Starting out training Diamond for reenacting was simple. First I had to find out how he was going to react to a gun going off. The guns we use in the cavalry are black powder pistols; usually a Colt or a Remington, and we load rounds of black powder and cream of wheat or cereal, so we are essentially shooting blanks.
On our first attempt I held Diamond while my 4-H leader fired off a shot from about 30 feet away. The shot made him jump and look in the direction of the noise but the initial sound did not seem to bother him. It wasn’t until the smoke hit his nostrils and he got his first taste of the “black powder smell” that he started to snort and back away. I was pleased with this reaction because he stopped backing up as soon as I asked him to step forward. With each shot my 4-H leader stepped closer and fired again until it didn’t seem to bother him anymore.
After seeing this I knew he would be a natural. Now my challenge was to not make a complete fool of myself. My first reenacting event was just a small home town event where I rode in one battle in the middle of thick woods with two other horses. My only goal that day was to keep up and stay on, which I did both and had fun while doing it. I thought to myself that this was something I could see myself doing. My second event was actually a movie shoot. Diamond and I were extras in the movie “War Flowers,” which taught me that I never want to be in the movie business because I am an “anti-drama” kind of person, but it was a lot of fun and gave me a lot of great stories to tell. I also get to tell people I was in a movie, and how many of us get to say that?
After the movie shoot and a few more events I was hooked, and so was Diamond for that matter. Training for shows didn’t excite either of us anymore. We were no longer happy riding in circles all day working on the same thing over and over again. We want to get out there and run through the fields shooting off guns and playing with sabers. I think Diamond loves it almost more than I do. He gets so excited when he sees me pull the gear out because he knows he gets to go have fun.
The partnership we have built in just the past few years from reenacting have been our strongest yet. He never questions me when I tell him to go somewhere. He has complete trust in me and I have complete trust in him. Having that connection with another animal is amazing to me. We worked together to get him from where he was, not trusting anyone, to having complete trust in me. His story of strength is one that I love to tell for many reasons, not only because I got to see him grow but because he helped me grow as well. So if you missed any of the other stories be sure to go back and read his whole story at Diamond in the Rough: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
My first reenactment was in 2009, and throughout the years I have gone to many local and national events and meet a lot of great people along the way. So if you ever get a chance to go to a Civil War Reenactment be sure that you do, because you never know what could happen, it just might be the hobby for you.