Nevada Snowpack, a Nevada Mustang
By Julie Von Tobel Gleason
I have adopted several mustangs over the years and have fostered many more. I currently have three mustangs that I have had for 10 plus years. I love them all equally but there are times when one certainly wins the favor of my heart over the others. Nevada Snowpack -- Packer as we call him -- is currently the lucky recipient of my Favorite Horse of the Month Award.
Packer, the Appaloosa I adopted from the Nevada Wild Horse Range, is more of an oversized puppy dog than a horse. You cannot force him to do ANYTHING but you can sweet talk him into whatever you need. Packer was saved during an emergency wild horse gather in a severe drought year, similar to this year. The springs went dry in his herd management area which is located within the boundaries of the Nellis Test and Training Range. BLM and the United States Air Force hauled water for several weeks until BLM could organize the Emergency Gather. When Packer was gathered, he was in poor shape and I thought he was the ugliest horse on the planet. My husband fell in love with the roan Appaloosa with the white blanket that reminded him of Nevada’s snow capped mountains. My husband was the instigator in making sure the new wild mustang had a place in our barn. Packer’s stall was right next to my nationally ranked, exceptionally trained, finely chiseled and sculptured Arabian mare. Packer looked even uglier in his frail and fragile state standing next to my mare with her strong lineage of carefully chosen ancestors.
Now 12 years later, Packer is fat, happy and an absolute head turner to all who visit the Ranch. In addition to savoring his regular meals, he loves the occasional butt rub. Telling him how wonderful he is goes right to his head as well! Packer has turned his $125 dollar adoption fee into invaluable memories and adventures.
Having logged miles of trail riding with both beginner and experienced riders, Packer is always an eager buddy horse for the rider or fellow horse that may be out on the trail for the first time. He has ponied several of his less secure friends around mountain trails. My amazing mustang has the greatest instincts on the trail. One time while up in the Spring Mountain Range, we were being followed by a mountain lion and Packer let us know the cat was there. Over the past several years he has hauled my husband, Mike, over remote Nevada Ranges during hunting season. On two occasions, Packer has even “packed” Mike out of severe snow storms. My husband and his friends might have died if it were not for Packer. Currently Packer and I ride the Nevada deserts as volunteers on a missing person’s search and rescue team but our favorite times are the neighborhood rides with the girls.
When Packer first “moved in” with us, I couldn’t imagine his ability to accomplish any of these feats. And I certainly would never have guessed that, within six months of adopting him, Packer would attend – AND WIN!! – in his first horse show. He won lead line classes with my six year old son and a first place with me.
I could go on endlessly about my remarkable experiences with Packer, but perhaps the latest task that I kindly asked him to take on is the most endearing. This year I volunteered Packer to prepare my friend John for a cattle drive in Montana. John is 83 years young. He came over twice a week to ride Packer and prepare for the long days he would spend in the saddle in Montana. Packer did a tremendous job. He stood quietly while John got off and on. He slowed down when he felt John sliding to the side. He also allowed John to perform his balancing three-point exercises in the saddle. We were all confident that Packer knew his job and he proved himself to be a most loyal companion. That horse made certain that John was well taken care of throughout his conditioning and he did all of this in exchange for a few carrots and some kind words at the end of the ride.
There are many ways to get involved with the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program. You can volunteer to monitor waters, herd areas, and assist with public outreach, but Packer and I believe adopting is truly the most rewarding. If you are thinking about adopting, think no more …”Just Do It”... Get yourself a friend for life. I did.