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Through Extreme Mustang Makeover, Kaylin Drake Gets Horse of her Dreams and Best Friend

By Julie Perine on July 11, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Kaylin Drake anticipated that raising a wild mustang would be challenging and would provide her with her best friend in the world.
She was right on both accounts.
 
The upcoming Bridgeport High School freshman shared with Connect-Bridgeport in January that she would participate in the 2018 Extreme Mustang Makeover, sponsored by the Mustang Heritage Foundation. Fairly new to the horse world, she knew it would be a major undertaking. Since February, she has spent several hours per day with her yearling, Rhett. Drake said it was love at first sight and that fate brought them together.
 
In late-February, Drake and her family traveled to Tennessee where more than 40 yearlings – horses up to two years of age – were in a holding facility and awaited to be entrusted into the care of a youth in the Mustang Makeover program.
 
She said Rhett immediately caught her eye.
She had been praying for a Red Roan Gelding and there he was, Drake said. From the first time she saw the fuzzy, scared little colt, she wanted him and she was overjoyed to find out that by random draw, he has been assigned to her. Standing at 12.2 hands high, Rhett had been untouched by human hands, but she was immediately petting him, she said. He was loaded onto Drake’s trailer and taken to Brightbill Farm Training Facility in Jane Lew for a first touch demonstration.
 
“Later that week, we worked on some ground manners, then we hauled him to the Barbour County Fairgrounds just to get him used to loading and traveling different places,” she said. “We worked in the arena a good bit.”
 
Rhett was initially housed in Philippi, where trainer Mike Hurst showed Drake the ropes of working with a wild mustang. Drake traveled to Philippi daily.
 
“I worked with Rhett four hours per day, doing my homework on the way or way back and eating dinner around 10 p.m. every day,” she said.
 
With school still in session, it was was a tough schedule, but she was OK with it. 
 
“I loved working with Rhett. Being with horses is like my release to all my stress. When I was with him, I was happy and didn’t care what time it was,” she said. “The commitment level was very high, but I didn’t mind.”
 
Within her first eight hours of working with Rhett, he came from the bottom of the pasture when she called his name. With each minor victory came deep satisfaction and the victories kept coming as they worked on specific moves from lunges to crossovers.
 
After working with Rhett in Philippi for eight weeks, he was moved to Kross Kreek Farms on Brushy Fork. Rhett was growing well physically and developmentally. Within six weeks, he stood at 14.2 hands high. Eventually, he could lie down, lift all four hooves, stand for the farrier and didn’t mind getting bathed – unless there was an approaching storm. His appetite was great and he even shared his food. He used body language, engaging his head and tail when “talking” and loved to run, jump and be with friends – both horses and humans.
 
Drake attended 4H Equine Camp with Rhett and that all went very well, she said.
 
It’s all about mutual trust, she said.
 
“Whenever you work with horses, it takes a lot of time out of your day, but they just love you and always want to be with you.”

West Virginia’s only competitor in the Mustang Makeover youth division – ages 8 through 17 – Drake was able to show off her work June 20 in Lexington, Kentucky, taking part in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition. He placed 24th out of 30.
 
Though placement was not impressive, Rhett did complete all stunts which is victory in itself, she said.
 
Drake and Rhett will have another opportunity to compete as they will travel to Georgia during the third week of October. They continue to work hard for that opportunity.
 
Rhett still lives at Kross Kreek Farms.
 
“That’s where he’ll stay until we get our farm figured out,” Drake said. “Then, that is where he will be.”
 
The Wallace farm which her family is acquiring has been in the family for more than 100 years and has been unoccupied for more than 20.
 
Drake is excited to move Rhett home with her and starting their next chapter together. 
 
“He’s not just a horse. He is my therapist, my pride and joy, my happiness and my best friend,” she said.
 
Editor's Note: Top two photos were taken in Tennessee when Drake first met Rhett. Bottom two photos were taken at the Lexington competition. Continue to follow Drake's journey at the Grace & Glory Youth Horsemanship Facebook page. 



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