Thunder - Not Your Regular Jumper
 By Makaela Marie   •   4th May 2012   •   2,541 views   •   17 comments
Horse StoryThe first horse I owned was a Christmas present from my grandparents, a safe, sweet cob named Makaela Marie (Arabic for 'a gift from God). I was only 6, and therefore Makki was the perfect horse for me to learn to ride. However, after a few years I was keen to move on. I watched my older siblings leap over 4 foot jumps with their horses, but my mother refused to let me ride them. I didn't understand at the time, but I know now that a fiesty arab mare wasn't a good jumping horse for an 8 year old. I tried hard to convince Makki to jump higher than 2 foot, but she refused. She was a beginners horse, not a showjumper. I stuck with her for another 3 years (if you're following, you might have realised that this would be when I was 11) until I found a new horse. In that 3 years I had got Makki over a 2'6", and had competed at some novice shows with her. My step dad had a friend who's uncle had just died, and left his 6 year old gelding without an owner. My step dads friend claimed that this horse had competed at some intermediate shows and had been a reasonably easy ride compared to some of his uncles previous horses. He sounded exactly what I needed. The horse was in need of a home straight away, so we had no option but to buy him before we tried him.

The horse had already been named Thunder, and out of respect to his dead previous owner, we decided against re-naming him. But when I took him for our first ride together, I found he wasn't the horse my step dads friend claimed he was. Thunder bucked, reared, bolted, tugged, refused and clearly hadn't been trained very well- if he had been trained at all! By some miracle, I stayed on him for the first half an hour, until I called it a day and took back to his stable. My mum had been watching, and we agreed that my older sister shoudl ride him, and I can look for a new horse, one that I could actually ride. Thunder was covered in dust from the arena, so I decided to give him a brush down- and thats when I knew I couldn't give up so quickly. His stable manners were beautiful, he stood perfectly still whilst I brushed him, even shutting his eyes and leaning on me gently. When I stopped, he nudged my hand gently with his muzzle, like a thank you. Despite his lack of training, I couldn't let my sister take him from me. I wanted to make it work.

At first my mum said no. No no no. Never ever. But I didn't give up. My little half sister (she was 4 at that time) joined me, probably without understanding, but she was going through her copying phrase. My older sister managed to convince my mum to agree by saying she would act as my instructer, and teach me how to handle him. I owe my success with Thunder to my sister. It took 3 years of trust-building, training, falling off and getting back on, but by my 14th birthday, we had Thunder jumping 3"6 bareback, and galloping round a cross country course, flying over the solid jumps he once wouldn't go near. I still got a few high-spirited bucks, but unlike the bucks we began with, these were out of excitment rather than fear and confusion. I am now 15, and Thunder is still improving. I've taken him to quite a lot of shows now. I think he has a competitive nature, as he always seems to beat his competitors by a mere few seconds/points.

Horse Story

He has some rather unusual characteristics too. He always gets very protective over me if I fall off. I remember once I was jumping a course with my friend, and I fell off. Our instructer at that time came over to help me up, as I had hit my left side on the jump stand and it had gone temporarily numb. Thunder stood next to me and swung his hindquarters out toward my instructer when he got too close. If I hadn't been injured, I would have danced for joy and the bond I had with him!

He also seems to be more curious than cautious. I joined in with a group lesson once and a dog ran right up to the edge of the arena. Most of the horses ignored it, or neatly sidestepped away from it, unlike Thunder, who walked up to it (ignoring my attempts to stop him) and stuck his head right up close to it. He jumped a bit when the dog barked in his face, but then tried to get closer. It was almost like the dog was telling him something, and he understood!

He has a strange obsession with sweeping brushes. I tied him up outside his stable so I could muck out and left a sweeping brush next to him while I went out on a hunt for the wheelburrow. When I returned, I saw the sweeping brush lying on the floor with Thunder pawing it with his front hoof. Another time I was shortening my stirrups in the yard for cross country when he spotted a sweeping brush leening again the tack room wall. He marched up to it (I almost came off- not sure if you've ever been in the situation when you have dropped the reins, one leg out your stirrups and your head down when your horse suddenly walks off) and head-butted it so it fell over, then turned away from it and went back to standing still for me again.

