|Posted on September 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM|
Every now and then a person needs to step outside the box and challenge themselves. I have been long over due for that challenge and this year presented itself with the time and opportunity to join my husband Rance Butler in the Mustang Million Challenge. For those who aren’t familiar you have 120 days to gentle and train a BLM mustang before competing on it, its like getting an un halter broke 3 yr old in August and trying to have it ready for the Super Stakes. Rance has faired pretty well in the past at these events and I have always thought about doing it too. This years adoption was held during the BBR Finals so while I was in OKC competing, Rance went searching for our dance partners in Ft Worth. I wanted a big athletic one, hard to find in a mustang but he found her, sent me pictures, and home she came. That big head and disdainful look I received when I first peered into her stall had me wondering if there was either an Andalusian stud or someone’s Dash Ta Fame got loose in Black Rock Range NM. The former proving most plausible since that range has a large amount of Spanish influence. She’s a very rangy 15.2 and growing and her head is one of those that is what you would politically correctly call… distinguished.
My over grown ballerina proved quickly to be both difficult and easy at the same time. Easy, to say she never did anything mean. She never once kicked, bit, bucked, or ran off with me. Difficult in the fact that she was virtually unreadable. She would go through the motions of everything you asked her to do with a blank look on her face like one of those stud horses you see that everyone thinks is so kind but eventually snaps and takes someone’s arm off. This part scared me more than if she had been a combative bronc because it was so hard to tell how far to push her. For the first month the theme song from Jaws played in my head every time I went in that round pen. Long about the end of that month we found out we are embarking on another adventure. Our daughter is due in January. Everyone automatically assumed I would hand Rance the reins and sit down and start eating ding dongs. Obviously I am not a sit down kinda girl and Hostess was still out of business at that time. Rance and I discussed it together and decided he would do the hard work aka the first few rides and if she proved gentle enough I would continue. A week later I was sitting her amazing trot around the round pen laughing with joy.
Over the months this strange looking mare bloomed and turned into probably one of the nicest most willing horses I have ever ridden but still she had her guard up. I am not all into treats and natural horsemanship but I have had only 2 horses that didn’t at least appear to like me in training and truth be told I didn’t like them either so they probably knew it. I sent her videos to a friend of mine who deals with Spanish influence horses and she pointed out that there is a reason you seldom see these types of horses in the colt starting demo’s. It takes longer than 15 min to earn their trust and they really do think they’re better than you. There was 2 weeks in there where morning sickness had me on the couch feeling sorry for myself and Rance rode her. I began to notice anytime I went outside she would stop what she was doing and stare me down. This is the first time since I first laid eyes on her she acknowledged my existence. After I started riding her again we never looked back. She has proved to be the smartest most willing animal I have ever trained. She’s probably broker than anything I have ever started and does all of it happily. How I taught her to do the Spanish Walk is beyond me but she does it and loves every step she takes.
At the actual event we ended up 29th out of 191 just 10 few pts out of the finals. A spook at the ground in horsemanship probably cost us those 10 points but what can you do when they decide they don’t like the smell of a big old steaming pile of poo? The reining satisfied my need for speed, they asked for a run in. A trainer out back jokingly said send her in there like you’re at the BFA. In we went and I was proud to finish in the top 20 in the reining out of 169 actual runs with people like Pete Kyle, Craig Johnson, and Jordan Donnelly. Not bad for a barrel racer as a couple people put it. Not good enough I thought at the time but in the back of my mind I accomplished more goals than I ever dreamed with this mare fighting 6 mo pregnant hormones and a constantly kicking baby during the trail class. I hope and pray my coming 3 yr olds that will start training after our baby girl is born have this much try and heart. If anyone is ever looking for a challenge that goes beyond anything you’ve ever thought possible I highly recommend trying this event just once and if you don’t have time just attending will amaze you.