Fall 2009 National Wild Horse and Burro Newsletter

Wild Horse  and Burro Trademarked Logo


                           National Wild Horse and Burro Newsletter Logo

Fall 2009

National Wild Horse and Burro Newsletter
United States Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management


"Gitano". Aren't I gorgeous.
 Look at my whiskers!

Table of Contents


Sundance, Dakota, and Cheyenne


Tilly and Tucker





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, or phone (775) 861-6614. (E-mails with stories and pictures are preferable.)  
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(s) in the photo. If the photo is copyrighted or requires that credit be given, please indicate so at the time of submission.

By Samantha Passman

I never planned on owning a horse. Growing up, horseback riding was my relaxing activity outside of gymnastics and school. I only rode when I could squeeze a riding lesson into my hectic schedule consisting of school and the gym. However, at 16 years old I developed an eating disorder. The disease wrecked my body, my mind, and my spirit. I needed a chance to start over.

When I had regained enough strength, I started to ride regularly. I worked at the barn everyday to pay for my lessons. I learned more about care and training. I kept myself busy, but knew I still needed closure of the last 13 years of my life spent on gymnastics. I needed something to signify a new beginning.


"Sampson", my friend
 and savior.

"Sam" and "Sam" Practicing

"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.

"Sam" - MY 10-year gelding.
He saved me and I saved him.

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 Passman and "Sampson" out for a ride.

Samantha and "Sam"
 out for a practice riding session.

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 Powers first Mustang

"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

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.

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 "new kids".

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

"Gitano" adopted 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.

Fetch, anyone?

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,

"Gitano" Anybody up for a game of kick ball?

Anybody up for a game of kick ball?

some days Gitano just does not want to be caught. So we start our day in a cat-and-mouse game. Which is fine with me as I get in my walking for the day. Eventually he gives in and off we go. He will decide it's less effort for him to see it my way than to keep resisting. But you have to keep up your end of the load! Should you decide to quit for the day before reaching your goal, all he will have learned is how to get away with it. In this case, without the cat and mouse game. This may take 10 minutes or 30. Be prepared for the latter. 

Mustangs come with highly diverse backgrounds and carry many good blood lines. In my experience and research, this mixture, often maligned, is responsible for their intelligence, sturdiness, and their willingness to please. Gitano will make an honest effort to do most anything I ask. When he gets the general idea, he'll give it a try with only low level coaxing on my part. Remember to reward any effort!

This mustang has snorted, pinned his ears, bared his teeth, pawed the ground, and swished his tail propeller style. But, he has never struck out to kick or charge me. At his current age of 8, Gitano is doing very well in all respects I can think of. He was gelded six months after the adoption. This is highly recommended. After gelding, I got a totally "different" horse.



"Tilly and Tucker"
BY Maura Klene

Maura Klene "Tilly"

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.



Unfortunately, Tilly endured years of abuse being used for donkey roping before she was eventually bred. She and her foal were passed around for several years, never staying more than 6 months anywhere. Thankfully Tilly and Tucker were not seperated during their years of mistreatment.

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"

Maura Klene and "Tucker".

"Tilly" recovering after a bad day.

"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.

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 "Cheyenne" first ride.

Michelle Wright and
 Cheyenne's Living Legend. Their first ride.

Cheyenne let me touch her on the side the first day.  She was round penning and leading after the first week. At twelve weeks after adopting her, she stood calmly to have her feet trimmed. Everything I have asked her to do came fairly easy including
Cheyenne and Michelle. Green Horse Western Champions - July 2009
loading into the trailer and being saddled for the first time. She is the first horse I ever started completely by myself.

When she turned 3 years old, I started riding her. She has never tried to buck, bite or do anything else that even a trained horse will sometimes do. Cheyenne and I won our first reserve champion western halter horse at our open shows last year.

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.


By Christina Dewey
I adopted Sully via the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) internet adoption program in March 2009. His "mug shot" stopped my scroll bar in its tracks! On May 8, I went to pick him up. My first reaction was please tell me that mustang is not the one I adopted.
The gorgeous Dun colt, that stopped my scroll bar in its tracks was the smallest in his pen and very rough looking. But, I had make a commitment, so, on went his halter and he entered our trailer. We were off for home with our very own mustang.

Seryna Dewey & "Sully"

 Seryna Dewey & "Sully"

We gave him his own space for about two days then started hanging out with him. Unfortunately, the barn cats were not as thoughtful of "his space" as we were. I think Sully thought the barn cats where lions!
However, he did adjust to them hanging around very quickly. It only took about a week. Our dog was next in line to check him out by sniffing his back legs. We were expecting the little rat terrier to take flight, but, Sully was alright with him.
Sully was "handled" in a 12 foot alley for about a month. It was time he learned about brushing and being haltered. He loved the brushing!
Around week 4, I started taking his halter off at night and putting it back on during the day. By this time, Sully could handle the taking off and the putting back on of the halter without any type of "confinement" issues. Sully also learned that his orange cones and blue horse ball were quite a bit of fun.
We placed him in a high traffic area of our farm. Cattle and sheep walked by, as well as, tractors, machinery, and kids riding their bikes to and fro. To our surprise, Sully adjusted to all the commotion quite quickly.

Sully found his favorite little friend was Seryna, our 9 year old daughter. He watched and waited for her to come to the barn. He didn’t exactly care about me for a while. He knew I was the "lead mare", but, he quickly came around.
We had a group of about 50 1st graders here two weeks after he arrived. He stood and watched them in wonder running by. No "out of body" reactions at all.

He kicked his 65 gallon rubber drinking tub a good one the first few days after arriving home and has never kicked it since. Very quick study! He took to grain around day 2 and has not stopped eating since.
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about leading Sully. Sometimes the rump rope
Sully munching away in his stall.

Sully munching away in his stall.

thing is not all that fun! Sully took his first walk out of his stall around mid-June. He just walked out of his pen like he had been doing it for years. Of course, our terrier was with us, too! Sully's first "walk about" took him down the barn yard drive past the chickens and the ducks. He did serously check them out, but did not take off for the next county. The most amusing part of his "walk about" was the roll in the sand. He just loved that!.

Sully with his beautiful dun coat glistening in the sun.

Sully with his beautiful dun coat glistening in the sun.

Since that day, Sully reports to his tie stall for his evening grain. He stands tied like the old horses. 

He has also gotten used to the horse spray routine. The spraying of the other two horses - on either side of him - helped out! Sully like treats but only when I say, "NO SNOOPING ALLOWED"! 

Summer rains came and we had lots of mud puddles! Sully decided he preferred to walk through them than around him, amazing mustang. The first of July Sully was given a daytime run. The run gave him more room to roam but still the security of 5' tall fencing. This also gave me another opportunity to lead him. Time! Time! Time! 

Sully was trained to a "hot fence" about a week ago in just a couple of days. Our pony, Oreo, helped him out on that one. He did escape on day 1, before the fence was hot, but he just walked up to me! Sully now has space to play by day and back to HIS 30 x 40 holding area at night. 

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