Friday, September 07, 2012

The story of the how I adopted Tonka

At the Burns Corrals - Can you spot him? (photo courtesy of the wonderful Andi Harmon)

I had been working toward and planning on adopting a mustang for at least a year.  I had an opportunity to go to the adoption at Ride the West in Spokane.  I knew in my heart that I'd be adopting, but I didn't tell John that until I had to. The rest of this post is taken from my blog post on the day I brought him home.

They were supposed to unload at 4 on Friday, but they were late, which was actually a good thing because there was a HUGE thunderstorm right at 4. A total downpour, it looked like a waterfall, with huge crashing booms right above us and lots of wind and lightning. Some of the outdoor booths got blown apart by the wind. I love a good storm so it really inspired me, got me thinking that maybe it was a sign I should adopt. (I was really reaching for reasons to do what I wanted to do!) It died down and then the horses got there. The unloading was pretty rough. You’d think they’d be dying to get off the truck but they were scared. There was some fighting going on inside.


I fell in love with my first choice horse immediately, he was a big bay that just gave me goosebumps. HUGE boy, and built like you wouldn’t believe. (As an aside, I did have the privilege of halter training that horse 3 years later.  He was a good boy, but 3 years of getting away with choosing not to trust humans probably wasn't a good thing.)  There was a sorrel in with him who was absolutely stunning too, compact and built like a tank. Another bay was my next choice. Then a grulla mare who was so sweet. She actually touched my hand yesterday. I spent long hours looking at them, watching how they behaved. Some of the really nice looking ones were disqualified from my list because they were just so scared and reactive. The red dun didn’t look like much to me, and didn’t have the smoothest gait, AND it said he was a stallion. He wouldn’t even have been on my list but he was so sweet and quiet and willing to stand by the people to get away from the horses that were picking on him. He came up and sniffed me Saturday night.  He became my #2 choice.

Those ever-alert ears

The face I came to know and love

I thought he was so mellow.  He was actually a little sick, and very stressed.

Sunday when it came time to bid I was a nervous wreck. My boys were in pen # 2 and one in #3, so they were up pretty quick. The big bay was first. I was very quickly out of the bidding with him. He went for $700, which turned out to be the highest for any horse there. Next was the sorrel tank I loved the look of. The bidding stuck at $130 and I was a wreck, not sure whether to bid. But the dun was my second choice, I kept my bidder’s card in my lap while my heart raced. So the sorrel went for $130, a steal for such a stunning horse. Then was my dun. A mom and daughter were also bidding on him. I think he would have been a 4H project, and they were very nice people who had adopted before, so I felt kind of bad for out bidding them, but not that bad!  (That was Tracey Westbury and her daughter - not in 4H but definitely mustang lovers!)
I cried when the bidding on him ended and he was mine! It was wonderful! When I went to get my paperwork in order I found out he’s a gelding, not a stallion, and was very happy about that! He was rounded up in February, gelded in March, brought to adoption in May. What a year it’s been for him!

I had to wait several hours for the vet to get there and do the health certificate I needed to cross into Idaho. I stood around mooning over him a lot, and talking to people, and getting teary eyed when I told them he was mine and thought about how great it would be to get him home. I was glad I had my sunglasses on, I don’t like to cry in front of strangers!
Not too sure about this whole thing.
 All of the BLM staff and volunteers were wonderful people, very much into what they do. I talked a lot to Rick McComas, the Spokane guy (I don’t know his title but he’s the main Wild Horse and Burro guy around here). He’s a real nice guy. I’d dealt with him before with my first mustang but never met him in person. He was very disappointed in how the adoption turned out. I think when I left there were 15 horses out of 40 that hadn’t been adopted. He said there were half as many people there as there were last year. Not sure why, maybe gas prices? There were a lot of very stunning horses left, mostly the bays and sorrels. But even some of the duns got passed up. There were only 2 horses there I would have passed up. One with a deformed hoof and one that was beautiful beyond belief but very small. The rest were all going to be great horses (not that those two wouldn’t be also). Well built and good sized.
Going Home!

I have to go, it’s taken me half the day to write this because I keep going outside to play with him. Guess what!!!! He lets me pet him all over from face to his flank and the top of his butt, leg touches are allowed but not liked, he’s leading like a dream, I brushed him a bit with a brush, picked up both front feet briefly, he drops his head to the ground if I ask and I put a nylon halter over his rope halter no problem. I’m going to go back out later and at least take off the drag rope and possibly the halter, once I’m absolutely sure I can get it back on. WOW!!!!!!! I’m seriously not lying, I just brought him home yesterday. This boy is THAT horse for me. The one. I hope you get what I mean.
Starting a new life.


Cindy Durham said...

I totally get what you mean. It is the same for me with my Trax. Not many people get along with that guy, but I will (as my trainer put it) "ride him up a telephone pole and down a badger hole and never even bat an eye" Only because I know he will do it for me. When a horse and its human bond, it is special. It is different than just owning a horse, it is the connection and the knowing that he or she will stay with you forever.

Kara said...

Andrea - what year was that? Was that in 2005? That was the year at Ride the West in Spokane that I adopted Chico and Catlow. I sure hope Tonka pulls through! Please keep us updated!

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Cindy, that is so great about you and Trax. I don't think Tonka would take me too close to a badger hole. He doesn't like them! But I totally get what you mean. I think he would be good for most other people, in fact he really likes people in general, but he's only ever been and only ever will be MY horse!

Kara, it was 2006, but your two were yearlings weren't they? So they'd be the same age. Isn't it amazing how the time flies?

Ann-Marie said...

Boy do I get what you say too! I had a little mare that would have flown to the moon for me if possible. Prior to adopting mustangs became popular my dad got her for me out of a N. CA herd in 1964. This horse was always half wild but as I said would do anything for me. I have a box of ribbons for it and years of stories. Keep strong! This bond never goes away as 24 years after her death I still dream about racing the wind on this little fireball I had!