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.

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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.

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"Nobody"
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.

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Hazel-s

Hazel2-s

Hazel3-s

Hazel4-s

Hazel5-s

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.”

Petey

Petey

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

Sheepcamp

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”: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/colorado-vacation-highlights-%e2%80%93-part-two/

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