Back when she was still wild.
Beautiful and I after I could pet her.
Getting ready for the farrier--picking up her "weapons"
Mike, getting her ready for a male farrier to pick up the feet.
Introducing her to others--she's not sure about it.
"It's not the touch, it's the anticipation of the touch that they most fear."
I've learned so much about wild horses with Beautiful. It's hard for me to believe, but true, that there was a time I used to wonder if she'd ever trust me fully.
I thought I'd repost my earlier reflections about what I'd do different, just in case someone who is thinking about adopting a wild horse comes across the blog. If anyone else can add to this list, please comment. Happy Trails!
1. Plan ahead: Study the herds, the BLM in your area (their practices, etc), track adoptions, watch their site.
2. Rent, borrow or buy Kitty Lauman's DVD "From Wild to Willing". Watch it over and over and over and practice on your domestic horses.
3. Take a friend or knowledgeable horseperson with you to the adoption and get there the first day to observe and hang out all weekend. Relax and enjoy--see which one your heart attaches to.
4. After watching Kitty's video--decide if you want them to halter your horse or not. If so, a nylon halter with long lead is best.
5. Make sure your pen at home is really 24x24 and tall and sturdy. There will be a lot of banging into the walls, so if you have a big boy or girl they'll demolish it or pull it apart. (Again, refer to Lauman's video of the mustang jumping into the side of the corral.) I went with a bigger corral thinking I was doing my mustang a favor. Wrong. You can't reach them with the bamboo pole. Which brings me to number 6.
6. Find a 12' long bamboo pole. Good luck! I never found one and had to improvise with PVC. Oh, and buy more than one because there's a good chance it will break!
7. Buy a 25' or 30' long piece of cotton or yacht rope--soft and heavy. Either tie leather tassels to the end or tie the rope in a knot at each end--no buckles. You'll use this rope to go around the bamboo pole and then their neck. (Refer to video)
8. After an initial welcome home period--get going on the training--like the next day. The sooner they know they're going to be okay the better, and it will prepare them for farrier and vet care.
9. Get your farrier there the first day to assess those feet and tell you what to do to get them ready for a trim. Then do it.
10. Don't underestimate the importance of getting your mustang to look at you with both eyes--acknowledge you. One eye isn't good enough--it's okay at best. (Refer to video). Until they have looked at you with both eyes and allowed you to touch or pet between their eyes--you shouldn't try to get their feet.
11. Expect Respect. If your mustang likes to give you its hind end, like mine did, work on getting them to face up. If you don't know how to do this, hire a professional or get someone who knows how. Basically, make it uncomfortable for them to present their hind. My little girl loved to flip it around--it was her best defense even though it was a BIG bluff. If she does it now, I swat her with the end of the carrot stick (Parelli) and she either throws a little fit or turns around nicely and faces me. The latter is the only answer I accept.
12. Work with your mustang as much as you can each day. I would do an hour or so long sessions--multiple times per day. Set realistic goals and meet them ending on a positive note.
13. Don't underestimate the power of curiosity and then, take the time to let it work for you. If your mustang doesn't look at you, sniff you, look at the tools, sniff them--he/she hasn't acknowledged and accepted them. Give them time to do this and develop their curiosity and willing partnership.
14. My farrier recommended that 1.) If you don't have their head, don't go to their feet (as I stated above), and 2.) Spend a lot of time grooming them--especially around their legs and feet, and don't worry so much about picking those feet up as much as preparing them for being touched there and everwhere the tools might touch (under the belly, shoulder, etc.) 3.) Oh, and when petting the legs, go with the fur rather than against it.
Any Other Suggestions?