Mustang nutrition

30 09 2011

Thanks to Elizabeth Testa from Four Corners Back Country Horsemen for passing this along!

Adopting a wild horse this year?

Guidelines on feeding the horse in transition from wild to domesticated

By Juliet Getty, Ph.D.

If there’s one thing we can say about the benefit of being wild, is that wild horses are generally far healthier than domesticated horses. Think about their diet for starters …  they have so much variety – grasses, flowers, berries, leaves, seeds, fruits – providing all the nutrients their bodies need. Once they  leave this natural setting, however, they typically eat only hay and it’s the same hay every day. Hay is dead grass and no longer contains the vitamins found in their previous diet.  Therefore, to fill in the nutritional gaps:

* Provide a comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement along with flaxseed meal for omega 3s.

Horses in the wild rarely experience colic. One of the main reasons for colic in the domesticated situation is the rapid change from one feed to another, leaving the bacterial hindgut population little time to adjust.

These microbes are responsible for digesting the fiber found in forage (hay and/or pasture) and need to be protected. To help your new horse’s digestive system adjust:

* Feed a potent probiotic that contains billions of colony forming units (CFUs). 

Ulcers are common in domesticated horses, especially when transitioning to a new environment. Horses are trickle feeders – they need to graze continuously to keep the digestive system functioning normally.  That means they should have quality hay  24/7. Horses are awake and moving most of the time and will take 15 to 20 minute naps intermittently throughout the day and night.  The best way to protect your new horse against an ulcer is to:

* Feed him in sync with his natural instinct to continuously graze by giving him hay, free-choice.

Many wild horses are young. They require the variety of feed sources that they had in the wild that offered quality protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals to support new growth.  To accomplish this, add some alfalfa to your horse’s diet (about 30% of the total hay ration), along with either a supplement or a commercially fortified feed. Avoid cereal grains (oats, corn, etc.) and molasses – they can interfere with normal bone and joint development. In general:

* Feed growing horses extra protein, vitamins and minerals, and flaxseed meal to provide omega 3s, while avoiding high amounts of starch.

Respect your horse’s need to roam, along with other horses. Naturally curious, they enjoy seeking out feed in various locations, feeding their bodies, but also providing movement to keep the digestive tract muscles in good tone.  And being prey animals, they depend on the companionship of other horses to protect them against threats, real and imagined.  This transition phase can be stressful – new sights, smells,  people,  and other animals can create a hormonal response that can lead to a variety of health problems, including ulcers, colic, and laminitis.  All of these can be avoided by making slow adjustments, filling in nutritional gaps, and doing as much as possible to simulate a natural setting.

Feed him like he was meant to be fed – like a horse.


30 09 2011

These are just pix that jumped out at me when I was going through images. The pix of Sundance and Apollo were cropped from their original horizontal images.

Sundance, looking all kinda handsome.

Mysterium using mama Kootenai’s tail as a fly whisk.

Apollo – wow, huh? Look out, mares!

Duke – look how shiny he is! And those dapples coming out! Interestingly, he and Kreacher were fairly close … (interesting because Duke picked up Raven a couple of years ago right after she had Corona … he kept them until that fall, when Kreacher stole them back, injuring Duke in the process … now they’re both single guys, and someone else – Sundance – has Raven and Kootenai and the foals).

Kreacher wasn’t looking too worse for wear, though he does have quite a few new scars on his left side, from his cheek to his barrel. So he didn’t go lightly into his bachelorhood. He’s on a hill across a drainage from the hill I’m on, Duke behind me. I couldn’t see Duke anymore from where I stood here, but Kreach could see him (because we could see Kreach from where Duke was).

I think I’ve updated on all the new bands/bachelors – maybe more pix of Seven’s band. No pic of Corazon; he was way in, and I didn’t hike out to him. And like I said, I haven’t yet found three horses: David, Poco and Roach. I’m working on updating the “Find a wild horse” page; need to update the photos as well.

Good reports on all the adopted horses I’ve heard about. And really good news about adoptions/sales from Canon City. Of the four from the adoption (Pinon, Baylee, Iya and Liberty), I think all are or will be adopted but Pinon, and he’s not forgotten. I think things are being finalized for all the others that originally went.

Chrome’s band

29 09 2011

Chrome and Hayden are back in their old stomping grounds, and they’ve picked up a couple of beautiful companions.

Winona was with Traveler’s band the week before the roundup, and although Traveler and Houdini, Gemma and Deniz were captured, Winona, Terra and Corona were not. Now the girls are with Chrome and Hayden.

Hayden just turned 2 (Sept. 22), Terra is 2, and Winona is a yearling.


Terra and Chrome

Winona and Chrome

Young mister Hayden still loves basking in the sunshine.

Taking in the morning view.

I love mornings in the basin.

