The Montgomery County 4-H Horse Whisperer
Posted: July 8, 2011
I, Caroline Lynch, am a wild horse trainer.
I went into the Extreme Mustang Makeover as a rookie this year. I came into the makeover extremely excited, but I quickly became overwhelmed. I found out many youth trainers had other experienced trainers helping them, or at least giving them advice. I however, went to the mustang pickup with no trainer connections; I was from the show jumping world. This had me worried, but in the end I was satisfied. I can proudly say everything my mustang knows is completely from my training knowledge, good or bad.
The first day of working with Bullseye was a long day. We had just arrived home after a twenty five hour drive up from Mississippi - straight through. The day was mostly amazing, minus a few errors in the morning. I had tried a little natural horsemanship with him, but no response. I don't really blame him for it; all I knew about natural horsemanship was from the Heartland book series!
After the morning trials, I went out in the afternoon with a new determination after looking at other trainers' blogs. I knew could do this! I managed to get close enough to snap a lead rope on his halter, but once he saw what happened, he bolted. I held on as if my life depended on it. After half an hour, a tired horse and a very tired girl made a connection. By the end of the day I was not only able to lead him around, but also able to let him just follow me, pick up his hoof, and even fly spray! I had never been so proud of myself, or even a horse for that matter. Now he and I were (and still are) a team.
Now, like I mentioned, I didn't know much about training young horses. At the time I had a two year old who now gives me ten times more trouble than Bullseye. It really is amazing how a mustang can behave better than a horse who has had handling since birth. Maybe it's because I taught Bullseye to respect me from the beginning, whereas a foal is generally allowed to do a lot of "no-nos" because it's "cute".
With a mustang however, there is no room for you to be unclear about what the horse is allowed to do. It is however, quite easy to train them once you earn their actual respect. After the first day of working with Bullseye, I did earn enough respect for him to obey me, but it stopped there. The day I truly felt I could do anything with him was quite the cliché day.
It was raining and humid and I decided to break out the natural horsemanship again. From Heartland, I learned about the join up and I attempted it. It was a huge success. The joy I felt when I turned my back on him and heard his footsteps, then felt his cheek against my shoulder was indescribable. From that point on we could do anything. The first time I hopped on him, only 60 days after I picked him up in Mississippi, he didn't even buck once. I sat under him, pulled on his tail, laid on top of him, crawled through his legs, and he took it in like an old quarter horse.
The Extreme Mustang Makeover puts a time limit on the amount of time you have to train your mustang, then you take your horse back for a competition. The youth division had 25 allowed occupants, of which 22 were actually able to compete. I went back with hopes of doing anything but last place. Not because I wasn't confident in my horse, but because everyone else had trainers behind them. In fact the first, second and fourth place mustangs all came from the same farm, a stable that specialized in breaking horses. Two competitions would decide the top ten, who would move onto the freestyle. I did well in the obstacle course, Bullseye made me proud. Showmanship went okay but I was disappointed. I did however find out I would advance to the freestyle, in which I placed seventh!
I did decide to pay a price to keep Bullseye, rather than put him through the auction. Now every day I hear him whinny from his paddock when he sees me! We make a great team.