My name is Chuck McDonald, I'm a professional trainer and horsemanship instructor based out of California. I'm just coming onto the clinic scene and thought I'd introduce myself. Primarily, I'm using LJ as a place to post about my mustang, Reba. I'd like to copy my primary entry here, it should explain what I'm all about. If you've a mind, check out my journal and my site. I hope you enjoy it! -Chuck
The Origin of Reba:
It was a dark and stormy November night. Cliché, perhaps, but it really was. I was hunched over the wheel of the big cargo van, concentrating. It was the first real rain of the season and the oil lifting off the surface of the road obscured the lines. At times it was hard to tell which lane I was in, and cars were zipping past me as if it were a clear and dry summer day. Typical of California drivers!
As I said, I was driving a cargo van. Not the most standard way of transporting a horse, to be sure. Yet there she was, in the hold behind me. I had been completely unable to find or hire a truck and horse trailer, no matter where I looked so this was my creative solution. Evan sat beside me, and he had been worrying all day about how this was going to work out. Truth be told, I was worried too. I just concealed it behind a confident façade. The van was one of those types that’s just slightly bigger than your average 15-passenger model, with a slightly higher ceiling inside. There was no ramp, and just a simple metal mesh between the driver’s seat and a young, unbroke wild filly. To say that we got a strange look when we showed up at the Wild Horse Sanctuary driving this thing is putting it mildly. It also had large windows on the back and side, which we had to cover with tarps for fear that she might get scared and try to jump through them on the freeway. This was a tricky operation.
Reba came into my life much the same as many other things, as a random inspiration one day. One which I initially brushed aside as impractical, but which quickly grew in my mind until it manifested as reality. She is my third mustang. The 2nd one, another filly named Fara, had been sold the previous summer. Because of my motorcycle accident, I had been unable to work with her at all and some nice people that I personally knew were looking to replace their aging cart pony. Reluctantly, the deal was made and Fara became theirs. Months passed, and I missed having a horse around. Then, one night as I was listening to Coast to Coast AM they featured a guest who talked about the plight of several thousand BLM mustangs. How they were lacking adoptable homes and in danger of being euthanized. I wished there was something I could do, but I didn’t know what. Still, a seed of an idea was planted.
The following day, I was driving up to a friend’s place in Eureka, CA and it hit me. I remembered the Wild Horse Sanctuary, and how they had an adoption auction every year. I decided that when I got to Eureka, I’d find out when the next auction was going to be, adopt another horse, and write a book about the experience of raising a mustang. It would be an advocacy piece for America’s Wild Horse, and hopefully raise awareness about the many positive traits of the breed and lead to more adoptions. As if by some providence, it happened that the annual auction was that very Saturday.
Even as this was all coming together as if by design, I knew that I didn’t want to rush headlong into a commitment with another horse without doing some serious thinking. I thought that maybe I would just go and check out the auction, and get a general idea of what was available. I told all of this to my friend Josh, who had decided to come with me. I asked him to try and talk me out of making a commitment to any one particular horse that day, if possible. I knew myself, and I knew I’d be sorely tempted to lay down money on the first thing I saw. He agreed to try and talk me out of it. Then I thought about it, and amended my request. He was to try to talk me out of buying, UNLESS I found the perfect horse. I had in my mind exactly what I wanted, which was a buckskin with a good solid build and a good solid mind. Anything else simply would not do.
Of course, when we arrived at the auction the first thing I saw was my ideal horse. There she stood in the holding pen, and it was as if a light penetrated the clouds and alighted upon this filly. Most of the weanlings in the pens were very nervous or withdrawn, with their noses in the corners wanting nothing to do with any of it. Not her. She was curious about everything, and seemed very interested in people. She walked around her pen, greeting passers-by and having little arguments with her neighbors. I was taken with her immediately. Then, something happened which sealed the deal for me. A woman happened by and stuck her hand through the panel and rubbed the filly between the ears. You must understand that this was a wild horse, and had just been caught from the range. I’d never seen anything like it. A wild horse that you could pet between the ears. Many horses, even tame ones, are bothered by having their ears touched. Certainly a wild one should’ve reacted with an explosion of panic, but she just stood there. That was all I needed to see. I laid down $500 and “Buckskin #4” became my horse. I named her Reba, after the Reba McEntire song “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain”. To me, she represented a great challenge and a great adventure.
Thankfully, despite my worry the trip home passed without significant incident. We got her to my stable and Evan led her to her stall as I was still on crutches at the time. The story of Reba is one years in the making, and I hope to chronicle it all here. Hopefully, this will one day become a book that will help to let America know that these wild horses are worth something. They may not have pedigrees, but they have sound feet and sound minds as well as that intangible quality that I like to call “The Wisdom of the Wild”. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the saga of this wild filly. I know I’ll enjoy writing it.