Rachel + Willow

by | May 2021 | Story

Breed Thoroughbred

Age 6

Sex Mare

Color Bay

Height 16.2hh

Many years ago, we lost my daughter’s first horse, a beloved old gray mare. We were so heartbroken that we decided to get a young horse to prevent that from happening again too soon. We found an unhandled, spirited red filly who lived in her herd in a pasture in Montana. Before we started training her, I read Monty Roberts’s book, “From My Hands to Yours.” We worked with our filly, Ruby, using Monty’s nonviolent principles. Over the years, whenever we had questions or issues, we asked ourselves, “What would Monty do?” and opened his book and, later, watched his videos. Ruby became such a wonderful, empathetic mare–so trustworthy we could put anyone on her bareback, in a halter, and send them off down the trail.

Well, less than a year ago, we lost the best horse ever. We still can’t really talk about her without tearing up a little. After she was gone, I hadn’t decided whether or not to get another horse. My girls were grown, moved out, and starting their own families. My granddaughter wouldn’t be ready to ride a horse for a few years. Did I really need a horse? Maybe not.

But then I saw Monty Roberts’s new adoption program. He and his trainers select carefully chosen horses from horse rescues and give the horses some basic training. Then they adopt out the newly trained rescues. When I saw a thoroughbred mare with such a kind eye listed online on Monty’s adoption page–with the prediction that she would make an excellent kid’s horse–I was intrigued. She was five but had never been started. That meant her only training was with Monty Roberts’s methods–a huge plus for me! I figured that by the time my granddaughter was ready to ride, this horse would be ready for her. I sent in a deposit on the mare.

Then I started having second thoughts. I have adopted dogs before–but a horse? That’s a big commitment! I was a bit nervous as I drove to California, hauling my horse trailer. What in the world was I getting into?! Maybe I should leave the rescue horses for younger riders. And a thoroughbred?! I didn’t need a tall or fast horse. I had my doubts about adopting the mare.

But when I met Willow and rode her, I knew we would get along just fine. Monty’s staff had done a wonderful job with this big baby. The day I picked her up, I walked over to the horse trailer, and she hopped right in for the drive back to Arizona.

I am fortunate to have plenty of time to work with Willow and I have no timetable, no sense of urgency with her training. My goal is simply to have a willing partner of a horse to take on trail rides. I am continuing to train her using Monty’s nonviolent principles and Willow is showing herself to be a curious, willing, and laid-back mare–just as they had said! She has only been under saddle for around seven months but already we have been out on the trail, in and out of the trailer, through moving water, under and around obstacles, next to moving tractors, trotting on a loose rein out in the desert and in many, many circles in the round pen and arena. She is definitely on her way to being a trustworthy trail partner.

So many horses are in need of adoption! Willow was seized, along with 47 others, from a breeder who had 150 thoroughbreds at his facility. The Right Horse Initiative is a fantastic way of matching horses in need of a home with the perfect person. I sincerely hope that those of us who have the financial and physical means to adopt a horse use this program to find the perfect match.

What #RightHorse means to me

There truly is a right horse for everyone!

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