Get out of Dodge: Adventures with a Spanish Mustang - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 06-15-2019, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Get out of Dodge: Adventures with a Spanish Mustang

I wanted to start a journal where I can keep track of all the things I do with my mustang Dodge. His official name is "Dodge the Bullet", but he's been in a bit of peril throughout his life, so I also think he's deserving of the name "Get out of Dodge".

I first met Dodge in 2016 when a family I knew bought him, along with 2 other mustangs, from a mustang makeover in Reno Nevada. They were first time horse owners. Unfortunately one of the mustangs injured it's back on the trailer and they decided to return it shortly after.

Dodge then lived with his twin mustang Johnny, and a TB filly Dusty for the next year. He didn't get his hooves picked out, but he did receive farrier visits every 8 weeks. He got ridden now and then, semi regularly, sometimes out on trail, or sometimes with a girl who was learning to become a horse trainer. He also had chronic diarrhea, but no solution was ever found even with vet visits and teeth floatings.

One day someone went to say hi to the horses, we suspect after a few beers, and they didn't lock up the horses. Johnny got out and ran up into the hills. Some other stuff happened, but long story short the mustang got away and as it got dark efforts to catch him stopped. He was hit by a car in the early morning and died.

Now Dodge was all alone, the last mustang from the 3 who dropped off one by one. I can only imagine how that made him feel...

The mustang luck was out for these new horse owners and they decided to sell him. They enlisted my help to get a sale video of Dodge. We took some nice pictures, and videos and the owner did her socializing stuff to try to find him a good home. I wasn't in a position to buy the horse, nor was I really offered to buy him, so I kept quiet and minded my own business. A few people came to check him out and insisted he was lame (he's not btw, but now I know why they thought that!)

Eventually one of the mexican trainers I worked with decided to buy him. Dodge went with him to a new barn just down the street and everyone lived happily without concern for Dodge for nearly a year. Then we found out that the trainer was trying to sell Dodge, but he had an issue with his leg. I was now at a point where I was planning to move, but was also financially stable enough to get a horse, so I thought I'd check it out and see if Dodge needed me, or if I could help him in any way. I talked with this crazy horse girl on the phone who claimed to be the sales agent to find out more before going directly to my mexican trainer friend who owned the horse.

I found out Dodge had a summer sore that had gone untreated for several months. It started out as a cut, got infected with the parasite, then got itchy, grew and grew and grew. I talked to a few of my farrier friends who said it was a shame that he wasn't seen by a vet and was allowed to just sit with this issue for so long.

I talked with the old owners, and the other neighbors. It was sort of a collective decision that I should buy Dodge and cure him. I didn't want to pay 2k for this horse who had this issue, but at the same time there was supposedly some rescue who was going to take him and pay to take him in... Well let me just say problems like this can just be turned into expenses, and Dodge had already been in enough peril. I decided I should just pay the expense, so everyone is happy and move on so that the horse wasn't at risk any longer.

I hand walked Dodge back about 2-3 miles down the highway and back to his old stall in the neighbors backyard, where they had since replaced their mustangs with a couple haflingers. The agreement was Dodge would live there free board if I purchased feed and cured him of the summer sore.

Oh, did I tell you the summer sore was the size of a grapefruit? I have pictures of that healing I may post down the line...

There was also the question of getting the papers from the BLM. I refused to move the horse from the property until I got the papers signed over to me. Long story short, the summer sore healed without invasive procedures and I got the papers. Just a couple days after I moved him to a legit boarding barn and restarted him.

We started just in the round pen getting the basics back on him. He did the 90 days at the makeover, but basically just say for 2 years since then with a little bit of riding along the way. He learned slowly, I had to repeat everything 10 times until he had a glimmer of understanding and even then it wasn't secure. Dodge also didn't really try at all, he just sorta went along with things.

More to come!
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post #2 of 23 Old 06-15-2019, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Now Dodge was firmly mine. I made all the decisions and no one who used to know him was around to tell me what I could and couldn't do for him.

Along with horsey boot camp I also tried desperately to fix his issues. The summer sore was gone, but he still had diarrhea and his feet were a total mess with severe deep central sulcus thrush.

