EXTREME MUSTANG MAKOVER: Addi Cross meets 'Mick'

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
How are things going between Addi Cross and her new mustang Mick? As Addi was being interviewed by phone for this article, she sat down just outside of the pen to talk.  Mick got up, went to the edge of the pen where Addi was, and laid down beside her. “He loves her,” Addi's mom Lori Troutman stated.

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

Back in January, we profiled 15-year-old Short Gap resident Addison “Addi” Cross’ upcoming participation in the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Extreme Mustang Makeover in the Youth Division.  

The program allows youths to adopt a wild mustang and in a 100-day time frame, gentle and train the previously untouched horse.

At the end of the 100 days, the youths compete for cash prizes to show what they have been able to accomplish and most importantly, get to keep the horse as part of an official adoption process.

In that initial article, Addi had not yet traveled to Ohio to pick up her mustang. Two big things have happened since then: 1.  Addi has picked and brought home her mustang, and 2. it’s been officially determined that the end competition will be done virtually through video submission and not in person.

“Last year it was virtual and it was kind of a rush thing because of COVID just happening and it really wasn’t planned out, but at least this year things are more planned out. They’re going to have us submit videos of our demonstrations, so we’re going to have them in an arena and submit our videos and get graded on that,” Cross explained.

While a bit of a letdown, the opportunity to train a wild mustang and make it a horse of her own gave Cross all the motivation she needed to carry on enthusiastically with the project.

“I really was bummed. My mom actually asked me if I wanted to wait until next year, but I said I can’t, I’ve been waiting on this for two years, I can’t wait another year,” Cross detailed.

“I went to Ohio, my appointment was at 11, but we got there early.  I wasn’t sure if they would let us in early because of COVID restrictions, but they let us in when I got there,” Cross stated.  “So, since I then had a much longer timeframe to look, I wasn’t as stressed out about picking up a horse and loading it up in an hour. I went around and just kind of looked at everything.

“My first horse was Mick, the horse I have now. He was standing there just eating hay and when I came up to the fence he just stood there. The other horses moved away. He stayed calm; a lot of the other horses didn’t, but he stayed calm,” Cross explained.

Mick, the 2-year old gelding from Nevada, did not have a name at the time, but more about that later.  

It was love at first sight.

According to Cross, “I looked at him and I looked at his temperament and how he was built, and he was just so pretty. He doesn’t have any major issues.  He was just so nice and didn’t have any problems.

“The first day that I got him, once we got home, I just let him chill out. He had been through a lot, having been brought all the way from Nevada to Ohio, and then the next day from Ohio to here. I started working with him the next morning.”

According to Cross, “Whenever I first went in, he was curious about me, but he was really more worried about everything outside of the pen as he was me. So, I started walking up to him and getting as close as he felt comfortable, and then I would back away. You want to make sure they don’t think you’re a predator to them.”

The real moment of connection between Addi and her horse would come a little later.

“Whenever I got out the wheelbarrow to clean around him, he came over to me and I reached out my hand and he touched me. I think it was the fact that there was something in between us and he felt protected by it. Then, the next day, I was able to get his tag off, and it was like every day he kept progressing with how much I could touch him,” Cross detailed.

“Today, after I got his tag off, I put a halter on him and started leading him and started touching him all over, even his back, and lifting his leg up. He was really itchy too and I think that had a lot to do with it, because it was good for him too,” Cross stated.

What felt like slow progress soon turned into rapid advancement.

“Now, I can pick up his front feet, I can brush him all over. He’s outside in a round pen, and we’ve gone past the barn and everything. We’re trying to get him out of his comfort zone by walking places, but he leads very nicely. I just did a presentation for my 4-H club, and he was around probably 20 people, and he did great,” Cross explained.

Progress is now trending positive at an accelerated pace, with rocket ship-like improvement seemingly every day.

“This has exceeded my expectations 100 percent. I thought I was going to have to have days and days of work getting to do different things. Like the halter, a lot of people have trouble with leading their horses. He ended up being great with it, he’s probably better than half the horses in our barn with it,” Cross explained.

According to Cross, “The first couple of days were a little hard, and I kind of felt like I was a little behind everyone else. But, then it seemed like with our progress, we went beyond everyone else.”

What’s in a name?  Well, for Addi Cross and her mustang “Mick,” there is great significance and meaning behind the naming story.  Addi announced the names, yes there is a show name and a barn name, and the meaning of both names, on the Addi’s Extreme Mustang Makeover Facebook page.

“The show name for my 2021 KY Youth Extreme Mustang Makeover gelding is ‘The Dream Lives On.”  This may sound like just a normal show name, but for me it goes a lot deeper. Some of you may have known my cousin Delaney Mickey, and if you didn’t, man you missed out. Delaney passed away two years ago at 15 years old from Battens Disease. She loved, loved,  loved horses. I believe that for her they weren’t just something that she got to ride, but they were an escape from everything else that was going on in her body, mind, and life. Delaney’s support group became known as ‘Delaney’s Dream.”  

“That’s where the show name, ‘The Dream Lives On’ came from.  She taught me a lot in her short lifetime, one of those things was to never give up even when things get hard. This is exactly the advice I need with this challenge. I know that if she were here right now she would be doing something with her passion for horses also. But now, since God had other plans, I am going to dedicate this one to her.”

As for a barn name, Addi has decided to simply call him “Mick” or “Mickey,” taking Delaney’s last name and making it his first.  As Addi describes, “I think it first his super silly personality.”