Finding Mr Right, Part II

Verity Smith, Equus sponsored para dressage rider, shares a tender moment with her horse Kit

Armed with Mum, her gold note book and ridiculously impractical shoes, Uffa, and expert friends, our search took us to France, UK  and Sweden and a variety of yards, some of which had roaming emus and llamas and others that had marble toilets and under floor heated tack rooms!

I had the great idea that I would ride each horse I tried through a medium test so that I could get a clear comparison of the horse’s ability… Disastrously stupid idea.  Not being able to see, and not knowing the gaits of each new horse, riding any kind of test would have been very tough.  It hadn’t occured to me that I wouldn’t be able to navigate the arena due to the fact that each horse covers different ground  when moving and they all have different strides in each pace, individual to the horse.  I was so disheartened after trying the first horse as I tried to do too much and did it badly.  I realised very quickly that not being able to see and not knowing the horse and its paces I naturally tense and stop the horse up a bit as I am unsure of  where we are in the arena, which is not only difficult for me, but confusing for the horse.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that we were riding in an outdoor arena in a gale which not only sent my mount a little stir crazy but also left me totally disorientated as the wind moves sounds, so I end up being audibly dizzy. Thankfully in a way, but unfortunate for Uffa, this particular horse actually nipped the little fellow, much to Uffa’s dismay, which crossed that horse off the list of potentials as there was no way I could entertain having a guide dog munching mount.  Although feeling a little glum after that first day, it did teach me a great deal and the most important part of that was ‘Keep It Simple’.  From then on in I quietly sat up and worked on a 20 metre circle and on just a getting a feel for the horse and its movements.

I tried about 30 horses, all of whom were lovely but none of them quite right, it was only when I met Szekit in Sweden, that I knew I had found my Mr Right.  When I sat up on him he just felt right, he fitted like a comfortable shoe.  Mum’s comment was 'couldn’t I have fallen for something a little smaller?’  I knew straight away that he was the one but tried him a further 4 times to really get a sense of how we got along.  Not only did he have the talent to be the best but he also had the character to be a best friend.  For me it’s very important to do everything with my horse myself, bringing him in and out from the field, tacking up etc, those little things that build the trust required for me to ride him well and with confidence and for him to understand that I can’t see and sometimes need him to take that into consideration.  I felt I was able to do all these things with Kit and on day 2 was already bringing him in from the field with Uffa guiding us.  I knew for sure when I turned on the sprinkler system, by accident, instead of the lights in the indoor arena that he really was the guy for me.  Yes, he jumped in the air and danced about like an electric wire but he did everything in his power not to jump on me or to pull and as I calmly tried to flick the switches he soon settled to a soggy standstill.  Most importantly, not only did Kit have me at hello, he also had Uffa’s heart with a snuffle of his nose.  So our team was complete, the Three Musketeers - myself, Sandy and Kit - with Uffa as ‘Dogtanian'.        


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