Saved from government holding, 2 long yearlings get a second chance

“Follow your heart. Adopt a pair of mustangs. Gentle them with love.” ~Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs

Both wild yearlings, Blondie and Tibet, had 2-Strikes from failed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) adoptions. Protect Mustangs stepped in to prevent a 3rd Strike and save them from sale ($10 each by the truckload) and probable slaughter.

Blondie is the soon to be 2 year old palomino filly from California’s Fox Hog herd.

Tibet is the 18 months old gelding with a blaze from the Continental Divide in Wyoming.

Blondie arrived untamed from the Litchfield BLM Holding Corral in December 2012 and Tibet arrived from the Wyoming Corral in February 2013 thanks to our village of supporters.

Now both wild horses are gentled. They have been exposed to cars, trucks, helicopters, people riding horses, kids, dogs, cats, kids on scooters, tarps and more. They can be haltered, pick up their feet and be lead. This is their second turnout in the main arena at the training facility. Anne Novak has donated their training.

Protect Mustangs is an all volunteer organization and are very grateful for your help. Please donate towards board and care for the wild horse Ambassadors. Protect Mustangs is also raising money for a used truck and trailer to facilitate adoptions by bringing wild horses down from the BLM corrals near Reno and Susanville, once the mustangs have been adopted. The organization will use the truck and trailer for community outreach and education work as well. Please help by donating here:

No treats were used during this training session.

All images © Anne Novak for Protect, all rights reserved.

Exploring the object

PM Tibet Tarp 2 Wheel Barrow March 22 2013

Exploring the tarp

“Today I tied a tarp to the wheelbarrow so it would drag around and flap in the wind…

People are often surprised that wild horses, such as Tibet and Blondie, can be gentled. There is so much prejudice against mustangs that sometimes would be adopters have a hard time finding a boarding facility that will take “a wild mustang”.

Once when visiting a coastal town I stopped by a horse facility and inquired about boarding for the weekend as it would be fun to take our horse to the beach for the weekend. The manager wasn’t there, so I left my card. Later she sent me an email that was filled with prejudice and fear about mustangs. She said she had a mustang board there once who caused a lot of trouble and said she wouldn’t want another mustang there. The funny thing was I was inquiring about boarding a domestic horse but I guess she jumped to conclusions when she saw my card.

Another example is a would be adopter who deeply wanted a certain wild horse mare. She found a barn to board the wild one for gentling. A “trainer” started pecking away at her plans. It appeared to me this trainer wanted her business. Rather than encourage her, he discouraged her. Silly trainer. This woman spoke to me and it seemed that she knew how to work with a horse using her heart and intuition. Sadly the barn was not supportive enough and the whole adoption fell apart.

The moral of the story is:

1. Follow your heart

2. Listen to your intuition

3. Avoid negativity around adopting & gentling a wild horse

4. Create a positive support network on your journey with your wild horse

5. Ask for help but if it doesn’t feel right, trust your intuition and find help elsewhere.

It you want to adopt a wild horse, know that you can make it happen. Gentling with patience and love works. Be authentic with your wild friend and you will build a deep bond. Wild horses can hear your soul speak. ♥ ♥ ♥”

~ Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs

Blondie let us put the halter on

First time wearing a halter. January 29, 2013 (Photo © Protect Mustangs)

First time wearing a halter. January 29, 2013 (Photo © Protect Mustangs)


January 22, 2013 Blondie is allowing the halter on her nose.

January 22, 2013 Blondie is allowing the halter on her nose.


Blondie December 29, 2012

Blondie December 29, 2012


Blondie & Brownie at BLM Litchfield corral with Inez Sept. 2012

Blondie & Brownie at BLM Litchfield corral with Inez & Protect Mustangs Sept. 2012

Blondie is a California wild horse filly from High Rock. She will be 2 years old in the spring. We adopted her when she was a yearling and already had 2 Strikes against her.

We are very grateful to those who donated for Blondie’s transport from Susanville to the Bay Area on December 12, 2012 and are especially grateful to her sponsor.



