By: Robyn Szybunka
Follow Robyn Szybunka as she gentles and trains three young wild horses.
When a wild stallion walks right up to you in the middle of the Nevada desert, it is an experience like no other. I had been hoping to just snap a picture when the curious young bachelor approached me, stretched his muzzle out to check me over, then decided to hang out for a while as if we were old friends. Right then and there, I was smitten, and my life was changed forever.
I got to observe many wild horses when I was in the Reno, Nevada area visiting my friend Susan Kauffmann, who told me about the plight of the mustangs in her area and beyond. With tens of thousands already in holding pens and thousands more being rounded up due to overpopulation, there are no easy answers. But I knew that if I could save even a few by helping them to find good homes, I had to do it.
Little did I realize that just a few short months later, I would find myself driving 33 hours with only minimal breaks from Reno to Cherhill, Alberta, hauling three wild horses home! In October 2018, I adopted three mustang geldings, an 18-month-old black and white pinto, three-year-old bay, and three-year-old red roan. These mustangs had been gathered a few weeks earlier as part of a rescue effort to relocate some 117 horses that had been trapped in an area with very little food. While most of the starving horses were successfully relocated and freed, 13 had to be removed from the range due to restrictions on how many could be released into the areas approved for relocation.
The Virginia Range Sanctuary, the local non-profit group that Susan volunteers with, had carried out the amazing rescue/relocation effort, and stepped up once again to get those 13 adopted. When Susan asked me if I might be interested, the answer was a resounding “YES!” Initially, the mustangs had been taken to the wild horse holding facility at the correctional center in Carson City to be gelded and branded. Susan then kindly offered to pick them up and keep them at her acreage until I could get them, as the prison can be a stressful environment for the mustangs.
Once they were at Susan’s place, the horses relaxed and their unique personalities started to reveal themselves. The adorable young pinto quickly showed himself to be laid back, bold and always the first one to check out new things. The stunning roan is curious but very watchful, and definitely the wariest of people. The lovely bay has a soft and kind eye, a deep presence, and seems to fall in the middle between the other two in terms of shyness.
While I was deeply grateful to Susan for taking the horses, we now faced a serious challenge: how would we load three completely wild horses into my stock trailer without chutes? Click here to find out…
Horse trainer Robyn Szybunka adopts three Nevada mustangs and brings them home to Alberta. Follow her journey as she gentles and trains these wild horses.