Jul 192019

By Patty Wilber

Mary Ann Shinnick saw this newscast explaining that some wild horses of Placitas, that had been living on a reserve on the San Felipe Pueblo needed to be moved, but there was no clear cut place for them to go.  She decided she needed to help out by adopting one.

She picked Sombra (formerly called Prince).  His age was thought to be about two, and he was habituated to people, but had not been handled.  He was a stud colt.

I agreed he could come here, but not until he was gelded!  Placitas Wild was able to get that done, and after the requisite number of days to, um, just make sure, Roger and Mary Ann went to pick him up.

They backed up to a small pen, opened their trailer door, and handlers urged him into the trailer.  Sombra was a bit distraught, but once he stepped out of the trailer here, last Wednesday, he seemed right at home.  

7/10/19 Day 1. Mary Ann and Sombra. Curious but this was about as much human contact as he was interested in.

He did nicker for his old herd mates for a few days, but we have seven other horses here, including H, also a newcomer, also two years old and also gelded in April. 

For the next few days, we worked on getting Sombra more accustomed to human touch and our activities around here.  He has been finding it a bit unnerving that horses do not just stay in their pens–they get taken out, brushed, tied at the hitching rails, and ridden in the arena, round pen or on the trail.  Sometimes they even trailer away.  He hasn’t quite figured out that they then come back!

We spent time fiddling with ropes nearby, while ignoring him.  He allowed us to move closer and eventually touch him with the ropes.  Sometimes he’d get overwhelmed and move to another part of the pen in a hurry, but mostly he watched and accepted more and more contact. 

By Sunday:

Halter on backwards as he was only comfortable with me on his left side!

Dragging the drag rope. He was allowed to do this only under supervision. I really like drag ropes. Letting a horse wear them seems to help with losing fear of ropes in general and learning to respond to pressure (when they step on the rope!) Tying is usually no big deal if they have already learned to deal with a drag rope.

He also got some play time out in the big pen.  I did have to use LT as bait to get him to go back into his smaller pen…He was not up for being caught in all that space (1/3 acre or so.)


Halter on the right way by me and also later by Mary Ann while I was out practicing water crossing with Lucy.  Wild horses that are not habituated to humans tend to build a nice relationship with the main person working with them, but this trust often does not extend right away to other humans.  Because Sombra was already habituated to humans, I don’t think we will have to worry about that, too too much.  


We added a fly mask! (Then overnight, he and H had a party and took of each other’s fly masks over the fence!)

Wednesday and Thursday.

He is not to the point that I can march in and halter him.  We still have to take time and repeat the rope exercises, but once he is haltered, he has learned to circle me at the walk, both ways, and he is starting to follow.

Good thing we can catch him and that he is pretty relaxed, because for some reason, he did not get all his shots when he was gelded, so that is happening today, Friday 7/19!

Once Sombra is confident enough to be measured (all over, pretty much), we are going to try for the Spanish Barb Registration. You can check out this page (click on Form B) to see how much measuring we are talking about! Sombra looks similar in body type to our registered Spanish Barb.  Mary Ann and I think it would be fun if Sombra “makes the grade”.

Another possible registry for him is Horse of the America’s. They say, “Horses from the wild or BLM Horses may be inspected by photographs and videos. Only horses of EXCEPTIONAL COLONIAL SPANISH TYPE will be considered for inclusion into the Registry. We also need any capture information as well as any information provided by the Bureau of Land Management. When possible, physical inspection by one or more of the INSPECTORS is desired”

And a third choice: The American Indian Horse Registry. They say, “The Indian Horse has gone by many names: call him cow pony or buffalo horse; mustang or Indian pony; cayuse or Spanish pony — basically they are all the same animal. Virtually every color known to the horse appears in this breed; he is sometimes appaloosa spotted, sometimes paint and sometimes solid colored with every variation imaginable occurring. He is well made, has excellent feet and legs and has as much savvy as any horse that ever lived. Height ranges from 13 to 16 hands; weight 700 to 1000 pounds with a few individuals over or under.

The Indian Horse’s loyalty is legend as is their toughness and intelligence, and anyone who is fortunate enough to share their lives with one knows how truly special they are.”

Here is a movie (which I have not watched all the way through, because I just found it at 10:10 Thursday evening on the AIHR site–the Internet is amazing!) on the Colonial Spanish Mustang.

This will be a fun adventure!


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