in my heart as I wanted to be mentally clear for my first lesson in over a year.  

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Before calling it a day, M had one more request - she asked if Ray, my hubby, would ride Kidd so she could see someone taller on him.  While she is about 5'8, Ray is 6'0 and all legs.  As he attempted to mount Kidd from the ground, the saddle slipped once again and he stumbled with a boot caught (I swear, he's a great horseman lol) and once again, Kidd appeared unflappable.  I advised Ray to either use the mounting block or just swing up from the ground (his method of choice), which he opted to do which once again, impressed the onlooking girls.  Ray quickly put Kidd through his paces, and M and C snuck off towards their truck in private conversation.  Ray took Kidd back to the barn, untacked him and brought him back out while I tacked up Sierra and I offered for M to hand graze and brush him so she could spend some time with him on the ground before turning him back out into the pasture.

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They had booked Monday off work, so the original plan was to ride Kidd on Sunday as well, however unfortunately for her, my farm was forcasted to get upwards of 15mm of rain starting later in the morning, so I presented M with two options.  Option 1 was ride him in the morning, but I wouldn't be home so she and her partner would be unsupervised if something were to happen, or they had questions.  Option 2 was to haul Kidd to the show grounds 45 minutes away.  While this event isn't your typical 'show', it is held in conjunction to Tractor Pulls, Car Shows, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Monster Truck Rides, Baseball Tournaments, Bouncy Castles and various Draft Horse events such as pulling, etc.  It is an absolutely insane atmosphere, and I knew it would either confirm or ruin the sale if we brought him.  I told her if she brought him she could ride him around in the warm up ring and she will get a really good idea of how he handles that sort of thing, and most likely, how bad he can be, keeping in mind he's had less than 10 rides on him in a year, and other than his PPE and Farrier Appointment, he hasn't been worked in 3 weeks.

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Naturally, she opted for Option 2 so Ray chucked him in the trailer with his horse as he was competing, and though I was busy in the booth and didn't get to watch, several committee members said Kidd looked great in the warm up ring, and before I knew it, "S" (who was also volunteering to judge the Hack classes that morning) was throwing her into the last Hack class of the day, the Pleasure Hack.  As she walked Kidd into the ring, that was the first glimpse I got of him that day, and naturally he was being a complete idiot and was nervous to walk between a jump with flowery fill (which he has jumped) and the fence, but she allowed him to reach his neck inquisitively and kept her leg on as he stepped backward, then half-ass scooted between them.  For the record, the fence was about 8ft off the rail and he was being a complete noodle over nothing.  Regardless, she put him through his paces as the class called for them and she managed to pin 1st in a class of 8, not only winning a pretty ribbon but also earning a cheque for $95!  I quickly chatted with her after she had untacked and was hand grazing him and she was thrilled, and Kidd seemed so incredibly happy that I knew he would be leaving the following morning.

Can't wait to see the actual pic!  Does he not look like the happiest chubbawubba ever.
Later that night we met for supper and signed the papers, and the following morning I was up at 6 to wrap and load Kidd for them.  I said my goodbyes and though my field doesn't look the same without his spotty bum, I know he found the absolutely best home he could have.  They arrived safe and sound and M sent me several photos of him in his new pen with his new friend, followed by how much she absolutely loves him already, and thanked me for giving her the opportunity to own and learn from him.  While I am sad to say goodbye to my best friend of 8 years, I know it was the right decision and he found an incredible person to call his own.  Be good, Kiddlett <3 

He looks so happy <3 


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