November 23, 2014
A little while back I talked about a young mare that I hauled to her first show under saddle and how she turned out to be the best horse that day even though she was the greenest. Well, it turns out that little mare has quite a story behind her.
“Mo” is a special project that my stepdaughter, Katie, and I took on when Mo was just a yearling. One of the things that Katie and I have in common is a love of animals. I never had children and I grew to love Katie like a daughter. It was that common passion that allowed me to bond with Katie during the difficult years of her growing up. I would learn later that love of animals would play a crucial role in all of our lives.
Katie was in the army so Mo stayed at my house for training and care. My goal as a trainer was to make sure that Mo was well broke so that Katie could enjoy her and eventually barrel race her when she came in on visits.
This is a picture of Mo when she came into our lives as a shaggy scrawny yearling.
You couldn’t even get close to Mo when we first got her but it didn’t take long at all for her to learn that petting was a good thing. By the end of the day, she was following us around like a puppy dog.
For the first year at our place, I let her grow up and just be a horse. I worked on small things like ground manners, ponying, and learning to lunge.
The fall of her second year I finally got on her for the first time and rode her. Although she was full of mare attitude and needed to be handled a certain way, she wasn’t too hard to break as I knew my boundaries.
I gave her the winter off and that following spring we hauled her to her first barrel race to just hang out all day. Katie just happened to be in on leave so she went with us. I hopped on Mo to test the waters, and although she rode great she was a bit forward being in a new place.
Katie got on Mo in the pen and rode for just a few moments. Riding a young horse can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re not used to it. Although Mo did everything she was asked, Katie could feel the nervousness in the mare and made the wise decision to step down. Unfortunately, that would be the only ride Katie took on Mo.
The following year, Katie was in an accident that resulted in a traumatic anoxic brain injury. The initial MRI showed between 50-60% damage in all areas of the brain. She was in a coma and on life support for several weeks.
We’re now eight months in and although her doctors classify her as slow to recover due to progress and inconsistent responses, considering where she was and that we almost lost her, she has come a long ways. Although the improvements have been small, they are still improvements and that is what we focus on.
Once again, Katie’s love of horses got to play an important role in her life. A few weeks ago, Katie was able to visit a local Equine Therapy facility in Tampa for a therapy session to see how she would react. The pictures are pretty clear as to the impact that they had.
We have a very long road ahead but it’s a road going forward. Mo will continue to play a role in all our lives as Katie progresses. While the plan has always been for Mo to be a good barrel horse, she now has bigger plans to also be a therapy horse. I think she’s got a good start in that direction. One of these days, I’ll be sharing pictures of Katie’s second ride on Mo.