On Wednesday the rainy weather seemed to follow me as I was driving up to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. I was hoping that the rain would not prevent the release of the Adobe Town horses into their new big pasture.
When I arrived, I found out from Susan Watt, the Director that she had come up with a new plan. Instead of having to get the horses into trailers and move them up to the Rescue pasture, she was going to release them into the Paint pasture, which is just outside the gate of their corral. This new plan would be much easier on the foals and the older horses as well. They would be able to come out at their own pace, they had already met most of the horses over the fence, and Susan was going to leave the gate open so they could retreat to their corral for security if they needed to. I of course could not imagine that they would want to go back to their corral once they had tasted freedom, but once again Susan was absolutely right.
The mud and rain made finding a good spot to observe them interesting, but finally waiting on the bed of a truck facing the corral seemed to be the least obtrusive spot. First the paints got their grain, up the hill out of sight so the Adobes could be alone in the lower area, then the Adobes got their grain, and then Dave opened the gates to their corrals.
I could see other people working at the sanctuary watching from the shelter of a barn on the side. We waited for about an hour after they had finished their grain. Then Bronze Warrior moved to one of the gates. It was fitting that he be the first to leave the corral, because he was the horse that started this whole adventure. He looked calmly out, then walked over to a bucket and investigated, then found the big water tank for the pasture, then continued to stroll around checking his surroundings. At this point, the mares and filly followed him out, and they headed over to where the grass began. They had not seen grass since October.
Sundance followed Bronze Warrior’s family, but his mares stayed in the corral. Even Theodore, Snowfall and the hugely pregnant Diamond Girl went out the gate, but Storm and Aurora and her filly stayed inside, watching over the fence.
Soon the entire group started running , stretching their legs. What a wonderful sight to see, running for the sheer joy of it! Pretty soon, they moved back to the corrals, went in, and got Storm and Aurora and the filly, as though it were important to have everyone share in this adventure. They all started running, except Diamond Girl who weighted down by her foal managed a lumbering slow canter, and headed out across the field, and out of sight. They were gone for about a half and hour, and as I was wondering when they might come back, they headed toward the corral.
They grazed a little, but the grass was just starting to come up, and the hay in the corral was more tempting, so they went back in and started eating their hay. I was relieved that it had gone so well, with no horse getting hurt or scared. I left them to their food.
When I checked back on them later in the day, it looked as though Sabrina, Gwendolyn, Flurry and the filly wanted to go outside the corral and explore. Gwendolyn led the way, and the rest of the girls followed her. Bronze Warrior was eating hay and turned to look at them as though her were saying darn, I have to follow them! So he went out after them and caught up. Sundance and Storm and Aurora and their filly seemed more interested in staying out longer, so when when Bronze Warrior moved his family back into the corral, they stayed outside. I wondered how long it would be until they would no longer want to be in the corral.
The next morning I got over to their corral early before feeding time and saw a bunch of horses from the paint herd in their corral. It wasn’t clear if curiosity about the Adobes or the lure of hay was stronger for these horses. Theodore stood protectively next to Diamond Girl, who if anything looked even closer to foaling this morning. He shooed away any horse that got too close to her. All the Adobes grouped together around one round hay bale and the interlopers went to the other round hay bale.
When the grain truck came, all the paints in the corral took off and headed to the feeders. I was curious to see what the Adobes would do. They watched the horses crowding around the truck and eating from the feeders, and then suddenly Bronze Warrior decided to go and he and his family and Sundance’s group rushed out. Bronze Warrior chased horses off so that he and his family could get their share, but there wasn’t much left. Suddenly one of the foals got separated from its mother and started running, then all the paints started running, Bronze Warrior and his family were all running.
During this chaos, three horses had just stayed watching in the corral. When the truck turned and came back toward the corral, Snowfall, Theodore and Diamond Girl waited just outside for their grain in their corral. As soon as the truck left they went in and started eating. Pretty soon, Bronze Warrior started toward the corral with his family to see if there was grain in there. They all moved around a bit and then started eating. I was glad that Diamond Girl got her grain, as I was certain that she needed the calories.
One of the paints, a colorful Choctaw named Chief stayed with the Adobes all day, as though he wanted to join the cool new kids. He took being chased away by Bronze Warrior and Theodore in stride, and just moved to another spot to eat.
I left them to their meal, and when I came back a few hours later, Gwendolyn again decided to lead the girls on a field trip, and they headed out of the corral and down the hill to graze. I noticed that Flurry was already out and spending time with Sundance and his girls. Flurry is three this year, and so if her family had still been in the wild, she would have already left over the winter or this spring to join a new family. I had noticed that everyone in her family including the filly had been picking on her, so joining Sundance would be a good option for her. But she ran back to her family, clearly not ready to leave yet.
The rain started again, and the forecast was for snow the next day, so I left in the morning, certain that the Adobes would adapt to their new freedom and find their place with the paints. Bronze Warrior would not have it any other way.
If you are interested in sponsoring any of the Adobe Appys, please contact
The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary: http://www.wildmustangs.com/
Manda Kalimian’s Cana Project: http://canaprojects.org/
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