The Ol’ Herd
Birthday: Deceased Gender: Gelding Color: Dark Grey Dapple
Doc is the little appaloosa who started it all. Prior to coming to Breakaway Youth Ranch (BYR) he was rescued from abuse. The lady who rescued him started working with him to regain his trust. She made some headway but there was still lots of room for improvement when Brent and Amanda purchased him for one of their personal horses. They worked long hours loving on him in an effort to gain his trust and as they did so, they started dreaming up a ranch where hurting kids could work with horses to the benefit of both parties. When they brought BYR into existence they donated a still wary Doc to the work he helped start. Read “Our History” for more details.
We watched as, with time, God remade Doc into a new and delightful creature who eventually allowed kids to ride him because he trusted the mentor working with him. And yet, as much as we loved having the new and improved Doc, one of our favorite stories will always be about a troubled, silent young man who was touched by Doc before Doc had learned to trust us. This young man came to the ranch with his sisters and wanted nothing to do with the horses. However, during his chore time he heard Doc’s story and when Brent took him out into the herd, he made it known that all he wanted to do with the horses was befriend Doc. Brent, a little doubtful of the outcome, gave him the go-ahead and then watched in amazement as Doc stood his ground and let the young man come quietly up to him and pet him. Brent stood back and let them help each other. It was beautiful! We hoped God would use him to bring about many more such stories for us to share in the years ahead.
To our great sorrow, after a short time working with kids, Doc developed some health issues that made keeping him at the ranch an impossibility. He was in significant pain and the only thing we could do for him was slow down the progress of the disease. After we shed some tears, we made the hard decision to have him put down. He was so special to us and to so many who came out to the ranch. He will always have a place in our hearts and on our webpage.
Birthday: 1990 Gender: Gelding Color: Sorrel Paint
A-Patchy came to our herd in 2016. For what will hopefully be the last time in his life, he had to make adjustments to a new location, a new job, and a new herd. Such changes are seldom an easy thing to go through. Despite the difficulties, A-Patchy learned fairly quickly where to fit in with the “Old Horse” herd. Even more exciting is that he quickly took up his position as one of the best little-kid horses we have. He willingly does whatever is asked of him, and asks only that his saddle fits properly and that he gets a treat at the end of his work. Due to some pretty severe arthritis in his knees, he primarily works with our small or timid riders. How encouraging it is for little people, to meet a horse who has maintained a humble, pleasant attitude and quiet courage in the face of unsettling life changes!
Birthday: 1999 Gender: Gelding Color: Leopard Appaloosa
This spotted wonder came to us just before Thanksgiving in 2015. He is partly blind. Yet in spite of his lack of sight, he remains spunky, curious and courageous. His biggest sight challenge is differentiating between the ground and 3D objects that are the same color as the ground. Because of that struggle, he requires that everything around him be pretty obvious and clearly delineated so he can avoid fences or tripping hazards like water troughs. In a world where things continue to grow more “blurry” in regard to right and wrong, this horse is a great reminder of why we need to work hard to help keep the differences clear.
Birthday: 1994 Gender: Mare Color: Bay
This little mare with the cute face is beloved by all and is also one of the meekest horses we own. (“Meek”: “using one’s strength for the benefit of others.”) While she is a bit of a loner in the herd, she seems to love doing endless laps at any speed around the arena when there is a kiddo on board. Some love her because of her name. Others love her for her story and still others love her simply for her personality. Whatever the reason or angle, Cookie captures the hearts of all who know her. She came to BYR before we even had fences up around our property. She was purchased at an auction where she was being sold as a kid horse and we were excited to have her. Because we had no fences yet, we kept her in a temporary pen on some neighboring property. To our dismay, not many weeks after she arrived she got tangled up in some barbed wire and in her fear she shredded her hind legs. After a suspenseful phone conversation with the vet Amanda rushed her to the clinic and they worked hard for several days to repair the extensive damage. There was some fear that she might have destroyed one of her tendons and need to be put down after all, but people prayed and God graciously allowed her tendon to be okay. After Cookie’s stay at the vet’s, Amanda brought her home and nursed her back to full health. Today, the only evidences of her traumatic experience are some large scars on her hind legs, and a small hitch in her step.
Birthday: 1995 Gender: Mare Color: Dark Brown
This little mare stands just over 13 hands high (that means she’s really little compared to the rest of the horses). Since her arrival she has gone through various attitudinal phases. At first she was quiet and quick to avoid trouble – to the extent of avoiding contact with horses and people. As she got more comfortable, she started to push back and was quick to pick fights with her herd members – especially over food. At that stage she was an accurate example of how a person who’s been bullied just because they’re small might end up without God’s intervention. She was so “prickly” that most of the horses avoided her. As a result, she was often by herself, or hanging out with some of the other “troublemakers” in the herd. Yet, even with this attitude, God worked through her that first summer to teach kids the importance of trust, kindness, and perseverance. Recently she has been on friendly terms with the rest of the herd, and it has been interesting to watch her attitude soften toward the people who come in to catch her (which may or may not have something to do with them occasionally having carrots in their pockets). We look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in and through her this summer!
