There was a red-tape problem with releasing mustangs to my facility but I was invited to come train at the USFS facility in Farmington, NM at the Browning Ranch. When I got here on Saturday there were 11, and today (Tuesday) there are 34 horses. They are stacking up and we are about out of places to put them. The next set will have to be housed in some new and creative way, although we have arranged for adoption for 4 so far.
One of the problems with releasing them to me to train at my place is that they have to have a vet geld and take a coggings test, and they have to be freeze branded before they can even be shown to be government property. This, however, is an incredible learning opportunity for me to be here. Working with Bob Browning is really and education and totally engaging. He is so extremely knowledgeable and has so much experience that I am gifted to have him as a co-trainer/mentor. He is doing some of the steps in the gentling process and I am doing others. He’s given me suggestions to improve my process and sure enough they were good ones that made it easier on the horse. Bob doesn’t do too much “chasing” horses in a round pen… his style is to introduce rope to the whole herd by moving the horses to and fro under his rope, which is hung from a wire off the round pen top rail.
On the other hand, I’ve brought a focus on spending a heck of a lot of time in the pens hand feeding the horses, sitting near the pens, and getting them used to and interested in human activity. I was out one night until almost two a.m. just going up and down the asile doling out hay bits. Now they nicker when they see me coming.
Kimberly just stopped by on her way home from her job at a local restaurant. She is a mustang aficionado…. we had to fill up the wheelbarrow for a late night snack for the herd. She is feeding her special mare while I finish this blog.
The bands come in as a unit and we try to put them into pens as a unit, but if the studs are too protective, they keep the mares from eating or approaching us. We had to separate the one we call Bad Boy from his six band memebers and as soon as we got him in his own pen, his mares started eating out of our hands. He is still next to them in a separate pen. Some of the studs will let the mares approach us and we allow them to stay with their herds. I am not sure why, but Dan got quite furious with me for having moved the Bad Boy away from his herd today. Dan had warned us not to go into the pen with this stud as he was dangerous, so we were extremely careful to move the horses without ever putting ourselves in the same space as Bad Boy. We try to move horses at a walk rather than letting them get excited and charge around. Bad Boy and his mares went into the roundpen calmly, and then on the way out because BB goes in the lead, it was easy to close a gate behind him and capture the mares for separation. We managed to get the job done without upsetting any horses.
So when Dan was angry we had moved the horses, I was shocked. We don’t have room for more horses now so we can’t really just put some of them on hold and not do anything with them for 10 days. We have to get them processed and ready to go to adoptive homes. We have pens to keep clean and have to move horses out of pens to get that job done efficiently. I was ready to quit or to cry after getting yelled at and told that he was bring them in with pure minds and the trainers are only on an ego trip, I wanted to just pack up and leave , but I thought about it and decided to let it go…. the horses are what matter. If I wasn’t here these horses would get fed once a day on the gray-green musty grass that makes them cough. They would still be running from the fences where humans pass by instead of nickering when they see the humans coming. Dan can say I am not gentling them if he wants, but that’s not what the horses say.