Christie + Levon
I picked up a wild 6 year old Mustang in May 2016 with the goal to train and prepare him for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a training competition that ultimately prepares Mustangs for adoptive homes in private care. Trainers apply for the competition knowing the end goal is to adopt the Mustang out to another home. This gives everyday horse owners the chance to own a Mustang with 120+ days of gentling and saddle training – making it significantly safer and easier to adopt one of these amazing horses. All hot summer I worked with Levon to first let me approach him, halter and do ground work; then eventually saddle, ride, and show him. I spent time attending clinics, taking lessons, attending local shows, trail riding and doing everything I could to add to Levon’s skill “toolbox” and best prepare him for home as a domesticated horse – all things that were brand new to him.
Levon proved to be incredibly trainable, always bringing a willing attitude and curiosity to the table. He bonded closely with my other gelding and responded well to pretty much everything I threw at him. When it came time for the Makeover, after 4 months of training daily, I knew I wanted to bid on this horse and try to bring him home. I had competed in the Makeovers the 2 previous years and knew the joy of seeing my project Mustangs go home with new families who love and cherish them. This time it was different. Levon had a talent and spirit that I wanted to keep around. During the Makeover I focused 100% on the show, and we ended up taking first, second and first out of the three preliminary classes against an incredible group of talented horses and trainers. We made it to the finals and performed our summer Olympics-themed freestyle at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, one of the most iconic venues in horse showing.
In front of thousands with blaring music and a 10 foot wide live video screen above us, Levon performed perfectly and I could not have been happier with our go. We ended up 7th place overall and then it was time for the competing horses to go through the adoption-auction. The hard part was over but I was more nervous than ever as my bidder in the stands bid against others in the crowd and his adoption fee crept higher bid by bid. Some part of me felt certain Levon would come home with me, but I knew Levon’s training and talent now worked against me as he had become a crowd favorite and many people also wanted to take him home! Finally the auctioneer announced “Sold” and it was over. A non-profit called Mustangs Forever whose mission is” to save and preserve these magnificent animals and help people by bringing the two together” had won the bid and given Levon back to me.
The feeling of relief and euphoria at that moment is hard to describe. I am so proud of our accomplishments and taking that journey together gives Levon and I a bond unlike any other. There is a saying: “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed” that hits home for me. I am proud of the skills I was able to teach Levon and the knowledge that wherever he may end up in life, I gave him a foundation of training and trust that enables all people to safely handle, ride and most of all enjoy him. That will serve him well throughout his life. Since the Makeover, I have continued to advance Levon’s training and we now have our sights set on competing in stock horse events to thoroughly test his versatility, athleticism and willingness. Levon was there when my husband proposed and was also part of our wedding.
What #RightHorse means to me
The Right Horse for someone is first off, a horse they feel safe and comfortable around whether their goals are to ride, drive, compete, trick train, or simply enjoy hanging out with. For me the #RightHorse is a partner to teach and to learn from, to set and work towards goals with, to care for and enjoy. At this stage in my life, that is a horse that is talented enough for me to compete and show, but also quiet and relaxed enough to trust with beginner-rider family and friends. The Right Horse is one I look forward to seeing every day.