Running With Wolves - a story of faith!
Wolf's story begins before he was born. In August of 2004, my husband suddenly left. Devastated, I clung to what was familiar to see me through - my horses. Four mares carried foals for 2005. They would need me. Throughout the winter, as I gradually picked up the pieces of my life, I thought often about the four foals that would arrive in the spring. I formulated a plan for my business; I chose a theme - the wolf - because of the way he lives his life - family oriented, loyal. I designed a logo and worked on a marketing plan for Wildwood Reining Horses using that theme.
I would need a stallion. Peppy Del Cielo carried a Listo Pollito Lena baby, a baby well enough bred to be my stallion and that would cross with my daughters of Tamarac. I prayed for a colt.
On April 25, 2005, the pretty bay mare answered my prayers. Under lightly shaded trees at the end of a small field, I assisted the birth of a handsome sorrel colt. He was strong, healthy, pretty headed and perfect. This was my stallion. I named him Running With Wolves.
Wolf would have to be trained and shown to have credibility as a stallion, but there was no doubt in my mind that he would enter the reining pen at three years old. I knew I would be moving in the near future and may not have an arena or even a barn, but I would, somehow, train Wolf. By early 2007, I must be riding Running With Wolves if I was to proceed with my plan.
In December of 2006, I moved to the Chilcotin, my present location. Most of my horses stayed behind in Armstrong until spring, but in the trailer with me was a three year old mare, a yearling mare and Wolf. He would have to be started during the winter.
My new property, though picturesque and beautiful, was not set up for horses. The only piece of flat ground in the yard site had grown up to rose bushes, now covered with snow. Only two pens existed. I put Wolf in the old log round pen and the two mares in a panel pen I had erected.
In February, I decided it was time to start riding Wolf. He lunged, so I started there - lunging in the snow! Then I saddled. Not surprisingly, he bucked around the line, jumping rose bushes when they pricked him. I continued this for a few days, but he always bucked when I saddled him. I decided to try riding him bareback with only a halter. I positioned him in the corner of the board fence and carefully slid on his back. He did not mind. I sat for a spell, petted him and got off. I did not ask him to move. This was the program for a few days until I asked the first step - one step - only one step. Through the next few weeks, I increased the steps until I could bend him in a circle both ways. Every day I did something with him. Then I went back to the saddle. He still wanted to buck, but only when first saddled. A step at a time...but I did something with Wolf every day. Video: Wolf - February 2007
By May of 2007, Wolf and I were finally loping circles. I had pulled most of the rose bushes in a portion of the pen and continued to prepare ground - but no sliding ground! During the summer, his training progressed well and I included trail rides around the property - down steep sagebrush slopes to the river, crossing a channel of the river, even used him to chase a stray bull off my property!
I bred four mares of my own to Wolf.
At left: Wolf in May At right: Wolf in August
As winter approached, I became concerned that Wolf's training would not progress during the winter. I even called one trainer asking if he would take him for a couple of months, but I really did not want him to leave and the trainer could not take him anyway. I hoped for the best. By now, the original arena was icy, so I worked up the space behind the arena with my ring conditioner, breaking up icy clumps of dirt. It, too, had been grown up to rose bush and young trees, but I had removed them. I could circle the burning pile in the middle of that area and, with careful planning (ride, then work ground) I kept it useable for a time. Wolf's rides were reduced to two or three times a week in November. Finally, frost beat me and I had to lay Wolf off for a month.
When more snow fell, I started riding Wolf again. I had one circle in the snow to work in and I taught everything on that circle except sliding stops. I even developed a new program for changing leads. He was amazing!
By April 2008, I was concerned about two things - Wolf had not yet had sliders on, nor did he know how to slide, but also, he had not been off the property. He needed to socialize! So, the farrier put his first set of sliders on and 10 days later, I hauled him to Armstrong for a schooling show. Wouldn't you know it? The day of the show, it snowed - all day! I stalled him away from home for the first time, schooled him with other horses for the first time, warmed up in the snow and ran a full run-in pattern. He handled it all (and was breeding a mare at home before he left!)
In May, four Wolf babies arrived at Wildwood. Wolf was in full training and breeding mares for May, June, and July.
In June, I hauled him to Prince George to get him on sliding ground as much as anything and entered him in a Beginner class. Every day at the show, he slid better. "I'll teach him to slide at the shows," I told everybody. (What choice did I have?)
In July, I hauled to Chilliwack for Wolf's first NRHA 3 yr old Futurity. Although his behaviour continued to be impeccable, he missed leads in the pen, very surprising to me since I considered lead changes to be his strength. That may have been why he missed them - because I trusted too much!
In August, back to Prince George for NRHA 3 yr old Futurity and he placed third, splitting first in the second go. (Video).
Then, in October, Wolf and I were third in the second go of the Limited Open Futurity at the Canadian Supreme. (Video) It was at this show, I knew how good he really is - and that he loves to stop! As the show progressed, his stops were better and longer!
At every show, I started slow, acquainting him with the ground. Every ride, I asked more of him and he gained confidence with every rundown. He loved knowing that he could slide!
The Canadian Supreme was a goal attained, a promise I made to myself that long-ago day in August 2004. Yes, Prima gave me a fine colt for my stallion; yes, I named him for qualities I needed to believe in; yes, I completed his training so he could compete in 3 year old Reining Futurities; and yes, he is just as good as I knew he would be! Thank you, Running With Wolves!
Watch for more Wolf babies, for Wolf in Derbies in 2009 and 2010, and, in 2011, the "Wolf Pack" enters the arena!