A Special Kind of Valentine: An American Mustang

Valentine: An American Mustang

By Erin

A mustang is the free-roaming horse of the North American west that first arrived here from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often called wild horses, but many differ on the terminology for this because mustangs are descendants from once-domesticated horses and can also be classified as feral horses.

In 1971, the United States Congress recognized that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” Today, the free-roaming mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the overflow of mustangs are periodically put up at auction for adoption.

At the barn where I’m at, we are lucky to have one of these historic living symbols of the spirit of the West. An American Mustang, and her name is Valentine. Notice the heart on her forehead… 😉

Val_Turnout_n

Valentine and her early days at the barn. She first started being worked with in mid-January 2012. Her first ride was on June 21st, 2012. Foaled in 2000, she’s 15  years old now and Valentines Day is being used as her birthday, which is also her namesake.  She was gathered on June 22nd in 2002 from the Twin Peaks Heard Management Area (HMA) in Northern Califonia.  Valentine’s original adaptor took title on June 30th, 2003 at which time Valentine became “private property.” However, the original owner was scared of her, and was convinced that the mare could never been ridden.

Val

Her now owner, Jim, for a long time asked if he could “work with the horse.” For many months, the answer was always no, but her owner finally gave permission and then began a process of some pretty animated walks around the property. Valentine was as high as a kite and scared of almost everything, and it took a (short) while to get a pretty good idea of where her scary spots were and to know which side to be on or not be standing on. Pretty soon she began to calm down, and she was having nice, loose lead, walks, and spending more time in the various pens and turnouts that we have. In a week or two, her feet were able to be picked up and she could be groomed just standing in the middle of a round pen with no lead rope.  Jim had a rule, if she walked off, he’d get after her and make her run a couple of laps, then bring her back and start again, if she walked off, they’d do it over…  At first it was a test of wills.  Maybe six or seven walk offs,  maybe 12 – 14 laps, her choice, but pretty soon she figured it out.  Most times now she’s just happy to stand there, but every-so-often she may have ONE walk off.

Valentine_Gallops

In a short while a saddle was able to be put on her. The first time was on a very busy Sunday afternoon and she seemed proud as could be to be strutting around showing off her saddle. More ground work and lounge line work was put in to get her ready to ride.

Before too long, Valentine had her first ride with Jim. She was almost perfect. He lunged her under saddle for a while and then thought, “Oh hell, let’s do it.”  He drug a mounting block to just under the swing gate, hitched up the cinch, walked her over and asked her to stand, put some weight in the stirrup, watched her ears, (no reaction), and swung on board.  She never moved away or anything. He gave her a couple pats on her neck and off they went.

Valentine_trail
Luckily Jim was able to acquire ownership of Valentine as her other owner pretty much abandoned her. Today they ride around many of the local trails in Southern California and around the barn.

ValentineMustang

Val is also lucky to have not one, but two people taking extra special care of her right now. A young lady, Cat, has been helping out with Val and has been riding her quite a bit too. Valentine not only goes Western now, but English too! I’d say she’s living the life! Take a look for yourself, and enjoy this special belated Valentine. <3

Cat & Val

Valentine & Cat

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Valentine as a Western Horse

Val_Jumps

Valentine as an English horse, and showing off her jumping skills!

ValentineRolls

Valentine going for a nice roll after a ride.

Valentine_Mustang

 Valentine going for a run.

Valentine_Leaps

Weee! Look at me! Looks like she’s having a good time to me!

Val & Cat learning to jump.

Valentine

One of my favorites of Valentine. Her forelock and that lip. She’s a mare alright 😉

Valentine_Jim

Happy Trails from Valentine and Jim! 🙂

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