My Big Yellow Mustang

By: Kini Cosma
In 1981, 25 years ago, I saw images of wild horses cramped together in tight uninhabitable fenced in living quarters. It was a dreadful sight. The horses appeared to be emaciated and roughed up. I knew someday I just had to save one. My dream turned into action when I went to visit the wild horse sanctuary in Shingle Town, California.

19 years later I adopted two wild horses. Pokey, my bay mustang , comes from a herd likely originating from historical ranching operations. This herd is made up primarily of blacks and bays with some pinto individuals. It is in an area that is in the middle of the Bitner herd area that lies in northern Washoe County, Nevada about 40 miles east of Cedarville, CA. and the Buckhorn herd area located 40 miles southwest of Cedarville, CA in Lassen County, CA and Washoe County, NV.

Some of the horses in the Bitner herd area exhibit Spanish mustang characteristics. This area contains horses thought to originate from Spanish stock, diluted with ranch stock and US Cavalry Remounts prior to and during World War I. The influence of the US Cavalry Remount program is especially apparent in these horses. Predominant colors in this herd are blacks and bays with some pinto individuals.

To add to the multi-mixture of breeds, ranchers in several areas of Nevada, turned loose many breeds including Shires, Percherons, Hambletonians, Morgans and Irish stallions and mares to set a standards and patterns in the herds that roamed nearby. As the cavalry, ranchers or miners demanded horses, many were trapped and trained.

Pokey is small and she appears to be aloof. People have noticed her outstanding gait. She seems like she is about to fall asleep right at your feet. But, by any means is not so. In her mind, she is a big horse and she will provide a ride that you'd never forget. Once she senses that she can make you laugh, she puts on her best. Alert and attentive of everything.

Pokey has come along way from when I first adopted her.

At first she would charge at you if you came into her space. Touching her face was the last thing. Once we had to tranqualize her to put on a harness and that didn't work. So, I turned my single horse trailer into a wild horse chute. It didn't have a roof on it and there was no where she could go once she was tricked with grain to get in. The wild horse teachers don't really recommend that because they use other techniques. But, to me grain is a God's gift for training wild horses. My wild horses do anything for it. Later you can wean them off it and they won't need it anymore once they trust you.

If you don't have time, just feeding them in the morning and evening will eventually cause them to trust you. I like giving wild horses a solid foundation with time. Especially if your an amateur like me. (You can always use that excuse if the cowboys start challenging your toughness.)

The High Rock herd area is located about 45 miles north of Gerlach, NV and 45 miles southeast of Cedarville, CA. and it adjoins the Calico Mountains. It is managed as 2 separate home ranges. That is where my "Big Boy " comes from.

The Spaniards set up breeding colonies to develop the Peruvian Paso, the Puerto Rican Paso Fino, the Missouri Foxtrotter, the Rocky Mountain Horse, The Kentucky Mountain Horse, and even the American Quarter Horse. Thousands of these horses were released during the Great Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Many scattered into California from Baja and Mexico and upward into Northern California.

Big Boy is "a big yellow horse". (His real name is Ranger Benjii, a 6 1/2 hands Palomino w/ paint going up his hocks) He stretches his hind legs out when I groom him. People have determined that those characteristics could be Fox Trotter. When he escapes from me into the mountains I have to hunt him down. I've been lucky that I can distinguish him among all of the other yellow dots in the environment.

We now have established a game called, "hard to get" (horse trainers call it a "bad habit"). He wants to get caught, but he just has to make me run around for awhile. So, now we have a sports game that we play. Sometimes, I can see him with my perefial vision running back and forth trying to get my attention. He does better when I pretend he's not there. Ranger Benjii is my spoiled child that does no wrong. We see eye to eye about alot of things. I have been reprimanded by horse trainers for allowing him to lead me.

When I first adopted my Big Boy from the Palomino Valley BLM, the officers highly advised me not to. The Palomino Valley BLM is great. They really cater to their prospective adoptees. They give you posters, pencils, magnets, postcards, coffee cups and they drive you around in their government trucks from pen to pen while you choose the horse you want. You must choose several. When you get back to the office, you figure out the one you are going to adopt.

I chose my big boy because of the paint going up his hocks. That was all that I could see. Nothing else. After they put him in quarantine for 30 days I went to pick him up. The officers advised me that he was too high strung and nervous. They took me to his pen so that I could check him out. It was the first time I really got a good look at him. He was trying to hop over 10 foot walls and pacing back and forth like a lion. I told the officers that I had nothing but time with him and then I took him home.

Stay tuned for the story about the Sheriff's Posse and my mongrel, PokeyFree Articles, at http://mustangzone.blogspot.com

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