Free No More Update

June 20, 2009

Back on March 18th, I wrote an entry entitled, “Free No More” about a wild mare and her young colt that I had photographed just prior to the Sand Wash Basin, CO BLM gather in October, 2008. Regretfully, I would not be able to follow this foal’s development in the wild as he was offered for adoption. But, I also included in that writing – “My hope is that he found a caring, forever home.” Below is one of the images from that post.


In mid April, I received an e-mail from a very nice gal (Mary) out on the Western Slope of Colorado who wrote:

Dear Pam, I am compelled to write you – I came across your blog by total happenstance – and to my delight and astonishment, I stumbled on your photos of our dear babies! The little paint colt in your “Free No More” post was adopted by us! – along with 3 other weanlings from the Sand Wash gather.

The power of the Internet can be an amazing thing in its ability to bring folks together. Mary has since sent me many photos of the “babies” and has honored me by addressing them to “Aunt Pam.” As yet, I have not been out to see the youngsters myself, but Mary and her husband Dusty have extended the invitation and I plan to take them up on it. The following is an image I took of “Nobody” in the wild and images sent to me by Mary.


Dusty with Nobody

Dusty with Nobody

Nobody, Hazel and Dusty (on crutches)

Nobody, Hazel and Dusty (on crutches)

Mary and Nobody

Mary and Nobody

Ahhh - Mary and Nobody

Ahhh - Mary and Nobody

“We have been involved with the Adoption program for over 9 years. We have 3 other horses we have adopted from the Sand Wash herd over the past years. (One was gathered at 6 years old and was destined for the sanctuary. We took a chance on him – he was no problem gentling and anyone can ride him now!) When we first saw “Nobody” (the paint colt – he is actually a Medicine Hat as it turns out), he was so small and sleeping sound among the mass of babies. It really tugged at your heart. It is sad to dwell on the gathers, but we try to move past it and do what we can to adopt a horse and teach it to live in the domesticated/human world. In a sense we are grateful the BLM has the adoption program for it has afforded us to become family and friends with a wild horse – an opportunity MANY folks will never embark on nor have a chance to experience. We both grew up involved deeply with horses, however, since becoming a wild horse adopter, we have learned volumes from the mustangs.

“Nobody” was so tiny we just knew he had to get into a home with some personal care, though in the long run, I imagine many folks would have elected to adopt him because of his markings. My husband had his eye on a palomino colt; we could have stopped there, but a black colt with a white ring around his eye (like the dog in The Little Rascals!) and a distinctive looking filly had also grabbed our heart strings – so madness prevailed and all four have their home with us. I also saw on your website you had a photo of her with her band. Her name is “Sister Hazel”; the palomino’s name is “Sheepcamp” and our black colt with white on his face is nicknamed “Petey” – real name is “Two and a Half Bars.”

Nobody (who we knew from first sight that he is SOMEBODY!) has grown like a weed! Vet and us are fairly certain he was just a late foal being so much smaller than the others last fall. Petey is easily as tall as some of the older mustangs. They are all doing well and learning halter and feet trimming, etc. I know they are not out on 160,000 acres, but they enjoy us scratching their itchy spots and giving us kisses.

Your photos are beautiful and please continue your wild horse adventures and sharing your talent. I know it is not as inspiring to follow Nobody growing up in captivity as it would have been to follow him in Sand Wash, but I just wanted you to know he was here and very well cared for and loved. He makes ME smile everyday!! He is so funny – a total character! Hazel is beautiful and so dear. Petey is in your pocket. Sheepcamp is so athletic.

P.S. Dusty is on crutches due to hip replacement surgery, NOT falling off our wild horses!”

Below are images of “Sister Hazel” as a wild foal at Sand Wash Basin HMA, CO., and pictures from Mary after she and Dusty adopted her.







Hazel and Dusty

Hazel and Dusty

Dusty and "Sister Hazel"
Hazel and Mary with Sheepcamp in the background

Hazel and Mary with Sheepcamp in the background

Hazel, Nobody and Dusty

Hazel, Nobody and Dusty

Mary and I continued to correspond and I learned more about their other “adoptees” and their experiences with the wild horses.

“August of 2000 – from internet adoption. I was nervous as heck doing the online bidding! Adopted a pair – mare with a weanling. Lucy and Diamond (Diamond was actually born in a facility after Lucy was gathered). They are from Nevada. I picked them up at Canon City.

November 2000 – Went to a Wild Horse Workshop and adoption in Golden and adopted a 1 year-old burro. His name is Steely – he is awesome, a total pet!

