Not Her First Rodeo

Senior Shares Love for Adopted Horse

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Photo Courtesy of Abby Mitchell

Holding up the Tarleton State University hand sign, senior Abby Mitchell poses for her senior pictures on her horse, Thirsty. Mitchell's family adopted the horse in January 2019 and then began training him. “It's always fun to train Thirsty because I get to see him grow,” Mitchell said. “I like getting to see him learn something we've been working on for a while.”

Madison Markunas, Guest Reporter

Since she was a baby, senior Abby Mitchell has been riding and training horses. Seventeen years later, Mitchell finally got a horse of her own to train. 

During January 2019, the Mitchell family took home their newest family member, Thirsty. Thirsty is a seven-year-old, dark brown, bay thoroughbred. 

“When we first met he just put his head in my arms and I held him,” Mitchell said. “I knew he was the one.”

When they first started working with him, Mitchell and her sister would take him on a lot of walks and bathe him to help him get used to them.

“We wanted him to get used to us,” Mitchell said. “Those walks would also help him get used to his surroundings and help him become less skittish of little things like puddles, chickens, cats and other horses.”

When they first adopted Thirsty, he was very skittish and energetic because he was young. After a year, Thirsty’s sassy personality has begun to emerge.

“He is stubborn, hard headed and loves the attention to be on him,” Mitchell said. “Some days he gets an attitude and decides he doesn’t want to listen, which is hard.”

Mitchell drives an hour to the ranch where Thirsty stays in order to train him. She warms him up by taking him to a round pin to get all of his energy out so that he is calmer when they ride him.

“The easiest part of training him is how it’s always fun working with him,” Mitchell said. “The hour drive is worth it because spending time with thirst is always fun. There is never a dull moment when my sister and I go out there.”

Mitchell first learned how to ride horses from her grandma. She taught her how to ride, saddle and take care of horses.

I like working with animals because I grew up around them. I like working with horses because I’ve always been around them and I’ve always enjoyed both riding and taking care of them.”

“What she taught me has helped me a lot with Thirsty,” Mitchell said. “She always told me you need to have patience and know when to pick your battles because they don’t always understand what you are trying to tell them to do.”

According to Mitchell, it is hard to train him when he is in a bad mood and doesn’t listen, but it is rewarding when he learns something they have been working on for a long time.

“I always have to be patient with Thirsty because he is young; he’s like a kid,” Mitchell said. “If you force him to do something he doesn’t want to do or is too scared to do, it will take more work to get him to want to do it.”

According to Mitchell, being a part of FFA since her sophomore year and taking Ag classes has helped her better care for her horse. She assisted her sister with caring for her pigs and was a part of the horse judging team.

“I took an equine management class last year and it taught me how to read a feedbag,” Mitchell said. “It taught me how to know what kind of nutrition he needs more or less of.”

Mitchell will be attending Tarleton State University in the fall to major in Animal Sciences. Mitchell’s sister will continue to take care of Thirsty alongside her dad when she goes to college. Mitchell hopes to be a large animal vet after college. 

“I like working with animals because I grew up around them,” Mitchell said. “I like working with horses because I’ve always been around them and I’ve always enjoyed both riding and taking care of them.”