Thursday, August 11, 2016

TBT: Mighty Mouse

I was talking about a horse I leased in high school a couple weeks back to some fellow boarders and then spent the rest of the night missing my Mighty Mouse. So I thought I'd do a little tbt and talk about him here. 

Mighty was an teenaged appendix gelding my trainer had bought slightly out of pity a few years before I leased him. He had definitely been abused, and the people who had were not nice to him. He was very defensive, but jumped whatever was in front of him and would pack anyone around over fences. My trainer saw something in him, and couldn't leave him where he was even though he wasn't  fit to be a lesson horse. When she first brought him home he would jig in the cross ties, tried to bite and kick during grooming, spooked at anything and everything during flat work (he was one of those that teleports ten feet sideways in .002sec), was super lazy, and generally a class A pain in the ass. A few of us questioned our trainer's sanity. 
Showing off his chompers

Soon after she got him, Mighty has some major neurological problems. The EPM test was inconclusive, but that's what he was treated for. He was out of the lesson string for over a year; my trainer and the assistant trainer did a lot of lunging in a Pessoa rig, trail rides, and flat work to bring him back. He did come back, with much better ground manners and more strength and fitness. He was still prone to biting (he has super thin TB skin and coat and grooming hurt) and spooking (he got bored and liked to dump people). 

I had been leasing another horse but stopped when he had a splint. My trainer was using Mighty for the more advanced lesson kids, so I got stuck with him a lot. I hated him. He was lazy, had a super pogo stick trot combined with massive TB withers, he spooked, and didn't do flying changes. But over time, and without me knowing or realizing, I figured him out and he started trusting me. He stopped trying to bite me, he didn't spook, I figured out how to get him round, forward, and connected so I could sit his trot and start attempting flying changes.

The mightiest mouse there ever was
My trainer had made the decision to sell Mighty. He wasn't happy or good at being a lesson pony. She loved him, but couldn't justify keeping him if not in the program. She had a trainer and kid scheduled to come look at him when she came down with bronchitis. She asked me to ride him, since I had been riding him the most and knew how to show him off. I did and while the other trainer loved him, the kid couldn't get him to trot, even when I gave her my spurs and whip. The other trainer and I talked while watching the kid and she asked me if I was selling him because I was going to college. I said no, that I was still in high school and that he wasn't mine. She looked at me and said "You need to buy him, he's already your horse." I looked at my trainer and she had a very thoughtful expression on her face. Two days later she asked me if I wanted to lease him, and I said yes. 

We went to a show maybe two weeks after that and it was a complete disaster. He wouldn't load, wouldn't go in the box stall at the show, wouldn't go in the ring. We had to back into the ring (of course show management changed rings on us after we schooled) with my trainer smacking him on the chest with my crop. When we finished our first round she wouldn't let me out of the ring and made stay in for my second trip. I don't remember if we placed at all, and I think we did the 2'3" and 2'6". But it didn't deter me at all. We spent the summer working on loading him and he eventually got comfortable at the show grounds. 
I showed him in our local circuit's year end show in the 2'3" green rider division. There were 45 in our class and a lot of them were fancy imported things or adorably perfect ponies. But my 17yr old $2500 appendix QH with no changes managed to pull off a 8th over fences and a 10th on the flat (which they did split into 3 groups). Looking back I'm 1000% certain this is where my love of QHs started.  

Still one of my favorite ribbons. I showed him with a Mighty Mouse cartoon pin instead of a regular stock tie pin.
That show is also when I did my first jumper class. They had open schooling rounds and because it was such a big show we ended going about 7pm. It was in October so it was dark, and there weren't lights in the warm up. I remember my trainer telling me to jump the oxer and it was so dark I couldn't tell we jumped it backwards till she told me. Oops. The arena we showed in is a huge, covered arena with stands and lights (they now hold World Cup qualifiers in it) and it was intimidating AF going down to the in gate. But Mighty, the horse known for spooking at cars and birds, didn't care at all. That's when I knew I could trust him with anything and first felt that special bond with a heart horse. 

We eventually made our way to the 3' children's hunters, even though both of us had never jumped that high and he was really starting to show his age. The very first time we jumped 3' at home, I pulled the rookie move of running at it and not supporting him and for the first time since my trainer had bought him he stopped. Rightfully so. I somehow managed to land on my feet between the two rails of the oxer. And a week after that I pulled the same move but landed in a heap on the other side. But we pulled it together and managed a 2nd in our first children's class. 
Old man Mighty Mouse
Mighty still had problems with lead changes so 90% of the time I'd counter canter fences. We got damn good at counter cantering jumps. So much so that in our first children's class I counter cantered from one to two, going past the in gate, and my barn friends couldn't tell. They didn't believe me when I walked out of the ring saying that was the only mistake in the class. My trainer had to assure them that, yes it was counter canter, and yes they needed to be able to do it that smoothly too. I still don't know if the judge couldn't tell it was the wrong lead or if we were just that good but out of about 15 horses we were second. That is still probably the best round I've ever had at a show. 

I leased Mighty till I left for college and he was then leased for a bit by another kid in the barn. When showing with her got to be too much for him, my trainer kept him as a flat lesson pony. His year with me completely changed his personality and he was a model lesson horse. He stayed at my former barn till he died, around age 23. RIP Mighty Mouse 


  1. Aww, what a great horse and an amazing story. <3

  2. Aww what a cool guy, thanks for sharing him with us.

  3. What a great story! So glad you two found each other <3

  4. Aw thanks for sharing this story! I love reading about those special transformational partnerships, and it sounds like you both came into each other's lives for a reason.

  5. What a wonderful story, thanks so much for sharing this warriors tale with us 😍