LITHIA, Fla. - Have you ever seen a 1,200-pound horse lay down on its back, all four legs sticking up in the air, with a person straddling it? Katie Morris does it all the time with her mustang named Destiny.
This young lady from Lithia is only 18 and fast developing a reputation for her skill at training mustangs.
"It's an amazing feeling that she trusts me that much to lay on her back and do that,” Katie said.
Trust is the heart of the relationship she has with all her mustangs. It's why 2-year-old Destiny will also back up on Katie's cue and sit on a sofa. Katie says that's her favorite trick.
It's also why 5-year-old Toby the mustang will take a bow and hold it, while Katie takes a running leap and stands on his haunches.
Toby was the first mustang Katie trained from the beginning. He was wild and untouched, right off the truck. Today he's her liberty horse.
It's amazing to watch them perform together -- no lead rope, no saddle or bridle.
Tammy Morris has watched her daughter ride since she was a toddler, but when the mustangs came along, she realized Katie has something special.
"I was stunned,” she recalled. “I thought it was just the horse. It was just an unusual horse. But when she got the next one, I realized it wasn't just the horse. She has a gift."
Katie's gift was on fully display this year when she and Destiny enchanted the crowd in May at the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Ocala. They won the youth division and a check for $1,000 -- which Katie reminded us doesn't go far when you're feeding horses.
Then a few months later, she turned 18 and won her first show as an adult, besting 50 other trainers, some of them seasoned professionals.
"I felt incredible, because there were a lot of people I really looked up to in that competition, that I have watched for years. Placing first was really incredible.”
That win was with Prince Caspian, her 2-year-old Wyoming mustang that was so wild at first, she feared he might jump out of the round pen.
"It took like a month before he actually trusted me, then it took a few more weeks after that before we were really working together. One day I went out and he was amazing. He just understood everything on a new level and it was incredible."
It's teamwork that takes time, patience and dedication.
For Katie, her ultimate goal is finding good homes for the mustangs she trains.
"I think everyone's put here with a purpose and I think that's my purpose,” she added.
Katie just launched her new business on Facebook. She calls it "Trust Equine Training," a testament to the heart of what it takes to transform a wild horse into a loyal companion.
LINK: You can find out more and follow Katie's journey at: https://www.facebook.com/TRUST-Equine-Training-119193559486257/