It was indeed a blue ribbon day recently for Caitlin Schoemmell and her horse How Do You Like Me Now. What most do not know is that this horse was also a “rescue” horse, meaning it had been rescued from abusive conditions by the United States Equine Rescue League (USERL) over four years ago. Also, how it was through hard work and perseverance that Caitlin and her pony came to such success.
It was February 2008 when the Johnston County, NC Animal Control was called out to deal with a neglected and abused horse who could not even stand on it’s own. They called the USERL to assist and they took control of the animal. They dubbed him Little Joe and took him to a quarantine farm for recuperation where he stayed for over two years before Caitlin would enter his life.
Liz Prillaman and her daughter, Caitlin Schoemmell, had been seeking to purchase a horse for six months but had not quite found the right one. Then in May, 2010, they stumbled upon an online ad for Little Joe. According to Liz there was an instant connection between the family and the horse and they were allowed to adopt the young colt after a two-month approval process. One of the main reasons was Caitlin’s years of experience in Chesterfield’s local 4-H program. The horse was moved to the 4-H boarding farm here in Chesterfield.
Caitlin dubbed her new pony “Bingo” as in “That’s the one!” and began to travel the long, hard road of training together to eventually compete in equestrian shows. 4-H had already taught Caitlin the value of hard work, determination and leadership and not just how to ride but also how to care for the horse and take responsibility for it’s welfare. She would need all those tools to take an untried horse and turn him into a true show horse.
Caitlin recalled how there were immediate trust issues which made even the simplest tasks such as grooming into a kicking hazard. At their first show together, Bingo, now with the show name How Do You Like Me Now, to honor his struggle, would not leave his trailer and Caitlin ended up sitting with him for six hours instead of competing.
Over the next several months though, they began to bond and become successful in the shows.
The family had also sought out professional trainers to help with Bingo.
One of the trainers and Bingo’s primary caretaker, Gaynor Hay, said that Bingo still requires medical treatments such as chiropractic sessions and shots to help him deal with the results of his early abuse. She contends that for a rescue horse to have such early success is almost unheard of.
Another of the trainers, Paul Baker, agreed. He was amazed at the progressive growth and perseverance displayed by both horse and rider.
Caitlin’s father, Bob Prillaman, who has been stationed overseas since 2009 as a Senior Military Advisor to our troops, first in Iraq and now Afghanistan, can certainly be proud of the success his daughter has achieved.
Caitlin is now a junior at L.C. Bird High School and plans to attend college. She will then pass the reins to her seven-year-old sister, Meredith, who will continue to train and care for Bingo. They also have tentative plans to adopt a second rescue horse in the future.
For more information on the 4-H and their programs visit www.4-h.org