In this month's issue, we introduced you to a horse that "We'd Love to Own." Her name is Lindsay's Faith, and she was the winner of the inaugural America's Favorite Trail Horse. Read more Q&A with owner and trainer Mary Miller-Jordan, and watch the pair in action!
Q: Where did Lindsay come from in the wild?
A: She was gathered from the White Mountain, Wyoming, herd management area. We picked her up in May 2010. She went to the holding facility in Colorado, and then was shipped to the holding facility in Mississippi where my husband and I traveled to pick her up. They herded her into out trailer, and we brought her home to North Carolina, and opened the trailer up to our round pen, and there we were! It was the first time I'd ever done anything like that, but I'm hooked. I've gentled three mustangs now.
I've looked up pictures of the herd in that HMA, and it's really interesting. Their color and conformation is so similar to hers. The type of roans that are there are very similar to what she looks like.
Q: What is it like to participate in an Extreme Supreme Mustang Makeover event?
A: The whole gentling process is fabulous. I had no clue what I was getting into with Lindsay when I got her. I really assumed I was getting a blank slate. In a way you are, because you're getting a horse that hasn't had any human interaction. What was interesting to me was how much knowledge they're just jam-packed with--especially the older ones. Lindsay was 6 when I got her. The other two I've gentled, one was 5 and the other was 4. I can really tell a difference. The younger ones lend themselves to be a little more like a colt would be. The older ones--Lindsay especially--there's just so much knowledge they have to bring to the table. There's nothing like it, in my opinion.
Q: What do you think makes Lindsay special?
A: Really the knowledge that she brought. I think her being 6 years old and still wild and having ran out in the wild--even when she was in the holding facilities, she was still interacting with a herd--that's what made her unique and special for me. I've always lived and breathed horse. Having this passion for horses is nothing new, and I was pretty excited about this mustang experience. I never could've fathomed how deep this connection would go.
She has so much to offer, and she's going to give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. We never give our animals really all that we could--no matter how hard we try. I don't even know if human nature can pull out 100 percent like a horse can give us. She encourages me--and always has--to up that percentage as much as I can. The more I listen to her and stay in tune with the things she's trying to tell me, the better off I would be. She was willing to do anything I asked her to do, if I could just ask the question in a way that she understood, she would do it, hand's down. I feel like I learned more from her than I did the others.
Q: Can you talk about an example of the knowledge Lindsay brought to your partnership?
A: She watches everything. Horses communicate more through body language and herd behavior. The thing that was interesting with her is the things she was notice. The first days I was working with her, I got so I could walk up to her and even touch her. But things like the way my finger or hand would lay on her neck would affect how she would tolerate my presence. At first, if I just let it rest there, she was OK with it. I could not pat or brush her against the hair coat with my hand. As my hand was approaching her skin--at a couple of inches away--she would just ball up. That moment is very scary for them. Once she would feel my hand, she actually got to where she would relax.
One thing that was a really telling moment for me, only within a week of having her. I went in, and I had a different color hat on; it was white. She wouldn't let me come anywhere near her. It took me a while to figure out what the problem was. She looked at me like I was a totally different animal. As time went on, she got so that she could recognize me, no matter what I was wearing. She was very aware. I think all horses have that ability, but they don't all learn to tap into it like wild horses do. Because she was so aware, I just had an infinite amount of things I could teach her.
The wild horses just have a much more detailed vocabulary in their mind than a domestic horses, unless that domestic horse has had a lot of interaction with other horses. I really think that's what sets her apart.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment with Lindsay?
A: When we were at the Makeover in Texas, it was the first Makeover I'd done, and I'd never done anything like it. But we still went out there, planning to be the best we could be and feeling pretty confident. She was doing well, and I had no reason not to be confident in her--she was just doing fabulous. She did awesome in all the preliminaries, especially the trail. She was even first under one of the judges. She just sailed through the preliminary stuff well. When I went into the freestyle, she still did really well, buy I was really nervous. The crowd was louder than I could have ever imagined; it felt like they were sitting on top of us. And she did really well. However, we were certainly feeding off of each others' anxiety.
The freestyle that we had practiced at home, we had to improvise, and it wasn't nearly what we had planned on it being. It was just a really emotional experience for me, and she really took care of me through that, even though I was really tense in that environment. Coming away from that, I feel like I need to allow myself to trust her in any situation, and trust that relationship that we've built.
When we went to Texas for the ACTHA America's Favorite Trail Horse, obviously we didn't have the crowds (which was nice!), but there were similar situations emotionally where I knew the cameras were on, and I knew I was under pressure. And I did a much better job allowing myself to trust her, like she's always trusted me. She was more relaxed, too. I think the whole process was just a tremendous learning experience for me. Lindsay already had all the stuff--she was gonna trust me. But me allowing myself to trust her to try and just meet her in the middle, is easier said than done. Under pressure, it's hard to tell yourself that this is still the same horse, same relationship you have with; nothing's changed. She's only going to know it's changed if I tell her with my anxiety. I did a much better job handling my emotions in the ACTHA event than I did at the Supreme Makeover. That's another example of how she's taught me so much, just to grow as a person.