We were greeted by the sight of the snow capped McDowell Mountains as we drove towards the Mustanger’s remount station in Rio Verde. After hooking up the stock trailer, we headed toward the Bush Highway on our way to the BLM Adoption center set up in Apache Junction. When we got there,in one of the stalls, we found the object of our quest, Mustang #3176, a 14h, grey mare, with black mane and tail.
We got the paper work processed and K. C. Fair backed the trailer up to the loading chute. The BLM associate haltered the mare while she was confined in the chute. Mustang #3176 loaded easily with the wave of the flag. On the drive back to Rio Verde, the mare was named Mustang Sally. Back at the Remount Station, it was time to initiate Sally’s training program.
The long lead attached to the halter and was tied to a catch rope and dallied to Travis Ericsson’s saddle horse. With steady pressure applied, Sally soon dismounted the trailer. A dance commenced, three steps forward, three steps back, move to the right, then to the left. Who leads, who follows? Numerous changes in direction over the next thirty minutes. Within an hour, Travis had led Sally around the station and into a stall in the barn. With the three of them, Sally, Travis and the saddle horse in the pipe pen, Travis began the gentling and handling process, using techniques that are at the heart of the “Ericsson Method”. After an hour or so, Sally was standing in the pen, saddled, ready for phase 2.
Seth Mertzweiller slipped into the saddle and Sally was off on her first ride. It was a short ride within the mare motel, less than eight hours after leaving Apache Junction.
On day 2, Sally was reintroduced to the halter, another session of the Ericsson Method, a repeat of ‘sacking out’ and saddling, another ride in the pen, lifting her feet and settling her mind. Days 3 and 4, Sally is ridden about the station, working in the arena, big circles left and right, introduced to cattle and the tools of the cowboy trade.
We ride to train,
and train to ride.