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Wild Thing - 1983

Updated: May 25, 2023

Around 1983 the Bureau of Land Management decided to bring some wild mustangs from Arizona to Alaska to give them a home instead of shooting them. My wife and I were in the rodeo circuit at the time. We applied for a mustang and were quickly approved. The day came to pick up our new horse and we went to the ranch of Chuck Edmonds.

The horse we were given was pure white, his mane and tail almost touching the ground. His hooves were never trimmed coming straight from the plains of Arizona. They put ropes on him while he was in the trailer that he was trying desperately to destroy. When they pulled him out, he was bucking like crazy. We were able to get one rope through our trailer and pulled him in with one other horse; he was fighting the entire time. My wife and I looked at one another, sweaty and catching our breath, and said to one another... "now what!?".

He kicked the sides of the trailer on our drive from Palmer to Chugach, where our homestead was. The ranchers gave us the advice to tie an old tire tube to a tree so there would be some give when he was pulling and bucking in frustration. We backed the trailer up to the tree and tied another rope from his head and through the tire tube twice. Cautiously, we untied the rope in the trailer and encouraged him to come out of the trailer. He was furious and was bucking like crazy for a half hour straight so we named him "Wild Thing" or "WT" for short.

I thought we should put a blanket on him since he came from Arizona to Alaska. A friend of mine in the rodeo attempted this feat for me. Don had ahold of Wild Thing's head and he reared up pulling Don off the ground before Wild Thing lost his footing, slamming them both back to the ground. Don ended up getting 6 stitches in his scalp... Thanks for trying Don!

We built a small barn with an electric fence for a corral. After a week we could brush him and put a blanket on him... not to his approval but he got used to it over time and calmed down some. One morning I went out to feed and water him and I found WildThing laying on the ground, unable to get up. After a long struggle, I managed to get a girth around him and with the help of a come-along I hoisted him to his feet and called the vet.

We learned that WildThing was over 20 years old and had a heart problem. It was a sad decision to make but we had him put down since he couldn't stand on his own. We donated his meat to a local dog musher. It was a sad day for us. Perhaps he should have been left in the wild. Moral of the story? Don't fool with mother nature. Let her be wild.

~ Paul "OC" O'Connor

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