Mustang Progress


Well, well, well. Cody. She’s one tough nut to crack. Still, after TEN MONTHS, of which I remind her almost daily, I cannot simply walk up to her, let alone touch her. She came to ISPMB in the fall of 2004, from the Sheldon Mountains in Nevada; I estimated her age to be about 16, which means she ran free for about four years before going to the sanctuary where she was never gentled or worked.

After several consultations, I think she may well be 20 years old or so, which means she had about eight years on the open range. Either way, she’s pretty much set on not trusting humans very much.

However, she had no real issues during transport, and while she initially spent a great deal of time gazing over the fence, she never tried to jump it and never acted crazy; just wary. And she never had a problem with me working with or approaching her colt, Cavalry.

She does answer when I whistle; she waits at the fence for me at feeding time and is not shy about hollering if I’m running a few minutes late. You could say she can tell time . . . at least twice a day!

I can walk up to her within about two feet before she moves away—she doesn’t bolt, just steps back a bit. I’ve touched her nose a few times. Surprised us both! And now, she often takes cookies from my hand but she’s an expert at NOT TOUCHING THAT HAND. She’ll also eat a bit from a bucket that I’m holding, as long as I don’t try to touch her. And she’ll often approach me, only to within maybe four feet or so—but that’s her limit.

And she’ll go in the barn, into her own stall. She won’t stay long, we’re still working on that, and she prefers having an escape route, either with the stall door mostly open or an open gate into the pasture.

Many mares from this rescue were pregnant, and I was sure that Cody was. So sure, that I stayed up nights checking on her, took endless numbers of pictures, and did a lot of research. At this point, and given her age, I really don’t think we’ll have another Catnip foal; Cavalry was probably her last.

On the other hand, she does look pregnant from the back, but not really from the side or any other place. If she does have a foal, it should be in the next month or so, but I’m not holding my breath.


Best guess, Cavalry was born around July 1st of last year, meaning he’s just over a year old. I based this on many factors, including his appearance when he arrived, when his third incisors broke through, and his studly behavior in February.

That behavior, by the way, continued until recently when he was gelded. Man, I sure hated to do that, but I’m not running a stud farm here after all, and I’ve definitely reached my limit on horses—more on that later! If I’d also had a Catnip mare that wasn’t his mother, I might have held off a bit longer. But it wasn’t fair to make him live alone, essentially, and even though he’s pretty sweet most of the time, that could change with all that extra testosterone running amok. And, well, if I were 20 or so years younger, that might have made a difference too!

Cav will stand still to be brushed and he’ll tolerate fly wipe and sometimes even fly spray. He’ll halter and lead. He knows “whoa” and “back.” He’ll give kisses and he’s absolutely a treat hog. He also—until hopefully now, loves the ladies. He and Nick had quite a circus act going on for a while, but Val will kick the snot out of him if he tries anything.

He’s a good boy most of the time and sometimes really feels his oats in the mornings when it’s cool. He can buck and run and play with the best of him and never takes a tumble. And even when the girls escaped not long ago, he stayed in the fence. He also knows which stall is his and goes right in when I open the gate.

He did give me a nasty bruise a month ago—my fault, really. I had a cookie in my hand and was approaching Cody, not paying enough attention, and he sneaked up behind me and chomped on my arm. Brat. Of course I tapped his nose and told him, “NO!” but that was all. He hasn’t tried anything since . . .



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