How [Not] To Tame A Wild Mustang

By Elaine Nash

When we had a large ranch near Santa Fe, NM, the US Forest Service had apparently heard that I’m a softie for any person or animal in need, because one of their guys from a district on the NM-CO border called one cold winter night and asked if I would mind taking in a thin two-year old mustang stallion that had been pushed out of his family band by the herd stallion. Without the team effort of the herd to assist him, he was unable to paw up enough grass from under the deep snow to sustain him through that especially harsh winter.  Of course, I said yes.

The next day, after a harrowing six-hour-long, snowy drive deep into the mountain wilderness of northern NM, we arrived just before dark at the US Forest Service corrals, where we saw a pretty bedraggled and gangly bay two year old colt standing alone in the large panel enclosure he’d had been driven into earlier by USFS cowboys. As I backed our trailer up to the corral, I found myself wondering just what I was getting myself into.  Although I’d owned and trained horses all my life, I’d never had an actual wild mustang in my care before. I anticipated that just getting this wild horse loaded into our ‘cave on wheels’ might be a real test of my horsemanship skills.

As I walked past the back of the trailer and eyed the open slot beside Keebler- the ‘buddy’ horse we’d brought along, I imagined that a space just half the width of a two-horse trailer would probably look awfully small to a horse who’d only known wide open spaces in his life.  I walked to the center of the pen and was looking around- considering how best to use fence panels to create a chute for guiding the mustang toward that tiny, now-dark space in the trailer, when I heard a soft “clump, clump, clump”.  I turned around just in time to see that ‘wild’ mustang- who’d never seen a horse trailer in his life, walk right up the ramp into his spot in that trailer- where he calmly started munching on hay. That unexpected display of courage and common sense turned out to be just the first of many surprises that we were to enjoy during our adventure as owners of Poco-the ”wild” mustang.

As soon as we got home we brushed and combed- as gently as we could, years of tangles out of his long black mane and tail while he was still in the trailer, and he hardly flinched.  I chalked that up to his fatigue and probable trauma from the trailer ride. We then released him out into a roomy private pen, where he could live quietly for a few weeks while we gave him the groceries he needed to put on some weight, and where he could get acquainted with our other horses through the fence. By the time spring rolled around we’d had him gelded and he was back in fine physical form. We turned him out into our spacious pasture to ‘run free’ with the our herd of family horses.  With noble- and romantic, intentions I had decided to ‘respect his wild origins’ and leave him untamed for life- but Poco had something else in mind.

All my childhood, movie-inspired images of captive wild horses yearning to be free faded fast as Poco made it quite clear that he much preferred the barn to the pasture, human company to that of other horses, and he thought that having good hay and grain delivered right into a feeder was clearly better than going to the trouble of grazing on wild grass. Suffice it to say that Poco turned out to be more puppy dog than wild horse.  Teaching him to lead quickly became an effort to keep him out of our laps, caps, and pockets. He allowed me to ride him the first time he was saddled, he never bucked a single step with anyone, and the greatest danger that a person could be in while in his presence was having their belt loop tugged on or their hair nibbled.  Poco was like a country boy who visited the big city, liked living in the lap of luxury, and decided to stay.  He never displayed a single trait of wildness.

Now, I’m not saying that we should capture and domesticate America’s wild horses.  In fact, I think that our wild horses should, in almost every case, be left to live their wild lives on America’s public lands as the longstanding US Wild Mustang and Burro Act dictates.  But- as long as BLM and other government agencies continue on their mission to decrease the size of wild herds in deference to grazing beef cattle and the exploration for gas and oil on America’s vast public lands, mustangs will captured, and they will need homes.

I hope that anyone who considers adopting a mustang can realize that in doing so, they are not taking on a horse whose heart will always belong to the wild. Rather, they are creating an opportunity for a displaced horse with an incredible heart and spirit to form

(Note: Common sense still dictates that wild horses should only be handled/trained by people who have a significant amount of experience with horses.)

Notable equine advocate and founder of Fleet of Angels, Elaine Nash, writes at The Nash Rambler.