Close encounters with Ochoco Mustangs

25 Sep

So on Sept 23 I found myself with some free time, my plans had changed, and I decided to take off with my little pony and spend the night at a horse camp alone, my first solo horse camping trip. I went to Allen Creek Horse Camp in the Ochoco’s. When I arrived there was no one camped there, not surprising,  it is a free camp and consequently the corrals are falling over. There were several guys camped close by near the creek, who were shooting guns and acting rowdy so I wasn’t really thrilled but I thought I would go on a ride and when I got back if they were still there I might regroup, maybe find another spot to camp.

I rode in all different directions for awhile trying to actually get into the Big Summit Prairie area. From what I gathered it is all private property and fenced, so no luck there. The ground was very rocky so after awhile I just decided to follow the fence line and I at least got a glimpse of the prairie and about a million cows. I also saw a couple of antelope fairly close up before they high tailed it out of there. Eventually I decided to head back to camp and set off cross country. I tend to be quite observant when I ride usually spotting deer etc. before Rina does. Good thing… because I looked off behind me at one point and saw a stallion watching me from behind a tree. I stopped Rina and turned her toward him, he had four mares with him. They were quite far away…and as I stood there I was cursing myself for forgetting my camera in my truck. I figured they were going to stay far away and I would get a shot with my Iphone of several blobs that I could explain later as proof that I did indeed see wild horses. Surprisingly the stallion started to approach me with the mares following. I got off Rina so he could see I was a seperate entity. I started taking random pictures with my phone, and as I was doing that the four mares whom I now realized were quite young, all came directly up to me. The stallion, a gorgeous bay with a star and small strip hung back and watched.

 The smallest filly wanted to touch noses with Rina so I let her.Then I reached out and touched her on the nose. She was surprised but still very curious.

They must have figured this two legged person was ok since I had a horse with me that showed no desire to leave me .The stallion was very mellow, he just stayed in the background and I watched him to make sure he was ok with everything. Having Rina with me was so great, she did not get stressed they were there, I didn’t even hold on to her, I just stood between her and them, so they couldn’t surround us. Plus she has zero interest in running off with a handsome stranger. At one point they tried to get too close and I shooed them off a little, the stallion reacted to that by doing a small half circle run. I thought he was going to herd them away from me but he chose not to. So then we all stood and stared at one another for awhile. I took more pictures, although I didn’t get many good ones with the dang phone… especially of the stallion. After some time had passed I decided I couldn’t stay there all day, so I started to walk Rina away, they promptly all followed, so I got on her and tried to ride away, they all followed again, and now the stallion was following as well. I did some hand motions and voiced my desire for him to stay put. He got the message, stopped following me, the mares stayed with him, and as I rode away, I told him he was a beautiful boy and thanked him for letting me hang out with them. What an amazing experience! I’m the only human to touch that little one’s nose and if she remains free maybe she will never be touched again.

I got back to camp realized the yahoos were gone and decided to stay there after all. An uneventful night passed. The next day I trailered to Douthit Springs for a ride on my way home. I headed up one of the many dirt roads and after a couple of hours, lo and behold I ran into yet another band of horses. Have I mentioned that I have ridden in the Ochoco’s many times before and never seen a single wild horse. This time a mare crossed the road in front of me with her foal. She didn’t seem to compute that I was human at first so she stared at me for awhile then suddenly figured it out, put her tail in the air and ran off. I heard some nickering from the hill above me and there was the stallion, he came trotting toward me to see what the deal was. I got off Rina again, he stopped and watched me for awhile. Rina ate some grass, I had a sandwich, he alternated between watching me and grazing. This was more like the behaviour I would think a wild stallion would have, he stayed much further away, kept his mare behind him and kept an eye on me but otherwise was not concerned. I walked around a little bit trying to get some pictures, since this time I had my actual camera, but they didn’t get close enough to get any really good ones. Where is the professional photographer when you need one? The stallion was black, no white…he only had the one mare and foal with him. I eventually rode away and let them be.

What a great couple of days! What healthy beautiful horses they are.

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