Monday, January 29, 2007

Our first BLM mustang

Due to lack of facilities here at our place, I'd not been able to adopt a mustang direct from the BLM. I had, however, attended a couple of adoption events when they were here in Whatcom County. Shortly afterwards, I met Cheryle McConnaughey of Living Legends Stables in Bellingham. Cheryle had adopted three horses over the past two years when the horses had been here. She was also an official volunteer for theBLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program. Together, Cheryle and I made the trip to Spokane in 2005 to help with the adoption event there. Getting to know the folks who work the adoptions can be beneficial, as you'll soon discover.

In 2006, the BLM was planning two adoption events in Washington State. The first was in late May and to be held in Spokane. The second was two weeks later in Monroe. Cheryle had told me that I could use her facility for 30 days if I ended up adopting; she had a horse coming in for training and that's all the time she could spare. Since the BLM requirements state that you need to be able to catch your horse before it can leave the smaller round pen, I knew my work would be cut out for me. But both my daughter and I wanted to adopt, so we decided to find a nice, laid back yearling, which we felt we'd be able to gentle within the time frame set.

Since Monroe was obviously much closer to home than Spokane, that's where we thought we'd adopt from. But since we were headed to Spokane anyway during the adoption weekend, we spent a great deal of time there going over the horses. Because this was going to be Darling's horse, I wanted her to have a good grasp on what to look for once the horses got to Monroe. While we were there, we got to talking to Greg, one of the BLM wranglers, and told him we'd likely be getting a horse when they came back in a couple more weeks. Greg told us if there was something we really liked here in Spokane, he'd be sure to bring it to Monroe for us. That forced Darling and I into a decision. How would we know if there would be nicer horses at the next adoption or not? We had no clue what was coming, so we decided to make a short list of our favorites here in Spokane. Darling selected three horses, and I told her those were the three she could bid on. I didn't want to spend more than $150, because I knew there'd be plenty of horses that went for the base price of $125, so we were taking a real risk that she'd be outbid on her choices.

The horses Darling chose to bid on that day were these: A large strawberry roan filly who had a bit of percheron in her background. She was quiet and pretty, not a bully but certainly the leader of the group. She was followed around by the smallest filly in the group, a shaggy looking thing that had a pretty cute face. The shaggy filly never paid any attention to the crowd, while the strawberry roan watched everyone with curiousity, and by the end of Saturday she even reached out and sniffed Darling's hand. This filly was definitely on the top of her list, but there were others who talked about wanting her as well, so we knew the chances of getting her were slim.

A two year old red dun gelding caught our eye. He was long, lean and lanky. A bit stand offish to begin with, but he watched the people from a safe vantage point in the pen. He was near the bottom of the pecking order, but stayed out of the way of the bully.

A few more trips around the pens, and we were back to the yearling fillies again. The shaggy little filly was still ignoring the people, but the fact that she knew to stay in the shadow of her large body guard, we hoped at least, meant she had some thinking skills. And like I said, she had a cute face. I probably wouldn't have chosen her for myself, but Darling liked her, so that completed her list.

When it was time to start bidding, the two year old was the first on Darling's list to come in. She was quickly outbid. When the yearling fillies finally made it in, the roan's number was the first to be called. Again, Darling was quickly outbid. In fact, the bidding went over $300 for that big girl.

One more chance. The shaggy filly's number was called. No one bid. Darling took a deep breath and raised her paddle. No one bid against her, and she won the bid at $125.

Have you ever met a little girl who's just bought a wild horse? It's something to behold. But I've got to tell you, the next two weeks were downright painful as we had to wait for our new girl to come back to our side of the mountains. Greg promised to take good care of her. He told us he'd wrap her up in bubble wrap to keep her safe. And that became her nick-name, which she is still occasionally called by both us and the BLM staff; Bubble Wrap!

"Bubble Wrap", as she was orignally called, was soon to be renamed Quiet Storm.

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