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Meet the Mustangs!

Saturday morning was cold and clear. Myself and the adopters were bursting with excitement while we waited on the frozen ground for the truck to arrive with nine mustangs fresh out of holding in Cañon City, CO.  It’s kind of a blind date. You hope they are all you dreamed but in reality you know nothing about these horses except sex, when and where they were gathered,  and the adults could be anywhere from 12 to 15 hands high. All you have is a picture and a boat load of faith.  When asked, “why this horse?” the common answer is, “I don’t know, he/she just spoke to me.” All of these amazing women (and some of their men) are deeply committed to the mustang cause. I want to mention them here with gratitude:

Tammy Turner Morgan arranged transport, handled communications with Cañon City and has been my information pipeline. She adopted my beloved Shiloh and a young filly who’s adopter bailed the last minute. Her sister Michelle Turner Lance was here for Legend, a heavy varnish roan gelding. Elisa Wallace, an event trainer and mustang advocate with eventing hopes for her new mustang Arlequin. She will be competing Monday with her other mustang in the Mustang Magic competition. You can see incredible mustang demos on her website www.WallaceEventing.com. Shaunna Costicov, from Alabama is launching a non-profit to help give mustangs in holding exposure and a voice at www.American Legends Foundation. She was waiting for a little black gelding that had his ears pinned back in every holding pen photo.  Taylor Absher also from NC, Sandra Williamson from Georgia and Nancy McGee from Tennessee were all rolling the dice.

NC 01-17-15-0845The driver called and said this was a real nice load of horses. Babies were off first, like little puppy dogs. The adults had a little more spunk, but all manageable and probably more than a little tired from the 1500 mile drive. More thanks to the fairground crew in Marshall for manpower and providing the necessary holding pens, chutes and facilities.


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Probably didn’t help that we all had our noses pressed up to the panel. Taylor Absher’s feisty boy, Chief.

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Elise Wallace’s Arlequin.

Most all loaded up fine. Many domestic horse owners WISH their horses loaded this well. And then were off to their new lives, no longer free, but protected and loved. Wild horses have very strong family bonds and therefore bond strongly with their person, since their real families have been lost. Care must be taken to introduce other people and members of the opposite sex. They are often fascinated by children. Hopefully these horses will be in or soon find their forever homes.

I then followed to Tammy’s home in Hendersonville where she has nice pasture and shelter for her other horses. Shiloh and baby Paisley unloaded to a round pen and immediately started in on the groceries, a big, roll bale of hay.

Shiloh immediately adopted the filly Paisley, keeping her tucked in at her side. She was separated from her other offspring and her band stallion Lieutenant at gather. I have not been able to locate any of the foals or yearlings. She is due to foal in just a month or two and we are all dying to see what the foal will look like, hoping it is Lieutenant’s.

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On Sunday I went to visit Michelle and her beautiful varnish roan, Legend. He is as laid back as can be, seen here, eyes closed, breathing in her scent. You can see the draft horse ancestry.




If she can keep him moving forward this big boy is going to be one comfy ride!

So stay tuned and subscribe (it’s easy!) to keep up with the continuing story… and thanks to the many, many people who made this possible. It does take a village.

Mustang Delivery

After many challenges and plans being changed by external forces literally minute to minute, tomorrow I head for North Carolina to meet the adopters of some of the Checkerboard mustangs I photographed last September, and await their arrival from Colorado this Saturday. It’s an exciting time for all of us, anxiously awaiting the horses we’ve been following for months from their gather off the Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town and Divide Basin Horse Management Areas in Wyoming. How wild will they be? Did they transport safely? And most of all, are they the horses we dreamed they’d be?

IMG_6126 - Version 2I know for sure that Shiloh, the red Appaloosa mare is due to be delivered. Heavily pregnant, she also is soon due to deliver her foal. Sadly, Lieutenant, the grey band stallion (now gelding) has been delayed until Feb/March.