October 2001 – Went to Sand Wash gather with a best friend (who adopted also) and adopted Cowboy at the onsite adoption. Back then, they were doing competitive live auction – it was scary! I actually “lost” the bid of the horse I really wanted. So after the auction the BLM put the “no sales” up for a silent bid and I got Cowboy – sorrel 2 year old with blaze. I adopted him for $125 – the horse I lost during the sale auction went for $1000! Too steep for me! He was a big strawberry roan and I had his name already picked out – Santana, but he went to a ranch in Steamboat, CO. Cowboy is the smoothest riding horse – you would not spill a drop of champagne if you were holding a glass and trotting circles!

July 2002 – Dusty’s nephew actually adopted Nevada – a 3 yr-old roan pinto, at the Longmont 4th of July adoption. He has lived with us from the beginning because we had an approved facility. He has ended up being our horse. Nevada is so sweet and like a little Clydesdale!

October 2005 – At Sand Wash gather (again!) we adopted Imagine, sorrel weanling and brought him home from Maybell (BLM now only does silent auction bids!) He is massive now! – as big as my Warmblood dressage horse that wears draft size everything! I am hoping to take Imagine into the dressage world – he is extremely smart and a quick study with nice gaits. From this gather, we also adopted, A Boy Named Sue. A bay 6 year old stud! Sue would have been put out to sanctuary and NOT in the adoption program because he was “too old.” But Dusty had been watching him at the corrals during the gather and just saw something special. We worked with the Canon City office and requested to adopt him regardless of his age – we promised we would not return him!! Anyway we had to go to Canon City to get him because Sue had been shipped down during the gather with most of the horses during the processing (they only keep a few for the onsite adoption at a gather.) So really it was November 2005 when we adopted Sue AND…while we were down there picking up Sue, we adopted – Pussy Cat (bay 3 yr-old from Nevada), Wonderland (black 2-yr old from Nevada) and Mac (bay pinto 2 yr-old from McCullough Peaks, WY).

Going down to Canon City to adopt is really fun and much less stressful than trying to make it to a special off-site adoption. You just can’t have a felonious police record because they won’t let you into the prison!!

October 2008 – (yes, you guessed it – Sand Wash gather again!) Anyway, we had no intention of adopting. We just went to have a little get away to some beautiful country. The studs, mares and the BABIES were just amazing and gorgeous! The HSUS was doing the PZP and we just thought about what an uncertain future it is for this herd. We left for home all the while contemplating the thought of “how to help the Sand Wash horses” and what is going to happen to the quality of the herd…???

November 2008 – yup it was crazy, but went down to Canon City and adopted the kids – what’s the point of getting one when you can get 4! We know we “didn’t have to do it” and were accepting responsibility for alot of horses now, but do NOT regret it for a second! They have been so much joy. All the horses are still with us! We have 4 domestics right now in addition to all the mustangs.”



Dusty and Petey. That is a very unique eye patch and does look just like the Little Rascals dog, Petey doesn't it? For those that remember...

Dusty and Petey. That is a very unique eye patch and does look just like the Little Rascals dog, Petey doesn't it? For those that remember...

Dusty and Petey

Dusty and Petey

Dusty, Petey and Sheepcamp

Dusty, Petey and Sheepcamp



I asked Mary about her experiences with the adoption program and her life with the Mustangs, and this is what she described.

“Joy, but also it has dramatically changed our knowledge of horsemanship and training. The wild horses have taught us SO MUCH about working/communicating with a horse. Both Dusty and I grew up with horses, though from completely different backgrounds. Dusty – a CO rancher, team roper, worked in feedlots, rodeoed and started colts, etc – all the “cowboy” stuff. I came from New England and grew up on a large farm. We kept our horses at home not at a fancy show barn. We did foxhunting, jumping, pony club, 4-H, polo, dressage and I spent alot of time riding my ponies on the trails, in the woods and in the fields. My folks were very close friends with riders who were and are on the US Olympic team.”

Clearly, these are two people who regard the Mustangs very highly and don’t see any limit as to their use and abilities. For the sake of the many wild horses currently available for adoption, I wish more folks thought this way. For their part, Mary and Dusty should be very proud – they’ve saved several living symbols of our nation’s heritage. Symbols that are all too rapidly disappearing from our public lands. And, it looks like more Mustangs than just the little pinto colt I photographed found that caring, forever home I’d hoped for.

Related story with updated photos of the “babies”:

32 Responses to “Free No More Update”

  1. Billie Says:

    What a wonderful story Pam. We need more Mary’s and Dusty’s in this world! It warms my heart to see good people get the many mustangs out there who need homes. Thanks for sharing this story. I hope it inspires others to adopt.