He also makes an excelent theif. I was leaning against his stable door, talking on the phone and eating one of those big cookies. He very quietly got his mouth closer and closer to my cookie until he suddenly yanked it out my hand and retreated to a corner in his stable to eat it.

Then there's his thing about other people riding him. It doesn't happen. My brother once rode him when I went away for the weekend and I came home to be told Thunder had been ridden once, bucked my brother off, and refused to be caught. He is alright with my sister for flatwork, but he won't jump. The only person he does anything with is me. Maybe its because I was the first to train him properly? Or maybe its deeper than that. I've always seen him as my soul mate, my other half. Maybe he saw me that way too.

His "typical barn name" gives me endless amusment at shows. We jump courses with jumps around 3'6", and do some high level dressage. Our competitors horses usually have these long, stylish names such as "Stairway to Heaven" and "Ace of Spades". So whiet you hear the speaker read out these posh name, in the middle of the list you hear a simple "Thunder". A simple "riding school pony" type of name, which most of those competitors link to a small child on an easy ride pony. Every time we win my at one of these shows, I deliberatly stick my tounge out to my posh rivals out of pride that my scruffy horse with a standard barnyard name has just beaten some pedigree showhorse with its long French name.

Theres also a weird thing about his colour. From a distance, or in shadows he looks like a dapple grey, but when your in a good light, or you come nearer, you realise he is actually a fleabitten grey. A friend on Facebook commented on one of his photo's once, saying he was the most stunning dapple grey. She didn't believe me when I said he wasn't dapple grey until she came round the stables and saw him up close.

So thats my Thunder. He has been the cause of most of my injuries, my rossettes and my experiance. He taught me a riding lesson that no trainer had managed to teach me: that with some kind words, a lot of love, some good handling, and a few years, any horse can become the perfect ride for you.
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Deleted Accounts  
aaaw, he's beautiful and so cute! you two have such an amazing bond from the sound of this, well done
  May 4, 2012  •  1,767 views
Starlight Farm  
Glad to hear he's worked out for you! Good for you for sticking with him.

A word of caution though - I know you're happy that your horse is able to beat horses that look like they were bred for the show ring, but sticking your tongue out at the other riders is very rude. Word about people at shows spreads very quickly, and you don't want to get a reputation as "that obnoxious girl on the school pony."
  May 4, 2012  •  1,776 views
Great article. I love greys - it's so cool how their colors change so drastically.
  May 4, 2012  •  1,783 views
Double Spur Ranch  
He's so cute!
  May 5, 2012  •  1,752 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Great article. Thunder is a beautiful horse. You guys look so awesome over that jump together. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
  May 5, 2012  •  1,764 views
Carpe Diem  
He's a gorgeous boy! Sounds very sweet and it's amazing what you've accomplished with him. He reminds me a bit of Salute. xD
  May 5, 2012  •  1,766 views
Wow i love this! It's amazing, after a long wait it always helps! Such a pretty horse as well! (:
  May 5, 2012  •  1,763 views
Doodles Forever  
*Steals Thunder* >:D
  May 5, 2012  •  1,751 views
He sounds like a great horse! Awesome article!
  May 6, 2012  •  1,768 views
Sounds like you have a wonderful partner! Love hearing about his antics!
  May 12, 2012  •  2,027 views
Love the story!
  May 15, 2012  •  1,760 views
RoyalCrownEstates  MOD 
Sounds like an amazing friend you have there!
great story!
  May 18, 2012  •  1,761 views
This is halarious, so much like my own Rhody! The only people who can ride her are me, and my friend Jesse. (haha, hope you read this!)
  May 19, 2012  •  1,843 views
Great article! Sounds like you two are very close.
  May 23, 2012  •  1,782 views
Sapphire Flames  
aww, nice story. :)
  May 28, 2012  •  1,735 views
Foxchase Farm  
He is beautiful! He sounds like a really cool horse :)
  Aug 5, 2012  •  1,805 views
Mystic Rider  
That sounds an awful lot like my mystic hehe
  Jan 17, 2013  •  1,865 views
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