On October 11, 2018 Darling Husband, Offspring, and I accompanied by five other veteran’s stood in the Bell County Expo Center arena. We were attending the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro adoption event. The Mustang Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Mustang and Veteran’s program had kicked off three days earlier, and today was the day everyone would select a mustang that they would spend the next 6 weeks learning about and gentling. I have other posts here and here if you would like more information about our mustang experiences and/or this one specific journey. The point is on October 11, 2018 Koda and Brent’s journey would begin at the Bell County Expo Center.
On October 11, 2020 we returned to the Bell County Expo Center with Comanche, Koda, and Offspring in tow for a parade prep clinic hosted by my friend who shall be referred to as Ms. Pizazz for the purposes of this and any future blog posts. We had been at the expo for maybe two hours. Offspring was busy plowing arena dirt with his tractors, Comanche was tied to the arena fence eating hay while I supervised Offspring to ensure he didn’t end up underneath any horses during his all consuming farming operations. Koda and Darling Husband had just made the first round of indoor obstacles in-hand, and were headed out to the outdoor arena. At some point in the thirty minutes or so in the outdoor arena, it occurred to Darling Husband he was at the place where it all began on the exact date it began!
Surreal doesn’t begin to describe it. Two years ago, Darling Husband and I were looking at a pen of frightened, completely untouched mustangs that had just unloaded from BLM trucks. I was also falling in love with the burros and thinking that in the very near future I needed one, like the way you need a flat tire or tornado to demolish your house. At the time Koda was estimated to be around 18 months old by BLM employees. Originally we were hoping for something a little older that Darling Husband could ride shortly after the Veterans and Mustang program concluded. He hadn’t really clicked with any of the horses I had brought home up to this point, and his horse choices had been epic failures. Koda’s young age forced both Darling Husband and Koda to move at a slower pace, that in the end has turned out to be beneficial for everyone. It gave her a full year to grow up and brainwash her into believing she has always been domesticated. Darling Husband had time to build up some confidence riding our neighbor’s horse in a ranch sorting event and then my mare Odessa on a night time Christmas light trail ride.
Koda returned to us from Moore Horsemanship about two weeks ago where she spent between 90-120 days being saddle trained. Darling Husband has been gaining his confidence and getting to know Koda in the round pen, but hadn’t ventured into a wide open riding space since bringing her home. We spent a little over 5 hours at the Bell County Expo on Sunday. The indoor arena was an entirely enclosed, the outdoor arena was open at both ends. Ms. Pizazz’s clinics are designed to challenge and more specifically freak a horse out in a controlled environment to prepare both horses/riders for things they may encounter on the trail or parade route. This clinic came complete with a visit by the fire department who ran through the spectrum of their siren and light patterns.
Koda and Darling Husband navigated every obstacle in hand, and then again while he was riding her during the five hours we spent at the expo. While Darling Husband was reminiscing the beginning of his journey with Koda, I was having flash backs of Offspring’s last visit to the expo center restrooms. Offspring and a tractor (imagine that) sunk knee deep into a puddle in the outdoor arena on the day we picked Koda out of the BLM corrals. Not only did I have to fish Offspring, his tractor, and his shoes out of said puddle, I also spent the next thirty minutes stripping him in the restroom and bathing him in the sink while everyone else enjoyed the mustangs and burros…the joys of motherhood.
This weekend was much easier on the parental front. Offspring was content to play in dry arena dirt. While Darling Husband took a break, Comanche and I played around on a few obstacles, and then spent some time working on our dressage movements for our upcoming combined event in November. Afterward, I threw Offspring onto Comanche’s back and took him through and over all of the obstacles. This was a parenting win since Offspring started to show signs of really wanting to ride. Seeing his daddy on a horse was a big motivator since Offspring seems to think I possess questionable judgement on the safety front. His risk tolerance isn’t nearly as high as mine, which is kind of ironic considering my day job.
Koda and Darling Husband are working very well together and her lazy personality is exactly what Darling Husband needs right now in a riding horse, until his confidence matches his abilities again. In two weeks we will be traveling to Belvedere, Tennessee for the Rendezvous, a Bureau of Land Management and Mustang Heritage Foundation sponsored event for mustangs and veterans. It’s been a rush to get Koda and Darling Husband to the point that they could attend and enjoy the event together. I know Darling Husband was dreading the thought of using Odessa for a trail horse! This weekend was a giant leap forward for Darling Husband more than Koda, who came back from Moore Horsemanship more than prepared for the job ahead of her. This weekend helped put her and Darling Husband on the same page!