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Trouper, the Mustang, Part I

Published: 5/18/2011
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By Amber Mathewson
I would like to share my story about how a mustang changed my whole life. You could even say he helped mend a "broken" heart.

It was the Extreme Mustang Makeover that brought Trouper and I together. My family and I attended the very first Extreme Mustang Makeover in Fort Worth, TX in 2007. We went to support a friend and fellow horse trainer from California, but we met so many wonderful trainers while we were there. It inspired me to work with a wild mustang. I had worked with mustangs before, but never a wild mustang. I had only taken mustangs that had already been gentled.

Before I could even apply to be a trainer, I had to prove that I had a “mustang friendly” facility. That meant a holding area with at least six-foot high fencing with no barbed wire, a shelter from the wind and rain and a round pen or training area that was also six-foot high.
We didn’t have the money to buy all of the materials that we needed to make our facility more mustang-friendly, but people started donating lumber, plywood, sheets of tin and money to go towards building supplies. My husband worked late into the night many times to get everything safe and sturdy enough for a wild mustang.

Less than a week before I turned in my application for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, I was put in the intensive care unit with a heart arrhythmia known as Atrial Fibrillation. I’d had spells before, but this time, my heart wouldn’t convert back into sinus rhythm on its own. They were about to administer electric shock, when the medicines finally worked.
When I left the hospital, I was given medicines to keep my heart in rhythm and I quickly sent in my Makeover application just before the deadline. Little did I know that I would end up in the hospital again before I was to pick up my mustang.
I needed surgery to correct my arrhythmia and on July 13th, 2009, just five days before I picked up my mustang, I had a Cardiac Ablation. Dr. Troup and Dr. Smith from Trinity Medical Center performed my procedure. Dr. Troup is the one that rushed the surgery to get it done before I was due to pick up my mustang.
When I arrived at Cross Plains, TN at Carr’s Wild Horse & Burro Center, I was given a brief description of my mustang and a number that I would find tagged and hanging around his neck. I rushed out to the holding areas to see which mustang I had been randomly assigned to. When I realized that my mustang stood head and shoulders above the rest, I was thrilled. I decided then to name him Trouper, after Dr. Troup who helped make it possible for me to be there that day.
My husband was very concerned about the size of this horse. He was not the average Mustang! He stood at 15.3 hands and a good 1000 pounds! He looked like a giant next to the 14 hand mustangs that stood around him. My husband looked at me and said, “Our pen will never hold this horse!” He tried to talk me into asking them to assign me another, smaller horse, but I refused.
On the way home, my husband reminded me that I shouldn’t get attached to Trouper because he would get adopted out after the competition like all of the other horses and that we couldn’t afford another horse. I agreed.
When I got Trouper home, I had to take things very slow as I was still healing and regaining my strength from my heart procedure. I spent days just walking around in Trouper’s pen and talking and singing to him. He actually walked up to me on the first day and sniffed my hand!
That was such an amazing feeling!
[Click here to read Part II]

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5/20/2011 Amber
Thanks for sharing Trouper's story!!
5/21/2011 sonia
Amber and Trouper, I am so so happy to see your story here, it must be shared. It was a pleasure to meet you in Tennessee and I hope we meet again! Come on up to Maine and ride with us sometime! Happy Trails to you both!

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    "My horses are my friends, not my slaves" - Dr. Reiner Klimke