The Gentling of a Mustang
Each morning and evening, John and I took Celis White and Austin Gray out to
the arena for some play time. Celis would sniff around the ground, looking
for tidbits while Austin would dash around the enclosure as fast as her
spindly legs would take her. John and I called her bursts of speed her
More of our friends and family heard of the new arrival and the two mustangs
had visitors nearly everyday. Austin, always curious, would walk up and
greet them. Celis however still was unsure of people, including John and me.
But, the mare allowed people to handle her foal.
Within a few weeks of her birth, I started a grooming routine with Austin.
I began with Celis in the corral; curring, brushing, combing, and picking
her feet. I wanted the filly to become accustomed to the motions involved
with grooming. The whole time I was grooming the little white mare, Austin
would nibble at the lead rope, sniff the grooming caddy, or nurse on the
side I was trying to brush. I let the little black mustang finish nursing and
nudged her out of the way. One time she took a brush from the caddy and ran
around the corral with it in her mouth.
During one of these sessions I noticed that the ends of Celis' forelock had
been nibbled away. Not in chunks, but an even small amount strait across. I
turned to face Celis. She looked liked she had a bowl cut. "You poor dear, I
hope that she doesn't go after your tail!" I told the little mare.
Next, I let Celis loose in her corral and haltered Austin. I took the curry
from the caddy and let the little filly sniff it. She seemed completely
unconcerned so I started to curry her neck and chest. The foal seemed to
especially like having her chest rubbed. Her upper lip poked out and started
to wiggle back and forth. Then Austin started to sway back and forth over
the curry comb, as if I wasn't moving it fast enough for her enjoyment.
I started brushing the fluffy black fur after currying. Again, I let Austin
sniff the soft brush before touching it to her hide. I started with the
filly's head. I noticed that she was starting to gray out already. The fur
around her eyes began to whiten as well as the hair on the tips of her ears.
I continued to brush her downy fur, along her legs and on her tail. The baby
mustang didn't seem to mind the brushing at all. I did not try to pick out
her feet for the first few grooming sessions. I wanted Austin Gray to get
used to being handled all over her body first.
When I felt that the black filly was ready to have her feet cleaned, I
started with currying and brushing her body, paying close attention to
grooming her feet. I started to rub the back of her left front leg with my
right hand. I pushed the filly's withers with my left hand, so she would
shift her weight to the other side. When I felt she was balanced, I started
to lift her leg with my right hand. Austin picked up her foot in a stiff
manner. She then bent her leg at the knee and started to go down on that
side, as if trying to kneel. Austin then shifted her balance back and tried
to pull her foot out of
my hand, I held it gently but firmly. Finally she stood quietly with her
foot in my hand and then I put her foot back down on the ground. I repeated
picking up her foot a few more times until she picked it up and put it down
Next I picked up her right front leg, repeating what I had done with the
left. The little
black mustang filly tried to go down on her right knee and
then pull it out of my hand. But after a few repetitions, she calmly allowed
me to pick up her foot and hold it.
I then worked with Austin's back legs. Starting on the right side, I ran my
left hand down the back and pushed against her hip with my right. When
she shifted to her left hind leg, I pulled her left up. I stuck stiffly out
until she bent her stifle and hock. The little filly then started to yank
her hind foot back and forth with hard jerks. It was difficult trying to
hang on to it. Finally she relaxed her leg and let me hold it without
moving. I then let her set it on the ground. Like the front legs, I repeated
the procedure several times until she picked her leg up and set it down
calmly before moving to the next leg.
I worked with both mother and daughter daily before they would exercise in
the arena. Austin seemed to really enjoy the attention and I liked to brush
her fluffy coat. Time seemed go so quickly and the little black filly seemed
to grow before our eyes. First she would do a growth spurt up and then she
would fill out. From the first two weeks when she was born, John and I made
a growth chart on a post of the corral to document her rate of growth. It
was amazing to me that little Austin Gray had grown two and a half inches
within two months!
Austin Gray with visitors
Austin Gray with more visitors