Birthday: 1987-ish Gender: Gelding Color: Palomino
Dusty has a heart as golden as his summer coat. He came here when his previous owner, a young girl who loved him, needed a faster, younger horse for barrel racing. Now this gentle gelding teaches kids the basics of riding in a patient, cheerful way. One of our favorite sounds at the ranch is the laughter of a child bouncing away on Dusty’s back as he trots around the arena. Golden light, laughter, love, life; these words all describe an encounter with Dusty – as he simply and faithfully does the job his Creator gave him to do.
Birthday: 1996 Gender: Mare Color: Gray (White)
Izzy was a newcomer to our herd in 2016. She is a sensitive creature with a ton of personality. Perhaps because of her sensitivity, it takes a while for her to trust new people working with her. However, once there has been some relationship built and she knows what to expect and can relax, she is one of the most tuned-in, sensitive, willing horses we have at the ranch. She is great at teaching kids how subtle communication can be – and how impactful.
Birthday: 2005 Gender: Gelding Color: Sorrel Paint
“Jasper” is a kind of semi-precious stone, and our Jasper’s original owner made sure I knew that the first time I met him. But what we have come to find out is that this Jasper is ALL precious. There is no “semi” about him! He enjoys people and is often the first horse to come say “hi” out in the pasture. His abundant chestnut mane perfectly frames his large, but cute face, and it’s hard not to fall in love with him at first sight. He is one of the biggest horses in our herd but he doesn’t come across as intimidating because he’s such a gentle giant. He is eager to please and loves to go on trail rides (especially if he gets to move cows). The only reason his owner gave him up was because he and his wife were moving from the country into Bozeman for the sake of his wife’s failing eyesight. He chose to donate him here because he knew he would be useful and loved. Jasper is like his owner and is generous toward all who have contact with him. He has only been here for a short time but he has already given confidence to several beginner riders, and we love to hear the shrieks of laughter that come from his back when a child rides his lofty trot for the first time.
Birthday: 1994 Gender: Gelding Color: Sorrel
“Levi” is the Hebrew word for “attached.” He, along with his buddy Snow, were donated by a lady who was moving to Arizona and couldn’t take them with her. Even though he and Snow became part of a larger herd where they had the opportunity to make new friends, they have never let their former friendship waver. They can be seen most days eating hay side by side, or taking a nap together in their shelter. In a world where there is less and less faithfulness or lasting attachment, Snow and Levi exemplify true friendship in the field and in the arena. Not only is Levi a good friend to Snow, he is also good at showing kids what it takes to build a lasting relationship – commitment, selfless giving, communication, honesty, respect and trust. Levi is also our tallest horse, and many of the children who come here are initially intimidated by his towering height, and lean, powerful body. But they quickly forget that as they discover his quiet and gentle character. He is especially good with quiet, shy kids, because they find an empathetic friend in him.
Birthday: 1999 Gender: Gelding Color: Sorrel
This giant package of God’s grace arrived on our “doorstep” in late August, 2016. As the picture shows he arrived here with some large, not-yet-healed wounds from his past life. His former owner highly valued him, and claimed him as “the best horse he’d ever had.” However, though he loved this horse, and took the best care of him, one day an accident occurred on his way out of the hills after a pack trip. One of his mules somehow managed to open the trailer door as they were driving down the road. The mule fell out and his halter broke so he escaped with very little damage. Lucky also obediently stepped out of the open door, but his halter didn’t break and he was dragged down the gravel road for a little ways before his owner realized what had happened. The owner spent over a year helping to get him healed up and rehabilitated – often spending time massaging the area around his wound. Despite all his care he realized that Lucky would probably never be able to do the kind of intense riding they used to do in the hills. Not wanting to have that be the end of Lucky’s story, he contacted us and donated him to the ranch.
How many of us have been deeply wounded by those who love us – either by accident or because of actual fault? And how many of us let that wound be the end of our story – making any sort of future seem impossible? Lucky is a testimony not of luck, but of God’s care for those of us who have been wounded in life. God “… heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) But like Lucky, we have to be willing to let Him heal the wound from the inside out, and believe that He has a good future in store for us. Lucky has already packed a couple of kids around our arena, and his story has deeply impacted at least one of them.
