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Teen sets out to tame a wild horse

Guest column
by: contributed photo,

Hi there, my name is Sara Ellington. I am seventeen years old, and horses are one of my passions. Last year I entered the Teens and Oregon Mustang Program for the first time, and I had a chance to work with a completely wild Mustang for 98 days (my entire, but short summer). It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed it immensely.

I had watched my friend do the same program a year before, and I knew that it was something I wanted to try. So, in April 2011, I sent in the application papers. After a week or so of waiting, I found out I had been accepted.

Another few days went by and I finally had my jumpy, dirty horse in the round pen at home. I had no idea how much he would teach me in those short 98 days.

Well, the summer went by faster than I had anticipated, but I loved every minute of it. I had never trained a wild horse before, and I think I learned more than the horse did.

With a lot of help and pointers from my friends, Samson and I were able to take 12th place in the final competition at the end of the summer. Now Samson enjoys spending time with my other Mustang, Bindi, and the two are close friends.

About a month ago, I sent in my application papers for the program, again. I waited not-so-patiently for the answer I wanted to hear so badly; did I get into the program or not? You see, Erica FitzGerald started the program a few years ago, and it is designed to give teenagers the chance to work with a totally wild mustang horse for 98 days. Overall, the program makes Mustangs more adoptable to the general public, while giving teenagers the chance to have an unforgettable summer.

I received my manila envelope on the Saturday it was due to arrive. The letters written in bold stood out to me, 'Congratulations, you have been chosen to compete in the Teens and Oregon Mustang Competition."

I immediately called my parents to tell them the exciting news; they were just as happy as I was. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to meet my Mustang for another week, and patience has never been one of my strongest character traits.

On May 19, I brought my new baby home.

She is a little black filly with a blue roan leg, and she has one of the sweetest temperaments that you will ever find in a horse. At the end of day one, I gave her the name 'Bellsa," and she was letting me touch her face and neck at the end of that first day, along with brushing her. I was surprised at how easily she adjusted to me walking up to her and being close to her.

Day two through five I got several things accomplished. I was able to take her BLM number off of her neck, (which is a big accomplishment for most trainers) and I also had her leading outside the round pen.

She is desensitized to many things now, and is a very willing and trusting horse. Bellsa always tries her hardest to do what I ask, and is very docile.

There are a lot of different things that I have to be able to do in the competition at the end of the summer; I have to compete in showmanship (which is ground work like turns and side passing), and an in-hand trail class (going over obstacles, walking into trailers etc.). Bellsa will also be judged on how well of body condition she is in. I have a lot of preparation to do.

I would love to keep Bellsa for myself, but I know that she will make someone very happy at the end of this summer. She is going to be a very easy-going horse, with a big heart and a will to try.

If you would like more information and updates about Bellsa, you can check out her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/saranbellsa

Or, you can look for her on the Teens and Oregon Mustang web page, where there is a silent auction for all the horses in the program.

Sara Ellington is currently studying at Clackamas Community College, where she is studying towards her high school diploma and an associates art degree.



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