Sometimes true love arrives unexpectedly.
For 38-year-old Jamie Galbraith, it came as a special gift from friends. It was a wild horse named Jules, now a 3-year-old all breed that was rounded up in North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park last year and gelded.
Jules, captured in a program to control the park’s horse population, was a gift to Galbraith from friends Paddy and Patty Griffith in the Yakima Valley town of Toppenish.
The Griffiths were visiting the park and she bought postcards with wild horses on them. She wanted more cards, so she called to inquire about them. That was when they found out about wild horses being auctioned.
“We bought 11 of them,” Paddy Griffith said. “Out of the 11 we gave five away.”
As soon as they saw Jules, named by officials involved in the roundup and horse registration, they wanted to give him to Galbraith.
“That was our intention from day one,” Griffith said. “He just didn’t know it.”
So in April 2011, Jules — a mixture with a known heritage of part draft horse, part Arabian and part quarter horse — became Galbraith’s first horse of his own.
“I was so excited,” said Galbraith, who works as a ranch hand in the Walla Walla Valley. “I couldn’t wait to see him.”
Galbraith has been around horses all his life, from his early years in Federal Way to moving here in 2005 to be with his step-sister who also loves horses. To train Jules, he obtained a DVD by Australian trainer Clinton Anderson, who emphasizes gaining respect and control of the horse so both animal and human lay a foundation to develop a good relationship.
Befriending a wild horse is a big job. When he first got Jules, Galbraith said, “He wouldn’t even let me pick his leg up. I had to build a bond with him. I had to build a relationship.”
The way to do that with a horse is the way it works with any friend whose company you enjoy.
“You spend time with them,” Galbraith said. “Then when you feed them, they see you and they get more used to you being there. I give him lots of unconditional love and care.”
They enjoy each other’s company and the bond they share is growing deeper.
“When we are out riding, whether it’s in the show ring or out on the trail, I talk to him about what’s ahead ... and I assure him that everything is all right. Jules is my partner, my brother, my friend; he’s family.”
Jules has a sense of humor, too. He runs and plays with other horses, shows great affection for Galbraith and at times will just lay in the water in a playful way.
Since he started training Jules, the two have been making the rounds of area horse shows and events, winning quite a few ribbons in the process.
“It’s fun and it’s something he’s learning,” Galbraith said.
Some of the events and horse shows they’ve attended include The Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days, placing third in the parade; the Harder Memorial, taking first place in the halter class; the Eddie MacMurdo, where he took fifth place in the costume class; and the Pink Ribbon Classic, placing fourth in halter.
Jules is definitely a charmer, often posing with fair royalty.
“He got his picture taken with all the girls and he just loved it,” Galbraith said.
Galbraith also took Jules to the annual blessing of animals at Walla Walla’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Oct. 4, in celebration of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
In addition to plenty of interactions with humans, Jules is sociable with several other horses.
“They play like two kids in a sandbox,” said Galbraith.
A member of the Walla Walla Wagon Wheelers, he and Jules also are starting to do more camping trips and trail rides, sometimes group rides to Bennington Lake and Harris Park.
But school is still not out for Jules the student and Galbraith the teacher-student; the two are also continuing with the Anderson methods of training.
“We’ve covered the groundwork,” Galbraith said. “Now we’re starting the intermediate.”
Later they will move on to advanced techniques. “You always learn new things,” he said. “It’s calm and relaxed. It’s like learning to do a ballet.”
And Jules responds well to his human friend.
“I love him to pieces,” Galbraith said. “He’s so laid back. I love him with all my heart.”