  2. Amanda Says:

    I am so glad that these little guys found great homes! I knew these foals very well, they were some of my favorites. Nobody (I called him Magic) was a later foal. His birthdate is July 5th. His whole family (with the exception of the other foal in the band) was rereleased and is one of my behavior bands for the study. I have more pictures of all four foals on the range if you or Mary and Dusty are interested.

  3. Lynn Bauer Says:

    Pam –
    What a SUPER happily-ever-after story!! All of us who care deeply about the wild ones wish more folks like Mary and Dusty could take in a “Nobody!” They’re among the REAL angels! Believe me, after having spent several days in Spring Creek Basin, we’d give ANYTHING to have the right place/facilities but, unfortunately, we’re city folk.. Still, we can and do talk about the horses to anyone who will listen! Maybe one of them will find their own precious “Nobody!” Great work Pam! Keep going! And, good luck to Mary, Dusty and Amanda – ya’ll are an inspiration!

  4. pnickoles Says:

    Billie – I couldn’t agree more. They seem like really good people with big hearts. It’s my hope too, that a few folks will be inspired to check into adopting a Mustang after reading their story. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

    Amanda – Nice to hear from you. Are you back for the summer? I knew you’d know these horses and I’m sure Mary and Dusty would love to see more of their adoptees from images you have. I’ll be sure to pass along your information.

    Lynn – Even if you can’t adopt, your enthusiasm and dedication to the wild ones will probaby save more than you know. That’s great work you’re doing as well. 🙂

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments.

  5. TJ Says:

    Me thinks that karma thing is coming back around, lady. 🙂 Super awesome to see this, in all aspects. I wish for many Marys and Dustys for all our wild ones off the ranges.

  6. pnickoles Says:

    Your comment makes me smile. As always, thanks TJ – and ditto on the many Marys and Dustys out there. 🙂

  7. Mary & Dusty Says:

    WOW – thank you ALL so much! Pam knows we were a little nervous and shy about “going public” but I truly just wanted to share our experiences with adopting and show what a gift it really is to US. It is hard because it is kind of bittersweet – one hates to see them taken off the range but then there they are in a facility and we just had to open our doors. Those of you who keep the blogs, photos and field records are amazing in your dedication and should be gosh darn proud of YOUR work. I had mentioned to Pam how “technology” may be one of the best things that can help our wild horses because of wide spread communication and quick action. “Nobody” is turning out to be quite the “Somebody”! We will keep Aunt Pam updated and I am sure she will post as she sees fit… If anyone is considering adopting and has ANY questions, we would be more than happy to try to help – it really is a profound experience, but fun too! THANK you to everyone again for your beautiful comments!
    Mary and Dusty

  8. Nancy Roberts Says:

    What a great story and pictures to boot! I also adopted a 2008 weanling colt. It was somewhat of an impulse, but has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experience ever! Odakota has enriched my life in many ways. When I got him he really tested my horsemanship skills. The first month I spent hours and hours gentling him, once I gained he trust we developed an amazing relationship. I have never worked with such a loyal, sweet colt. He is so smart and willing to learn! My goal is to make him a great trail horse and become an ambassador for his kind! Oh, I forgot to say he is a Sand Wash Mustang! I love him!

  9. Jennifer Gage Says:

    What pure joy reading your story, Dusty and Mary. It brought tears to my eyes. Praise God that you opened your hearts to the love and the “gift of the mustang” that you are experiencing every day. I am forever grateful to see your beauties and hope your inspiration touches many hearts and spreads like wildfire. I’m sure they will teach you many things about wild horses and about life and beauty. Bless you 10 x 10 for having the courage to share your pictures and your story. Thank you. Jennifer

  10. pnickoles Says:

    Nancy – someday, I want to meet your Odakota! 🙂

    Jennifer – it’s nice to have some good stories/outcomes for the wild horses once in a while. It keeps me motivated to have these chance encounters with folks who really care about our wild ones.

  11. Joanne K. Says:

    Wonderful story! My eyes got misty I must admit. Thank you Pam for sharing the story by Mary and Dusty and what wonderful adoptive parents they are.
    A model for others. I love the unique look of the wild horses. How lucky they are to be in their new “forever” home.

  12. Puller Lanigan Says:

    What a beautiful story. Thank god some of these horses landed with real treasures of humans!! Can we clone them???

  13. Jen Says:

    I have tears of JOY for these wonderful people & the horses they rescued!!!

