Despite the chilly weather and snow-covered ground here in Modoc county, Spring is sneaking upon us. The days are getting a tad longer, the birds are chirping in the morning, and snippets of bright green grass are peeping up from the ground. This time of year always excites me; the new year brings new opportunities, new beginnings, and new adventures! This is especially true for the Devil’s Garden wild horses.
Last fall, the USFS-Modoc National Forest gathered a total of 932 horses from the Devil’s Garden Plateau, with the objective of reducing an overpopulated herd of 4,000 horses. The horses that were gathered were either put up for adoption or for sale, and although this was controversial in the eyes of some, I am excited to say that not a single horse has been sold to slaughter.
Many people have a misconception that wild horses gathered off our rangelands have the dooming fate of kill pens and slaughter houses. However, it can be quite the opposite. Most of the wild horses adopted or sold end up in loving homes, have distinct jobs, or are cared for at wild horse sanctuaries. Our very own Devil’s Garden wild horses have been no exception. Most horses gathered and held at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corral have either been sold or adopted, leaving fewer than forty horses left still awaiting their future homes. Of the horses that have been placed, all have been put into loving homes and are set to do incredible things.
These are some of their success stories:
The Helping Hooves Horses
The fate of four lucky Devil’s Garden horses leaves them with an extraordinary job. In Dillon, Montana, sits Helping Hooves, a horse rescue and therapeutic riding center that caters to hippo-therapy, therapeutic riding, and mental health patients. The Devil’s Garden horses were selected for this unique job due to their short, stocky build that would allow them to carry many types of riders. The people at Helping Hooves thought there is no better way to highlight the versatility of mustangs than by putting four of them as the face of their foundation. Morrigan, a black mare, initially anxious and skittish, has calmed down quite a bit and her curiosity has overcome her fear. This mare is also accompanied by the most darling and healthy little filly. Korrigan, is also settling down nicely, has become less fearful, and is extremely perceptive to the rope and pressure points. Atlas, the flashy, gray gelding, has shown to be the easiest to work with. He is eager to please with little fear of humans. Donte, the oldest at 16, is the most proud and courageous of the bunch. From the beginning, the trainers were not worried about him due to his willing personality. These four horses have gone through incredible transformations, and now have very important jobs assisting in the rehabilitation and therapy of disabled people.
Just a few weeks ago, Tami Fawcett drove down from Oregon to pick up Arrow; a beautiful, light-bay gelding with a big star on his face and gentle eyes. Fawcett is no stranger to the Devil’s Garden wild horses. She has worked with them in the past and instantly fell in love with them for their even temperament, intelligence, and their unique solid build. These characteristics drew Fawcett back to
Modoc county this year to snatch up Arrow. Despite having him for a short amount of time, she has noticed that Arrow has a receptive attitude, is level-headed, and calm. Arrow immediately exhibited his favorable behavior when he loaded, trailered, and unloaded, without any fuss. Unfortunately, the most popular demographic of adopted mustangs is usually between the age of two and five, leaving the older horses to sit in facilities. This is due to the perception that older horses are more difficult to train. Fawcett is trying to bust that myth and bring attention to the older, just as worthy, adoptable mustangs. Arrow, for example, is eleven, and has been a charm to work with. Fawcett has started a 501(c)(3) non-profit, MEND (mindfulness, empathy, dignity, and nurturing for humans and horses), helps mustangs in need with the objective of raising awareness for the Devil’s Garden herd and showing people that older horses make just as great partners as younger ones. Arrows progress is being documented on Facebook. In four months, he will be up for adoption after the completion of his training to an approved home. Arrow will make an incredible companion.
A Facebook favorite, Tom Selleck, the stunning bay with a bold blaze is yet another great success story from the Double Devil Corrals. Tom was purchased on November 17 and went home to his new family at Pacific Coast Horsemanship. Since his new family has taken him, Tom has made tremendous progress. He is now slowly starting the process of beginning under saddle and will do about anything for a treat! Tom is ten and was just gelded this fall. Despite of this, and with the concerns that older gelded studs may have more temperamental issues, Tom has proven otherwise. He is often loved on by children, is progressing well with training, and is eager to learn. Tom will and has already become a great family horse!
These horses came off the Devil’s Garden Plateau here in Modoc County. These were all once wild horses, out fighting for food, struggling for water, living everyday with the objective of survival. Now, that chapter of their lives has closed, and new doors are opening. These horses have new jobs and new expectations. Round-ups and gathers are controversial, and many extremist groups flood the media with false information as to where these horses end up. As I am seeing first-hand, these horses are not ending up in slaughter houses or kill pens. They are ending up in loving homes, never having to fight for survival and search for food or water. So, whether they are companion animals being loved on by a little girl or expected to work as therapeutic horses assisting in the rehabilitation and therapy of humans, the Devil’s Garden wild horses are turning a new page and are set out to do wondrous things. Have you picked your horse up yet?
Special thanks to Tami Fawcett, Helping Hooves, and Pacific Coast Horsemanship for answering questions and providing photos.
For more information on the Devil's Garden wild horses and how you can take one home:
To learn more about Helping Hooves and to donate to the therapeutic riding program: http://www.helpinghoovesinc.org
To learn more about Mustang MEND and to follow Arrows journey:
To follow the progress of Tom Selleck: