By Elisa Magagna
Eve Dodge has been training horses and ponies since she was seven years old. In fact, after making 50-cents an hour to train other people’s ponies, she even bought her first stallion when she was seven. Dodge trained horses for her dad, but said she really enjoys working with ponies. Ponies are smarter, “The littler they are, the smarter they are. You show them a couple times and the third time they say, ‘I know how to do that,’” said Dodge.
Now, Eve and her husband, Mike Dodge have 59 horses and ponies, including four stallions of three different breeds.
The couple explained the difference between breaking animals and training them. “Breaking them takes away their spirit. Training them gives them the choice.” And it’s easy to tell the difference between an animal that has been trained instead of broken. As Eve and Mike stood amongst the horses and ponies, they came up to the couple lovingly and walked around them in a way one might expect a dog or cat to do. Yet, when commanded to trot or do a figure eight, the animals were more than happy to oblige.
She’s been through a lot with these animals though; in 2004 Eve got bucked off of a pony and the fall broke her neck. “I was training her to gallop, walk and trot in a harness,” Eve said. She landed just like Christopher Reeve, and said she is lucky to be alive after the accident impacted her C1 and C2. After the fall, she gently rolled onto her back so she could breathe and then she called her daughter. “I think I broke my neck,” Eve had said.
The ambulance couldn’t find them because she’d fallen in a field. After a while she ended up going to Bingham Memorial and was life-flighted later to EIRMC. For five months she couldn’t go for a walk by herself and couldn’t even drive. Still despite all this, she continues to train her horses and ponies 15 years later. Eve remembered this event in detail especially since the Fourth of July marked the 15-year-anniversary of that event.
Even after many decades of training horses and ponies, they are still one of the most important parts of her life. She said there’s hardly any difference between teaching a kid, a dog and a horse. Among some of the surprising techniques she uses, is giving the animals bread for a treat. “They love bread and apples.” Eve has picked up as much as 700 lbs. of bread which she divvied up for SEICAA, her darling animals and her family. “We all enjoy the day-old bread, but I don’t like sweet bread,” Eve said.
Mike jokingly smiled at her and said, “That’s ‘cause she’s got me, that’s enough sweets for her.”
Mike is lucky to have her too. Eve is what many people are calling “an inspiration.” She was a single mother for 18 years, and continued to raise and train animals that entire time. She bought her own land and made a success of herself. Now she and Mike live together and enjoy taking care of these animals. Mike worked to help her for an entire year after her accident, so she could recover. The two also built a house together. To top that off, they’ve come up with some of the cutest names for their livestock. They have one horse named Thunder who has a baby named Lighting, “because Thunder comes after Lightning.” Another horse of theirs is named Big Casino because he’s worth $5000. They also have Magic, Porsche, Durango and Buck (all with amazing origins behind their names).
The couple talked lovingly about naming and raising the ponies. Eve said, “When the ponies are born you can pick them up and hold them; they’re about the size of a cat.”
The couple seems to completely complement one another as Mike Dodge loves horses as much as Eve does. “I always wanted a horse growing up,” he said. When he was old enough, 22 years old, he got a colt after training another horse. He said there would always be something special about that first horse he got. His first horse lived to be 26 years old.
Of the 59 horses and ponies the couple owns, almost all of them are for sale. Prices start as low as $500 for the baby ponies and go up to Big Casino who is worth $5000. For questions or information, please contact Eve Dodge at 208-680-0233.