Every since photographing his band, I have been haunted by Shiloh and Lieutenant. You can see him watching me in every photograph and Shiloh was never far from his side. In a perfect world, I would have them as a saddle and pack horse team for my treks through the Rockies. Alas, I am living in a 12′ travel trailer. I could not even prevail upon friends to pasture them since they don’t understand what a fence is, and need immediate gentling and training.

Lieutenant 1Lona Kossar at the Cañon City, CO holding facility was able to locate them and give me their tag numbers. Shiloh was five years old and available for a $125 adoption fee. Lieutenant was thirteen and as such would be sent straight to long term holding, but could be sold for $25. I was determined to find him a home and posted his info on the Cañon City Mustangs Facebook page. After that, Shiloh and Lieutenant were snapped up immediately by two women in North Carolina.

Over the next couple of months one of them also stepped forward for Sister, the grey mare doppleganger of Lieutenant. As time progressed the authorities in Cañon City decided she was too close to foaling to ship, so sadly she is left behind. We also tried for Ghost, the white mare in the first photo, probably related, probably pregnant and looking very good at age eighteen! So far no takers for her either.

Shiloh & WhiteyInterestingly and somewhat sadly, in the corral photos, Shiloh and Sister were often photographed with another poorly conditioned white mare between them, and Ghost right behind, preserving their family bond in the holding pens and protecting the weaker horse.

I am so looking forward to meeting Tammy and the rest of the adopters, some coming from as far as Alabama and Maryland to the distribution point in Marshall, NC. I am hoping for no further obstacles getting to NC. Keep your fingers crossed that I have safe, uneventful travels and can continue to tell the unfolding story of these most magnificent of God’s creatures.

Coast to Coast, West to East

Hello and Happy New Year. I hope all y’all’s holidays were beautiful. Can you tell I’ve been in the south for a while? Spent fall in L.A. taking care of property, car and trailer issues and visiting friends. Headed east had a great day in Albuquerque visiting with my friend’s 85 year old dad Robert Garcia who can trace his family in NM to the 1600’s. Repair delay had me up to Oklahoma’s Washita Battleground to commune with the ghosts of Custer’s shame and the Wichita Wildlife Refuge where it was so cold and rainy that no wildlife was to be found, though I hear they have a huge herd of bison and the most genetically authentic Texas Longhorns in the country. Even the prairie dogs were hiding.

Then to Texas for yet another new axle, wheels and other repairs on the Casita. Thanks to Larry and Debbie Gamble at Little House Customs for taking good care of me and the rig before sending me off through East Texas and San Augustine to Toledo Bend, Louisiana where Jean Lafitte, the French-American pirate and privateer plied the waters of the Sabine River. Famously known as “no man’s land,” this area was a lawless DMZ between the French, Spanish and American territories before the Louisiana Purchase. Lots of history here, dating back to he 1500’s.

Leesville StationI spent Christmas revisiting Leesville, LA where I lived as a young hippie-military wife in 1972-73 during the Viet Nam war. It was a healing visit, helped by a kind Vernon County sheriff and the Police Chief of New Llano, LA, who helped me reconstruct and confirm memories of places that no longer exist, and deserve to no longer exist. The healing I experienced during those few days afforded me the redemption needed to finally write about my experiences there.

Louisiana graveyardIt remained cold and rainy driving through the still poor bayou country east of Baton Rouge, but I was accompanied all afternoon by local public radio’s Zydeco Stomp. This area of the country has the best radio ever. Et toi!

Made it to central Florida and have been staying with my Gator Joe's most generous friends Robert and Madeline who have helped me find my way around here looking for property, and now (insert drum roll) I’m headed up to North Carolina to await the arrival of two of the wild mustangs I photographed last summer who were gathered and have been in holding in Colorado since October. What are the odds that “my” Wyoming horses would end up here with me on the east coast? I’ll fill you in on how that happened in the next post. Can you pick them out? Stay tuned…