Seven years ago while working at a Performance Horse barn, three year old Friendly Bandit Bar, an American Quarter Horse, came up for sale. I never even considered him as a horse that I would love to own. This sassy fellow was a piggy in his stall and had just started his training. To me he was the Wal-mart greeter of the alley way. His stall was the first one through the walkway door and he seemed way too interested in greeting people and being a clown.
Yup, I bought him.
Bandit and I tried showing in reining for a couple years and we both new from the start this was not a happy match. He was so resistant, nervous and down right unhappy. I’d get so frustrated with him. I was told to keep going. “Push him. Push him.” I was told it was my fault why he was the way he was in the show ring. But always in the back of my mind I felt he was just not happy, and to me an unhappy horse in his job was the worst thing to have.
I needed to see if it was my riding that was making Bandit kick out during lead changes and look so worried. So my plan was to have my trainer ride Bandit exclusively for 6 months and then show him. I stayed completely off his back. The day of the big show came and low and behold, Bandit kicked out at lead change, started raising his head and stopping completely in the middle of the ring and refusing to spin for my trainer. This may seem terrible to say but I was SO happy!
I took Bandit home that night! I turned him out with other horses for a year. No riding. Time for him to learn that there was life outside of a stall and an enclosed arena. That was the magical moment that his personality started to shine again. All his personality came back. The clown, the boy who only wants to make you laugh, Mr. Inquisitive, the horse that loves children, the horse that truly loves people.
In May of 2010 Bandit and I signed up with ACTHA. With no trail riding experience we attended our first trail ride in July of 2010 at The Flying Bee Ranch in McGrew, Nebraska. Bandit took fourth place and did every obstacle. I was so proud of him. That was the day I fell in love with my horse. We had found what we’d been looking for! ACTHA was what Bandit and I both needed.
Bandit has taken me to places I never could have gone without him. He has changed my life and he is my best friend. We truly get each other. Bandit did one of the first TV commercials for ACTHA. He is a bronze medal winner and was ranked #1 for the state of Nebraska in the Open division for the 2011-2012 ACTHA season. He also treated me to the reality TV world when he became a finalist on America’s Favorite Trail Horse. Bandit is my once in a life time horse. I am so blessed and grateful to have such a wonderful partner.