U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 333


Mustang Adopter Says Patience, Love and Music
Are Keys to Winning the Hearts of Mustangs
 
Mt. Shasta mustang owner Roxanne Talltree has some sound, and maybe unusual, advice for new wild horse adopters: Patience, trust, leadership and love – and maybe a little music – are the keys to converting a wild horse into the “best equine partner you will ever have.” (text continues below)

Roxanne treats her mustang Smoke to a gentle tune on a recorder-like flute

 
In printed information provided to adopters, Talltree offers advice from her perspective:
  • Play a musical instrument near the animal. "If you play your instrument near your new mustang, he will come and check you out, sniff and snort, and want to make friends. I guarantee it. Harmonicas, flutes and guitars (not electric) are good. They will spark your mustang’s curiosity and you will learn something new!"
  • "Mustangs are different, wonderful and unique. They have the wild in their blood and it will never go away. Let it live there. Respect it and even learn to help them nourish it. They will still be your partner, and you will learn more about your horse and yourself than you ever thought possible.
  • And perhaps most importantly, "You will not be able to force anything on your horse. You will have to earn everything he/she has to give you."
Above, Roxanne, a BLM wild horse and burro program volunteer, treats her mustang, Smoke, to a gentle tune on a recorder-like flute.
 
“They love music,” she says of wild horses, “especially soothing music.” But Roxanne’s advice to new horse owners goes much deeper, focusing on trust and understanding as the basis for building a good relationship.
 
Roxanne with her partner, Elvon Douglas, and Smoke
 
Roxanne and her partner, Elvon Douglas, are the proud owners of Handsome Whistle Smoke (just “Smoke” to his friends), a striking 14-year-old black gelding from the Devil’s Garden Herd Territory in Modoc County. Roxanne happily offers gentling and training advice to new adopters through her Mustang Medicine Hoop Wild Horse Partners endeavor.
 
There is an almost spiritual tone to the advice Roxanne offers mustang adopters, and a constant reminder that to train a wild horse a human must also be willing to undergo some training.
 
“I was inspired when I heard that owning and training a wild horse will make you a better person,” she says. “I believe that. These horses will bring out the best in you. They will even bring out the worst in you. They are our teachers. We learn from them. We need to learn to adapt to their world.
 
“Mustangs are smarter, keener, quicker and cooler than many other breeds,” she advises. “They will know what you’re up to oftentimes more than you, yourself, will know.”
 
In addition to training horses, Roxanne is now teaching Elvon to be a “horse person.” A native Alaskan (a member of the Haido Tribe), Elvon had never been around horses until he met Roxanne. He and Smoke have now formed a strong bond, a source of amazement and amusement for his family, and even for himself.
 
“My son said, ‘Dad, we are canoe people, not horse people,’” Elvon says, referring to his tribe’s reputation to building exquisite watercraft.

At last weekend’s BLM adoption event in Yreka, Elvon led Smoke around the adoption area, and then entertained a pen of wild yearling mustangs with some crafty riffs on his ukulele. The curious geldings lined up along the fence to hear him play, confirming Roxanne’s observations about mustangs’ love of music.

“If you would have told me six months ago that I’d be playing this ukulele for a group of wild horses, in my new hat and my new boots, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he chuckles.

- J. Fontana, 5/08


- BLM-California News.bytes, issue 333

 

 
Last updated: 05-27-2008