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Tuesday, October 20 2015

I watched $6000 gallop away in a cloud of dust and wondered if I'd ever see him again. He was still a wild mustang in May, and here in the middle of October I was giving him the choice to disappear or to maintain his relationship with humans. Since we adopted him at the Extreme Mustang Makeover in September, Tiny, the big red horse, has been confined in either a pipe corral or a larger trap, but it was time to release him onto the wild country of the ranch and hope that he respects fences and chooses to remain tame.

Because the other geldings had also been confined with Tiny, they were excited about getting out of the trap. Montoya, the Andalusian cross that I've had since he was a weanling, was the last thing we moved to the new ranch, so it was his first taste of real freedom.

He is a bold, hot horse, so he was happy to explore the ranch at a gallop, taking everyone else with him. I loosely followed the crew on foot just to keep tabs on them and make sure nobody accidently catapulted himself over a cliff.

After a few false starts where they trotted into the forest, then turned and came back to me, the four boys finally galloped off down the dusty road through the forest. The hoofbeats faded to silence long before the dust settled as I walked down the road after them. The road spit them out to a pond in the woods, but they continued galloping until they found an open pasture with scattered mesquite.

As I emerged from the forest they noticed and trotted up to greet me. I scratched their faces and walked off to show them the better grass growing in the dappled light of the woods. And they followed me.

Had Tiny not been with them, I may not have appreciated the magic of the moment, but as the big red horse moved through the forest, and the light played across his back, I gave it some thought.

When a 1300 pound prey animal chooses to have a relationship with you, it's a gift, a choice. And make no mistake, they do have a choice. Montoya, a horse born with a silver spoon in his mouth, surrounded by humans his entire life, may not realize he has a choice, but Tiny, a horse born in the wilds of Oregon, certainly knows it. And when given the choice, Tiny chose to stay and follow me rather than strike out on his own. It is a testament to the solid foundation that his trainer, Tom Hagwood, gave Tiny. The horse trusts humans, and has decided to hitch his wagon to the bipeds with thumbs.

My Other Half soon joined us and we began tearing out an old fence while the horses settled down and grazed around us. From time to time their curiosity led them to supervise our activities and we had more help than we needed. In short, they were annoying, but even that had a touch of magic.

When a horse can see the fences, you don't give much thought to why he chooses to stay with you, but out here it's different. Only one of these four geldings even knew that fences existed on this property.  This same horse has lived alone with cattle since this summer and so he is also keenly aware that he isn't the top of the food chain out here. The forest has eyes. It also has teeth. My roan cowpony decided last summer that it was in his best interest to stay close to the humans and the house. Now that he has his herd again, and he can feel the safety in numbers, he still chooses to be with the humans. I hadn't given his choice much thought until I watched the red mustang come check in with me time and again.

Humans tend to be an arrogant stock. We get annoyed when cows choose to roam, and when the sheep need a Border Collie to bring them back, but the reality is that ownership is just a piece of paper, and these animals don't read. A 1300 pound animal really owns himself. If he chooses to share himself with you, it's a gift. Appreciate it.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:27 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
I am so blessed to be fb friends with Tom and Arianne Hagwood. I have followed the progress of this wonderful mustang. You are so lucky to be the pardner of this magnificient being. Tom and his wife are wonderful trainers. Also have a darling little girl that is always training them.. Good luck and thank you for buying and loving an icon..
Posted by Ruth Ross on 10/20/2015 - 08:38 AM
I have also watched the progress of Tom and Tiny with keen interest. Every step of the way. I'm so happy to see Tiny in a home that appreciates all he has to offer. Congrats and thanks for sharing Jessie/Idaho
Posted by Jessie on 10/20/2015 - 12:33 PM
Oh Tom, I'm so pleased that you kept Tiny, he is a VERY special horse & my guess is, this story has really only just begun....! I'll be watchin & listening for more adventures if you'll allow me. Cath in WA
Posted by Cathie Tritle Christie on 10/20/2015 - 06:06 PM

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