REACH OUT TO THE UNTOUCHED HORSE COURSE
With every email you send out, it is always signed “For the horses”, and that has never been more true than during the “Reach Out To The Untouched Horse” clinic.
The preparations for this course started many months ago, when I heard you describe how you had gentled wild mustangs, gathered by the Bureau of Land Management, and who resided at Return to Freedom Horse Sanctuary in California. Your passion for making a difference in these horses’ lives rubbed off on me and caused me to join F.O.A.L. (Friends of a Legacy) a non-profit organization with the mission of protecting the 100+ mustangs living on the 110,000 acres of the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Management Area east of Cody, Wyoming. And so the seeds were planted…
In October 2009, ninety-seven McCullough Peaks mustangs were herded by helicopter and trucked down to the BLM holding facility in Rock Springs, Wyoming. In January, I happened to pull up the BLM on-line adoption website and saw that five of ‘our’ horses were on the auction block. Right then I knew that I had to respond, so I filled out the application to be an approved bidder. This is how I became the proud adopter of Niagra and Corona (a 3-year-old grey mare and 4-year-old buckskin mare). Together with another FOAL board member, I traveled down to Rock Springs two weeks later to bring Niagra and Corona, as well as Topa and Saint Patty (a 6-year-old paint mare and 3-year-old bay mare) home to my Cody ranch. The selection was not easy…FOAL keeps track of its horses with photos, birth dates, family bands, and areas where the horses reside in the Peaks. I had to leave many of these wonderful horses (that had been watched and admired) behind, not to mention the 600+ other Wyoming mustangs who now found themselves merely existing in the many crowded holding pens of the facility. At least I took comfort knowing that I would help these four horses live a better life, with the help of your upcoming clinic.
In April, the BLM held an adoption of twenty-seven mustangs in near-by Powell, Wyoming, trucking in untouched horses from Rock Springs, and halter-broke yearlings from the Honor Farm Prison in Riverton, WY and Mantle Ranch (both of which contract with the BLM to train the wild horses ). Though the bleachers were filled with spectators, the bidding was abysmal and by the end it looked like almost half of the horses would be returning to their facilities. My husband, the sweetheart that he is, agreed that we should bid on Caliente, Topa’s yearling daughter, as well as yearling fillies Kit Kat and Kismet. (Thankfully, other bidders also came forward and adopted more horses so all eventually found homes.)
Two weeks later, Corona gave birth to the buckskin paint colt, Tango, and in June, a pretty little brown paint filly named India was born to Topa. In July, I was approached by a BLM employee and friend to PLEASE consider taking the yearling colt, Radar, who was no longer wanted by his adopter…it seemed his future hung in the wings…and so there were ten! As the August clinic date approached, I arranged to borrow two more yearling fillies so that all twelve participants could work with a mustang of her/his own.
The week of the “Untouched Horse” clinic itself was all that I hoped it would be…with insightful morning discussions, demonstrations by you (Anna) where you explained the how’s and why’s of talking to the horses in their native language, and the many hands-on training opportunities for the students under your skillful guidance. In the evenings we had the chance to see the habitat where these wild horses once lived, including tours to the McCullough Peaks and the Pryor Mountains (another wild horse area which borders Wyoming and Montana). There was also time for fun, with a hilarious skit put on by the students, an evening at Cody’s Rodeo, and fine dining at the Proud Cut Saloon.
As the week came to a close, the mustang mares were being handled with appreciative hands and hearts, some were haltered, and some had their feet picked up for the first time; the babies had their first halters fitted and took those all important first steps on the lead line; and the yearlings were lead through an obstacle course in an indoor arena and on an outing into the back field…all with confidence and calmness.
And so I want to send you a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for allowing me to be part of “Reach Out To The Untouched Horse”, and to carry on the torch of “For the horses”. Never have these words been more important to me or my mustangs who are taking brave steps into the new world of the domesticated horse.
For the Horses,
I hope you got back home safely, and enjoy the week at Micheles as much as I, and everyone else did
Super that you have sent the links to all the videos, it great seeing the week in another perspective, and to relive it again through the videos!
On the note of my reflections and thoughts about the clinic, I can honestly say that it was such a huge experience for me, and that I returned to Denmark more positive and with renewed energy. Not only on the horse aspect, but also on life as a whole.
