DAY 2 - I arrive at the ranch to find out Poster Boy had somehow gotten his halter off during the night. I'm thinking "how am I going to get it back on." So I just start throwing the rope on him, over and over and over, about five hundred thousand times until he gets used to it, then once he can finally handle the rope, touching him all over his body. I start to run the rope across his forehead, over his ears, under his jaw, down his neck until he doesn't seem to care about the ropes. Then I was able to bring in the halter and slip it over his nose, and under his chin and bring it around his neck. I was able to get the halter on because of the rope preparation I had done earlier. It's all about preparing the horse for the next step, and with a wild mustang it's building on miniscule baby baby steps.
My first thoughts when I saw him in the holding pen at the BLM pick-up was "oh my god. He's big. He's really not that big, but for a mustang I think he's bigger than the average. He’s maybe fifteen hands. He has a nice masculine head, a kind eye, big beautiful feet he doesn’t have a lot of muscle tone yet but when I start working him up and down hills that should change. Michelle Layne drove me down to pick him up. We left at 4:30 in the morning so we could be there when they opened the gates at BLM for picking up our mustangs. I wanted to get there early so I could watch him in the herd . I watched for about two hours. I saw that he was definitely not the low man on the totem pole. I think he is somewhere near the top. He didn’t seem to bothered by the all the commotion going on around him, which leads me to believe he is going to be a brave boy; not over reactive. I also noticed he felt comfortable enough to groom another horse while we were watching. I took note of where he liked to be groomed by the other horse so I could scratch him in those spots when I could finally get my hands on him. The time came for us to load him into the trailer, well I shouldn’t say us, because its the BLM hands that do all the work. They have it down to a science. They have a cowboy on horseback that separates the horse from the herd and sends him down a narrow chute. He can’t turn around in that narrow chute. Then they shut the gate in front of him and behind hind. Now you have him in a squeeze and you can put a halter and lead rope on him for the first time in his life. I was going to put a flat halter on him but I didn’t have one large enough for his head so I went to my second option. I had a rope halter and lead. The trailer is backed up and waiting. When the guys open the chute the mustang goes running in with halter on. There’s a lot of kicking and banging but once you get the trailer moving, the horse tries to plant his feet so he can get his balance and things usually quiet down. They are just loose in the trailer with halter and lead rope on. Heading down 395 for a three hour drive, a three hour drive. Just sit right back and I'll tell you a tell a tell of a fateful trip, oh… I'm sorry. I got side tracked. Something you can’t ever do when you’re working with a mustang or any horse for that matter. You have to be in the moment, present, nothing else should enter your mind but what you’re doing with your horse at that time. Not what you’re going to make for dinner. You have to be in the present. So we get to the ranch and that is a huge ordeal; getting the truck and trailer into the gate so we can back it into the round pen and unload my new beautiful Poster Boy. But we got it done with a little help from Hilke and Berry. Berry drove the trailer through the really tight opening. Thank you God, because it is not my truck or trailer. That that was Day One!
Introduction to a wiggly scarf on a stick (well, you never know...) Photographer, Cathy Kelty