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It's Always Hard To Say Goodbye To a Good One

I just sold a horse last week to a young lady that has had her eye on this mare for quite some time. It’s always tough to sell a horse that has been your go-to partner for a few years. It's like losing a good friend. Oh well, you can’t keep them all, as the saying goes, and you can only ride so many!

If you have young ones coming up, you have to move the older ones to make room in the barn for the up-and-comers in your string. Now don't get me wrong, they aren't all for sale; we have some old horses that have been great to us and have earned their retirement of comfort and leisure here at The Key Ranch.

Keith & Rey riding in the mountains of Banff Alberta

They will live out their days here as I feel they don't owe me anything, and they deserve a good life of leisure after they are too old to be still used. The patriarch of this retirement community is Mickers, a 34 Y/O cutting horse that my daughter Shelby learned to cut on, as did countless other people in the past. Mickers is a bit of a living legend in the Alberta cutting community. Now he spends his day doing whatever he pleases, as he is not kept in a pasture or pen. He comes and goes as he sees fit. We will be saddling up horses in the barm, and Mickers will wander in to get a scoop of feed and see what's going on. Later he might stroll over to an open sack of alfalfa cubes and nibble on them for a while before wandering off to check on what the barn cats, the yard pig, or the pasture mules are up to.

Mickers winter of 2021

Mickers pretty much gets fed anytime he wanders into the barn because the old timer has very little for teeth as his have been worn down almost to the gums. This makes it very difficult for him to grind up grass and hay fine enough for him to swallow it. What he will do is chew on either hay or grass like a plug of tobacco and then spit it out as it's still too big for him to swallow. We laugh when we see Mickers “grass dips” lying around the barnyard.

Fortunately, the processed feed and hay cubes sustain him quite well, and he’s fat and slick for a 34 Y/O’d horse! Mickers has the energy of a much younger horse.

So no, they are not all for sale, but most of the younger ones are, and we are very particular that they go to the right people. When I say right people, I mean someone that will get along with the horse's personality. Horses are like people, and they all have their own unique personalities and might not be compatible with the person interested in them. In knowing this, we like to expose our horses to a wide variety of situations and people so they will be comfortable out in the world in different circumstances and with different, riders, some of which may be much greener than those riding with me.

Keith & Rey giving lessons

The gal that just bought the little mare that I mentioned was an easy fit! Justice has ridden all her life and has a lot to offer any horse. She has ridden Rey many times at my place, so when she expressed an interest in the mare, I knew that these two gals were a match made in horse and rider heaven.

The more experienced a rider, the more they are able to help a horse out, whenever they might become agitated or bothered. Doing your best to find the right person for the right horse is important if you want to be long-term in the horse training industry.

In the case of Rey & Justice, I know it will work out well! As hard as it is to see one of your favourite companions loaded into a horse trailer and head down the driveway, I know that they will teach each other lots and have lots of success together. I wish pairing a horse to a rider was always that easy!

Happy trails.

Thanks for being such a partner Rey!

- Keith J Stewart

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