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A Mustang's Loyal Heart:  Stories of their hearts that have captured ours

Bringing the herd safely home. 

It all started with Ian.  From the beginning of his life, he was singled out as being a very special stallion. He rose to the rank of a family band stallion, proud and protective of his dynasty.   In his teens, when his band was chased by a reckless snowmobiler who trespassed on their private preserve, he was chased into a barbed wire fence, resulting in severe lacerations and other serious injuries.  To save him, he was separated from his band and moved to a protected area where he could heal.  At this point, his caregivers realized he was blind.   His wounds healed but he was unable to return to his family. 

Gradually several more blind stallions were discovered among the Gila band and were moved to join him in the protected area of the preserve.  And he was their leader. 


Eventually, the South Dakota mustang preserve was forced to close, requiring the relocation of nearly 900 wild Mustangs, including Ian and his band of six other blind Gila stallions.   Because of Ian and his remarkable story of leadership and loyalty, his caregivers were compelled to find a home for him and his special needs group.  But they realized they may be considered unadoptable and at risk—who would take seven blind wild stallions?  Their devotion and love for him and his band inspired This Old Horse to offer sanctuary to them.   And so it was that Ian led his band of brothers to safe harbor.  When they arrived, Ian was very ill.  As the seven stallions settled in, found their way in their new location, he got weaker, thinner and after a month, laid down and let go.  This magnificent band stallion had brought his ‘family’ home.  His work was done.  

I'm with them.

This little guy we call Owen came to us in February, 2017.  He was supposed to go to an adoptive home in Nevada with a group of other young horses but when he was separated from his two blind friends—two older mares--he jumped the moon (well, the 4’ fence) to return to them. Despite efforts to get him gathered and loaded on a transport to a wonderful new home, he refused to leave them. When he was separated from them, they were desperate, confused and panicked without him there to be their guide. So the tough decision—save him and leave the blind mares behind? Or find a place that would welcome all three of them. There are so many tough decisions to make in a rescue mission. And then there was an easy one. Send them to us. 

We can’t do everything but we can do something. The three of them are now safe at home with us, living reminders of the power of commitment and devotion--theirs and ours. 

My friend, my protector

After the successful placement of the seven blind Gila stallions, we agreed to take a blind Gila mare named Peepers who was born on the preserve in 2000.  Peepers lived a full, happy life and adapted to her lack of vision through her engaging, social personality.  She grew close to a sighted companion, a Douglas band mare named Shyla who loves Peepers but after a negative experience during a BLM roundup, developed a strong suspicion of humans.  And so it was that these two formed a coalition. Shyla helps Peepers navigate her environment and Peepers helps Shyla navigate her relationships with people.  Win-win.  And in a fairytale ending, it turns out that Peepers can see pretty well--at least as far as finding the carrots

she so loves!

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© 2019 This Old Horse, Inc.   .  651 . 437 . 1889  .  .  19025 Coates Blvd., Hastings, MN 55033

This Old Horse logo designed by Sue Shadow.  Principle photography on this site is by Toni Thomas.   Additional photography by Ronnie Hartman Images.