A place in the grass

29 09 2011

The light was just starting to turn into that golden shower of color. I had been sitting in the Jeep at the east end of Wildcat Valley for a bit, taking notes and watching horses, waiting for that light …

Then came the pintos, and everybody scattered.

Hollywood and Comanche and their bands came out beyond where I ended up sitting in the grass … stopped … looked back at some others … and off they went.

Handsome Hollywood

Lovely Piedra

This was when I knew for sure that Comanche still had Kestrel and Juniper, even though they were so close to Hollywood and Piedra. You can see Traveler’s band in the upper right corner.

Wowza – that Comanche has big strides!

Comanche’s daughter, Juniper, floating on light.

Juniper’s mama, Kestrel. Another beautiful girl.

Seven and Aspen were visible, too. Piedra and Kestrel are looking back at Traveler’s and/or Sundance’s, and Comanche is turning to look at Seven and Aspen (Hollywood was just to the left, and he was already looking at them).

Piedra, looking.

Seven later chased Aspen back across to where the other horses had come from. He spent a lot of time and traveled a pretty good distance to try to shake Aspen, but when he finally returned to his band (out of sight for most of the chase), Aspen followed right behind.

Seven’s band (Shane, Mona, Killian and Roja) shortly after they had come into view and he had gotten back to them (they’re looking at him).

So after waiting for that golden light with bands all around … the ponies were scattered like the wind and out of reach. 🙂 Wouldn’t ya know.

Pinto band (Ty’s band)

29 09 2011

Ty is the color holdout in the new pinto band. Corazon was back in home territory, and Copper was alone, and Chipeta was leading her group on merry walkabout. Every time I saw them, they were quite a bit farther from where I’d previously seen them. They ended up back where I saw them a week ago.

Maiku at left, Reya behind Puzzle, Chipeta and Ty bringing up the rear.

Mama Chipeta and daughter Puzzle (1) make a striking pair. Chipeta’s colt is doing extremely well with his adopter.

Looking back at some of the other bands in the area.

Darn greasewood. 🙂 Ty with Maiku and Reya.

And off they went: 4-year-old Reya, her yearling brother Maiku (Kiowa’s daughter and son) and Chipeta (who is probably about 6-7). Hollywood’s and Comanche’s were coming to check them out.

Storm’s band

29 09 2011

Storm’s band was brought to the trapsite during the roundup, but only Baylee was captured (she’s awaiting adoption now at Canon City). Storm galloped past observers on the hill to the northwest, and Tenaz hid on the backside of Filly Peak. The day after everything was done and everyone was gone, Tenaz showed up with Corona. Unfortunately for the youngster (he’s 1), Traveler made short work of that liaison, and now he has Corona (back – he stole her originally in the spring).

But Tenaz managed to make his way back home, where he’s now reunited with Storm.

When we left everything Sunday, we passed Shadow … If I could have told someone where to look for her under normal circumstances, there she was. I thought David might find her there, but apparently not. She’s a fair distance from there now, and I did not find David.

Though Shadow and Bounce are both black (Bounce has a right hind fetlock marking; Shadow doesn’t have a speck of white), they’re pretty easily identifiable from a distance. Shadow is little bitty (which explains why her foals, Wind and Coal, were among the smallest of the youngsters).

Storm’s usual territory this summer is exactly where he’s back to hanging out. Bounce also called that area home quite a bit this year, and he was close to the little band.

In 2007, Bounce was aged at 20. This year, he was aged at 14-15. I think this year’s check is probably more accurate. He looks pretty darn good, eh?

My first glimpse of Shadow, Tenaz and Storm as I walked up the trail.

Now I readily admit that Storm is a big boy, but the size difference is considerable. He turned 3 in late July.

Here’s Shadow – who is 4, by the way – with Tenaz, who is a yearling.

They were all very comfortable with each other.

Tenaz is going to be a handsome boy like daddy Hollywood.

Traveler’s band

28 09 2011

In 2005, Traveler was aged at 10. In 2007, he was aged at 17. In 2011, he was aged at … “aged.”

In 2005, Traveler lost about half his band to the roundup. In 2007, he lost all his band. In 2011, one daughter went to Canon City (Gemma, with some lameness issues; she has an interested adopter) and one was adopted (Deniz). One daughter (Terra) is with Chrome. He has regained Houdini and Corona and added Alegre (and Aurora) and Gaia. I think somebody forgot to tell the boy how “old” he is. 😉

Alegre and Houdini

Corona, Gaia and Aurora

Corona and Traveler

Traveler and Houdini

Houdini has a story to tell about how she got from Bounce to Traveler – he’s in the same place I found him last week, but Bounce has moved. She seems content … and she’s not talking (to me).

