The Mustangs That Changed Our Lives

Submitted by Shannon Phillips

My daughter Jaydyn was born deaf and is an extraordinary trainer. I thought it was just me that thought that, but others have said the same thing after seeing and meeting her. When Jaydyn was very young, it was obvious that she loved horses. Every horse she met would do everything she asked without her saying a word. She is now 20 years old and has been working with horses for many years. She has been taking in horses from private people that they couldn't train. “Problem horses.” She has been able to work with every single one of those horses and find them a good home. A few of them have even gone to homes for kids to ride. So when Jaydyn said she wanted a Mustang we did everything we could to get her one.

We won our yearling during an online auction in December of 2021. He’s a black gelding from the Onaqui Mountains herd in Utah. When he arrived for pick-up at the adoption event in Okeechobee, Florida in February, we couldn't get out of our truck fast enough to get inside and meet him. There was already a gentleman there petting him, who quickly asked if we were the owners. We proudly replied "Yes!" He then told us he was hoping his owners wouldn't show up because he wanted to take him home. It was at that moment that our nerves finally subsided - he was everything we had hoped for! We decided to call him Ashwin, which is an Indian name that means "strong horse" and "horse tamer." 

While picking up Ashwin there were other Mustangs up for adoption. I walked up to one pen and saw a tiny 3-year-old gelding from Nevada’s Shawave Mountains herd standing behind a bunch of big horses. When he saw me, he walked right up to me and let me pet him. Needless to say, I ran to the line to adopt him because I had to have him and it was first-come, first-served. My husband had suggested the name Reno for the little sorrel while standing in line to adopt. So Reno it was! I had to make my husband feel better somehow for letting me drag home two horses instead of just one!

It was a 6-hour trip back home and we were so nervous for Ashwin and Reno. They had never met and here we are forcing them to get to know each other in the long trip back home. When we stopped to check on them and give them some water, they were so scared and had their heads wrapped around each other for some comfort. They had no idea what was coming next. 

When we finally arrived home, they couldn't get off that trailer fast enough to check out their new home. Their pen was right outside Jaydyn's bedroom window. She opened up her window and they stuck their heads in to scare the cats and watch Spirit. Who doesn't enjoy Spirit? 

Two horses with heads in window

Ashwin is a lot more laid back and thinks about everything he is learning. Reno is much more spirited. He was very flighty or up in your face for attention. He seemed to always find the treats in Jaydyn's pocket! 

Ashwin is a one-person horse and made that very clear when I would walk in the pen and he laid his ears down and charged at me. Jaydyn is his person. Of course she is - she is feral herself and speaks his language! Jaydyn's first language is sign language. Not being able to hear makes her more observant to body language, emotions and touch. She is more in tune to what horses are feeling and telling her. She can then communicate back to them without speech in her movements and touch. Liberty is natural to Jaydyn because she speaks their language. Ashwin and Reno both respond in a positive way without any restraints and a treat in her hand. Reno was terrified of people with ropes and would try to run through the fence panel. With Jayden’s help, he is finally able to have his feet done by our amazing farrier for the without a single rope on him. Ashwin tries to give the farrier kisses while she is holding his feet. It is adorable but makes me jealous at the same time because he loved her before me and I see him every day! 

Woman petting nose of horse with other horse in background in a  field.

It has been almost a year since we adopted Ashwin and Reno. Looking back, I have no regrets. In fact, we want to clear more land, build more pens and finally get a barn on our property to be able to help more mustangs. Jaydyn wants to become a TIP trainer and take in as many as she can. Mustangs are full of heart and wisdom. They teach you love and patience. Every horse can do that but being able to do that with a Mustang is just special. Ashwin and Reno are now living happily with our other three horses Chuck, Apple and Jada. They all get along great and are thriving and happy. Ashwin and Jaydyn have learned some dance moves. Reno has overcome his fear of ropes and both of them have been ridden for the first time without thinking about bucking or being scared from the experience. 

Girl on horse hugging neck.


Girl holding halter of horse in a grassy field.