Gypsy is our resident wild Mustang, even though she was rounded up and separated from her family at three years old in 2006.
When she was wild, Gypsy was living in California and Nevada before her family was herded up and thrown into holding pens, then separated from one another. If Gypsy’s experience was like most wild horse roundups, several of her fellow herd members, including foals, were killed.
Hanaeleh intervened when Gypsy’s owner posted her as a “free horse.” Her owners had purchased her from a BLM auction but decided they did not want her anymore. We took Gypsy as the only other person who responded to the owner’s ad was going to take her to Mexico, most likely for slaughter. We were told that Gypsy was “difficult to catch,” and to bring some carrots to help catch her.
Four hours later….
But we finally gained Gypsy’s trust and loaded her into the trailer. We discovered that her owner had not been able to catch her for six months, and during that time she had grown, so the halter they had originally placed on her was beginning to slice into her poll. We took off the halter and worked with Gypsy, training her to come when we asked, and letting her know that people were kind of OK.
She was born wild, and she continues to be wild in her mind. Thankfully, she has bonded with Elizabeth, who adopted her and pays for her to remain at Hanaeleh so she will always be safe.
Gypsy was gentled by Elizabeth and is actually one of the best horses at Hanaeleh- we can tie her anywhere, she is fine in any stall, and she always eats whatever food we give her. She will respond to hand signals that Elizabeth gives her in the arena and will walk, trot, canter, and speed up or slow down just with a few signals (unless she’s being a snot, in which case she will conveniently not see those hand signals and will do whatever she wants until Elizabeth has to get the longe whip- not to hit her, obviously, but just to wave it at her to get her attention).
One of the most interesting aspects about Gypsy is that she teaches the horses around her how to poop in a sanitary manner… all of the horses we put her around will start to poop in lines around their stalls, which is much cleaner, and they no longer poop on their hay! We joke about loaning her out to teach other horses how to keep their stalls neater!
Although Gypsy has been trained to ride and Elizabeth will sometimes take her out alone, she mostly goes out on trail being ponied off of Tamahome. She provides emotional support for Tamahome, and he helps keep her from walking too slowly (she walks so slowly on her own!).
It takes a long time for Gypsy to trust a new person, and she has finally decided that after three years, our farrier Josh is trustworthy enough to stand calmly for him without Elizabeth being next to her. She does not want to have anything to do with any vet, however, and Elizabeth must give Gypsy her yearly vaccines. Otherwise, she is very tolerant of our volunteers as long as they have food- Gypsy especially likes baked goods like cookies and muffins, but she also likes carrots, apples, watermelon, horse treats- she has liked pretty much everything we’ve offered her except a popsicle!