Posts tagged Wild Horses

The Mustang Trail Horse

Me and my Mustang, Bella, returning from a winter trail ride.

Here’s my theory:  If you have a horse who was living wild on the land before he was captured, then you have a horse who is not afraid of going out on the trail.

As any horse person knows, there are horses who are just nuts if taken out of an enclosed environment. They aren’t used to open spaces, and they’ve never been exposed to them. This is a great disappointment to many a horse owner who envisions him or herself galloping across the prairie on a noble steed.

I once had a client who decided to get back into horses after many years of  “abstinance.” She shopped long and hard for just the right horse and was drawn to a beautiful Palomino at a show barn. He was a mature fellow with cool blood–not a hot breed–and had lots of training under his belt. Perfect! Or so it seemed.

Things went swimmingly for the first few months as they got to know each other, schooling and taking lessons in the arena of the barn where he was boarded. The client then decided it was time to go out on the trail.  NO WAY, her beautiful boy let her know in no uncertain terms! Turned out, as nicely trained as he was, he had no trail experience.

I was called in to talk to the horse and explain to him that he would always be safe with his person, my client, and that he didn’t need to be afraid. She wanted me to tell and show him long, lazy, enjoyable trail rides together where he was completely calm.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. Just because we can “talk” to an animal doesn’t mean we can reason them out of an instinctive fear or behavior. And this boy made it as clear to me as he had to his owner that he had no intention of trail riding! Try as I might, I couldn’t really make her understand this, so I fear she may have been disappointed with our session. Be that as it may…….

The point being, if you want a good solid trail horse you might just look around for a mature, well-started Mustang. They are used to being out, they know their way around, and they are surefooted and savvy. In fact, they do often have strong opinions about where they want to go and what they want to do, independent of yours, so don’t expect a trail buddy who’s like a horse from a dude string.

So pick a Mustang, honor one of our country’s greatest icons, and be ready for the ride!

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If your curious or crazy about Mustangs, you might enjoy some of the following posts:

Mustangs Come in All Sizes, Shapes, Colors, and……… yes, Personalities

A Metal Mustang

A Very Different Type of Mustang Personality

The More, Ahem, “Robust” Type of Mustang

How Are Wild-Captured Mustangs Different From Our Domesticated Breeds?

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The Mustang Mystique

What is it about the wild Mustang that captivates and holds the attention? People of all ages and backgrounds love this American icon, and increasing numbers are fighting for its survival.

The horse throughout time has represented power and freedom, a connection with both the higher realms and the earth itself. If you want to feel grounded, just sit on a horse. If you want to transcend to higher levels, just touch and spend time with one, on his back or not.

Combine these mystical qualities with the traits of a truly wild animal and the results are, in the true sense of the word, AWESOME.

When you first meet a Mustang you will know what I mean.

Even after being tamed and trained, there is something about a Mustang that is different. A trainer I know who works with them a lot says:  “I love working with them because each one is just a blank slate.” I think what he means here is that he is working with what nature has crafted, not what man has bred or shaped through behavior modification.

Another friend who has adopted several Mustangs over the years pinpoints some of their unique qualities. She says:

Mustangs are like the mules of the horse world. They give new meaning to words like:

  • stubborn
  • opinionated
  • survivor
  • tough
  • heart

If a Mustang has an opinion about something (and most Mustangs have opinions about everything under the sun) you will know, and quickly!

A case in point. My Mustang mare, Bella, whom many of you have met through this blog, has never cottoned to the training exercise of lunging — with anyone, be they owner, friend, or trainer. Everyone who has tried (and believe me, many have) has simply given up. One seasoned horse woman who thought she could set Bella straight and make her lunge was put in her place by Bella’s turning toward her and facing her off, even after the woman continually whipped her on her haunches. Bella simply stared her down, face-to-face, and wouldn’t move, and the woman was totally intimidated and handed the rope and whip back to the owner. Now you have to know Bella to realize how strong is her energy, because she’s huge and very black, but the sheer presence she presented to the woman is what is typical of the Mustang.

Horses of domesticated breeds can also certainly be very stubborn and opinionated — just ask any horse owner. But a domesticated horse’s stubbornness is usually a product of his breed or upbringing. The Mustang’s is not. The Mustang does nothing just to curry your favor. He has not been raised around humans and their ways so could care less about your approval or rewards. He is wild at heart and really has nothing to lose if he doesn’t please you. But he will, finally, please you if he wants to please you and decides you are worth it.

What more can I say? The Mustang is the absolute paragon of strength and freedom, the very essence of what we revere in the American culture. These beautiful animals deserve our respect and our support, and I hope you will take steps to aid in their survival. They are truly in danger and are — I can say from first hand experience — truly worth saving. They are part of America’s heritage and preserving them is, I feel, preserving the best in each of us.

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