When I first applied for Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM), I had no idea what I would be getting myself into. As I awaited the decision to be trainer, I got more and more excited. Upon acceptance, I was overjoyed. The training, hard work, and time I would have to put in, weren’t a problem, but a story.
Already a month has flown by and I just want to share the progress I have made with Paisley. Granted, I am no professional horse trainer, just a girl who has been riding and working with horses for about eight years.
I used to ride and show with Nicole Barbye who is also doing the EMM. I asked her about her experience and the good times or difficulties she has faced so far as a trainer. She responded with, “Not to sound too cheesy, but it’s been a wild ride so far. I’ve learned more about myself and horses in 30 days with Z than I have in a whole lifetime of riding. She’s taught me to forgive not just her, but myself for small mistakes. And I can’t get wrapped up in small failures because the next day might bring a HUGE success.”
I have created a timeline with pictures of most of the things we have worked on day by day. If you click on each photo in the timeline, it will also give you a sentence or two description. As a little “sneak peek:”
Day 1 was April 6, 2013 when my dad and I drove in a truck with a trailer down to Lorton, Virginia to pick up my mustang. I had no idea what number, color, or temperament horse I would be taking home. It took us about three hours to get there. After signing some papers the lady doing the office work told me “You have a chestnut. She is about five years old.” Her number was 9919 so I anxiously went to the holding pens to find her.
Day 2 I spent all day with Paisley, mostly trying to come up with a name, but also allowing her get familiar with me. I even got to touch her.
On Day 3 I could touch Paisley all over, so next we introduced the brush. We working on standing while being pet and brushed all over. Next, we worked on leading.
Day 4 was a little more in depth. Of course, I started with approaching and brushing Paisley. We practiced some leading and then I brought out the saddle pad and saddle. At first, she didn’t like either one. She snorted and backed away from them. After talking to her and giving her time, I could finally walk up to her with the item in my hand. So the next thing i did was kind of brush the object on her body to let her know it is okay.
By Day 5 I was amazed by the progress we had made so I decided I would climb onto Paisley’s back. She’s a little too tall to just “hop on” so I brought her close to the fence, climbed up the rails, and slid on. I only sat there for a minute or two, before something crazy happened. Of course, she was fine with me sitting there so I climbed down.
On Day 6 I worked on saddling and unsaddling with Paisley. After all, you can never practice too much. Day 7 was pouring rain so we didn’t get to do a whole lot, but we worked on picking up feet… in the mud.
I’ve learned the most important thing about horse training is repetition. It’s funny how one day Paisley would do something fine and then two days later act like she didn’t have a clue what I was trying to do. Nicky Franchette, another trainer competing in the EMM this year from New York, agreed by saying “Don’t think that what worked for you before will definitely work today- Try something different.” And that is just all part of the fun! Another important aspect is confidence. Horses can sense the way humans are feeling, so if I were really scared and nervous about working with Paisley, she would take advantage of that and we probably would not have accomplished what we have.
For more information, check out the timeline I’ve put together for “events” that happened over the past month.