During the clinic I thought several times, that I am one of the lucky ones to get to both experience the wild mustangs in their habitat, and to handle an untouched horse. How many good and professional horse trainers have actually been close to, and had the hands on opportunity with the wild horses, whom are the most real form of an equine. The ancestors of our domesticated horses, who patiently forgive our mistakes and ignorance over and over again. I truly feel blessed to have had that in my life! With Patty, or Princess I should say , I got spooked several times, but mostly because I spooked myself, as my body responded to our interaction before my mind had a chance to begin to obtain what happened during our hours together. The day Patty called out to me across the pasture as I was walking toward her, my heart melted and I cannot even put in to words, the feeling she gave me that day. This day she let me put the halter on her and take it off, with no questions asked. For me that was huge. I felt humble that Patty gave me the privilege of learning and the honor of touching her.
Anna gave me the confidence that what I was doing was right, and she showed me the getting from A to B with the pole gentling, and her belief in me being able to handle a horse such as Patty, was a great compliment to my abilities. Throughout the whole clinic I never, not even for a second, felt a disappointment in myself or Pattys progress, even though others had struggles at times, as I both felt really safe knowing that I had both you and Anna to turn to when I were unsure of my next step with Patty, but I also knew that I could feel safe having you guys watch my back, even if your eyes wasn’t pinned on me.
On one of our last night’s Kimberly and I had a really deep conversation about life, and about the clinic, where we talked about all the persons who had come to this clinic. It seemed that all of us there are/were kind of damaged goods, and all of us came with the purpose of, not only training horses, but also with the purpose of healing ourselves and putting our lives into perspective. With Anna’s huge and very positive and giving energy, we all took away some personal things that would help us once we went back to our daily lives. That’s just the effect Anna has on people I think. She gives the strength to those who have not yet found, or momentarily lost, theirs. She infuses calm where people have none, and she waters the little seed of confidence that slowly begins to grow within people.
If there’s possibility for a clinic like this next year, I think people would easily sign up for a clinic with the duration of 10 days, or there about, I definitely would, and would love to come back for more of this experience. For me it would have been great to have spent our last evening dining out all of us together, to hear everyone’s improvements and to just chat with the group before leaving. It might also be an idea to do an adoption day for the mustangs who participated in the clinic, to help give them good and loving homes, and maybe even the possibility for the persons in the clinic to find out if, and how, they could adopt one of the mustangs. Otherwise I have nothing that I thought needed to change or be added, I found the clinic very fulfilling both on a personal and educational plan. It was up to oneself to listen to the info Anna was giving, and if you did so, you would get all the answers needed to work the horse as best as you were able to. All the info, all of the answers and all the assistance we needed were right there, if we just listened and paid attention to her. It must be a challenge for one person to provide that for 12 participants, but Anna did that and even made it seem easy.
The wonder of wild mustangs!
The week in Cody with untouched horses is, without qualification, the most
rewarding experience with horses I have ever had. I have waited to write
this e-mail until I could think and digest the experience to some degree.
The beauty of these incredible animals and their indomitable spirit has left
a lasting impression on my own soul.
There were too many profound moments to try to describe them. When Kit Kat
put her muzzled in my cupped hand, when she trusted me enough to lead her
through obstacles, when she touched my arm with her nose when she was
frightened…. Then, she went ahead and did things that intimated and
scared her with me by her side. Her trust and try were such heartwarming
gifts to me.
Seeing mustangs in the wild was thrilling. Sharing those moments with the
class participants and the leaders of our group magnified the emotions I
felt as I realized that all of us were there because of a common desire; to
honor these animals and their history. We were also there to learn from
them and they were great teachers. Whenever I am around domesticated
horses, I will remember the mustangs’ lessons and give gratitude to all
horses for their forgiveness and courage in reaching out to humans. I am
humbled by what I learned from the mustangs about so many things that are
good in the world. They brought value into my life and, I think, we brought
value to theirs.
Thank you for your guidance, your patience, and your hard work. You shared
your passion for horses. Thank you for keeping all of us, including the
horses, safe. You respected my level of experience while moving me forward.
The week was a roller coaster of emotions for me and you did not desert me.
You are changing the world.
Blessings, love, and light,