Jordyn Delmet said she especially likes the quote: “Life is a gamble, bet on yourself.”
When the rural Ottawa woman entered a 90-day challenge to gentle a wild mustang without any previous experience, she was taking a chance.
“I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into,” Jordyn said, remembering her cautious optimism, because the 27-year-old has had much experience riding and training horses, beginning when she was 8, but never worked with a wild mustang.
She was betting on herself.
Gambler’s Full House, or Gambler for short, is a 4-year-old mustang taken from the wild herd area in Triple B Nevada and virtually untouched by humans. He was rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management and taken out of the wild because there were not enough rangeland resources. When she picked him up, he didn’t have a name: just the number 6203 for identification. He was passed for adoption three times.
“I was taking a gamble, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into,” she said of his name.
Relocating to Illinois from Georgia, Jordyn first needed some encouragement from her grandmother Grace Riebe before she took the mustang challenge. Jordyn had talked about wanting to do it, but she would talk herself out of it.
Her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and died in November, but before she passed, she advised a hesitant Jordyn to just go for it.
“I needed to stop holding back and just do it,” Jordyn said, once and for all.
Eighty-one days in, she has no regrets.
Gambler can climb and stand with all four feet onto a pedestal, walk across a teeter-totter, stomp out balloons without running away and walk sideways across an obstacle of fun noodles.
She and Gambler will be among 50 teams competing Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13, at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wis.
“I knew I could do it,” she said.
To see Gambler show off his tricks, Jordyn is happy with how far he’s come along.
She recalls the first day herding him into a horse trailer, he was shagged over with hair and muddy from the conditions. When they arrived at home late that night in the middle of one of the winter snowstorms, she put Gambler into a stall.
She was excited, because he let her touch him and take off his tags. There was a bond she could build on.
“None of it is easy,” she said. “It’s about creating a bond you don’t get with a domestic horse. He’s used to being in a herd, so he’s looking for his herd. With no other horses around, I’m his ‘horse.’ ”
Jordyn started a Facebook page to chart her progress with Gambler, demonstrating the step-by-step process of gentling him. She posts to it almost every day.
Scrolling through the page demonstrates how she started with simple tasks and bonding.
On day 3, she introduced him to a saddle pad and day 5 trained him to put his head down, something she knew was important to establish for other lessons.
On the seventh day, she took him outside to train and he rolled around in the snow, a good sign for her to see he’s comfortable with her.
It took 11 days for her to begin leading him on his right side without him biting; 19 days to begin marching; 31 days to begin target practice with a pallet; and 64 days to go over the teeter.
The 50th day was significant, because she accomplished one of her biggest goals, and that was to ride him.
She estimates she spends about five hours per day with him, including multiple visits for feeding, watering, grooming and training. Sometimes it’s more than that, other days a little less.
She’s been surprised by his temperament. Estimating at a size of about 13 or 14 hands, he’s naturally curious and mostly gentle.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Jordyn said. “I thought he might be more aggressive.”
Jordyn has received community of support, beginning with her family and parents. She’s married to Bruce and her 4-year-old son Brandt helps work with Gambler on the obstacles.
She’s received sponsorship from Today’s Equine, Bassett Farm, BL Horseshoeing, Indigo Janes Hair Boutique, Rhonda Johnson Photography, Nicker Bait, Spirit Farms, Little Britches Rodeo and Coyote Junction.
She’s hopeful she can qualify among the top 10 in the Midwest Horse Fair competition and perform in the freestyle show.
The plan is for her to lead Gambler around her in a circle while she stands on his pedestal hula hooping to the song “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates.
And yes, the song selection, like Gambler’s name, was deliberate.
“Gambler was a huge pick-me-up for me,” said Jordyn, who intends to keep Gambler after the competition. “I didn’t know his background and we’ve bonded together. It’s helped me believe in myself.”
And she’s ready to take other chances.
“I want to continue to gentle mustangs. I don’t know where that will take me next.”
To follow Jordyn’s journey: Go to Facebook and search “Mustang TIP Challenge 2019 Jordyn Delmet.”
Go to mywebtimes.com to watch video of Jordyn and Gambler.