U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Fall 2009 National Wild Horse and Burro Newsletter|
Table of Contents
"Sampson", my friend
"Sam" and Samantha practicing.
"Sampson", the mustang, arrived at the farm where I worked. He was a high spirited five year old grey mustang gelding. Sampson had more than a few prior owners and very little training before ending up in Maryland from Wyoming. He was an alpha male whose attitude threw off the balance of the herd dynamics at the farm. He was pushy and aggressive on the ground. He was unpredictable on the lunge line. Sampson also needed a new start.
Even though both Sampson and I desperately needed to start new chapters in our lives, we did not become fast friends. He wanted very little to do with me. The only thing I saw was a horse with the same nickname as my own, Sam. My trainer claimed otherwise. What she saw, and what I will forever thank her for seeing, was a girl and a horse that needed each other.
My trainer assigned me to Sampson. He was to be my "project" for the summer. I was to work on basic ground training, lunging, and eventually under saddle. After getting knocked around a bit working with Sampson, I was finally able to saddle and ride him. We were ready for the county fair.
At the fair, I rode Sampson and talked about working with a mustang during demonstrations with other mustangs and their owners. Sampson even showed off during the first demonstration taking a roll with me in the saddle. After the second roll, a woman came up to me and asked why my special little horse had not performed his "trick." She came back to see it. I could not help but laugh to myself when she asked me and I watched Sampson intent on the tractor pull in the neighboring arena. All the other horses went to the back walls of their stalls. Sampson was certainly special alright.
"Sam" - MY 10-year gelding.
As the fair went on, it became harder and harder for me to tell people that Sampson was for sale and looking for a good home. People asked me why I did not want to keep him. We looked like a perfect fit they said. At first I told them it was because I was going to Cornell University in the fall to study engineering. Later my answer changed to "I don’t know." I did not know.
Samantha and "Sam"
At the end of that summer, my trainer gave me the greatest gift, Sampson. Even though we both started to gain an understanding of each other, it took a little more trust building and time for us to become inseparable. We both understood that the other needed consistency. I promised him and myself that I would not let him get kicked around to yet another home.
I moved Sampson up to Cornell with me the summer before my sophomore year. I had become depressed again and he reportedly become restless and difficult to handle back in Maryland. I was blessed enough to find a farm where I knew Sampson would get the best care. As an added bonus, Sampson got turned out with other mustangs. The "spring" returned to his step within 24 hours of setting foot on the farm property.
Sampson and I continued to ride and train in New York. We also continued to bond. It is truly amazing thinking back on how far we had come together. People stop and watch us ride. Sampson helped me return my focus on school and studies. The depression began to fade away. Now if the depression comes back; I can be found sitting outside in the field with Sampson at night where he will patiently stand watching and guarding me.
People often compare Sampson to a big dog. He trots down to the gate when he sees my truck and waits patiently watching. He follows me around and loves me. He wants a good scratch and of course a peppermint. He also still loves watching tractors.
Now instead of me asking other people if they were interested in buying a little grey mustang, they ask me if Sampson is for sale. Would I consider selling him? My answer comes much easier than it did during the start of the county fair. He is not for sale; he will never be for sale. He saved me and I saved him.
"Sundance, Dakota, and Cheyenne"
By Laura Powers
"Dakota", Laura's first Mustang.
I have a chronic disease. My mustangs have helped me through the tougher parts. They are very therapeutic and a joy to be around.
I have been very fortunate to have my dear friend and mustang mentor, Gwen Holloway, help me and also by joining several yahoo groups. These on-line groups are incredible. If one person doesn't have an answer someone else almost always does. If no one has an answer, they will steer you in the right direction where you can find your answer.
Peak-a-Boo, I see you! "Sundance"
I've always loved horses, but my parents didn't. So that pretty much put an end to that dream when I was a child plus we had no place to keep them and money was very tight. I grew up reading Thomas C. Hinkle's mustang stories, so I knew what kind of horse I wanted. By the time I had room for a horse I was raising my 5 children and knew I couldn't give a horse the attention he needed.
When we were ready, my husband built the required barn and corral. Almost everything was all set, now to find a trailer. I finally found a stock trailer I could borrow. Then my husband realized the night before the adoption our SUV would not be able to pull the trailer over the mountains. We had to rent a truck that would get us to Cross Plains, TN to adopt a mustang.
We arrived a day late, so I figured all the "good" mustangs were already adopted. But, there was one 3 year old mare that stared at me every time I came near her pen. That was the one for me. I adopted Dakota on Sept. 9, 2001.
Cheyenne. Trained by the inmates at the Gunnison Prison.
I was a bit over my head as a lot of people are when they adopt a mustang. I came across Gwen over the mentors list. She was an incredibly knowledgeable woman. She was willing to help me from TN. I live in NC. I don't know what I would have done without her.
Never having owned a horse before and being 51 years old, gentling a mustang was a real challenge.
Laura Powers and the new members of her family.
She taught me a lot as I tried to understand her and gain her trust at the same she was learning to understand me and gain my trust.
Six months later I adopted a 2 year old gelding, "Sundance". He followed me all over. He was so much easier to train than Dakota, but I had learned a lot from her. I was raised during the time period of Roy Rogers and Annie Oakley. I just had to have a palomino.
I recently adopted another mustang; a 3 year old filly. She was gentled by one of the inmates at the Gunnison prison. He did a really great job and I am so pleased with my her. She was named Mercy at the prison. I have since changed her name to Cheyenne. She has settled in nicely. She has learned to love grain and alfalfa cubes. She is well behaved and gets along well with my other two mustangs. She has a bit of "clown" in her.
By Frank Martinez
Aren't are gorgeous? Look at my whiskers!
You would think at age 65, a retired senior, would look for a hobby less exciting than gentling a Mustang. Well, not me. In late July 2004, that's exactly what I took on to fill a few hours of my days. Having read about the plight of Mustangs, I decided to adopt one.
Wanna play fetch Dad? What is this thing anyway?
Mind you, other than riding rented horses about 50 years earlier, I had no practical horse experience.
I named him Gitano. My new mustang and I started "cold turkey". The next was to establish myself as the "herd boss". The herd being him and me. It's tricky to conceal your uneasiness around an animal that out-weighs you by about 1,000 pounds and has amazingly quick reflexes. However, it must be done and the adopter has to set the rules if you are the boss. But, do it safely! Get help if necessary. I did, and it was well-worth the cash outlay; a lot cheaper than a trip to the emergency room! I was able to "teach" Gitano some basic moves; wearing a halter and being led, and the all-important "whoa" - better to have a horse that won't go versus one that won't stop.
I caught up on my reading and asked a lot of questions. We were eventually able to share the same space at the same time in a mutually acceptable manner.
Our trainer took him to a much higher level. In about 10 days, spread over 3 or 4 weeks, he wore his first saddle, bridle, and learned the feeling of a rider on his back. He also learned about trailer loading, and standing for the vet and farrier. Bathing, came with reasonable ease, however, it did take time. These accomplishments were reached without force. But a huge supply of patience is a must! Keep your frustration out of sight.
There's no way to tell if this is that "one-in-a-million" horse that seems to know what I want before I do, but he IS pretty sharp. As an example,
Anybody up for a game of kick ball?
"Tilly and Tucker"
BY Maura Klene
Maura Klene and "Tilly"
In 1995, Tilly was removed from the public rangelands due to overpopulation of Mustangs. She was adopted by a man from Nebraska. With the help of BLM using her freezemark number, we found out she was a 3 year old at the time she was adopted.
We found Tilly and Tucker (a big 5 year old burro by that time) being totally ignored in an old farmer's pasture nearby. He'd taken both of them as a favor for a friend, but had never wanted them. They had no shelter, no care, but, at least there was a little hay. It looked as though no one had ever taken care of them. I was right.
Tucker had been gelded, but had never been handled. He had virtually no human interaction; never touched at all. Tilly was a mess. Her hooves were overgrown, she was lame, and very thin. We (my two kids and I) took Tilly and Tucker home. We knew little about donkeys but knew we could do better than that!
Tilly is an amazing animal. Despite all the years of abuse and neglect, she has kept her sweetness and her gentle disposition. Both my children are developmentally delayed, so Tilly is our "therapy" burro. She's always calm, ready for a hug, a few treats, standing patiently while the kids groom her or just talk to her.
Maura Klene and "Tucker".
"Tilly" recovering after a bad day.
The tendons and ligaments in her back legs are damaged, but, most days, she gets around alright. On her good days her pain level seems fairly low. She might even trot a few steps in excitement at going out into the "big pasture" to graze. The vet has given me medications to get her through the bad days so she is as comfortable as possible.
When her bad days outnumber her good days, we will eventually have to think about letting her go. All of us hope that it will be a long time away.
Over the past year, Tucker has gone from being literally untouchable, very frightened, and threatening to kick when I'd try to approach him. He is now calm enough to be haltered, led, and groomed; including his hooves. He even comes when I call him. He can be an ornery little guy, but it's been wonderful to watch him learn to trust. His special friend is our big Appendix gelding, Blaze.
Tucker is about half of Blaze's size and it's funny to watch him try to reach up high enough for mutual grooming. When I see Tilly suffer with the lingering effects of the abuse she lived through for who knows how many years, I get so angry. She deserved so much better from the humans that were entrusted with her care. We spoil her now; but know we can never make the pain go away, or make up for all that she's been through. So yes, she's a BLM burro with a happy ending... but she's gone through a terrible ordeal to find a home where a family loves her and takes good care of her.
Cheyenne's "Living Legend"
by Michelle Wright
I have always had horses. My first horse was a half-Arabian pinto pony. I also got into the appaloosas. As a teenager, I wanted a mustang from the time I first heard about them.
In 2006, an adoption was planned in Ithaca, New York. I did a lot of research into Mustangs and the requirements to adopt one.
Cheyenne's first day home.
My family and I built the appropriate enclosure, run shed, and shelter. We went to the adoption and I filled out the paperwork. We were approved and I was thrilled.
We drove to Ithaca on Friday, July 22, 2006 to look at all the mustangs. I knew I wanted a yearling filly, so we went right to the yearling pens. The first pen we looked at had some really pretty wild horses with good conformation. I put a couple of the Mustangs on my list.
When we went to the next pen, I saw a light colored bay in the back and I knew she was the one I wanted.
We came back the next day and when the bidding started, I realized there were several other people interested in her as well. But, as luck would have it, we won the bid and I took my wild horse home. I was so excited. I named her Cheyenne. But, when I show her now, I call her Cheyenne's "Living Legend". I want everyone to know she is a Mustang!
Michelle Wright and
This year we started trail riding and she has even learned the ultimate scare of crossing creeks. Once again, after several years of training, a seasoned horse may still balk at that. Cheyenne is truly my dream horse and she is doing wonderful. We entered our first show under saddle a few weeks ago and won champion green horse by the end of the day. Cheyenne is an amazing Mustang.
Cheyenne is an amazing mustang. I hope to adopt another one soon.
Mustangs are so intelligent, willing, and simply want to be part of your family as much as we want her to be part of ours.
Seryna Dewey & "Sully"
Sully munching away in his stall.
Sully with his beautiful dun coat glistening in the sun.
His feet were trimmed last week for the first time. I had been picking them for about 3 weeks prior to him being trimmed. I have an awesome farrier and Sully did great! The farrier took his time and made every move count!
His beautiful dun coat glistens in the sun and he now snickers when he hears our voices.
Seryna says he reminds her of the "The Ugly Duckling" story.
♦ Note from Editor - Submissions may be edited to reduce the length or correct minor issues. After edits, if you would like the final "draft" article sent back
for your personal review, please indicate this in your submission.
Sally Spencer, BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Marketing Director
Janet Neal, BLM Editor, Designer, and Graphic Artist