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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Point Arena Pintos - a new photo of Chie and a guest blog by Jacqueline McAbery

Several of you expressed interest in learning more about the herd of wild horses just south of Point Arena. A filly, Chie, was recently born there. Here's a photo of the newest addition to the herd.

To see Chie with her mom, Polka Dot, click on this link:

And here is Jacqueline's guest blog:


I first saw the pintos proudly roaming my neighbor’s hills above Highway One near the ocean in Mendocino County, California.  Many times I looked out my window and could see them in the distance, their silhouettes outlined against the sky.  I admired them from afar.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that they would become a very important part of my life.

One night in December of 2007, I started a remarkable and unexpected journey. I woke up and heard what I thought was a baby crying … I reminded myself that we live in a remote area where there are no people nearby.  The sound occurred again and this time it was an unmistakable neigh.  I went outside with a flashlight and discovered by the garage six horses lined up eating grass. I am not sure who was more surprised them or me.

I stayed up the rest of the night watching them.  At dawn I went out again and took a closer look.  I began photographing the first of many images of these delightful creatures.  After that evening, the lead stallion periodically came over for a visit, occasionally followed by the rest of the herd.

I eventually learned the horses lived on the 200 acres next door where the fence was down, allowing them to roam the neighborhood and sometimes get into trouble. They had basically been neglected, and were wild, with little human contact. For twenty to thirty years according to local lore, they survived on wild grass and several natural springs for water.  I started feeding them carrots and hoped they wouldn’t continue to roam on the highway.

After a period of time, I adopted or rescued the herd.  My relationship with them deepened.  About that time the property next door sold and the new owner fenced in his land. We put a gate between the two properties, which when we opened it allowed them to roam freely.

Much has happened and many transitions have taken place since I first met the pintos on that fateful night.  Since I wasn’t sure if anyone had given them names, I had fun choosing names for them. Originally the herd consisted of Thunder, the lead black and white stallion; another stallion, Buster; Lady, the old mare; brood mares—Mama and Polka Dot; and two colts, Sweetie and Little One. Soon after I met the herd, Buster found a new home with Eve Larson.

Since then, five foals have been born—a colt Suki, and four fillies: Moonbeam (aka Missy), Splash, Little Lady (aka Lilly) and Chie.  Sadly, Lady, the old mare passed away last March — some locals believe she was over forty.

Moonbeam is all golden brown – she is still a pinto since her parents are pintos but she’s referred to as a “breeding stock pinto.” This term means a solid colored horse who can give birth to any combination of pinto or paint.

Since we adopted the horses, in the past year and a half, I have fenced our property, built a corral (a gift from friends), a holding pen, and had three stallions gelded : Sweetie, Suki and Little One.  My original intention was to always let them run free and just supplement their food.  But since then four horses were kicked out of the herd by the lead stallion for different reasons.  (Little One, Suki, Moonbeam and Sweetie.)  When Moonbeam was kicked out she broke through the fence, cut her leg, and ended up at a very nice neighbor’s. With the help of friends we got her back home.  After that incident it became apparent we should start to halter-break some of the horses so that if they escaped in the future or were hurt, a vet could take care of them. So far Suki and Sweetie have been halter broken and enjoy getting lots of hugs and occasionally being groomed.

The parents and/or grandparents of the stallion, Thunder, and the brood mares, were registered paints.  Unfortunately, it is not possible at this time to get their papers so these horses are not registered. (Pintos cannot be called Paints unless they are registered).  They all come from solid stock; their line goes back to the quarter horse and they have been in this country for many generations. Three of the horses have one blue eye and one brown eye, which is genetically common among pintos.

Over the past several years we’ve had many adventures with these gorgeous animals.  Since we knew very little about horses when we rescued them, they have stretched our learning curve about their behavior, needs, and care.  Most importantly they have touched our hearts in the most profound ways.  I simply adore them.

You can read more of their story and escapades at The Point Arena Pintos blog

Thank you, Jacqueline, for sharing your story with us here!

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