Monday, March 23, 2015

Mighty Mouse Saves A Broken Heart ...

After losing her beloved Quarterhorse, Jet, Valerie Kubit was devastated. On March 3rd, 2008, Jet panicked in a moving trailer and kicked his hoof so hard that it split open from top to bottom, fracturing the coffin bone in two different places. He was unable to heal, and the decision was made to put him down. As Valerie recovered emotionally, she hoped to find a new partner to ride with, and the best option for her budget and riding experience appeared to be an off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB).

Accompanied by her trainer's wife, Beth, Valerie visited a local farm near her home in Aiken, SC, which both breeds Thoroughbreds and re-homes OTTBs, owned by Laurie Calhoun. While there, she met Hudson, a 16.3 hand bay gelding, and knew he was the right match.

When he first arrived at Valerie's barn, he was surprisingly relaxed for a four year old with a racing name like Mighty Yield. His quiet demeanor and former name led to his new moniker--Mighty Mouse. Affectionately called Mouse, he and Valerie bonded immediately and trained each other. As the first horse she had ever taught all on her own, each lesson for him created one for her. "Although the past four years have had ups and downs, the good outweighs the bad by a landslide. I have learned so much just from this one horse. He has taught me to be determined, to never give up, and to never, ever lose sight of your goals." Determination is balanced for the pair with a slow and sensible approach, Valerie considers that "patience is key, [OTTBs] are so sensitive and are just trying to please you, so take the time to notice their attempts."

In the spring of 2011, after a few previous seasons battling water jumps in novice competitions, he and Valerie moved up to training level. Water jumps had previously been a big confidence issue for Mighty Mouse, and it took hard work to prepare him. After a few successful training level horse trials, the next step was a Long Format Waredaca Training 3 day event that she had wanted to compete in for years. "The journey in qualifying for it was certainly a stressful one, but we sorted out the kinks along the road and we finally did it. By the time the 3 day came, we were both more than ready to tackle it. We not only successfully finished the 3 day with huge smiles, but we ended up third place with one of the best rides I have ever had at a horse show. Obviously, Mouse knows when to take things seriously and get down to business!"

Around the farm, "Mouse is the biggest lovebug. He is friends with all the small critters of the barn including the barn cat, and even the baby bunnies. Not only does he love small animals, he loves little toddlers. He may be one of the biggest of the barn but he is so gentle with everyone he meets. There is truly no other horse like him. I am blessed to have been able to get the opportunity to bring along such a loving OTTB. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing! I am a firm believer that Thoroughbreds have the biggest hearts of them all!" He is best described as smart, dedicated, and loving, with a sense of humor as well. "We always joke around that if Mouse were to have a voice, he would sound just like Bullwinkle, since he is one big goofball."

Valerie and Mouse went on to accept a working student position at Stephen Bradley's barn in Virginia in 2012.

In the spring of 2013, another accident nearly ripped Valerie's life apart again. "Mouse and I were involved in a trailering accident. I was stopped, waiting to make a left hand turn, and out of nowhere a woman rear-ended us at 60-mph. I got out of my truck and went around to the back to find that the entire right hand side of the trailer was demolished. Amazingly, when I walked inside the trailer, Mouse was just looking back behind him and looked over to me, paused, and went back to eating hay. He walked away from the accident needing a few minor stitches and a chiropractic adjustment. I am so very thankful for all the help received from passersby; I was an emotional wreck. Mouse walked off the horse trailer on the side of a busy road and went straight to munching on grass. He immediately got back on a replacement trailer to go home with no trouble--it's still incredible to me."

After the accident, Mouse and Valerie "have not competed, but have enjoyed taking it easy and with fun trail-riding and dressage."

"He has been the quirkiest horse I've ever dealt with, but has proved to me over and over again that he is one of a kind and I wouldn't change a thing about him, even when it's frustrating!"

Story and Pictures submitted by Valerie Kubit | Written by Rachel Carter

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