  14. Karen B. Strawbridge Says:

    I too, have adopted Mustangs…..3 from Utah all sisters…..Bought one couldn’t leave the others. Next year, just went to see what was happening……there was a little gray mare….#1666 and the other horses were beating her up soooo bad….sent my son home for our trailer and Diamond is now a happy, healthy mare, that follows you like a puppy… one bid on her due to the numbers….I don’t believe that God makes bad horses…….just bad owners……Keep up the good work….I would love to adopt more but am at my quota…..22 and they all have a FOREVER home. will adopt more as the others pass away……..<3 K

  15. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Joanne – it’s truly a great ending for these horses. I wish, like Puller, that we could clone Mary and Dusty. 🙂

    Thanks Jen – yup, good people. 🙂

    Karen – so glad you found it in your heart to go the adoption route as well. Thanks for sharing your story too. 🙂

  16. Ellen McCoy Says:

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures. And also to all the wonderful people who adopt and love these horses. But why is everyone giving up on stopping the roundups? If people would do the research they would see the documented evidence of what is really behind the roundups. Everything else has failed. What about being willing to be arrested to draw attention to this tradgedy? Peaceful resistence is what got attention in the Civil Rights Movement. I for one am willing. When I see how desperatly these horse fight for freedom, how can I do any less? I know there are some misspelled words. I hope you can overlook it.

  17. LindaLMartin Says:

    Dear Pam,
    This is such an awesome story. I wonder if Mary would be allow me to include these Sand Wash Babies in the Mustang A Day Challange. Im in the process of doing Band Stallions right now with a few side trips to some rescued mustangs that needed some fundraising. Could you pass on my information to her and send her the blog address.
    Thanks so much.~Linda

  18. deborah hurley Says:

    after such along day of bad news, this is the most beautiful story! thank you for sharing it with all of us,Pam. it looks like life will be a different kind of family love for the kids, but i am so grateful people like Mary and Dusty are there to give it to them.

  19. Sally Wright Says:

    Wow, Hazel is definitely a Picasso baby! I know the baby pictures show her with a gray stallion (I’ll have to look closer to figure out who he is) but there’s no mistaking those crazy markings! 🙂

  20. lydia Says:

    Very Touching Story
    Bless you all

  21. Barb Young Says:

    I’m happy to call Mary and Dusty friends and to say they live “just up the road” from me. What they’ve done and continue to do is truly wonderful.

  22. connie Says:

    thankyou Pam for sharing the stories. I love to hear how good horse men and women appreciate the value of these great horses. I have one mustang from the pryor mountains, she is 22 now. the best horse I have ever owned. Please keep up the good work, love all the photos so stunning and so real. happy endings are such a joy to read about. thanks

  23. […] I wrapped up my post by saying that I hoped he’d found a good home. Well, he certainly had and in 2009, I posted a follow-up story after hearing from the adopter of that little guy…and a few more of our wild ones: […]

  24. It’s wonderful seeing how great these horses are doing in their new homes! Thank you for sharing your correspondence and photos from Mary and Dusty and I hope to see more as these foals progress!

  25. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Jana – this post has photos of the “babies” from 2011. They are doing great!

  26. Stephanie Says:

    What a beautiful story and correspondence! So very glad she found you and followed up with pictures. Just wonderful….

  27. pnickoles Says:

    It’s nice to hear a good story about the Mustangs. So glad I’ve come to know Mary and Dusty and their horses! Great people, lucky horses

  28. Judy Lane Says:

    Is sheepcamp a
    curly haired horse? I just saw a reference to them.

  29. Harriet McDonald Says:

    Such a beautiful thing to share with us, Pam. Bless Mary & Dusty for the way they’ve opened their hearts to these SWB babies. I wish there were a lot more articles like this one focusing on the joy and satisfaction that can come as a result of adopting a mustang. I’d give anything if I had a place where I could adopt, but we urban dwellers have to just cheer on the ones who can adopt and pass along what we can to encourage others with proper facilities to do so, too. Thanks for sharing this happy ending story!!

  30. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Judy – no, Sheepcamp has a wavy mane, but he’s not a Curly. This link will take you to an image of a Curly. Click on the photo to enlarge. Hope this helps:

  31. pnickoles Says:

    So gladyou enjoyed the story Harriet. Mary and Dusty are really terrific people and I agree, more of these types of stories is what I look for and like to read myself. Encouraging and sharing with others about the Mustangs is doing a lot. Thank you for that.

  32. Very touching story! So happy this young horse found a loving, caring family and harmonious home!

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