I started Dodge on some supplements for the runs he had, I tried different hays, I tried a lot of stuff. It only got a little better sometimes then back to horrible projectile black water. I just kept trying whatever I could think of. I suspected Dodge had ulcers, probably in the hind gut, but who knew. I didn't need a vet to tell me to try something and see if there was a difference, I just tried it to see if there was a difference. Unfortunately at the boarding barn the hay choices were alfalfa or grass, the alfalfa was rich, for dairy cows, not horses. I did what I could but nothing worked.

The farrier and I worked and worked on Dodge's hooves to set them up correctly. That worked out well, and his central sulcus thrush started going away and the hole started to fill in the best it could. His heels were weak and infected and he had contracted heels on both front feet. We had to leave some heel on for him to stay comfortable, but had to remove some so that spreading could happen. I learned how to trim the hooves a little bit at this point.

Dodge was coming along well in riding. He stopped bolting in the arenas, and he was going into a frame and generally trying a bit more than before. Things still took 10-20 times for him to get it though. Eventually I got him going over little poles and generally getting him to the point where he could walk, trot, and canter under control in a big rodeo size arena.

Dodge and I moved and I started working. I started riding him all the time at the new barn. I didn't want to give up what I had worked for with him, and I wanted him to come along more. All great! Then I get Diablo a month after moving, so I was learning the ropes of having 2 horses. Dodge continued to do well, and he was happy to have Diablo as his friend. I got to have fun with both the boys.

After that it started raining, and some other stuff happened along with that. Dodge has coronary damage on both hinds where his heels have chipped and pulled off. It seems to happen every year after the first good soak. This next year I'm thinking I may need to lop off his heel before it has a chance to rip off. His bars distort to support his hoof where he has no heel. That part of him I'm still learning about.

I noticed Dodge's manure was getting a little firmer than it ever was before in the 3 years since the BLM. Then the hay changed and it was horrible again! I did a lot of research into ulcers and curing then without expensive medications, and looked into a bunch of other possibilities for the problem. I ended up switching him to all pellets, since the barn offered either pellets or grass hay. I also started giving Dodge large loads of psyllium in addition to the other stuff.

Everything started clearing up, so I switched him to hay in the morning and pellets at night. He's doing great so I took the psyllium out and the clays I had been giving him. Eventually I want him to go back on all hay, but the hay is really rough orchard grass and I think Dodge has a sensitive stomach that gets ripped up from the grass, even with him chewing it well enough.

Things were getting checked off the list for Dodge health wise, but I had stopped riding him. It was too wet, and I got a little too risky trying to ride him by the road. A mini horse galloped at him and he spun around the opposite way if how I was pulling him.

Finally it was down to helping his feet. I learned Dodge has something called High/Low Syndrome, which is most likely caused by poor or no hoof care as a youngster, and him always putting the right foot forward while he eats, pushing that foot forward, and lifting the left hoof as it stretched behind him. I can't really fix it now, He's done growing, but I can make slow changes to how he uses his feet to make them more even and comfortable for him. Besides that the thrush hadn't gotten worse with all the storms we had, but it still wasn't quite right either.

I focused my attention to Diablo, who was also healing, and just checked on Dodge a bit... Now that work is over for the summer I am spending my time with Dodge and Diablo is spending some time off.

Were working on getting that riding jazz back, there's some stuff Dodge remembered, but a lot he forgot, we can both be a bit lazy, so were going to work on paying attention, staying in front of the leg, making good decisions, being brave, etc.

But when I say all that, I mean like, pay attention for more than 1 or 2 steps, walk like your life depends on it even if it's really super hard because lazy horses are real, don't run away from the crumply hat, Try to figure out that crumply hat, etc.