Birthday: 1990 Gender: Mare Color: Black
This beautiful black horse is not only smart, she’s wise in the ways of the human / horse world. Maybellina was donated by a family in Whitehall in the early years of BYR and she quickly became the lead mare in our herd. Her dominance out in the pasture led to some very interesting dynamics with the people who worked with her. Some of those characteristics remain even though she is no longer the herd leader. For one, she isn’t afraid to have leadership competitions with the kids, which gives them a perfect opportunity to learn how to be a leader. For another, she isn’t afraid to show what she thinks and feels. While this can create some difficulties in working with her, in one sense it’s easy because she wears her emotions on the outside. If she doesn’t like what is going on, she let’s the rider know by pinned ears, swishing tail, or tensed body. Conversely, if she does like what’s going on, she quickly becomes soft, supple, and fluid in her movements. She makes it so easy to see what she likes – what makes her want to work with you, and what makes her want to toss you off – that it gives people a chance to think through what it takes for good communication, conflict resolution and persistence (among other things). One teenage man, who thought she was the best horse on the place, learned a lot about himself and how he interacts with others because of his relationship with Maybellina.
Birthday: 2010 Gender: Gelding Color: Brown
Scout lives up to his name by being one of the most curious horses we own. He is quick to investigate strange sights and sounds and seems most content when he is out on a trail ride – where he is typically found at the back of the bunch taking his time looking around at all the sights to be seen. Scout was bred and raised to be a roping horse by a wonderful family in Three Forks, MT. Due to a crooked front leg, it became clear early on that he would never get to do what he was bred for. Instead of neglecting him because of his deformity, his previous owner poured time and energy into him to make him all that he could be. When he had finished, he brought this cheerful, laid back horse to Breakaway Youth Ranch where he can make a difference instead of money. Even though he is young, Scout has already pitched in and carried his fair share of kids around the arena. We look forward to many years with this talented young horse.
Birthday: 1989 Gender: Gelding Color: Liver Chestnut
What is there to say about an intelligent, fun loving pony? He was given the title “Sir” to offset his small stature, but he doesn’t really seem to need it. Even though he is one of the older members of the herd, he’s not above playing. In the pasture, he instigates play fights, and loves playing in mud puddles. In the arena we have to watch him because he will sometimes take a playful nip at the calves of the person leading him. When the child riding him has control of the reins, we love to watch the interaction between pony and rider. Toby seems to get a fiendish delight out of being belligerent to the belligerent, but also thoroughly enjoys doing whatever is asked of him when it’s asked for politely and clearly. He reminds some of us of Merrylegs from “Black Beauty” (Merrylegs is gentle with the gentle girls, but dumps the obnoxious boys on the ground). Because of his short stature and round back he is also a favorite bareback mount. Whatever we call on him to do he does with his furry little ears pricked forward in seeming delight and with a mischievous twinkle in his big brown eyes. If there was a character of God that he was made to embody, it is JOY.
Birthday: 1994 Gender: Gelding Color: Grey (White)
This handsome fella is so named because he reminded one of our mentors of Psalm 51, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” We wanted him to be a living testimony of what God’s grace can do in a sinner’s life. Unfortunately he seems to take more pleasure in being an example of what some believers do – returning to, and rolling in, the filth they were saved from. Aside from his role (pun intended) in this analogy, Snow is also a faithful friend to his buddy Levi and is one of the most laid back horses in our herd. He is the horse that we turn to when we have kids that don’t understand their own strength, or who have not learned to control it. He patiently endures the rein and leg flappers that we subject him to without batting an eye. He willingly listens to and responds to any child who works on communicating with him, but if the rider is thinking only of themselves, he will ignore their flapping and squawking and wander over to the nearest weed patch, or go stand quietly in the middle of the arena by the mentor. He is the very embodiment of patience.
Birthday: 1999 Gender: Mare Color: Red Dun
Sophie’s name comes from the Greek word for “Wisdom.” And we have already learned wisdom from her! She was donated by a teenage gal in Bozeman who had the pleasant problem of having too many horses. Her parents wisely had to set a limit, and she had to choose one to let go. She picked Sophie and asked us if we would take her. We said yes, and her liveliness and tremendous personality has already added so much to our ranch! She is a very smart, athletic and sensitive horse who requires an attentive rider. In fact, she is so sensitive that she gets overstimulated sometimes and reacts in a negative way to the rider’s guidance. We want to give her every chance here at the ranch to learn to trust and relax as we interact with her in a consistently kind, encouraging and freeing manner. We hope that soon she’ll be ready to offer a more dynamic and safe ride to the kids who are ready to get off our older horses.
Birthday: 2010 Gender: Mare Color: Tobiano Paint
“Uweyv” (Uh-way-uh) is the Cherokee word for “River.” A line from an old hymn runs comes to mind when we think of this mare’s name. “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.” When this mare arrived here she was very friendly but a bit spoiled, emotional, and immature. “Peace” was not a word we would have used to describe her. However, as she has gotten to know who she is and what we expect of her in a variety of situations, she has become more respectful, generally eager to please, and increasingly more at peace. We hope and pray that with just a little more training she will be ready to help bring Jesus’ peace to many hurting young hearts so that no matter their situation they will be able to say, “It is well, It is well with my soul.”