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Trouper, the Wild Mustang, Part II

Published: 5/25/2011
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By Amber Mathewson

[Click here to read Part I]

Within the first week, I was able to pet Trouper on the shoulder and feed him hay out of my hand! He was even eating hay out of our two year old daughter’s hand!
On the second week, I was able to get a rope around his neck and take the ID tag off of him. When I removed his tag, it was a very emotional moment. Until I brought Trouper home with me, he was known as 2287, but on the 11th day of training, when I removed his ID tag, it was as if he wasn’t a wild horse anymore.
Towards the end of the second week, my husband said to me, “You know we are going to have to find away to bring Trouper home, don’t you?” Those were the words I wanted to hear! I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to get attached and this was just another horse that I was training, but it was just impossible!
He said, “I’ve seen the way that horse looks at you! I just can’t stand the thought of him going to someone else who might not understand him the way you do.”
Then, not only was I concentrating on training a wild horse, but also about how to come up with the funds to bid on him after the competition.
I quickly put my horse up for sale to pay on medical bills and make room for another horse. I also had a yard sale and tack sale to raise money. People donated money towards the “Bring Trouper Home Fund” and some who donated tack and other things for the yard sale.
Meanwhile, Trouper and I were still getting more attached by the day. I started riding him on the fifth week and on day 38, I put our daughter up on his back!
On the 41st day, I rode him out of the riding pen for the first time and there was no stopping us after that.
Well, except for the rain! There were many days that I could not even get Trouper out of his pen because of the rain and mud. I lost a lot of training time with him and the competition was creeping up on us quickly. When I arrived with Trouper at the competition in Murfreesboro, TN in Oct, I had not even brushed Trouper in over two weeks!
 Luckily, the slow start paid off and we formed a more solid foundation. Trouper did great, despite my nerves. We tied for first place in the body conditioning score, took 5th place in the In-Hand Competition and 17th in the Riding competition placing us 12th overall in the Idols Category, which was just shy of the Top 10 placing required to compete in the Freestyles Finals.
After the competition was over, I realized that I was more nervous about the auction then the actual competition. My goals were to place 17th or better overall and bring Trouper home! The most important goal was yet to be reached.
Before the competition, all of the trainers were told about the Dawn Lappin Trainer Assistant Fund. We were asked to write an essay telling why we wanted to keep your mustang, what our plans would be with them and why we needed help funding our purchase. We were told they would pick up to five of us and grant each one up to $500 to go towards the purchase of our mustangs.
In our trainer’s meeting before the competition, they announced the winners of the grant. I listened patiently as they called the first 4 names out, awarding them amounts from $200-$500.
Then, they said that they were doing something different this time. They said that they had an application that had touched them so much, that they decided to raise the amount to $800. Then, they called out my name! First, I screamed, then I busted into tears! I was too choked up to speak, but I quietly thanked God for making this possible.
Turns out, it was JUST the amount that we needed to add to the money I had already raised and be the highest bidder on Trouper! The moment the announcer said, “This horse is going home with his trainer.”
I felt the greatest weight lifted off my chest. What a magical moment that was.

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5/27/2011 Daryl
Where was the KLEENEX warning? My tear ducts are now completely cleaned out! What a great story, thanks!
5/28/2011 Kerrin
No kidding about the kleenex, so happy for you and such a wonderful story.... still crying!
5/28/2011 sonia
Trouper and Amber are "The Real Deal". I met them a few months ago in TN and what touched me the most is how humble they both are, how tuned in to each other. No boasting. You can feeeeeel the 100% sincere gratitude they share to have each other. Sigh. Even though they were competing, Amber would not push that horse past his comfort level because the long term relationship is so much more important to her than any prize. They didn't have a perfect ride but she quit "on a good note" and she said that was far more important to her. And to Trouper.

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  • Trouper, the Mustang, Part I
    "Anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh