National Wild Horse and Burro Newsletter
United States Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
In This Issue
"Dot", the Mustang Trainer
Kobi says, "I think blue is my best color. Look at how well it highlights my big, brown eyes and their soft, sweet, and loving look."
"Kobi", My Wonderful Mustang
"Murphy" - The Little Idaho Frisian and "Emma"
The Bonnifield burros taking a rest on their extended camping trip.
If you would like to submit articles for the National Wild Horse and Burro Newsletter, please e-mail articles and photos (at least 300 dpi) to Janet_Neal@blm.gov
or mail to Janet Neal, Bureau of Land Management, P.O. Box 12000, Reno, NV 89520-0006, phone (775) 861-6614.
♦ 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.
All stories must be about freezemarked mustangs and/or wild burros. Please ensure pictures are sent at the same time the story is (or immediately thereafter) and include the name of each animal and person that are in the photo. If the photo is copyrighted or requires that credit be given, please indicate so at the time of submission.
Sally Spencer, BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Marketing Director
Janet Neal, BLM Editor, Designer, and Graphic Artist
"Dot", the Mustang Trainer
By Doug Gorman, CA Adopter and Volunteer
Earlier this year, fellow Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Compliance Volunteer Dave Miller and I had the opportunity to conduct a compliance check on two adopted mustangs. After several issues with this adopter, Compliance Specialist Jason Williams stepped in, and the horses were removed from the adopter. I agreed to hold both mustangs for the BLM while the case made its way through the system. The two rescued mustangs were named Coco and Blue.
Both of these mustangs were still quite wild and it took some time getting them loaded into a trailer. Without the help of David, Jason, and a BLM Ranger, it probably would have never happened. Once I got the wild horses home, I unloaded them without incident. During the next two days, both of the horses made themselves at home and adapted quite quickly to being feed two times a day and having water readily available. Watching this, I decided to try and halter them in their stalls. After about ten minutes each, I was able to get them to understand what I was doing. This could not have been done without the help of Dot, my eight year old Twin Peaks mustang. Each time one of them would run from me to the other side of the stall, Dot would charge them and force them back to me. I couldn't believe this was happening!
The new boys on the block,
"Coco" and "Blue".
The next step was to train them to walk with a lead rope.
This was easy as I would open the stall door and try to walk the horses out. If they didn't come out, Dot would walk into the stall and then walk towards their rear and that would force them to walk out. Once again, I couldn't believe what was happening! When I got them out of the stall, I was ready for the run away and rear up; which didn't happen. As I walked, Dot walked behind them, and nudged them to keep walking if they stopped. With Dot walking behind them, I was able to walk them around the arena without any problems. You must know that Dot was doing this on his own without any cues or guidance from me. After about thirty minutes, I was able to catch both horses and walk them with lead ropes around the arena with my partner Dot walking behind them to keep them going.
Doug Gorman's, daughter Taylor, with her new friends, "Coco and Blue" and the white, Mustang trainer, Dot.
Feeling lucky I thought I would release them into the arena on their own and try and catch them. Once they were let out, they ran and played, jumped and bucked, and had a great time,
with Dot running and playing with them. After leaving them out all afternoon it was time to catch them and put them in their stalls. Both horses were reluctant to my approach with the lead rope. The second time I tried Dot came with me and one by one I was able to catch them and walk them back to their stalls with Dot bringing up the rear for support.
Taylor, scratching and
loving on Blue.
My son Wyatt, also a BLM volunteer, began letting all of the horses out during the day. He came to me one night and told me how Dot moved the two new horses to their stalls at feeding time. The next night I went out and yelled to Dot that it was time to feed and to go to his stall. He immediately started walking to his stall with the two new boys behind him. Once the new mustangs got to their stalls, Dot would stand by as they went in and then he went into his. I was amazed! I had a neighbor over watching and he couldn't believe his eyes!
Since these two horses have been here, they have almost become part of the family. It was time to move them to their new digs. I was worried about loading them as they had only been in a trailer three times and it had been almost five months since their last ride. I decided to let Dot give me a hand. I put him in the trailer first and then walked both boys over to the trailer individually. They both jumped in without incident and tied without any problems. It took less time to load them, than it did to hook up the trailer. Wow!
By Heather Hamel, Mustang Adopter
I want to thank the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for offering the opportunity to adopt a wild horse and burro
"I think blue is one of my best colors, said Kobi. It really shows off my beautiful brown eyes, plus check out my freezemark. My Mom is so proud of me!"
through their adoption program.
In 2006, I bought one of your mustangs from the people that had originally adopted him from an event held in Jacksonville, Florida. The people had owned him for one year. He would accept a bit and a saddle but that was it.
Kobi says, "Did you notice
my ears and how attentive and attractive they are?"
In the two years I have owned and worked with Kobi, he has developed in leaps and bounds. I am still amazed by how smart he is. He went from being led with a rider on his back to showing and getting First Place in dressage classes the past three months. He is absolutely amazing!
Here are some pictures to show just how far my "wild thing" has come! At shows, people have come up to me asking "Is THAT the mustang?" I am so proud to not only answer with an emphatic "YES!", but to give them a little history on Kobi and the program offered by the BLM.
I like to think that he has changed the look and attitude of some of the dressage shows in Northeast Florida since he placed High Points in the Junior Classes for the Fall 2008 show series.
"Here I am again; showing everybody what a Mustang can do. I am "Survival of the Fittest; Mother Nature at her Best"; perfect conformation!"
"I am so thankful to have Kobi in my life," says Heather.
"Murphy - The Little Idaho Frisian", and "Emma"
By Sandy Hult, Mustang Adopter
Murphy is boarded at the Parkwood Equestrian Center in Idaho Falls so
"Murphy", the Idaho Frisian.
I can ride more in the winter. I've always ridden western but wanted to learn to jump.
Murphy came from a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming herd management area (HMA) and has proved himself in this barn of $150,000+ horses.
His heart is amazing. He will try anything you ask. I rode him the next day and he was absolutely incredible. The nature of these mustangs and their willingness to perform at all levels is phenomenal. I also use Murphy as my trail horse and for the Bonneville County Sheriff Search and Rescue team.
We ride primarily in the Teton Mountain Range. There is not a trail Murphy isn't solid on. I cannot even begin to tell you what an incredible little ambassador he has been for the adoption program. The children and the barn employees adore him. Their parents are simply stunned when they learn he is a Mustang. My instructor teases me about my little "Idaho Frisian". My goal for Murphy jumping is to show him in Boise in April and let people see
Brandon Johnson on "Emma's" back.
what BLM mustangs can do.
All of our horses are mustangs. I also adopted another one on January 21, 2009. Her name is Emma. We adopted her from the Gunnison, Utah prison. She had been handled some by the inmates and ridden a couple times. The pictures say it all. They were taken as soon as we unloaded her. She hadn't even been in a trailer before except when she was dropped off at the prison. She's adorable and ready to go.
"Emma" ready to go.
"Emma" getting her first bath.
By Doris Lora, Wild Horse and Burro Adopter
In January 1991, we adopted our first mustang and returned the following month and adopted our second. We joined the American Mustang and Burro Association and assumed the care of a third one.
Daughter Raisa and her friend Emerie with "Peaky". Peaky is from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area in CA. Emerie is on Peaky's back while Raisa is standing next to her mustang.
At the time we first started adopting from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wild horse and burro program, our daughter was about two years old. She is in college now but finds time to come home and visit the "other kids", and of course, my husband and me.
One of our beautiful mustangs is beginning to show her age now. The white hairs are taking over her buckskin color around her wonderful blue eyes. But, she's not too old to still ride in parades, head up trail rides and go camping with us.
Our "wild" burro taking care of
the newly born foal.
We bought one of our mustangs from an adopter in Northern California. She was very young at the time and unexpectably had a foal. She became very nervous and abandoned the foal for a few hours. Our wild jack burro served as the babysitter until humans arrived to get everything sorted out.
Thankfully, he took over the care of my baby for awhile; keeping her warm, safe, and predators away. We live in an area with bobcats, mountain lions, and wild canines. He is about 15 or 16 years old now. He's never once tried to be mean, strike, bite, or kick.
