The Gentling of a Mustang
I could hardly believe two months had passed since little Austin Gray had
been born. The days and weeks following the birth took on a routine of
feeding, grooming both Celis White and Austin, leading the two mustangs and
turn out time.
John and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the little filly grow
and develop. The baby mustang continued to nurse, although at times, with some
consternation to her mother -- when Austin would suckle too hard or eat with
too much enthusiasm, Celis would nip the baby on her rump or her hocks
before allowing her to continue. Also, when the white mustang had decided the
filly had nursed enough for the moment, she would lift her hind leg up and
push the fluffy filly out of the way.
Austin had her own foal feeder, but when the grain was doled out she
preferred to eat from her mother's feeder. The black filly had to strain her
neck to reach over the edge of the feeder. She would take a bite and then
back her head out to eat before repeating. After most of the grain had been
eaten, the little fluffy mustang would walk to her feeder and eat her own
Celis and Austin's coats began to shed out. The freeze mark on Celis' neck
was now more visible. Her coat was very smooth and polished. Austin's coat
started to change color. The ebony black now had a twinge of red, and the
areas where her baby fur was shedding revealed more white flecks of roan.
After grooming, John and I would lead the two mustangs out for some play
Immediately upon release, Celis would search the arena for a place to roll.
She would gingerly lower herself to the ground roll and then get up before
rolling on the other. Now the white mustang had covered herself with the
red/brown dust. Meanwhile, Austin Gray would stretch her legs by galloping
around the arena, in her turbo mode. The baby mustang now ran around
the arena with confidence, often taking a playful buck at her mother. We
turned the pair out twice a day, morning and evening, for a couple hours
each time. The weather, as usual, became unbearable hot during the day, so
we brought both of them back to their shady corral.
Austin was now at the age for her booster shots. I made the call to the vet
to set the appointment. I knew that the more I handled both horses, the
easier it would be for the vet to examine them.
On the day of the visit, I accustomed the pair of mustangs to my presence
with grooming. After brushing and picking out the feet, I left the halter
on Austin so catching her would be easier once the vet arrived.
Dr. Palmer arrived shortly after I haltered the filly. He got out of his
truck and went to the rear and started to prepare the shots and collect his
"How are your two mustangs doing?" he asked.
"They are doing very well. I've been leading them both quite a bit, to and
from the arena. Little Austin certainly is growing fast. We have been
keeping track of her growth by making
marks on the post next to her corral," I replied.
Dr. Palmer had his shots prepared and placed them in his pocket on his
shirt. Meanwhile, I went and retrieved a lead rope and entered the mustangs'
corral. Dr. Palmer approached the corral. I clipped the halter on Austin.
She looked wide eyed at the vet as he entered. Celis walked to the far side
of the corral.
"My, she has grown," said the vet. The black mustang tried to move away from
him. He quietly moved closer to her nose, allowing Austin to smell him. Dr.
Palmer then started to scratch her neck while I held the lead. The filly
enjoyed having her neck scratched, but as the vet moved toward her side she
moved away. Dr. Palmer stayed with the filly as she came to a stop next to
the rail. The vet then took out his stethoscope and placed it in his ears.
Next he placed the end on Austin's sides and listened for a few seconds. He
moved to the end and listened again. Dr. Palmer then reached over the filly's
back and placed the end of the stethoscope on the other side and listened.
"Her heart and lungs sound fine," he said, "lets see how much she weighs."
Dr. Palmer took out a measuring tape and started to place it over Austin's
back. Austin tried to move forward, and then back, but I held her in place.
She came to a stand still with her front legs stretched out in front of her
and the measuring tape draped over her back with the ends dangling.
"Her first sacking out," said the vet. He then carefully reached under the
filly's belly to get the loose end and brought it up to her side for
measuring. "She weighs 245 pounds. Just right for her size," he said.
Dr. Palmer then put the measuring tape back into his pocket and took out the
syringe. "I hope she doesn't remember the needle from my last visit," he
said. The vet again approach the filly's head and allowed the customary
sniff. He removed the capped needle from syringe and then took the cap off.
Holding the halter in his left hand, the vet started rubbing her neck and
with one quick movement he poked the needle into the filly's neck.
Austin jumped forward and moved away from the vet. The needle came loose and
dropped onto the ground. "Shoot! I wish I got the needle in the first time,"
said the vet, "It is usually harder to get it in the second." Dr. Palmer
went back to his truck for another needle.
"We'll try it on the other side, so she won't have one side overly sore."
Dr. Palmer and I switched sides and he started his procedure again. This
time the needle stuck and Austin only flinched. After injecting the vaccine,
he recapped the needle and placed it back into his shirt pocket.
"I'll try to make amends with the little filly," he said, crouching down to
the filly's nose. He petted her soft nose, whispering to her for a minute or
two. "She is a typical back yard foal. I think you will have fun raising
her. How is the mare doing?"
"She is doing well. She still is wary of us, but she starting to warm up to
us again. I hope she will gentle even more once the foal is weaned," I
"Well, they both look good. Austin will be due for another booster in two
months," said the vet as he was packing up to leave. Dr. Palmer then drove
off, giving a honk from his truck horn as he was heading out.
I went back to the corral to clean up. I watched the mare and foal. Austin
was nursing vigorously, while Celis looked longingly for a treat. It was
hard to believe that in a few short months, the little black filly would be
ready to be weaned.
Austin eating from Celis' feeder
Austin eating from her own feeder
John, Celis, Austin and a couple of friends on their way to the