By Mary Kadar
Back in January 2017, I was looking for a horse to hack around on and have fun with. My instructor, Jill Allard, mentioned she knew of an Arabian that the owner had lost interest in. The horse had been sitting around for about a year, and she was unsuccessful in selling him and was giving him away. My first thought was that Jill had lost her mind. She knows I’m a timid rider. So how could an Arabian, a breed known for their high spirit and alertness, let alone one that had not been ridden in over a year, be the horse for me?
I took to the internet and tracked down the owner’s social media page. A few years ago, Royal Payne had successfully competed in an opportunity class and was advertised for $3,000. From there, the price started dropping until he was free to good home. My first impression was, what is wrong with this horse? Yet Jill had seen him, and if Jill was recommending him, I figured it was worth a look.
I went to see him and found a cute boy about 150 pounds underweight, but with a bright, kind eye and a serious peppermint addiction. The owner saddled him up and rode first. Payne seemed calm but couldn’t make the transition to canter. When it was my turn, I found a sweet, willing horse but we also couldn’t get the canter. Having seen it on video, I knew it was there somewhere… right?
Although Payne was a little twitchy on the ground, he was quiet under saddle. All I needed was a quiet horse to hack, so Payne had found a new home. Once home, his personality blossomed as he gained trust in us and his surroundings. I could take him out on a blustery day and hack just fine. However, he continued to have this twitchy problem- I just couldn’t take the reins over his head without him panicking.
A few weeks later, I took him over to Jill’s for a lesson and found out he knew a lot of great stuff, but he wasn’t strong enough to canter. Still, we had a fun lesson. By March, we had an awesome walk/trot repertoire going, so I thought let’s go do a little walk/trot test at a schooling show down the road.
At the show grounds, Payne appeared calm and relaxed – until when he broke free from the trailer and began exploring the show grounds at a full gallop! Eventually we caught him, saddled up, and had a fun test in spite of my nerves. I had visions of more fun shows but unfortunately, they would all be walk/trot because we still couldn’t get the canter. He would canter in front, but trot in back. Luckily Jill, being the wonderful instructor that she is, didn’t give up on us. Eventually we got the canter- and what a wonderful little canter it was!
Payne’s personality has continued to grow. He is a smart, willing horse with a mischievous sense of humor. When he sees me, Payne lets out a loud, trumpeting neigh and races me to the barn. He is my perfect partner.
With 2018 on the horizon, I thought why not take this team on the road. With Jill’s coaching and my husband’s cheering, it would be fun, and I wasn’t disappointed! I had tried showing back in the late 1980s and enjoyed it, but problems with vertigo put an end to it. My first class, I stayed on the horse and in the ring- mission accomplished! As the year went on we had more and more fun, even managing to qualify for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships. Look out Conyers, here we come! The peppermints are packed!