Alysha Kadar braced for impact.
Cantering into the path of a spooking chestnut, Kadar expected to become pinned between the nervous animal and the wall of the show ring as she and her Thoroughbred Caliburn neared the commotion.
But as the jumpy animal’s powerful hind end came closer, and before Kadar could take evasive action, her Thoroughbred, a castoff horse purchased from the OLEX auction the year before, proved that in tight spots, he had control.
“Just as we were riding up beside (the spooking horse), and his bum came right toward us, Caliburn collected right up, changed his gate, and got us out of the way,” she says. “We just cantered off.”
Barn name: Mateo
Show name: My First Car
Dam: Smart Amy
Foal date: June 23, 2004And at the conclusion of the Royal Winter Fair horse show in Toronto this past November, they made off like bandits! The pair took 9th in the Hunter Under Saddle division and 3rd in Dressage, a tremendous feat for a horse she paid less than $1,000 for the year before. But more impressive than the score at his most significant show, it was his attitude the bowled her over.
“When we first got there, I was scared,” she admits. “We hadn’t ridden in the ring with that many horses for a while, and we’ve only been together for a year. But he has this amazing ability to size up the other horses, and it was like he could predict which horses would spook, and get out of their way.”
She theorizes that because her gentle gelding is always “low man on the totem pole” in the herd, that he has a heightened survivor’s instinct.
He had already survived so much.
The year before, Caliburn was run through the OLEX auction, where horsemen, rescues, and kill buyers, each for their own purpose, bid on horses like Caliburn. Jennifer Cutting of Justice Love ‘n Care Animal Rescue had the winning bid, and got him out of there.
And while Kadar, 18, had owned Thoroughbreds before, she had never purchased a horse from an auction. But when her friend Cutting showed her Caliburn’s picture, she “had a good feeling” and decided to go for it.
“I was a little nervous after I purchased him. I can handle crazy horses, but I didn’t want to end up with a horse beyond repair,” she says. “So when he came off the trailer, I was surprised. He was such a kind and gentle horse. He was quiet, in good health and had great feet.”
But he wasn’t perfect, not yet. He had an unusual twisting action in his hindquarters, which caused him to move in a crooked line. But X rays were clean, and with steady, consistent strengthening exercise and schooling, the twist diminished and eventually disappeared. “I got him in January last year, and by the time summer came around, my vet came out to take another look at him and I remember her saying, ‘He’s sound! I’m glad you kept him because he’s so sweet.’ ”
Indeed, at the Royal Winter Fair, he proved to have one of the best dispositions, shrugging off the antics of other horses to demonstrate his strong, collected trot and his constantly improving canter.
Though the canter still needs work in its collection and extension, he carries himself in good balance, and his honest personality makes him a great partner, even when the work gets tricky.
“I believe that his temperament and racing background kept us out of trouble that day in the show ring,” Kadar says. “He was able to read the other horses while I was a bundle of nerves!
“I never dreamed of placing at the Royal. My goal was simply to be in the top ten for the Dressage Suitability Class. Instead, we got two call backs and were ninth in the Hunter Suitability and third in the Dressage Suitability classes.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better horse.”