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Chief The Mustang

I love giving the "gift" of precious moments captured. Few people realize that it is also a "gift" for me in return. Getting to share in the joy that your horse brings you, is the favorite part of my job. I may have only spent a few hours with your four-legged friend, but they always touch me in a way that adds so much value to my life. Each one is precious to me.

Sadly, our beautiful horses cannot be with us forever and when I get the call that your beloved pal has passed away it breaks my heart. This was the case when my friend, Linda, lost her little orange dun mustang recently. I remember connecting with Chief through my lens. He had the sweetest expression and a story that is too incredible not to share. Ill let Linda tell you.

"This is the story of a little mustang called Chief. Chief was adopted from the BLM by an older woman who lived in the Palm Desert area, along with a few mares, and lived there with her until she passed away. In her will she had requested that her mustangs be relocated and released onto some land she owned in the San Jacinto mountains where they would be free to roam and live out their lives. So Chief and his mares were flown in by helicopter, in a sling, on to the land which was quite remote, and released as requested. A good friend who was a well known packer, saddle maker and all round old cowboy, the likes of which is rarely seen in this day and age, agreed to keep an eye on the little herd to make sure they always had ample grazing and a continual water source.

So Chiefs herd thrived for a time up in the mountains, he was still a stallion and there were a few foals born into the herd. It was a well know story among mountain trail riders and packers that there was a herd of wild mustang that would occasionally be spotted, but basically kept to themselves. But, eventually, their boundaries started breaking down and they began to roam into areas where they weren't welcome. Activists worried that they would eat too much of the grazing land needed by the endangered Big Horn Sheep, and Chief started chasing mountain bikers and dirt bike riders that encroached on "his" land in an attempt to protect his herd. So complaints started coming in and local officials decided that the herd had to go. It was suggested that they be eliminated (shot) and when the old cowboy who had kept an eye on them all those years found out he got a few good horsemen together and they went up on the mountain, roped Chief with his big bay rope horse and hauled him and his mares down the hill and trailered them home. Chief HATED that big bay after that!

Ron found homes for the mares but kept Chief, bred him a few times then gelded him, planning on turning him into a little saddle horse because his temperament was so sweet and even keel. Sadly though, Ron started losing his battle against cancer and decided to start finding homes for his horses before it was too late, and that is how we got Chief. He was given to my family in hopes that my son would be able to get him broke and use him, but Chief was a little horse and my son quickly got too tall for him. So he became mine. That was 10 years ago.

I lost Chief in early May to a twisted small intestine that seemed to come out of nowhere. That morning when I left for work he was eating and chasing the other horses out of his food (he was still the boss,) and then a few hours later my daughter was texting me that Chief was colicing bad and she was calling the vet. I busted it home as fast as I could and she was already walking him, but he could barely stay up. The vet did an ultrasound and said it was most likely a twist in the small intestine caused by who knows what, and the surgery was not a likely option. So we made the decision to put him down. Just like that. This amazing little horse with such a crazy story and such an eventful life was gone.

I am fortunate enough to have had Amber out to my house a few months ago to meet and take photos of my mustang herd, Chiefs new herd, in what we have called "the mustang habitat". It was a fun thing to do at the time, and I was happy that she could add some mustangs to her portfolio. Now I am so grateful for the amazing shots she took of Chief because I only had a few snapshots on my phone and one or two shots of when we first got him... the usual. Time goes by. So I want to pass this on...have Amber take some beautiful photos of you and your horse!! She does a fantastic job and you WILL NOT be sorry!! Please let her capture the love between you and your horse, those moments when it's just you two and your faces are together, and you can just be. She is so good at that! Those moments are irreplaceable as any horse owner knows and she can help you to hang on to them because you JUST never know. Horses are beautiful, strong and fragile at the same time and I am so grateful for the beautiful pictures she took of my little Chief Chief. Thank you Amber, from the bottom of my heart!"

#equineportrait #Mustang

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