January 2011, will mark our 20th anniversary of having our mustangs and burro. My husband and I are already deciding what to do for a celebration. By that time, all of our mustangs and our burro will be well into their twenties.
It's so exciting adopting and owning a "wild one"!
By Jacqui and Michael Bonnifield
With our entire area being burned over and still smoking, the CA Summer 2008 More Ass-Less Gas Expedition headed east to the Sierras in search of some pristine wilderness and fresh air. We found what we were looking for in the Granite Chief Wilderness, just west of Lake Tahoe, California.
"Josie", "Peanut" and Michael Bonnifield on the trail.
A 15 mile hike from Donner, about 6,000 ft., to the wilderness area brought us fabulous views from the crest trail at around 8,000-9,000 feet. There's nothing quite like being in the high country!
Jacqui Bonnifield and "Josie."
Our beloved girls, Josie and Peanut, performed amazing feats flawlessly and may have enjoyed themselves more than we did. The dogs of course had a blast too, even old Kelly girl had a grin on her face most of the time. The first stretch in and out of Donner was, of course, complete with the industrial hardware of the ski facilities and various slews of hikers.
Much to our surprise, we became something of a tourist attraction ourselves since most of these sophisticated crowds had never seen an Ass family before. In their spotless white clothes we were a site to be seen alright. After ten days of eating trail dust, covered in dirt from head to toe, the shutters kept snapping anyway. Thankful to leave them in the dust we headed into bear, coyote, deer and golden eagle territory for some solitude and spectacular vistas.
The Bonnifield's burros resting in the nice cool grass at the
Granite Chief Wilderness.
We made base camp about 20 miles in, at Whiskey Creek, due to water shortages in the higher country. We hiked about ten miles a day, donkeys and all; including some riding and discovered many of the Granite Chief’s Wilderness secrets.
Every expedition has their low points, of course, a few of which I will mention. Do not EVER mix up your saline solution with your medical supplies, especially if they include hydrogen peroxide!! Much to my horror, I nearly blinded myself by pouring peroxide in one eye. Never have I made such an error. DO NOT try this at home or in camp! When I had recovered from that, I decided a little ride on Josie would be nice one morning. We walked calmly out of camp (just sitting on her bareback with lead rope in hand); but for some reason only known to an ass’s mind, she decided to take a flying leap over a little ditch which she had previously walked through at least ten times. Of course I went flying right off into the ditch but Josie very politely stopped right in her tracks to let me get myself untangled from between her legs. Thank goodness there was no kicking, stomping, bronco-ing or anything of the sort. I call these events free bone density tests.........considering my head left a hole in the ditch, instead of the other way around. I also missed a nasty stump!
We didn’t think Kelly, our old dog, would make it all the way out on her own steam and being arthritic, too. We did take her "happy camper" pills with us to ease some of the arthritic pain. We hadn't really planned on taking her, but at the last minute her prospective caretaker couldn't make it. Kelly had a lot of determination though and made it all but the last ten miles out. All in all, my husband and I, two burros and two dogs covered about 70 miles.
We made one
Michael getting Josie's pannier
set up for Kelly.
of Josie’s panniers into a side car by rearranging our loads and putting together a comfortable seating arrangement for Kelly and then strapped her in. Josie naturally wasn’t too happy about this turn of events and really pitched a fit, bronco-ing around and kicking up a storm, running as fast as she could back to camp to shake off that canine; terrifying Kelly in the process.
Kelly taking it easy on Josie and getting her free ride home.
By the time Michael got Josie under control and the fit was over, she calmly accepted her fate and believe it or not Kelly was still securely in position!!
We had a wonderful time, but couldn't have possibly made it without our Bureau of Land Management burros.
We're hoping for one more trip before hunting season to our beloved Trinity Alps, now that the smoke has cleared............happy adventuring to all............Jacqui and Michael!
By Josepha Phillips
Ever since I started riding horses they have been my life. I owned my first horse when I was ten. By 19, I won the Dutch Nationals and not long after that I began training horses and riders. For many years I knew no other horses than warm bloods. When I left the Netherlands I had to leave my horse behind and I moved from State to State, horseless…
As a Dressage instructor and trainer I had plenty to ride and was busy. But, it was not the same. Horses come and go and I needed one to stay. I had one really big problem, though. I was in no way, shape, or form to afford the breed of horse I needed as a Dressage queen! Then I found Cayuse. He was two years old, scrawny, small and kind of not so pretty, but had the trot and canter I dreamed about.
