'Folks, Ya'll have been so patient for the final unfolding of the saga of Medicine Man and his future. I do want to thank all for your interest in this project and the mustang.
Saturday afternoon following the riding portion all the trainers were called together for the announcement of the finalists. At that time no one knew who had been disqualified in the 2nd portion of the competition. All were on pins and needles for the results. Well, as previously told, we didn't make it nor did several others that we were sure were a shoe in. Those selected were without question deserving by the performance earlier in the day. We were dismissed and asked to be back by 7 pm. With seating at a premium we sent out for supper and commandeered our seats for the evening.
The 13 finalist were very impressive to say the least. From roping cows, herding cows, shooting from horseback, jumping barrels, whip popping, standing in saddle, chain saws, laying down their horse, sliding stops, rollbacks, spins, side passes, flying lead changes, dancing, and just plan old good horsemanship for both rider and horse. This had to be most extraordinary display of training I've seen in quite some time. (You can view several shots of the night and a list of the trainers and more results on the Mustang Heritage Foundation website listed at the bottom of the page) After the dust had settled I think all in attendance were pleased with the outcome. A young trainer, Guy Woods from Australia, by way of Texas was the winner. Second place was Kiitty Lauman from Oregon. WOW, is all I can say. Did I have a top ten horse? No, did I have a wonderful, disciplined, pleasing horse? Yes, and then some.
Now, the auction. We had to be back for the adoption at 9 the following morning. All were drained because of the hectic weekend. I had to take Kathy, my wife, to the airport at 5 am for her fast trip back home opposed to the drive we were looking at later in the day. As mentioned earlier in the blog, we had no option but to offer Medicine Man up for adoption. I never thought that it would be an issue for me as I looked at the training as a challenge with no lasting effect. Well, was I wrong. I'd really made a friend in this little horse and we just seemed as one when we rode. I can't say I've ever spent this much time with a horse in such a short while in my adult life. Throughout the entire weekend I would find myself empty inside knowing that Sunday it could be all over for Medicine Man and me. I'd been given a reserve amount for Medicine Man but figured it would never fly. Well, as things progressed throughout the day I was then sure of it. The first horse of the day sold for $2000.00 and didn't seem to shift for any horse that was ridden in the arena. As each trainer brought their horse in for adoption we were given 2 minutes to talk about their horse. Then we were to show the horse off during the bidding. We were number 87 in line so we got to see all horses go through the process. This is one time I was glad we were towards the end. I had learned 2 things. 1, the big $ had bought their horses early, and 2, I learned how to work the crowd. I heard from, "I'm not riding my horse today because of a sore back," to "my horse has arthritis." As you could see by the $ results on the Mustang Heritage site, the prices really never shifted for any horse that had it together as well as Doc. So, I was at a dilemma, spend money I didn't have to keep him or devise a plan. Well, the money part was out so a plan was in. When we moved into the arena Doc was dead calm. Not good for me so here I go. "Folks, let me tell you about a special mustang. This horse was stricken with toxic poisoning on 31 August by eating cucklebur's. His fever was 105, heart rate was 80 and totally lethargic within 30 minutes of finding him lying down. The vet treated for such and his recovery was diagnosed as bleak. Call off the competition, move him into a stall and expect complications for up to six months. Both the vet and farrier gave dim expectations. With such a high fever comes laminitis. Well, let me tell you about the healing power of the mustang. Within 2 days his fever was normal and he was showing much tenderness in his feet. In 2 weeks he was out and working in the round pen. So, what do you think?" And then off we went. Walk, trot, lope around the arena and the bids start. $500 and we stop and back up, $750 and we side pass. $1000 and we lope in a 25 ft circle. We went thru $1100.00 like it was chicken feed and then it stopped. The word laminates was affecting the crowd. My plan worked. Did I tell a story, NO, Did I mislead the crowd, NO. Did I tell them the vet had just completed an x-ray of all 4 feet showing no rotation? Well, no. Did the auctioneer help me out, well, not really but he did tell the crowd that this trainer is bidding so he must know something. Yes he did but the thought was planted and me and Doc were the winners. I'd been able to buy back my horse for $1100.00. Most horses with Medicine Man's abilities sold for 3500-4000 dollars. Was I one happy guy. I almost forgot this part. Emily my daughter, 21 going on 6 was a basket case. From Saturday night on she had been one big tear with the thoughts of loosing Medicine Man. Even strangers were trying to console her through this. She even made matters worse for me as if I wasn't having a bad enough time.
Well, out of the arena, make a couple of calls and hit the road. Emily was just beside herself. She rode Medicine Man for the first time that weekend out of the building, across the parking lot and throughout the entire complex. I think she was happier the me. I now know where this horse is going. I'd had a couple of people interested in Medicine Man prior to leaving but one had left a reserve. This horse is going to a little girl, 8 years old I spoke of several times in the blog but she was not to know until she'd earned the money.
For the next 2 weeks Cassidy was a wreck. I'd shared with her that there was another person really interested and I needed my money back to pay bills. Was she ever so nervous. Does she get the money in time? Every time I would see her she would say, "Jim Thomas, I have $241.00 now. Is that enough?" Then next time, "I now have $255.00 is that enough?" We just played along until a move with another horse made it possible. I had just been contacted on September 28 by Kim Gernardo with NBC 17 for the results of Ft Worth when I told her the rest of the story. Well, not to pass up a good story for TV, she jumped at the opportunity to put this on the air. So plans were made for the following Friday when Cassady gets off the school bus.
I'd also been contacted by Beth Velliquette with the Chapel Hill Herald to also get the results of Ft. Worth. I shared with her the plans and she was also wanting to capture the story.
Friday, the 5th arrives and Medicine Man and I take our last bath. Knowing where he was going made it a bit easier, but still we had memories. A tough time but no time for emotions. Load up and off to Dean and Helena's for the big show. Our original plans were to meet Cassidy at the bus stop but a cloud was threatening and the camera man was a bit leery so the barn would have to do. I'd hid in the back of the barn and when Cassidy rides up her mom calls here over for a short and out we walk. I knelt down, and passed the reins over. She was happy to see I brought him over for a visit and was beside herself when she discovered that he would not be going back to the Bar T. "He is here to stay, and yours to keep. Take care of him, give him lots of love, many baths and never hit him." That was all I could say for emotions ran wild for me and her alike. In the roundpen for her first lesson and the start of a beautiful relationship for a girl and her horse.
The news story posted on the front page of the Sunday edition, 7 Oct. A wonderful story from a gifted reporter. I thank Beth so much for helping make this event special for a young lady.
NBC 17 has plans to run the story on the 19th if all goes well. Kim again put together a wonderful story.
I'm going over this weekend for another lesson and will finish off with those results on Sunday. I promise several pictures at that time. Thanks again for following along and I should close out next week. Please give me your thoughts of the blog as we plan to enter the competition next year. This time 2 horses, a father and son.