In Memory of Mariah


In February, 2004, I lost my Arabian to a stroke. He was 31 and I had gotten him 24 years before. That left me with my other horse, an older Morgan mare. I decided I really did not need 2 horses, but wanted a companion for Jasmine. At that time, BLM had holding corrals in my area. I decided to adopt a donkey. The day before my birthday in March, I drove to the BLM corrals to look for a jenny. I had to walk past the corral holding mustang mares to get to the burro corral. As I passed the horses, a little, muddy brown filly came to the fence & stuck her head through, towards me. When I got to the burro corral, all the burros ran to the far side & I could not get a good look at them. I wandered around for an hour or so, looking at the mustangs, trying to see the burros. Each time I passed that one corral, the brown filly would come and stick her head out at me. She even let me pet her. Finally, I realized she was supposed to be the animal I adopted. The next day, my friend took her trailer over and we picked up “Mariah.”

Mariah was 11 months old. I called Palomino Valley BLM facility, where she had been taken and “processed” after her capture in the Pyramid Lake region of Nevada. This was the history I was told of. She had been captured in Nevada by the BLM when she was five months old in 2003, She was run about 12 miles, somehow  losing  her mother during the BLM roundup. She spent 6 months with BLM, and was transported to 3 different facilities in 2 states during this time. She was sent from Nevada to S. Arizona, and then up to Kingman.

She settled in, but was always nervous, no matter how much I handled her. She did enjoy running around in the fairly large corral, which was all I had at that time. She bonded quickly with Jasmine. At that time, I was feeding a bermuda/alfalfa pellet feed with added vitamins and minerals. It was suitable for a growing horse and contained appropriate minerals in the correct ratio.

She did not like me to ride Jasmine away and would go crazy if I tried to ride off the property, so I decided to just ride on the property where we were always be in her sight. In May, I went back to BLM to adopt a pregnant jenny, and Mariah enjoyed her company.

About two months after arriving, she was looking much better, was growing and had shed out. One day, I went out to find her very lame. It ended up she had Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD). There are many factors which can cause it, but it is usually nutritional. In the six months with BLM, she had been fed straight alfalfa with no mineral balancer. Alfalfa has a calcium/phosphorus ratio which is much too high. I did a lot of research. I started her on an additional mineral balancer. Basically, between the 12 mile helicopter chase and imbalanced rations while with the BLM, she had been set up for joint damage.  I wrote an article about her which was published in 2004 by both Natural Horse magazine and The Horse’s Hoof.

She was on and off lame for about two years and I realized that she would never be a suitable riding horse. She also never stopped being high strung and wary. She was very friendly and affectionate, but did not want to be worked with. She stopped growing at about 13.3 hands. She was however, incredibly smart and spirited. I had been around domestic horses all my life, but mustangs are different.

Mariah made me realize that horse ownership doesn’t have to be about riding, or about what the horse can do for you. I saw that horses are intrinsically valuable, just for being horses. In late 2004, the Burns Amendment went through, making some mustangs very vulnerable for ending up going to slaughter . Instead of adoption, “3 strikes” horses could be sold outright. In 2006, I fenced in 3 acres and got Kola, a 2 year old mustang mare who was already deemed “unadoptable.”  By 2009, we had become a non-profit and then got our 501C3 status in 2010. As of 2017, we had provided a safe home for an additional 10 mustangs and 6 BLM burros. All because of Mariah’s influence on me.

She was so smart. Once, when she was a few years old, I had put fly masks on Mariah, Kola & the 2 burros. At the end of the day, they had pulled all the masks off each other. I found 3, but was unable to locate the last one. They were waiting to be fed. I told them I was not going to feed until I found the 4th mask. She took off running, stopped about 300 feet away, and started pawing the ground. Yep, sure enough, she was standing over the mask! Mariah was alpha mare despite her small size. She bonded with and was very protective of Windy, an abused mustang who arrived in 2010. She was always spunky and loved galloping around with her 6 mustang herd mates. She was truly a free spirit.

In July, 2017, she went from her normal active self to being very stiff, overnight. There was no apparent injury, her feet & legs appeared to be fine, her muscles hurt all over. Hoping she may just have taken a fall, we started her on an anti-inflammatory drug which did not do much to help. A week ago, all the mustangs took off running, as they often do. Instead of being in the lead, she was lagging behind in a limping trot. They all calmed down and I went to give them hay. She then “tied up” and was unable to walk & was in a lot of pain. The next day, she was hobbling about with very stiff muscles. She had the signs of “exertional myopathy” which can have a myriad of causes, often genetic. One aspect of management involves controlling exercise. Another is limiting carbs, but she was already on the lowest NSC hay available. At any rate, she did not pull out of it and separating her or confining her were not options as she was high strung, had separation anxiety and needed to remain with her family, her herd. We did separate her along with her best friend, Windy, for 3 days, but all the horses were very unhappy with that and even broke a corral panel trying to reunite. She was still miserable, in pain and hobbling. Her eyes were no longer bright, her spirit was broken. The only humane thing was to let her go peacefully. She is buried here. It is a tremendous loss, but I am trying to find comfort knowing she had 13 good years. She is terribly missed and will not be forgotten.


Windy and Mariah






We are a Non-Profit 501(c)3 organization.