The Heart of A Rescue: Part 4

Christina Mitchell, Business Manager •

One week after the show where I lost control of Ruben because of his terror at a whip I nearly gave up on him altogether. Exactly one week after that show I brought a pony home.

This pony was also a rescue. He had been turned out in a field and left until his owner decided to get rid of him. He had scars all over him- whip marks. His sides were incredibly sensitive, a sure sign that he had been spurred very frequently.

The worst part of it was his training, he showed all the signs of a pony who had been “cowboy broke”. This is when a saddle is thrown onto a horse, usually around two years old, and somebody gets on, kicking them until they stop bucking. I personally don’t consider this actual training.

My work began the day after I brought him home. I started by deciding to call him “Koko,” short for Kokomo Bay, the name I would come to register him under. Koko was like nothing I had ever handled before, he had to be completely re-trained from ground manners to under saddle. At 11 years old, I was cocky enough to think I could tackle it.

I wasn’t entirely wrong about that, but I wasn’t right either. With the help of my mother who had about as much training experience as me his ground manners improved until he was nicely mannered. However, under saddle training was completely my responsibility.

I worked Koko under saddle every chance I got. First I just tried to get him responsive to the lightweight bit I used on him. I also started riding him english, which is completely different from the western cowboy style he was used to. It was a rough start, but next year Koko was the one going to show.

By this point I was gravitating back toward Ruben, I worked him more and Koko less. On the ground I was usually handling him instead of Koko. I once again let myself admit how much he really meant to me. Ruben and I had our ups and downs but he was my best friend, the one I could always lean on. I was beginning to see that Koko and I had more disagreements than productive moments but that did not quell my desire to keep training him. As wonderful as Ruben had always been for me, it is to Koko that I credit my continuing passion to rescue and train more horses.

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