Since I was very young I always thought I was put here to protect and serve the animals. I dreamed of buying a lot of acreage and turning it into a sanctuary for horses and dogs. I keep trying to win the BIG lotto, but not yet.
So, I thought to myself I cant save them all but maybe I could save just one, baby steps. I heard of a BLM adoption that was going to be held in Laramie close by at a horse sanctuary.
The BLM was bringing in untrained yearlings and some older ones that had been worked with. I took my friend Dennis who would be my partner in this venture, as well as my mentor and a true horseman who has taught me new methods of working with horses.
His secret is don’t get hung up on one training method, watch different clinicians you will learn a whole lot more. And most of all, work with the horse at his immediate level and needs. Don’t go to work your horse with a specific plan, see where he is at and work on the things he needs the most at that time.
I thought it would be a good idea to go to an adoption with an open mind, and not necessarily adopt on that day. The right one will come along I said. Fast forward to the adoption day, my friend Dennis, and some friends from Alaska, and my dear friend Joy and her husband Troy came along.
The Deerwood Horse sanctuary in Laramie has got to be the most beautiful ranch I have ever laid eyes on. Nestled up against the mountains were these beautiful lush green pastures, 4700 acres of splendor. This is truly horse heaven!
We rode in on a horse team and wagon, very cool. When we arrived at the adoption site, there were 12 yearlings to choose from, first come first served. Just hand them $25 and the horses # and he or she is yours! These were all yearling geldings, and Dennis and I were drawn to 2 out of the herd. Meet Smokey, a black gelding and we almost took Bandit home as well, but thought better of it. The BLM hands ran him up a shoot and into my trailer, easy peasy so far!
He rode very quietly home, and I when I backed the trailer up to the round pen, he calmly stepped out of the trailer. This is just to good to be true! Then we got to see him move and our jaws dropped, he just floats along, so beautiful!
Dennis and I will work as a team with him and I thought it would be a good idea to journal and take pics and video as we progress. I am going to tell you what we worked on the first 4 weeks he has been here.
- Smokey trailer loads freestyle
- I was able to touch him all over his body
- Dennis had him jumping freestyle
- Dennis had him move forward and back freestyle alongside him
- Smokey was doing so good we let him out to acclimate with the BIG boys Happy Jack and Rimrock, both geldings, things went well
- I was able to put on and take off his halter, in the pasture he would come right up to me every time
- Smokey accepted the rope-flag-and stick
- Smokey decided to slip through the pasture fence to get the green grass, my heart sank, I thought I lost him. But to my surprise he followed me and Dave and the 2 BIG boys alongside the fence line, back into the driveway and right into the round pen!
- Halter leading
- Disengages the hind end then the forehand
- Good flexion
- Accepted a rope swinging all around him, even played some jump rope, played with a BIG ball and hoola hoop.
- Halter breaking is coming along great
- Dennis was able to pick up and hold all 4 feet
- Smokey follows me everywhere
- Dennis took him for a walk around pasture halter and lead, no trouble
- walked him up and down a steep hill, he was all legs here, kinda clumsy but willing
- Able to walk out to the pasture, Smokey comes right up to me, I put the halter and lead on and quietly we walk into the round pen
I am in LOVE with this little soul, he is so much fun and such a willing partner! Stay tuned next month for further progress
so heartwarming! Don’t know if you named him after Will James famous fictional cow pony, but your training methods, while different from those used on the original Smokey, show the same sensitivity and care used, and I’m sure he will turn out just as well. Lovely horse, lovely first chapter in what I look forward to being a long happy story.
I actually named him Smokey because he is all black but turning, he has specks of silver grey all over, he looks Smokey. Stay tuned…
So happy for all of you!
I love Dave’s attitude on training! I’m of the same mind!
Can’t wait to see how things progress with you and Smokey!
Stay tuned…. more to come. CJ
Oh what a wonderful story and what a JOY CJ! Soooo happy for YOU and SMOKEY! Keep us posted !
Ps: I am gone the month of July and will be in touch when I return
RE: my beautiful saddle !
Glad you are enjoying life!
So happy for you and Smokey! I have TIP trained two BLM Mustangs so far and it has been an amazing experience! Glad you are spreading the word! These horses should not be overlooked when considering a new horse.
Mustangs are so willing to learn and very intelligent. You are lucky to have had 2!
Wonderful video, CJ. Can’t wait to see how he progresses. You’ve got yourself a gem — so intelligent and intuitive. Keep us posted!
Smokey is a keeper for sure, so much fun!
Wow very impressive. You got a good minded colt and a great trainer. He’s going to be your
dream horse. I wish Dennis lived closer to me! I’d love to ask him a question about my horse.
Please have him contact me if you would. Have fun with your beautiful boy.
How did you want me to have Dennis contact you? Phone# or email? If you like, ask your question here, and I will get with Dennis and reply back to you here. Someone else may learn something while reading.
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! So happy to see you with such a gorgeous little guy! Looking forward to the updates!
Thanks Angela! Stay tuned…
1) please keep updates coming and thank you for sharing. I enjoyed the story and especially the video.
2) Rent a Dennis option available?!!! I’ve been wanting to get a yearling gelding, small and sound, non-arab, for my next endurance/trail life prospect. Can I rent Dennis? Have him with me at a BLM adoption day? Please! I want a sane, small, sensible, sound & genetically tough. Pretty much what Dennis found for you! My horse friend/mentor passed away. Since he is gone can I just rent Dennis, cuz’ I think they are cut from the same cloth. Dennis picked such a good minded one for you I know he could do the same for me. Not joking, yours Susan
I will ask Dennis and get back to you, how did you want him to contact you, via phone or email? He is the best !
Dennis may be interested he said… He would like to talk with you..what # can he call you at?
What a handsome and fortunate fellow Smokey. Lovely to see you all working with him and he is certainly smart and happy to be working with you. Wishing you all, the very best. And hope you share more videos with Smokey.
Thanks Mary Anna! Stay tuned….
Wow, what a calm, level-headed and cute guy he is! Are Mustangs typically like this? If so, I want one.
Thanks Pam! This is my 1st Mustang, but from what people are telling me, many are just like him. It is all in how you handle them, and reading their needs and working with them at their level. Many at the BLM adoption were showing similar personalities, some were more aggressive. And some at the horse sanctuary were there permanently, they had what they called 3 strikes, these horses didnt work out with their adopters, had 3 chances, and now are living out their lives at this beautiful ranch, Deerwood horse sanctuary.
What a handsome and fortunate fellow Smokey is. Lovely to see you two working with Smokey. He is certainly smart fellow. Happy for you CJ.
Thanks so much Mary Anna!
I guess he wasn’t too wild?
All 12 yearlings at the BLM adoption were wild and untouched..Some are more willing to accept the human and learn, some not so much, they are all unique.
I love the progress Smokey has made! Keep up the good work!
This is so wonderul. Thank you for adopting a mustang. Maybe more folks will adopt when they see you doing it, and doing it well. They could all be easily adopted there are enough horse people out there. I am also glad to see you are using update training methods. I too had to relearn horse training and horse behavior. It’s not “breaking their spirit”, it is gentling with training.
We all have so much to learn about these beautiful creatures.