Legacy Mustang Preservation – Craig Dodson

In the spring of 2007, in the blooms of the prairie grasses of Sweetwater, Wyoming, a sorrel mustang colt is born. He is not particularly handsome, nor is any film crew present to capture his childhood. He is just a wild horse on a prairie no one visits. For two years, he lives as a member of a wild herd. He learns social humility, respect, order, and curiosity from his mother and her band. He is at peace in his place in the herd and begins to think about life as an adolescent mustang.

On one sunny morning, just like any other, a noise was heard in the distance. The noise grew louder, almost deafening as the helicopter broke the horizon. Having never seen or heard anything like it, he ran. His herd stuck together in a tight bunch as they ran from the flying behemoth.
Sweaty, exhausted, and terrified, he began to hear the unfamiliar screams of so many others, he and his herd mates attempted to turn away from the sounds but at every attempt were met by the sound and sight of the helicopter. As he entered the funnel of fencing, the herd strung out. In the shuffle, his mother had disappeared. Suddenly he was amidst a crowd of horses like he’d never seen, surrounded by sweaty horse flesh, the smell of breath, and steel walls. The noise was deafening. He is pushed through a series of steel gates and chutes, his family and herd mates gone forever.
He is placed in a squeeze chute, gelded, branded, and vaccinated with little or no anesthesia. The pain is excruciating, the trauma unimaginable. He is pushed onto a trailer and taken to a large pen filled with others like him who have been branded and gelded. There are no mares to fight for, no grass to protect, and no stallions to follow. There is no order, only space in which to stand and alfalfa to eat. For the next two years he stood, only moving to and from water and food. There are no spring blooms, no grass, no family.
Unexpectedly, he is taken from this place, pushed onto another trailer, and transported for three days to Tennessee. He has been selected for the Extreme Mustang Makeover. Through blind draw, he is assigned to trainer and clinician Jamie Dodson, of Legacy Horse Training. She sees an underdeveloped four year old with a long back and a kind eye as she feeds him a hay cube through the slats of the stock trailer. He begins the ride to Virginia, the ride to his forever home. To be continued in next week!

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