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Patience My Dear
Let me reiterate, patience is highly recommended before beginning horse catching!
Once I felt comfortable that a routine of some sort was being established, I was quickly reminded I was not in charge. Although the “Mountain Gang” was visiting, it was on their terms as to the time. A lull between visits had become common. I wouldn’t see any sign of them for days.
During my observation so far I had noticed several interesting things. I had identified the boss mare to be “Muddy Pond.” She was definitely in charge.
As with the pasture bands I follow and photograph today, I noticed this band also had a “babysitter.” One mare that supervised the foals making sure no harm came to them. The one all the youngsters seemed to hang with until it was nursing time. “Sister Namaste.”
I also recognized “Samson” to be a very easygoing stallion. He made a point of visiting our “Poppy” and “Drinker” in the mornings. Never in a hostile manner. More like a “good morning” and a “these are MY girls, just to remind you.” He allowed his ladies to roam the pasture, the foals to nip on him, and the two young stallions to stay within the band. I knew, and feel to this day; he will make a loyal and lifetime friend to some lucky person.
One day while viewing the pictures Bryant said it looked like the band was feeling comfortable here. They had found a “safe place” to return to which was good because they would always come back. Boy oh boy, that sure made this student feel good!
Looking at the game camera images, it appeared the gang was spending most nights here.
Slowly I was gaining my confidence to move closer to this band’s circle. Gradually they were learning not to fear me. Friends, I do believe what we had here was the beginning of a relationship based on trust!
Swing High, Swing Low
November 29, 2017. We were moving closer to a horse trapping. My emotions were swinging high and low. High because this would be my first trapping from the beginning. Low because I was in the first steps of building up trust and forming a bonding foundation with the gang.
In 2007 when Bryant and Darlene’s livestock lease was non-renewed, it was a given that the horse’s removal would be a hardship, not only on the horses themselves but also on the Rickmans.
I look at this band today and feel the same way. This will also be a hardship on “Samson” and his gang. Once removed from their natural habitat, their home, the spirit of freedom that once radiated from within their very souls is dimmed. We’ve seen it many times.
The hardship for the Rickmans is merely the logistics of the removal and elevates profoundly to another small break in this man’s heart. Bryant has completed the task of trapping and removing his horses from their running grounds many times. During our time together on this particular trapping project, he shared that each time he felt as though he let the horse down. “Looking into their eyes, I feel like I gained their trust only to betray them.”
Now, here I am looking into their eyes feeling like I was gaining their trust and am about to betray them.
A Trapping We Will Go, Or Not
The sun went down and Bryant, my husband and myself set a trap for our first attempt at catching the band. The date, November 29, the time 6:30 pm. I was excited only to see how it worked. How does one individual trap a band of 13 horses? More importantly, how am I going to help my teacher and friend catch this band of 13 horses?
Then the words came out of my friend’s mouth. I heard each one clearly but was hoping he was joking. “Now you know I’m going to have to do this by myself, you can’t stay.” What?!!! I listened as Bryant explained the smells, noises, and the way he had to covertly move etcetera, etcetera. Sure, I understood.
Bryant and I have been friends long enough; I’m sure he knew he had just crushed my dreams of helping to catch the “Mountain Gang.” Once my “pity party” was over I succumbed to the reality of the situation. One thing was for sure. I did not want to be responsible for anything going wrong on this trapping, so with my head held high, I followed my husband back to the house.
I believe I have stated in prior stories; my patience is not at a high level. Bryant headed back to his spot in the woods at 7:01 pm. Don’t believe I ever realized time could tick by so slowly!
I wait inside the house. I pace. My husband goes to watch the news in the bedroom about 9:45 pm. We say our “goodnights” because we’re confident we won’t see each other until morning. Last words spoken by my husband, “Do Not go out there!”
I pace more. Look out the back window. This is the coldest night we’ve had all year. I began to feel sorry for him. A truck started up. I slid my boots on and hit the back door. He smiles as he rolls the window down. “Thought you went to sleep.” Really? I ask if he saw anything. Nothing. He did hear movement but never saw any horses. His hands are numb, he’s cold and has no coat. He leaves to do some feeding he didn’t get done earlier and will return in a bit to try again.
I return to the house and start a pot of coffee. I see this is going to be a long night.
Bryant returns, with a coat he found in his truck. He has some hot coffee and is off to see if “Samson” has returned. It is now November 30, 1:00 am. I resume my pacing. Maybe he needs more coffee? Maybe I should bring him another coat? Then my husband’s last words before he slumbered off rang in my head, “Don’t go out there!” So, I pace some more.
He stays out there from 1:14 am to 4:06 am before calling it. No horses, no trapping.
The Proof Is On The Camera
The adrenaline finally slowed down. The “sleep monster” eventually crept in and after a few hours of rest, the alarm began its wake up call. I filled my husband in on the night’s events, or lack of. There will be other chances, I think.
A few hours later I fetched the SD card from the game camera. After laughing for a few minutes, I called my friend to fill him in on the game. He was correct when he said he heard the horses.
When he left the first time at 9:54 pm, a few of the gang came in at 11:42 pm.
When Bryant left for good at 4:06 am, most of the band appeared at 5:56 am and stayed until 6:52 am.
Imagine what it was like from 2007 to 2010 when Bryant, with the help of volunteers, removed 640 plus Mustangs from Blackjack Mountain. This is not easy. The effort that goes into catching a band of horses is one that consists of timing, knowledge, set-up, and patience. Sometimes even a little luck may be needed.
‘Namaste’ and ‘Mamma D’
We trot into December for our next story where we find unexpected guests, both horse, and human.
(NOTE: The Blood Bay young stallion was sold after he was captured. We will share photos as part of this story. We do believe he is making a teenage girl very happy!)
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