“Kim, you need one like this” Kip ~ Part 1
by Kim Santamaria
How many times have you made a plan and before you know it, it has all changed? After my horse Luke passed on in November, I told people he would send me the next horse that I was supposed to be partnered with. I planned that come Spring I would start to look around to see who might show up for me. Ha, so much for my plans.
One day on my Facebook page an ad showed up from my friend Judy. Judy was the first person that ever let me jump a horse over a fence when I was 15 years old. I am 57 now, so we have shared many years of friendship and horses. Her comment under the ad was “Kim, you need one like this.” This was an OTTB named Kip; he was 16, had dressage experience, was trail safe, was a good guy and needed a home. When I saw the ad I wondered is this the guy Luke was sending for me? I sent off a note to the person that was listed with some questions about this horse named Kip. Judy kept asking me if I heard anything back and I kept replying “nope, no response.” She pushed me to keep trying and even sent notes to the person as well. I did go on to the person’s page on Facebook and posted another note. Finally a note came back saying to contact another person that actually had him in her care at this time. This person however, did give me a bit of information about Kip. He had been placed with her when his owner could no longer keep him due to life changes. She in turn had placed him with this other person to be a lesson horse, but it was not working out. It seemed he could not tolerate numerous riders and would be best in a one rider home that had some dressage experience. I sent a note to the other person and a few days later heard back. I asked about seeing him and was offered to come that day, but I was three and half hours from them so that would not work. I was told someone else was coming to see him that day at 11:00 and if they did not take him she would let me know and I could come down the next day. You can imagine my day of waiting. Judy called a few times asking if I had heard anything. She so wanted me to have another horse. At 6:30 that night I sent a message out asking if he had been placed, and at 8 pm I received a note back saying she was not sure. They liked him, but were not totally sure they wanted to take him; I then sent another note asking what she wanted to do. About an hour later I received a message saying to come in the morning as the others said if I did not take him they would. My mind was wondering why they could not make a decision about him.
I went down to see him the next day. I was taken by the kind eye, but saddened by the shape he was in. He was thin, had rain rot in his coat and though his eye was kind it was frightened. I was told he had come to them about two months ago and was to be hunter beginner lesson horse. When he started backing up, going sideways and shaking his head they knew he was not going to work out as he was overwhelmed with all the different riders. He had spent the last few lessons standing in the middle of the arena due to his head shaking and backing up. He was ridden first by the student there-- he did not want to stand at the block and attempted to go backwards a few times as well as the head shaking while she rode. They assured me his episodes were less than they had been. I then got on and started out. I felt his back come up under me immediately and knew he had knowledge in there. He thought once about going backwards, but I caught the movement and encouraged him forward. His head was another story; he would shake it so hard his lips would be smack together from the force. I pushed my hands forward and patted his neck telling him he was okay as we trotted on. The young woman that had ridden him seemed amazed that I could pat him and encourage him to go forward when his head was flying in all directions. When I took a deep breath he halted square under me. Once again I knew this horse had knowledge within him. When I got off he touched me with his nose and I looked at his eye knowing in there was a horse that was not being understood and was frightened. Crazy as it sounds, I told them I would take him. I made plans to come later in the week to pick him up. When I went to get him there was an older man that came by the trailer, after Kip got on and said, “Oh that one, he’s crazy.” “You know what they say about the red colored horses.” I smiled and said have a good day, but my stomach did drop a bit. What else did I not know about this horse? He trailered like a top and walked off quietly when we finished up our four hour trip to Western New York.
Now our routine started. I made arrangements to get his teeth done right away to make sure that was not the reason for the head shaking. I spent time most of the time brushing and just letting him know he was okay and that I was his person now. The blacksmith worked on his feet, he had a chiropractic adjustment and then the dentist saw him. What I thought would be a normal floating since he did have points that needed addressing turned into the first stop point in his new life. The dental vet was concerned he may have EOTRH, Equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis. I had never heard of this syndrome and as she explained it my heart dropped. She set up for another Vet to come and that day X-rays would be done and then she would float his teeth. I was on the computer that night searching about EOTRH. The day came X-rays were done and from that first report his roots looked good and we thought we were in the clear. About a week later I received a call saying there was a tiny lesion on one root and the pictures were going off to Cornell for further evaluation. I have not heard any further on that at this time.
I started Kip into light work to find that when I attempted to lunge him right he would go backwards and sideways, and he still would shake his head but not quite as bad as he had. I changed the bit from the single joint snaffle he came with to a double jointed snaffle to find less head shaking. He did better on the long lines with going right if they came around his hind end to support him, if they were used over his back he would do the backwards and sideways piece. Little by little he was going to the right without having a meltdown and was starting to stand still at the mounting block. He was easy to handle when being lead and loved being brushed and enjoyed carrots.
I had been given his coggins papers and sent a note to his previous owner. I knew her life had changed and she had not been able to keep him, but I had been told she had him for 8 years. I thought maybe she would share his history with me so I could help him more. I was thrilled when she reached out and came up to see him. She showed me what her routine had been with him. I was so happy to have her come and share her knowledge of him with me. At one time in my life I also had life changing events and had to home one of my horses. I also wanted him to have the best he could have. She had taught Kip to free work and showed me her system for that, she then lunged him and then rode him. She shared some of his secrets and actions and how to remedy them. I was full of gratitude to her for taking the time to come and share her knowledge about him with me. I am following that routine and he is regaining his sense of self and balance of mind.
Not all horses are able to tolerate being lesson horses. Kip was one of those; he became overwhelmed with numerous riders and the lack of balance by beginner riders. Sadly, he set up defense mechanisms and by his actions let people know he was not cut out for that job. I am glad it was heard and he was pulled from that life. He now starts a new life and will learn to trust and go forward again. I feel blessed to have him in my life and know he is going to teach me to be an even better horsewoman. Did Luke send him? I think so. A friend that is an animal communicator called me prior to my picking up Kip, in fact she did not even know I had looked at him or was going to pick up him up. She said Luke had contacted her and told her it was time for me to stop mourning him and that he had found a horse that needed a home and a lot of care from me. I had to laugh as I said to her: “Yes, I am on my way to pick him up now.”