Although he was not born in the wild, his mother was in foal when she was adopted. Cayuse was very scared and shy when I first brought him home. Never before had I seen a horse behave or respond like he did. I was at a total loss as to how to even get started on building trust. We spent our first full day in the round pen and rain. I'd send him gently away from me and wait for signs of acceptance; lowering his head or neck and chewing or licking. After eight hours, we were both totally exhausted and frustrated. He finally let me put my head close to his shoulder. We were almost touching but he was still very afraid of my hands.
I decided the next day to bring a bucket full of tasty hay cubes and try a different approach. I must have done something right the day before because he clearly and desperately was looking for a "buddy". Within an hour he was eating the cubes out of my hands. It was almost like a total transformation! I haltered him, lead him around and could touch him almost everywhere.
Looking back, I can see two things I think I did right. It seemed to help to start working with him right away before he made friends and became comfortable in his new environment and I stuck with the same routine for several days.
Starting him under saddle a year later was the next challenge. Lunging and bomb-proving had gone very well as long as I did everything with confidence and patience. I had not found a fitted saddle so I decided to ride him bareback. That was not a good decision on my part. I was on the ground before I even made it on him. He side-stepped when I put my leg over his back from the mounting block and there I went. It took me a long time after that one fiasco before he would even get close to any mounting block!
I sat on him a total of seven times before I hired a more experienced mustang rider and trainer. Both Cayuse and I had gotten terrified of this riding thing.
"Don Cayuse" owned by Josepha Phillips.
The hired rider was confident and patient. The two most important things with a mustang. After only a few rides with someone that possessed those skills more than I did, Don and I were back in business.
After a few weeks, I decided to go for a trail ride. Walking, trotting, and cantering in the arena were going pretty well; so off we went down the hill. We walked first, then trotted, but his brakes gave out! At the bottom of the hill, Cayuse managed to stop his scary forward momentum and we both let out a big sigh of relieve. We carefully walked back up the hill and went home.
The next day we went back to the arena. Cayuse planted his four feet and would not move. I could not get him to do anything except stand there. I was baffled until it occurred to me that he had decided standing still was safe because once you start going and can't stop, Mom gets scared and that's the end!
We went back to lunging, bomb-proving and groundwork. I had to be more confident; take my time and not loose my cool. A mustang really depends on you as the leader and leaders don't get scared over everything.
"Don Cayuse" owned by Josepha Phillips. Cayuse is entering 3rd level dressage.
Dressage training went well. He has very good conformation and no desire to challenge me. We did fairly well from the beginning. The only problem we ran into was Cayuse would not give it his "all" because he needed to keep an energy reserve in case of emergencies.
We had come to an agreement. He worked good for about half an hour and then it was time to stop. He seemed to need a back-up reserve of energy in case something scary happened.
He loves shows. We skip the warm-up, do the ring thing, get treats and go home.
He definitely stands out in a crowd. He is very unique. One of his nicknames from fellow dressage riders is the "Lusitano-mustang". His cuteness makes him a looker. Lately we have scored in the mid 70’s. We're getting ready for the summer show season. We will be at the 3rd level.
Once I thought he would make a good ponyclub-horse. I thought at first I would start him, train him and then at some point sell him so I would be able to buy a "real" dressage horse with the profit. I changed my mind!
He is only 15 hands and sort of a mousy grey. He has a dorsal stripe down his back and zebra stripes on his legs. Until you see him under saddle and in the arena, he is a very unlikely candidate for dressage.
When we enter the ring, the wild horse transforms into the dressage horse I always dreamed of and he transforms the opinion of judges and spectators with his grace and effortless beauty.
I do not dream of a another horse any longer. I found my dream the day I found him.
A Tale of Mustang Love
. . . Note from Editor: "A Tale of Mustang Love" will be continued on the webpage under Success Stories . It is the final episode of Bay's training.