Updated: Nov 30, 2020
A Love Story
Written by Memaw
Maximum Horsepower is a gorgeous bay Quarter horse gelding. But, when he arrived at the stables, he was incredibly malnourished. He needed at least 200 pounds and he also had severe food anxieties in the form of digging a hole in the stall floor while eating.
After arriving at the stables, it took 3 days before he trusted anyone enough to open his mouth. His upper jaw had been fractured at some point in his life and was never treated. His teeth were at such bad angles he could not graze or chew properly. This explained why he was so underweight.
The next week, the vet x-rayed his jaw to insure it had healed properly and the dentist fixed his teeth. The fracture had healed but while it was healing, Maxi learned to play with his tongue to help alleviate the pain. He still plays with his tongue.
It took about a month after the visit to the dentist before Maxi’s food anxieties calmed. And on day four of his recovery while he was quietly munching on some hay when a 7-year-old, blonde haired blue-eyed little girl walked into the barn. He took one look and fell head over heels in love with her. She was his princess.
NO ONE got between Maxi and his princess.
During a photo op, a fellow student pushed his princess away from Maxi. He promptly bit the fellow student on the neck, not too hard but enough to make his point. He then returned to a state of bliss when his princess took the lead line from the crying student.
During his training to become a princess carrying stead, he walked into the arena where the barrel pattern was set up from a previous lesson. He emotionally, melted down. He started digging up the arena, shaking violently and sweating profusely.
For the next month, at the end of each lesson, his princess would walk him around one barrel then dismounted, unbridled him, and lead him across the arena to be untacked. The following month, at the end of each lesson, his princess would walk him around two barrels then dismounted, unbridled him, and lead him across the arena to be untacked. The final month, his princess would walk him around all three barrels, then dismounted, unbridled him, and lead him across the arena to be untacked. At the end of ninety days, Maxi could be train by his princess in an arena with the barrel pattern set up. This is called trust!
Most trainers, lead, halter, saddle, and mount all from the left side only. Additionally, most horse are lunged to the left first so often that going to the right is a novelty. Maxi was not an exception to this.
One day during a lesson, Maxi decided he would only trot going to the right with his Princess riding. For the next few lessons, her goal was to get him to walk around on the lunge line at a walk going to the right.
For an eight-year-old, she demonstrated incredible patience during this process. She was on lesson five when she finally got Maxi to walk one complete circle to the right. She coached him through the entire circle, telling him they could do it and this is EASY. When he completed the walk circle, she stopped him, loved on him, dismounted, unbridled him, then announced to me they were done, he accomplished his task. As she led him across the arena, she asked her daddy, “did you see? I got him to walk a right circle!”
Just like the barrels, he now trusted her enough to walk to right without fear.
Everything things happen for a reason. After months of preparation, Maxi and his Princess made it to their first gymkhana. She was walking him around on a lunge line when he started limping. His princess was shattered because she knew she would not be competing.
Once back in his stall, Maxi acted devastated. He did not eat or drink. He stood in his spot with his head down with an incredibly sad look.
When his princess showed up her eyes were swollen from crying. Maxi did not move to greet her which was so uncommon that Maxi’s Princess’ Momma asked what was wrong with Maxi.
His princess entered the stall, Maxi did not even lift his head to look at her. She went over and gave him a big hug with the words, “I still love you and I always will!” As she gave his neck a kiss, he lifted his head turned and touched her blonde ponytail with his nose. As he moved his expression changed from being devastated to an expression of love.
When the stable owners found out Maxi was lame, they reviewed their lease papers on Maxi to determine how to return him early to avoid the vet and farrier bills. They determined the best way was to shut down the stables.
Maxi’s family drove sixty miles to talk to Maxi’s owner face to face to make sure his owner had all the information regarding his lameness treatment plan and to see if she might sell him. Maxi’s Princess at age 8, sat across the table from a formattable business owner and asked if she would please be allowed to purchase Maxi. This was a huge act of bravery.
The owner said yes and at a price they could afford because Maxi was lame and had an extensive six-month physical therapy plan prescribed by the vet. Very few people want to spend the time necessary to rehabilitate a lame horse. Maxi’s Princess is not one of those people.
She started with hand walking then moved up to hand walking and trotting. As the months progressed, she transitioned to riding him but still limited his movement to those of his treatment plan. Until the trash truck incident.
Maxi was living at the Big E’s Stables in Loma, which has an arena below the road. Maxi was walking the short length of the arena when a trash truck popped over the north hill. Maxi does not like tractors, trucks, or cranes. He took off running.
His princess hung on until he made a sharp left-hand turn then she biffed. After checking to make sure she was okay, she mounted back on Maxi and finished his walk trot exercises. But deep down, this scared the snot out of her because for those few moments she had no control of Maxi.
A week later, he spooked again. Same scenario, a big truck came over the hill. This time however she was determined to control her stead. She asked him to stop using proper body position and a voice whoa command. When he did not respond she told him to stop by lightly pulling back on the reins. When he did not respond, she MADE him stop by putting his head to his chest.
When he stopped for her, she immediately started backing him up to the spot where he started running. She did not lose her temper or get angry. She did discipline him but in an appropriate manner.
The Mesa County Sheriff Posse is a huge blessing to the community. In addition to youth-oriented gymkhanas on a regular basis, they offer their arena for open ride times. About a month after the second explosive runaway from the truck, Maxi was at an open ride, when a tractor started at the end of the property. He took off like speeding bullet.
What do you do when a horse takes off? First, do not panic. Second, gather your wits, then give them a whoa command. The whoa command is a nonoptional command. The word whoa means stop all movement. Freeze in place.
Max at full speed was coming around their instructor when she saw his princess give him the whoa command. To reinforce his princess’s request the instructor gave him the whoa command from the ground. He stopped with his reins inches from the instructor’s hand, so she grabbed them. His princess thought the instructor stopped Maxi, leaving a linger doubt in her mind about her ability to control him.
At the next gymkhana, Maxi emotionally melted down. He was so upset that the instructor led him through the barrels and flag races. He was on the muscle and prancing making him terrifying to ride.
The following week, they were back at the Posse grounds when Maxi’s Princess told Maxi that this would be their last ride together. During the days and weeks that followed, there were a lot of tears, frustration, mix messages until Maxi’s princess learned to be Maxi’s voice. Finally, Maxi’s Princess state that Maxi hates gymkhanas and they would no longer be attending them instead they were going to try Western Dressage.
Maxi’s princess is a people pleasing peacemaker. She had just become an intermediate peer mediator at school therefore becoming his voice was exceedingly difficult for her. She grew as a person because of her relationship with Maxi.
For the next ninety days, they practice dressage, she learned the pattern and they prepared for the end of season show. Because of the size of the dressage arena, Maxi and his princess had to train at another location with a school next door. Maxi’s does not like barrels, trucks, cranes, tractors, and schools.
Poor Maxi had another complete nervous breakdown over the school. He was shaking, pawing the ground, and sweating profusely. In preparation for another nervous breakdown, Maxi traveled with an oral tranquilizer and it was administered. This did not deter his princess training him, but instead of riding, she spent the time grooming him with a constant dialog of loving words.
By Maxi’s third lesson next to the school, he was cool as a cucumber and allowed his princess to lay on his back while he grazed after the lessons.
Maxi and his princess put in hours and hours of practice. The Friday before their first show, they practiced in the arena where they would be performing arriving back to the stables after dark.
Maxi and his princess perform Western Dressage Introductory Test 2 on both Saturday and Sunday. Western Dressage Tests increase in difficulty as the horse and rider progress upward from Introductory to Basic to Level 1 all the way to Level 4.