One of the many pleasures when visiting Navasota on the weekends is checking on the animals that are there. One of those special animals is our BLM Mustang, named Sherlock, that we adopted about 5 years ago. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management. They protect and manage the animals under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Their goal is to ensure and maintain the herd populations on healthy public lands. Sherlock was rounded up from Saylor Creek, Idaho. The area in which he roamed and grazed burned so his entire herd of about 200 were gathered and moved for survival. When a gathering has to happen, they are either put up for adoption in hopes of a better life, or put into long term holding facilities (which are 200+ acres each) until their natural habitat has grown back and they can be returned.
Picking up the Mustang
I’ll never forget the day we drove to Pauls Valley, OK to pick him up. It was rainy and cold but we didn’t care. We had waited so long for him to arrive. When it was our turn to get him into the trailer, we saw a scared, nervous, strong willed young horse with eyes that looked so sad it was almost pitiful. He had no clue what was happening to him. All he knew was he was being taken away (again) from his home and the other horses.
You can’t just adopt a wild horse and be able to ride it or really even get close enough to touch it. They have had very little interaction with humans so they need to be gentled and trained. The little interaction they have had has been to Freeze Brand his neck (the painless permanent way to identify them), to check their teeth for a general age, and to spay/neuter the horses. I would imagine each process being horrific.
Our trainers, Caitie and Elliot Holtzman are two of the most wonderful people on this planet. They had trained mustangs before and were eager to show us how to care for him.
Day 1 was an eye opener. Not that I expected fuzzy feelings from him or that we’d be best friends. I just didn’t expect such anger and resentment. Sherlock wasn’t happy with being roped or being put into a small pen. Why would he? Just imagine though if we had put him into a large pasture right away – we would have never been able to catch him. I had to keep telling myself – he’ll come around, he’ll stop wanting to kick us, he’ll love us one day.
It took a couple of weeks but he finally calmed down enough to understand no one was going to hurt him or eat him for that matter. He started to see we were only there to give him a better life with regular meals, mani/pedi’s, fly spray, cool water to drink, mud to roll in and to play beauty shop every once in a while.
Life of our adopted Mustang
There is seriously so much I could tell you about the adoption process and how Sherlock has changed our lives forever. I love that horse more than he’ll ever know. He knows when I come to see him that I have treats. He’s been known to sniff my pockets if I don’t pull them out fast enough. Macy, our middle child, rides him and continues his training. Since she never feeds him treats (insert rolling eyes), I get to be the treat momma. I guess that’s what being a grandma is going to be like. Spoil them rotten then give them back to the parents. 😉
He has a pretty good life. He eats, he plays, he rolls in the dirt then takes naps with his buddies. Occasionally we play dress up and put him in a Christmas parade or in a competition. Every year the BLM hosts a Mustang Only competition somewhere in the U.S. It’s a get together to show off what the horses have learned, play games with the them and compete. The last event is a costume competition. Oh the costumes! Sherlock has been dressed as a poodle, a skunk, a TY Beanie baby, and a rainbow carousel horse. I’ll let you guess which two costumes won him the prize.
All of that was before we moved him to Navasota. Now days he runs from one end of the pasture to the other sounding like thunder. He still plays in the dirt, hangs with the dogs, and gets into all kinds of mischief. He has been called several new names – Mr. Mess, Sherly, Swirly, Big Butt, Brat, Best Bud, Turd (only Macy calls him that), and Mr. Handsome to name a few.
Everyone seems to like him. Although I think the relationship with the cows is a mutual tolerance. He gets to chase them around and they try and eat his grain. Over all he really does have a wonderful life.
I believe if we took him hack to Idaho to let him roam free, he’d just stand there asking us “When are we going home and where is my food?” He is quite loved and has quite the life. There’s no doubt about that.
If anyone ever wants to learn more about adopting a BLM mustang, contact us. We’ll be happy to chat about everything we’ve learned and how our experience has been exceptional. #lovemymustang