by Jesse Bussard
The relationship between a horse and rider is one of complexity. Some people search for years for the right horse. And every once in a while we get lucky and one comes along that changes our lives. One in which we form a bond so strong, it’s as if the horse can read our minds. I have been fortunate to have such a horse in my life.
At about the age of 15 I was in the market for a barrel horse. I was introduced to a black and white Paint gelding named Kid. He had stood stud for a friend until the age of eight and due to a nasty temperament the owner decided it was best to geld and sell him.
Kid was cocky, ornery, and didn’t want much to do with me at first. To be honest, I didn’t want much to do with him either. But from the convincing of my mother, I gave him a chance and so began our tumultuous relationship.
Due to standing at stud for nearly eight years, Kid wasn’t accustomed to being told what to do. He had minimal training, green broke at best. I had my work cut out for me with this horse and he made sure of that most every chance he got.
It was a lot of trial and error and long hours in the saddle. I don’t remember that exact moment when it all clicked but I can remember what it felt like. It was a feeling of oneness, of security, and having no fear. If you have had one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Riding Kid I felt invincible and I feared nothing. If I fell off I got right back on. We were a team and whatever I asked him to do he gave me his all. We went on to win many timed events, to work cattle, and even tried our hand at a competitive trail ride once. Through it all he never stopped giving and trying.
Sadly, Kid’s career was short-lived as he sustained a back injury that caused hind end lameness issues. The vet prescribed one to two years of rest. I was devastated. We were doing so well. To have it all taken away so suddenly was hard.
I was able to ride him again over time, after the injury. However, he never competed again. Since then arthritis has set in and Kid is enjoying retired life, spending the rest of his days on my family’s farm in Pennsylvania.
Do I regret any of it? No. He taught me so much, made me a better rider, and along the way a better person. While I wish his riding years had been a little longer, I will always cherish the time I spent with that ornery old horse. You never forget a great horse. I’ll certainly always remember Kid.
Horses have the ability to teach us about ourselves. They improve our lives in a way no other thing or animal can. It’s my hope everyone can experience a truly great horse at least once in their lives.
This article was originally featured as my September View from the Range column for Tack ‘n Togs.