Sunkawakan Mitawakin Wakiyan; My Horse, His Name Is Thunder.
During the summer of 2007, I camped out on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation while I worked on my Senior Research project for school. I would like to tell a story about a friend I acquired during that time. His name is Thunder and he is a mustang paint. He was almost two years old at that time. I bought him from a friend, and he came from a mostly wild herd. I remember the first day I saw him, and I knew he was the one I wanted for my first horse.
I was out in the pasture to find him and visit him daily. All I could think on these visits was I wanted to touch him. I was not able to find him or the herd that he ran with every day. On the fifth day and my third visit, I was able to touch him. I ran my hand down his back. I was so excited and happy. After that day I was not able to find the herd for three days. On my next visit, I was able to touch his face. I could tell he was a smart horse.
About ten days after our first meeting, some friends helped me to wrangle the herd and bring them to the corral that had been lined up for training. Most of the herd had been cut loose except for him, his mother, and another horse. As they neared the corral, he broke loose from his mother and the other horse, and to everyone's surprise, he went straight into the corral. About ten that morning he was in the round pen, and I began to gain his trust more, it was him and I without the rest of the herd. I spent the whole day with him. By two in the afternoon, I was able to get a halter on him, and by three, I was leading him around. After that fifth visit, I knew he was a smart horse, and on this day, it was confirmed that he was smart, and a fast learner. The next three days were spent almost entirely with him. The second day, I was able to put a blanket on him, and lead him that way. A friend was curious to see if he would take a bit, and he did, with no fuss. After the first three days of training, I visited him twice daily for the rest of that week.
I went in the morning to feed and water him, and also to check on his wellbeing. In the evenings, I would work with him for an hour to two hours, feed and water him, and tell him I would be back the next day. I had concerns about the condition of his feet and arranged to have his hooves clipped and filed. His right rear had been split pretty bad, and that leg also showed some swelling. The day after his hooves were straightened up, he was given 15cc of penicillin.
After his feet were worked on, I decided to give him a short break from training so his leg and foot might feel a little better. I let him out to roam and grave with some of the other horses that hung out around the corral. After letting him out, he went right for the gate that we had herded him through a week earlier. Someone had forgotten to latch the gate, and by the time we got over to the gate, he was through it and walking up the road toward where he had come from. I went through the fence, and followed some trees and got up to the road ahead of him. He had no halter, and we had no rope, but my friend took of his belt and slipped it around his neck. We used that belt around his neck, and led him back through the gate. We were relieved to get him that easy. He spent the rest of the day near the gate, and that night, he went to the corral on his own. I had no intention of keeping him in the corral but he was comfortable there. The next day he went out with the local herd. I walked around the hills to find him, and he nickered when he saw me, and came right over. He would almost always spend his days out, but come in the evening. I let him run for the rest of the summer while I finished my research, and could make boarding arrangements in Rapid City.
It was now late early September, about two months after we had first met. Three days before we were to trailer him to Rapid, I brought his halter and rope out with me as I walked the hills looking for him. I found him about a half mile from the corral, and haltered him and led him down to the corral for our next part of our training. I had no idea how I would get him to get into a trailer. I started first with a railroad tie that I would lead him over many times both directions until I could tell he was comfortable stepping over it. I did not have a trailer to use at all because the trailer we were going to use wouldn't be available until the day we planned to move him. Other than that, I just spent almost two whole days with him. The morning the trailer arrived, it was a little bit of a chore, but after about thirty min, he was loaded. The trip to Rapid went smoothly. When we got to Rapid we took him to the vet for his first shots, and to get a quick looking at. The vet said he looked good. He was only about 900 lbs and should be de-wormed for bots. He also still had problems with thrush in all four feet, and some swelling in his right hind leg. We took him up to his new home, and I waited with him for a few hours until he seemed somewhat adjusted.
Since I got him to Rapid he adjusted quite well. I worked to reduced the thrush, got rid of the bots, and had his feet worked on again. He was now about 1200 lbs, and had filled out nice. The swelling was gone in his leg and he does have a nice set of legs on him. I was out to visit him daily for feeding and exercise. The stable I had him boarded at had a nice outdoor arena and he enjoyed his time with me and being able to run around. I really enjoy working with him in my spare time. Thunder is a late foal, and and had just turned two that fall. He was still a stud, and I was trying to decide if I want to have him gilded. Through that winter and into the next spring, daily visits continued and some training as weather permitted.
That next spring(2008), the stable was always full of mud, and the thrush had started to set in again. I decided that type of situation was not what I wanted for Thunder. I decided to let him out to pasture with other horses at a friend’s ranch. He spent the next year out running and being free. I went out to see him regularly, and he would always come to greet me with a whinny and some nods of his head when I would whistle for him. He did very well that year and continued to grow as our trust also grew. One day late this summer, I got a wild hair to get on him. I had no saddle, but leaned my whole body over his back and he seemed fine. After petting him a little more, I again leaned over his body and slowly put my leg over. As I was sitting up to get my balance, he spooked a little and went one way, I went the other. He turned around and just looked at me as I lay on the ground groaning and trying to stand up. I should have tried again right there, but I was a little soar.
Fall of 2009, I took a job with the Park Service, and wanted Thunder a little closer to where I would be working. I found a nice place where he could run with other horses and also a corral for training. I had decided to have him gilded, so I loaded him in the trailer to take him to the vet to get him cut and have his health checked out. Everything went well and he was doing fine. I hauled him out to his new home. I spent the next few days working with him daily and making sure he was comfortable with his new setting. Later in the Fall, I went out and spent a month working with him. On one of these days, I put a saddle on him and climbed on his back to stay this time. He did really well with this new experience and I continued the next few weeks saddling him up and riding him around the corral.
I have had Thunder for about three years now. After getting him from a mostly wild herd during and becoming great friends, We will go out for a ride today. He only has about 6 hours riding out with about 5 rides, all last weekend. We will try a two to four hour ride. This is a long story, but this is where we are today. I will be posting more stories of our adventures in the future. Thunder is a great horse and I am very happy to have him as a friend.