When an eager horsewoman is outbid for a mare at the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Mustang Magic event, she didn’t lose hope. And as fate would have it, a second shot at owning her dream horse was right around the corner.
Huddled in the back of a holding pen at the Extreme Mustang Makeover, hosted by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, was Pearl. Shelby Crider attended the Fort Worth, Texas, event in September of 2016, and immediately felt a connection to the little black mare. She was showing in the open division on another horse, and visited the pens between classes.
“She was small, and over in the corner by herself,” says Crider, who had been working with Mustangs for the past couple of years at a small farm in Central High, Oklahoma. “Pearl was wild, but I fell in love with her.”
Pearl, age 6, was to compete the following January at Mustang Magic, an event in which invited trainers have 120 days to gentle and work with a wild Mustang. Crider found the trainer who was assigned to Pearl, and followed their progress on Facebook. She communicated with the trainer about the mare’s behavior and progress.
“From the moment I saw her, I started saving my money so that I could buy her at the auction [at the conclusion of Mustang Magic],” she says.
Come January, Shelby traveled back to Fort Worth, with her focus on buying Pearl. Crider had a budget and prayed she could snag her dream horse for a reasonable price.
Finally, it was time for the auction.
“I was like a kid at Christmas,” says Crider. “Pearl did pretty well in all of her classes, but unfortunately she didn’t make the top 10.”
She thought maybe Pearl’s average performance would allow her to fly under the radar at the auction.
“I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the auctioneer to call out Pearl’s hip number. The bidding war began,” she says. “The price kept going up and up and finally surpassed my budget price. I had lost her.”
Crider went home feeling defeated. She purchased two other horses to try and fill the void of Pearl, but says she kept thinking about her.
Several months later, Crider got a phone call. The black mare and her new owner weren’t meshing, and Pearl’s owners wanted to offer Crider the chance to buy her. They had met at the auction and got in touch with her through Pearl’s first trainer.
“The wanted to sell her for less than what they bought her, and it was back in my budget!” she says.
Since Pearl now lived in Missouri, everyone agreed to meet at the Extreme Mustang Makeover in September, as Crider was going to show another horse. She saved her money (again), and took her trailer to Fort Worth. Unfortunately, all of the progress Pearl had made had been erased from months of not being under saddle.
“We had to run her into the trailer like a wild horse,” she says. “We had to unload her the same way, and run her right into the roundpen at home. We had to start her training all over, which worked out well because she and I got to develop our relationship.”
It’s been more than a year since Pearl and Crider finally became a team. Through groundwork and liberty training, the two have bonded. Crider has entered Pearl in a handful of shows, including the open division at Extreme Mustang Makeover this last September.
“I took her back to Fort Worth to compete in the open division, and we did the freestyle,” Crider says. “We rode to Chris LeDoux’s song ‘Hooked on an 8-Second Ride.’ I rode her with only a bareback rigging and halter.”
Though they didn’t place where they would’ve liked, Crider is proud of how far they’ve come in one year. She plans to continue showing with her in ranch versatility, trail and pleasure classes through the American Competitive Mustang Club, and a three-part ranch buckle series at Breakin Hearts Ranch in Gainesville, Texas.
“She’s my forever horse. I’ll have her forever,” she says. “Mustangs are the breed I’m going to stick with. They’ve always fascinated me. When you accomplish something with them, it feels like so much more, and the connection feels so much deeper than with my domesticated horses.”
To learn more about the The Right Horse Initiative, and to submit your own successful adoption story, visit therighthorse.org.