Hey, diary! I woke up this morning with a horse’s nose in my face. At least it wasn’t his other side – ha, ha. No seriously, it's a dream about adventure ahead..... Real, live, wild mustangs and me. A human. Meeting. Together…. On a ranch in Southern Utah!
Ohhhh! I’m just not sure it’s going to get much better than this.
The last horses I was around were the scarily-rickety and possibly dead - but still walking somehow - horses from our Yosemite “trail ride” with the kids. The kids still bring it up as a crotch-achingly, agonizing 2 hours. But, hallelujah, I know I’m in for a diff experience today!
Hey again. Brief change o' subject, diary. Here’s the interesting thing about traveling solo. How does a solo person put on sunscreen. In the far back places? That is my profound question for this morn…. Must lengthen arms…. Stretch………..
Got my cowboy hat. Got my polarized sunglasses. Got my leather chaps. Well, not. But feelin’ myself startin’ to think and walk like a Western horse person. Been livin’ out West long enough to feel like I belong…
Ok, so we arrive at the mustang ranch and now I feel like a Billy Crystal, city slicker dork as I step out of the van and a grey/black Australian Shepard cattle dog launches to bite me or, uh, greet me.
I’m warned that he’s a biter. “He’s a biter, that one.” Hmmmm.
|Outdoorsy Cowgirl Mama!|
But the rest of the pack of cattle dogs are friendly. As are the white, Stetson hatted ladies who run the place and put on today’s adventure: MEET the Mustangs.
MEET: Mustang Educational Experiential Teachings
What will we be doing? I actually have no fleepin’ idea. I just love that I get to hang out with wild horses...... Wild kids, I know. But wild horses? This is a new one for me….
My heart is beating fast and I am exited and a leetle bit intimidated and, well, nervous. Oh, geez, I know horses. I know horses & have ridden them since I was a small thing.
But with these mustangs….. it’s different. Their fear of humans is, well, so clear. So obvious. The horses I’ll be with today have been adopted from the wild. They move and act like scared prey. And each horse at the ranch is at a different level of skittishness. Sorta the way I feel when I get out of my mommy clothes and back in my fancy, high-heeled, out-on-the-town dress and go to my hubby’s work party. Glerb!
The first horse I get to meet is the most nervous of all the horses they’ll let us connect with today. He is so skittery around humans that we can barely get close enough for a neck pat. He backs away as I move to him. And I step away. I’m learning to listen to his cues as to what makes him more comfortable. By stepping away, I allow him his space. So, I realize, profoundly, that there’s actually a bigger reason why I can’t remember his name… Find your space, little buddy.
Next is Sequoia. It’s her first day ever with guests and she’s never allowed a bridle on her. I walk out to her. She lets me near. I pat her neck. She tolerates then steps away. I’m instructed to stand still and breathe. I breathe. Breathe…. All of a sudden, Sequoia lets out the most giant release of breath that makes a giant woosh of sound. We all laugh. Bravo! She’s relaxing! So am I.
|Mustangs Free to Run in the Southwest|
The ground shakes as the 23 mustangs of all earth-tones and patterns are released to play in the giant pasture. We watch their movement as they frolic and canter about – and I can’t help but think of Old West stories – the corny ones and the heart-tugging ones – from when Tonto helps save the day to the horsey books I grew up reading with the foal who lost her mama. (Sob!)
There’s something about the spirit of their wild looks running in the Southwestern country that is, seriously, about to make me burst into tears. It is awe inspiring.
We're meeting First Star. A super handsome and super responsive mustang-dude – he heeds to an alpha’s slightest direction. As I enter into the ring with him, he senses my energy. With simply the way I hold my body, I guide him to walk, then trot, then walk again. I direct him to the left and right with merely a turn of my shoulder. And, most magically stirring of all, I stand directly in front of him, turn and walk away, and he follows me, all around the ring. Like an obedient little dog. I turn to look, is he still there? He is! First Star lets me scratch his fuzzy neck afterwards while he chews on his lips. A sign of pleasure in a horse. The pleasure’s all mine, buddy.
|Topaz, The Horse & Human Hugger|
The grand finale of the MEET is Topaz. Because she is a mustang who loves to be hugged. As a tree hugger at times, I’ve also been known to be a horse hugger. So this is right up my alley…. My burst of emotion for all of these horses today is finally satiated as I walk up to Topaz and give her a giant heart-hug and spend time rubbing her painted neck. I say over and over: “Thank you. Thank you,” to Topaz. I don’t know why.
Waving goodbye to the ranching ladies, I bow down to their love and care for these animals. A non-profit organization, they adopt and care for these thousand pound (I think they act like) fuzzy-teenagers. With no social skills, with no preservation skills ‘cept for fright and flight when they first come to the ranch, these wild mustangs have found a home and someone to care for them. They are the lucky ones.
Vodka rocks with a Turkish Pepper stuffed olive in my hand, I savor the day. SAVOR my hunk of adopted love, First Star. SAVOR my hugging (not-the-car) Pinto, Topaz....
The sun sets.
Namaste & Three Cheers –OM
For more on the MEET program, Windhorse Relations, and biographies on the horses (!) go to these links!
Google: "Adopt A Mustang" -- to learn more about the many organizations who help Mustangs find homes