Mucho

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Originally intended as a polo pony, Macho Magic grew too big…and was too slow.

Paul Kuhn, the manager of Kirby Hill Farm, suggested that one of the trainers located at the farm, Melissa Hogan, start working with him.

Melissa soon had a student in mind for the seven-year-old bay Thoroughbred gelding, a student who had a full barn, but not one rideable horse. It turned out Macho Magic wasn’t only too big and too slow…but too green as well.

Emily and Sarah Delaney were working at Melissa’s barn, Revolution Equestrian, in exchange for lessons. The too big, too slow, too green horse did seem quiet, so Melissa let the girls put him on their hack list occasionally in exchange for all their work. In time, they began taking lessons on him.

For Sarah, it was love at first sight. “The first day I met him he was sweet and calm and that’s the number one thing I looked for in a horse.”

Not so for Emily. “I didn’t like him at first because he didn’t seem to have the will to learn.” But they both thought he was cute. “He was very fat, and had no mane.” Shaved off in the name of polo, his mane was nothing but a black streak up the middle of his neck.

The fact that the young gelding was very green didn’t bother Sarah. “He was very unbalanced and needed lots of work but he was still a lot of fun.” To get over the lack of balance, “Emily and I worked a lot on canter transitions, on overall conditioning and getting him more muscled up. We did lots of poles too. Riding him every day was a big change for him because he had been turned out for a while, doing nothing.”

They also didn’t allow any shenanigans. One day as Sarah was riding in the outdoor ring, Macho, thinking about being just a little bad, started to implement his strategy, getting a tad quick and perhaps planning a buck or a spook.

“Cut it out,” Sarah growled.

You could read the look on Macho’s face…oops, caught! He quickly gave up that idea.

Emily began to enjoy Macho as they spent more time with him. “The more we worked with him, the more fun it was to ride him and the more balanced he was.”

Melissa tried using him as a lesson horse, but he made sure to quickly register his complaints about that. He would hop when a kid on his back petted him, and get strong at the canter. Melissa scratched that idea.

A month after the girls had begun riding Macho, they started jumping him. The light switch went on in Macho’s head. This was fun, this was what he wanted to do!

“He loved jumping. He would go over it and hop like he was so proud of himself. He had a smile on his face, he absolutely loved it!” shares Sarah.

“He was the kind of horse, if you were confident, he was willing. The first time over a flower box, he stopped and walked over it like ‘I don’t know what you want me to do with this,’ but he did it.”

As Macho got stronger, and more consistent with his leads, it became time to teach him his lead changes. Sarah and Emily would canter a line, pull down to the trot and then pick up the new lead.  In time he started to do it himself.

Macho’s looks changed. He put on weight and muscle, his coat developed a shine, his mane grew. And he began to appear in new boots, a new saddle pad, new tack. He began to take on the looks of a privately owned horse, that “somebody loves me” look.

As time passed and the girls continued to ride and work with the horse, it began to feel as though he was their own. Sarah had wanted her own horse since she was eight (she’s 18 now). And he would make her happy; he was the perfect horse for her.

The girls just wanted to make it official.

Sarah shared her lists of reasons with her mom, Barb, about why Macho (who was now more appropriately called Mucho Magic) should be theirs. And she didn’t quit, she just kept asking.

What Sarah didn’t know was that her mom had already been thinking that buying Mucho might be an option. But the timing wasn’t the best. Barb and her husband were divorcing, and the family would be moving to Pennsylvania.

Every time Sarah asked her mom about Mucho, Barb would just laugh and say “We can’t do that.” After all, her daughters wanted every horse they rode. Barb just assumed Sarah would stop bugging her in time.

Barb didn’t have much horse experience, and she worried. What if something happened to Mucho and she didn’t know what to do? What if he got hurt and she couldn’t afford the vet bills?

Still, they were moving to Pennsylvania, where Barb knew it was less expensive to keep a horse. And having Mucho come with them would be a great way to help Sarah and Emily adjust to the move.

While there were so many reasons not to buy Mucho: the divorce, the move…it seemed there were just as many reasons why they should.

Sarah, meanwhile, was working both sides of her family. She sent photos every day of her and Mucho to her Dad, who thought Mucho was adorable.

The girls had another ally as well. They were riding with Nicole Bulzachelli, and Nicole quickly realized that Mucho needed to be a part of their family. “I took videos of their lessons on him, and told their parents that this was a special horse, and that Sarah had a really special connection with him. I also told them that, since they were moving, Mucho was just what they needed to make that move easier on the girls.”

Sarah says, “I think my mom was thinking more about buying him so she convinced my dad and then it kinda happened pretty fast. My mom went to Nicole and told her, then we all went to Melissa. Melissa was really happy! Nicole absolutely loved the idea because she knew him and knew we needed a horse. Nicole did a lot towards us getting our parents to buy him; she knew he was the horse for us. She told them he would take care of us.”

The campaigns and the suggestions from all sides worked their magic. Yet, despite all the campaigning to get the horse, Sarah was still surprised when she heard the words ‘He’s yours.’

“It was kind of weird because I was at Melissa’s stall (the horse Melissa) and my mom came over and said, ‘You do know Mucho is yours, right?’

I was in shock, people kept saying, ‘Congratulations!’ and I thought, ‘I’m really getting a horse!’”

After they moved to Pennsylvania, Mucho “was very different. He’d been out 24/7 and now he’s in a stall. He was very confused for a month or two. At Pine Creek Sport Horses, where he lives now, we have been doing a refresher course for him, conditioning him and working on poles.”

Mucho is doing exactly what Barb had hoped, helping give the girls something to focus on in a new place, a new situation. And while he gives to the girls, they give back to him, caring for him and helping him learn a new career.

“He’s jumping more, he likes long distances so we’re working on getting him more to the base, and getting him to land on the right lead. He’s a lot stronger in the winter. He’s definitely a summer horse rather than winter,” shares Emily.

The girls know what they want to do with Mucho, but also know they will never push him into a job he doesn’t want. “I have a picture of him being a 2’6” hunter in the future, but it all depends on what he wants to do. We’re not going to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do,” says Emily.

Sarah was thrilled when she discovered Mucho was theirs. She had bonded with him from the very start. But Emily?

Initially, “I actually wasn’t that happy because he wasn’t the horse I pictured having cause he didn’t know all that much.”

But now? Now she has changed her tune. “After giving him all the love and attention, he changed in a snap.”