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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Gotcha Day Duncan!!!

Duncan of Duncan Butte
Mustang of the Big Summit HMA
Prineville Oregon

Duncan is the third mustang I adopted and I wrote the following story about him back in 2005...

Duncan’s story is more dramatic (and sad) when he lived in the wild than after his capture. Duncan lived in the Big Summit HMA in the Ochoco National Forest of Oregon. The HMA is not very large, bordered by lots of private lands, and the herd number is kept at approximately 60.

In late 2004, 5 mustangs were sighted on private property outside of the HMA. There were discussions between the BLM, Ochoco National Forest (FS) personnel, and board members of the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition (of which I am a part of) of how to best get the horses back into the HMA. A few months passed and the horses were still on the private land and didn’t seem to want to go back to the HMA.

In January of 2005, only 3 of the 5 horses were spotted on the private land and it was a few days later that a wild horse was struck and killed by a motor home on the road that runs through the HMA. Shortly after that tragedy, another property owner reported to the FS that a wild horse colt had jumped their fence and was now in with their registered paint mares! It’s suspected that the 2 colts were run out of the band of 5, one had been killed by the motor home, leaving this one alone with nowhere to go. So he happened upon this “instant band of mares,” and decided it looked pretty good. I’m quite certain that this colt thought he had made it to horsey heaven with alfalfa delivered to him twice a day and his own mares he didn’t even have to fight for!

It was determined by both the FS and BLM that the colt would need to be captured and either relocated or offered for adoption. The Coalition was notified by the FS of their intentions. Part of our mission is the welfare of the Big Summit herd, and we have a great working relationship with them. We have assisted in finding homes for many of the horses gathered from the Big Summit HMA.

My husband John and I had been thinking of getting another mustang and decided to take a drive out there to see what this guy looked like. Ochoco horses aren’t very big and this little guy was no exception. He looked to be about a yearling or maybe coming 2 year old and liked to play with the other colt in the pasture. His color was dark bay without any white markings that we could see. Just a plain little bay, but he had a really cute head and his conformation and disposition were nice. We decided that if he had to be adopted out, we would apply to take him.

We weren’t able to be there when they captured him, but it was pretty uneventful. They moved all the horses across the road to the wood corrals and separated out the colt. He was a little panicked by this, but Bill Pieratt with the BLM got a rope around his neck and practically led him into the trailer! They took him to the Burns Wild Horse Corrals for processing. They determined he was a 2 year old, and we asked them to geld him for us. He was ready for us to pick him up after a couple of weeks.

Since he had just been gelded, we needed to keep him moving of course. He was in a 24 x 24 foot paddock, and it was easy to get in the paddock with him and drive him forward from the hip. He actually kept coming in toward me and pretty soon the lead line that he was dragging was at my feet. I just bent down, picked it up, and put a little pressure on it. In 5 minutes he was giving to the pressure and doing right and left inside turns! We kept doing this for a little while and his circle kept getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller. Pretty soon his hip was so close to me I just reached out and gave him a touch and a scratch…that was all it took. It was a little surprising for him at first, but he really liked the scratching. This, I believe, was mainly because he was covered with ticks from head to tail! I kept scratching and picking off ticks. Pretty soon, I was up to his neck and head. There were times he had to walk away because he was unsure, but he always came back for more scratches.

I’ve used the John Sharp bamboo pole method on my other 2 mustangs, but this colt wasn’t going to need it. This is very typical of the Ochoco horses. They are easily gentled and very people oriented.

So, his gentling was very uneventful and there isn’t much to tell. One day I had my equine dentist out to work on a couple of other horses, and I asked her to take a look at Duncan. She glanced into his mouth and immediately said that this is no 2 year old…this guy is only 10-12 months old! From the outside, Duncan looked like a mature horse. His tail was past his hocks and had lost the baby curl, but the teeth don’t lie.

Duncan’s future will be enjoyable for him I think. His disposition and physical characteristics are not those of a real athletic, active horse such as gaming or timed cattle event horses. He prefers walking, and that’s good since we want to pack with him. He is short, big boned, and steady; the makings of a great mountain horse. I think this lifestyle will suite him just fine.

Duncan's first day at home.

Our intention was to start doing some packing into wilderness areas. Then when we moved here and I started the cow horse thing...all my priorities changed!

So, we offered Duncan for sale...and he is spoken for...has been for the past two years! My friend Kate is very involved with the Big Summit herd and is a packer by trade. She is working on getting a few Big Summit mustangs for her next string. Currently she has a string of Halflingers.

Duncan with his very best buddy Rohan.
They play all day long.

Last spring I got Duncan started under saddle. I put about 10-12 rides on him and turned him out for the summer...since Kate said she would take him.

Is that an apple butt or what?!?
Duncan is always on a diet!

I admit, Duncan isn't the most beautiful horse...more or less, he's so ugly he's cute. But his personality and disposition is A1. A month or so ago, My Man came in from feeding and said he got on Duncan. I said WHAT?!?!? He told me that Duncan was just standing there eating and he got a wild idea to hop on nothin'...Duncan just stood there until he decided to go to another pile of hay and slowly walked over to the next pile with My Man aboard...not a care in the world. Well, I'm glad that my 10 rides on him left a good impression on his mind...considering no one else had ever ridden him, let alone someone 14 inches taller and 80 pounds heavier than me.

Happy Gotcha Day lil' guy...we love ya~~



mugwump said...

What a butt. I like his eye.

The Wife said...

Sweet story. He seems to have a great personality!

Train Wreck said...

Hey it can't always be about looks. Even the best bred horses don't alway come out looking like a million.( Read Brown eyed Cowgirls last post) I think he looks good. He has a soft eye.

Andrea said...

Great story....with our animals it's always so much more than their looks. :) Thanks for sharing.

backattheranch said...

Great story and happy ending! I bet he makes a terrific horse.

Kathleen Coy said...

Loved reading the story, Karen! Duncan is cute, he has such a sweet face! :-)

Heather said...

I think he's pretty! I love bays though. Plus if you saw my Roman head bay you would reconsider Duncan's ugliness! I'm glad he's found a good home now and in the future!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I think Duncan is precious...and just my style. If he was just a tad bit taller (I'm almost 6') and a little closer, I'd think about buying him. I could use another laid back, calm mountain trail horse, too.
His big fuzzy butt just makes me laugh!
Thanks for sharing his great story and how you're so involved with that Mustang program.


CTG Ponies said...

"Short, big boned and steady" - my kind of horse! He has a very sweet face! I'm sure that he will make someone a wonderful companion. Wish I was closer :)

Sydney said...

Aw what a cute little booger. He looks very kind eyed.

kdwhorses said...

Great story, thanks for sharing! He is a cute little thing, glad he found you all!

Anonymous said...

He's cute, I have a mate for his apple-ey butt too.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the older I get the more beautiful a good minded horse becomes!!

Tami said...

What a woolly butt! I think he is cute. Really I do. He reminds me of a draft cross I raised a few years ago.

Ingrid said...

Duncan looks and sounds like a sweety. I think he is pretty dog-gone cute...of course, I own a couple 'apple-Y butt' horses. =0) Ingrid

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