Salt Wells Creek mustang Shiloh comes home to me a year after our wild dance. It’s a romantic story with many twists and turns along the way. I’ll tell it mostly in pictures, since that’s where it all began. I know many of you don’t know the whole story. Even this is extremely abbreviated, but it’s a big part…
I found Lieutenant’s band deep in the Salt Wells Creek/Adobe Town complex September 13, 2014, two days before the heavily disputed Checkerboard gathers were started in Wyoming.
After giving up for the day and starting home, as often happens… I spotted them.
You can read about my extraordinary experience playing with these two mixed bands with little human contact, here: http://kerryobrien.org/2014/09/
The yet un-named red Appaloosa figured prominently in the band of the grey stud.
You can see the older white mare’s legs in the background and the grey mare’s nose to the left in the photo above. They play prominently in the story.
The red mare and the grey mare (not shown) with black points that looked exactly like this grey stud, were both clearly pregnant.
We played together for several hours until I lost the light, when they lined up on the ridge to watch me go. Magic does not describe it.
After the gathers were completed I contacted Lona, the adoption coordinator in Canon City, and she confirmed that they had the red mare and the grey stud.
I dreamed about them day and night and held them briefly. I wanted a saddle and pack horse team to disappear me into the Rocky Mountains. (Little did I know Ben Masters had beaten me to the punch! DO NOT MISS the film, Unbranded. You can see the trailer here: www.unbrandedthefilm.com.) I had only just started on my journey and was living out of a 16′ Casita trailer. I had no home, no rig, no way to swing it. Dreaming too big again, I relinquished my hold and within hours both the red mare and the grey stud were snatched up.
I quickly became friends with Tammy Morgan in N.C. who adopted both the red mare and her grey band sister. They were inseparable in the Canon City pens, even protecting the older white mare when she was injured. These three mares were together, maintaining their family structure, in nearly all the photographs from Canon City. Thank you Amanda Wilder for your dedication!
Sadly, the grey mare “Sister,” was too heavily pregnant to ship on the January shipment. The next day her full term foal was found dead in the pens. Sister and the white mare called Ghost are still in Canon City as far as I know but have not been able to confirm. (Addendum: I visited the two mares in April 2016. They are still there.)
As fate would have it, I was in Florida that January when the load of Canon City mustangs was shipped to N.C. I wouldn’t miss it for the world and made the trip to Asheville to meet Tammy and her sister Michelle, also adopting.
The driver said it was a good looking load of horses. It was very cold and we were very excited. You can read about the arrival day here: http://kerryobrien.org/2015/01/meet-the-mustangs/
Tammy, bless her heart, also adopted Paisley, a filly who’s adopter bailed on in the eleventh hour. Shiloh took her under her wing and they penned together until Shiloh’s foal arrived in April.
She just got bigger, and bigger and bigger….
And in April dropped a ginormous filly foal. This beast is newborn! Just a few hours old!
All was well in N.C. through the summer. Then I got the call. Tammy and I had made a deal that if push ever came to shove for her and Shiloh, she would call me first. Because of some personal issues, she needed to re-home some of her adult horses. The baby, Denali was old enough to wean.
I was caught. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t afford it. I’m traveling. I don’t have a home. But… this was the third time this horse had come to me. How could I say no?
There was scrambling, praying, exercises of faith. Friends, friends of friends and the amazing community of mustangers I have come to know, all contributed to making this happen.
Ashley Rose, who I had met at a BLM adoption event in Florida (read about it here: http://kerryobrien.org/2015/02/mustang-adoption-event/) was coming west for the Kiger Adoptions in Oregon and tag driving with her mom. Tammy and Michelle met her in Chattanooga and Ashley and her mom drove the rest of the way, delivering the smutty nosed mare to Colorado Springs on Monday.
She took a good look around, scenting the other horses and they her.
She took her time taking it in, then decided to trust me, stepped off and calmly went to the round pen where she will be making her home for at least the next month. Thank you to Annie Noonan for hooking me up with Gib Franciscotti and to Gib for his gallant generosity and open heartedness.
Day One: Shiloh was very, very thin. The beasty foal had pulled her down severely. The twenty plus hour trip exhausted her. She was hurting, not feeling well, confused and sad. Very, very sad.
Day Two: More of the same. I was very concerned. Not eating. Not drinking. Getting very gaunt. I’m lucky some over zealous advocates were not reporting me to BLM. On the other hand, maybe they’d be offering to bring hay and water like they did in Fish Creek. Certainly she looks worse than the horses there that everyone was so hysterical about. Oh, didn’t catch that drama? You can read about it here: Fish Creek Debacle.
Oddly (or not), I too felt extremely, extreeeeeemly tired, unfocused, lethargic and without appetite. I should have been over the moon excited, but I was not. It sounds crazy, but my bond with this horse is such, that I was feeling what she was feeling. And I was worried. She was listless, dehydrated and probably on the verge of colic. I expected to have to call in an emergency vet first thing in the morning. Not getting off on the good foot.
I’m sorry, this video takes forever to load. If you are on Facebook, you can see it more easily here: facebook.com/Mustang-Chronicles
I woke an hour before dawn. I felt good and went up to check on her. She was up and eating! She ate and drank all morning long. Peed and pooped good poo! She had turned the corner! YAY!!!
She felt good enough to give me a little attitude so we had a short Come To Jesus about presenting her butt to me. It took very little to convince her that wasn’t a good idea. Crows and coyotes made a racket in the rosy dawn. I think we’re out of the woods.
From the rear window of my Casita I can keep an eye on her. When I left to write this post, she was keeping an eye on me. A good start.
It takes a damn village: I’d like to thank all the mustang people, too numerous to mention, for their support making this happen, and support and advice during these tough couple of days. Oh, yes. And for railroading me into adopting a mustang. Love to you all.