So those are the goals with Dodge in a nut shell. I want him to feel special so he will give me what I need from him. I'll put in some other pictures of him looking all pretty showing off his spanish blood. He's also got curly mane and wavy tail hair so he looks like a stocky Frisian. I guess you can decide, he's a mustang, so even though he was born at the BLM there's no way to really know! Oh he's a 2011 horse, 5 yo in the 2016 makeover, and now he's 8!
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post #3 of 23 Old 06-15-2019, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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I put things like saddle fit, and hoof pics in albums now, there's some in posts around here too...

https://www.horseforum.com/members/98817/album/

https://www.horseforum.com/hoof-care...-crack-786493/
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post #4 of 23 Old 06-15-2019, 09:18 PM
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What a cutie pie he is!
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post #5 of 23 Old 06-15-2019, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, @AnitaAnne , good excuse to post more pics!

oops let me fix the pix!
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post #6 of 23 Old 06-15-2019, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Here's some silly pics
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post #7 of 23 Old 06-17-2019, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Dodge was good today. I skipped a few steps and he was still trusty today.

Usually to be safe I lunge without tack, then again with, before I finally get on to ride. Well I just got on to ride today.

I'm seeing what Dodge remembers. For as sensitive as he is he still lags in his transitions. That will be easy to school him on later.

Good news, he's still super soft and givey with the bit. He's one of those horses where you take a feel and he could easily over tuck his nose. He's also easy to get in a bad frame where he just pulls forward and pulls and pulls and pulls your hand. Good for me to practice keeping an elastic feel and honing it to perfection.

We just did some walking and trotting with the givey give going on.

At the end of the ride I tried practicing the spanish walk from on his back. I taught him to lift his legs from the ground by tapping them with the whip. He lifts them not super fancily but he knows to get good lift. I just did the same from the saddle, tap tap on his legs and he lifted them so I can practice doing that for fun too! Though it would be so helpful to have a 2nd person training that move!

In general I'm expecting to keep going walking and trotting to increase stamina, and I will add in some poles to enhance his fitness in lifting his legs. I think that he will pick up on things faster than ever but I still need to go slow with him, and this gives me a chance to rebuild him up again and better refine some things he didn't have before.

Dodge is seemingly doing really well on the animed mag right, super calm look in his eye no spooky stuff going on. He's always been a sweety but the wild is leaving him and he's loving the spa treatments I give him. He actually did some thing I taught him over the past months about approaching scary things on his own today so that was cool!
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post #8 of 23 Old 07-02-2019, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Dodge has been good lately. But of course as I say that he will find something to do to prove me wrong... I had him do a little ground work refresher then hopped on and did the same stuff on the ground as I did in the saddle. Pretty easy level of work, but I would like to amp it up with him at some point. Gotta make sure it's all to the "T" first.

Worked on him with haunch yield, forehand yield, leg lifting, and alternating haunch and forehand yields to get ready for lateral movements. All satisfactory!

My main goal was to hone in on the turn on the haunches moving toward the right. He gets a bit stuck on the left side and won't move it away under saddle, and you can see a few times takes steps backward or around instead of pivoting. The good news is he did it really well under saddle. Still needs loads of work to perfect it though.


I guess the riding video didn't come through, but it was good!
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post #9 of 23 Old 07-02-2019, 12:57 PM
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He's gorgeous!



In that first photo, you could pick whatever fancy, schmancy warmblood breed you would like to call him and I would believe you. He's built so nice! I don't think people realize how nice Mustangs can be, and I don't mean just temperment, I mean their conformation. A lot of domestic breedings don't turn out that nice!


Solid, well built horses a lot of them! Feet and legs a Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred would envy.
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There's a lot of stupid out there!
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post #10 of 23 Old 07-03-2019, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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@trailhorserider

Thank you! I think half of it is getting all dressed up for that look!

He does have good conformation, but looking at his pictures from pickup at the BLM, he looked like a starved rat. It really has helped me to see what the horses will look like once they have been in ownership and care for a year after coming off the range or out of the BLM facilities. I like to look at the auctions online and I do see a lot of good horses on there, but you would have to really know what you are looking for. There's a lot of mustang types out there. I've been thinking of starting a thread where everyone can come look at the mustangs for auction and comment about what they see.

With the feet and legs they are so solid! I'm not sure if it's normal for the mustangs to have hoof issues in general, but Dodge has a few, not sure how or when they were acquired. He still has good feet, they will be rock solid once they are more healthy. He's had one leg injury when he ran around in some deep footing, but I went back and looked at pictures from when he was picked up, and he had it then too. Doesn't bother him at all!
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