The band formerly known as Kreacher’s

28 09 2011

The day before the roundup actually got under way, we were setting up at the new trapsite, and I think we were all amazed when Kreacher’s band went racing across the hill to the west – with Sundance immediately behind them, Chrome behind him and Kreacher trailing. Sundance had been a mostly lone bachelor since losing Mahogany and Eliana to Aspen this spring right after Eli was born. I had to go for my binoculars to confirm what my eyes were telling me. Then they were over the hill, out of sight, and there was Chrome’s band.

The lay of the land made the west side of Filly Peak a good place for a trapsite, but when I found out the helicopter would be bringing horses in around the “back side,” I was concerned. The “flats” and the area between Filly Peak and corral hill are some of the most broken and cut by arroyos in the whole basin, though it’s very deceptive to look at. So I set off with two BLM guys – two of the best men I’ve ever met – and we hiked around to check the horses’ trails and tracks they’d likely follow to get from yonder to the trap. On our way back, here came Jif, Hayden, Two Boots, Rio and Boreas, galloping around toward us. They passed us, but stopped, then, while we waited to see what they’d do – where they’d go – they turned around and galloped back around (toward the trap and where they’d come from – where they’d “lost” Chrome), kicking up their heels as they went.

Though I’ve found it difficult to hike that part of the basin, by the way the helicopter brought them around, the horses clearly had no trouble negotiating the terrain. I want to say again how impressed I was with the helicopter pilot.

Back to “Kreacher’s band,” they were not targeted during the roundup (thank you again to the pilot), and so I never saw them during those days … or the day after when I went back into the basin to look for horses. Chrome’s did, of course, come in. Jif deserves her own post at some point … Two Boots was adopted by a very nice lady; Boreas went to a nice couple very close to Disappointment Valley; Rio is getting ace marks from his adopters – eating from her hand and being led by a break-away string around his neck.

All that leads up to me being anxious – let alone eager – to find this particular band.

Sundance with Raven and Apollo.

Raven, Apollo, Mysterium and Kootenai.

Baby girl with mama. Not too many bugs but pretty warm. (We were wearing jackets during the roundup!)

Apollo with baby sister Mysterium.

Playing – Sundance in the background.

Mysterium and mama Kootenai

And what about Kreacher? Well, he’s alone right now. He was very close to Duke on Tuesday, but they may or may not hook up. I wouldn’t count either mister out.

Killian and family

28 09 2011

Killian, son of Seven and Roja, baby brother of Ze, who was adopted locally to an incredible home.

I had one of the best visits ever with his band yesterday. That’s Shane’s hip at right – and they’re pretty much attached at the hip. Cutest thing ever to see Killian walk hesitantly up with Shane to introduce themselves to Juniper. Little guy using big “sister” to bolster his curiosity. Juni wasn’t quite ready to play, though she gave them both a sniff, and then Piedra urged them back to their own mamas.

Wait, did I just mention horses from three different bands? 🙂

Piedra and Hollywood are reunited, and Juni and mama and daddy, Kestrel and Comanche, are reunited, and the two bands are as close as they were pre-roundup. They were grazing in a little “meadow” very near where Seven’s were napping under some trees when I spotted them. Seven ran Aspen like a crazy horse the evening before, but Aspen was napping right with them.

Mona and Roja. Mona doesn’t look terribly close, does she?

All three bands, from left: Mona, Roja, Shane and Killian, Seven, Hollywood, Piedra (Comanche behind her), Juniper and Kestrel, and Aspen at far right.

Back to work

27 09 2011

Prepare yourselves for information overload. You want it, and I have a good bit to share.

But first, I know people are crazy to know about this little girl, especially:

Mysterium is right as rain. Taken this morning.

Daddy Kreacher, however, has lost the band to Sundance. This happened right before the roundup. The last I saw them, Kreacher was trailing Sundance – and Chrome. I saw Kreacher today and yesterday, and this morning, he was fairly close to Duke.

Lots of photos to go through to illustrate the info I have, but here are some tidbits to tide you over:

* Mona is still pregnant. At this point, I don’t expect her to foal before October. Yep, that’s late. Naught to do but watch. (Interestingly, Roja also was a month “late” this year … ‘course, for her, “late” was May instead of April.) We’re supposed to have another La Niña winter in this part of Colorado …

* Almost all the stallions and mares that were together before the roundup have returned to each other. The exception is Bounce, who lost Houdini to Traveler in the last week … but hasn’t (yet?) gotten Alegre from Traveler.

* Grass looks really great in some areas, and most of the ponds are brimming with water after that rain we got.

* The horses look amazing and are headed into winter in just about the best possible condition.

* I found all but three horses (stallions): David, Poco and Roach.


Things are still up in the air about the horses at Canon City, but some people are working to provide all of them with great homes. If you’re interested in helping with that effort (looking for monetary donations for equipment/hay/board, etc.), please let me know {mtbgrrl (at) fone (dot) net}, and I will put you in touch with the appropriate people. Thank you!