Krystyn Markovic and Milo couldn’t have had a worse start.
The pair met on a sad day, shortly after the young equestrian and University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee student had lost her beloved first horse to sepsis, and her parents, who had subsidized that pony, were warning against buying another.
She was not exactly financially solvent when she met the un-raced Thoroughbred War Emperor, and certainly didn’t possess “horse money.” And he was a T-bred so high maintenance as to be the only one in his free-range herd who needed to live in a barn, thickly blanketed.
Yet, against all logic, Markovic took a $400 gamble in January 2011, and with no backup plan, purchased the ex-racehorse she nicknamed Milo. The odds were stacked against her.
“When he arrived at my barn after I’d purchased him, I put a saddle on him and he immediately bucked me off,” she says. In a moment of shock and awe, she watched her new, ill-advised horse bolt away, and she wondered if she’d made a mistake.
Sire: Candi’s Gold
Dam: First Million
Foal date: Feb. 24, 2003“My parents told me that the horse thing is too expensive, and said I should focus on school, getting a good job, and then buying a horse when I could afford it,” Markovic says.
Problems soon mounted from there. Milo proved difficult to ride, bucking often, and spooking at ground poles. “I realized I didn’t know him that well at all,” she says. And then Markovic lost her job.
But rather than give up, she bucked up.
“I called the barn crying and begged them to let me work off the cost” and they readily agreed, she says, noting that her barn showed a great deal of compassion when she most needed it.
Working diligently to keep her horse fed and housed, Markovic continued with her education, studying biology and other courses to equip her to eventually become a vet tech, and somehow she landed a temporary job in between to make it all work financially.
But Milo proved more difficult.
On the ground, he threw his weight around, “walking right over her,” and under saddle he bucked, darted, and spooked. “I set up some ground poles and he was so freaked out by them that he jumped the entire setup,” she says.
Markovic decided to put him away for a few months to give him a chance perhaps to get his bearings and possibly mellow. Her patience with the big guy was certain and she wasn’t giving in or giving up.
“I still don’t know what changed for him. I basically put him away for four months to let him settle down and get used to the place. I took lessons on a different horse and then one day, when I found out I couldn’t ride the lesson horse, my coach said there was nobody else for me to ride. She suggested I pull Milo out again,” she says.
He was great. He responded to her leg, he tucked his head, and he went through his gaits as if to say, “What? Of course I can do this!”
Looking back on those difficult early days trying to find work and figure out her irascible off track T-Bred, Markovic says she hardly recognizes her horse and her life. But stubbornness, persistence and perhaps a little faith seemed to have all paid off.
Over past two years Milo and Markovic have been successful competing, and doing beautifully. Milo’s bad behavior is gone and Markovic now smiles with confidence that yeah, she bought that horse, even though all logic argued against it. ♥