French teen has horse sense

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INDUSTRY — Jess Chillet leaned over and kissed Snickerdoodle, a Welsh pony, on the nose.

In return, the 8-year-old mare licked Chillet on the arm, leaving mixed drool and mud.

The 16-year-old exchange student from France has a way with horses. She uses her patience and soothing words to comfort them and get them to do what she wants.

Chillet, who is staying with host parents, Carla and Thomas Wright in Phillips, is attending Mt. Abram High School in Salem Township as a sophomore, though she is a junior in her country.

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“I love horses,” Chillet said in English with a twinge of French accent. “I’ve been riding since the age of 4.”

Carla Wright knew of Chillet’s passion for horses before she arrived through the SHARE! Exchange Program in January.

The Double B Equine Rescue on West Mills Road in Industry was the answer. The rescue organization takes in abused, neglected and surrendered horses, and is always in need of donations.

“I love it. I love everything about it,” Chillet said.

She spends Saturdays volunteering at the farm and has been there daily during vacation.

“I prefer jumping and going fast and I do old English stuff,” she said.

Snickerdoodle is one of her favorites.

“She is gentle and perfect,” Chillet said.

When the horses arrive, some don’t have names and rescue owners, Brenda and Lennie Green, don’t know what they can do. Many of them have been beaten with a 2-by-4, Brenda Green said.

Chillet’s natural talent lets her bond with them.

“I work with them to know how to walk with a rider,” Chillet said. “You talk to the horses with your voice in different tones and use body language. While you’re talking, you bond.”

Chillet started out getting the mare accustomed to her by brushing her and playing a little bit.

As trust grew, she put a saddle, blanket, bridle and other gear on the ground so Snickerdoodle could smell them.

“I made some noise,” she said, and within 10 minutes she had the blanket and the saddle on her.

“I told her ‘Oh my God, I love you,’” Chillet said.

She had leaned her upper body against the horse’s back to get her used to weight. She eventually climbed into the saddle.

“She was OK and she was looking at me like ‘lets go.’ I sat on her and she was OK,” Chillet said. “She didn’t kick. She didn’t move. She was maybe a little stressed.”

A few words and rubs soothed her.

“Now I’m training her to jump. I don’t know if she likes it or not,” she said.

Chillet led the horse down a dirt road leading past the other horses to reach a riding ring in the lower field where some jumps were set up.

When you are with a horse, you have to behave like another horse, she said.

“If a horse is scared, you have to be calm like another horse would be,” Chillet said. “When you are working with horses you have to watch all of their muscles.”

It gives you insight into what they are feeling

She is breaking in some of the most difficult horses including Dreamer, a wild mare. So far, the horse has let her brush her mane and tail, forging the bond slowly.

Down at the ring, Chillet used a training stick to get Snickerdoodle to run around and jump the hurdles.

“She loves horses,” Brenda Green said as she and Carla Wright watched.

“She teaches them to jump. She is teaching Quinn to bow,” Green said. “We did not know a lot of the horses could be ridden until Jess came. Here she comes, 15 at the time, and she’s getting on the horses one-by-one. She has a gift for horses. She does. Snickerdoodle has been here five years and we didn’t know she could be ridden. It’s going to be tough when Jess goes.”

Snickerdoodle ran around the pen jumping the hurdles, knocking some down.

“Again,” Chillet said making a clicking sound as the mare made one more circle and kept going. “What are you doing? You’re not waiting for me.”

dperry@sunjournal.com

Double B Equine Rescue

The Double B Equine Rescue in Industry is in need of donations to keep the horse farm going. Brenda and Lennie Green have 20 horses that have either been abused, neglected or surrendered. They do get some state funds for horses that have been surrendered but not enough to keep them ahead. They depend on donations but they have even dropped way down in these economic times, Brenda Green said.

“We spend a lot out of pocket. We have to keep it going but we’re not going to let it go.”

Two of the horses are being adopted this week leaving 18 to tend to.

The hay barn is empty. The couple have been buying hay by the bales just to keep the horses fed.

If anyone is interested in donating, they may either deposit money into the Double B Equine Rescue account at Bangor Savings in Farmington or drop a donation into the mail or drop by the farm at 997 West Mills Road in Industry. To contact the Greens, call 778-6479.

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