Saving the Onaqui Pt – 12 Dreamcatcher’s 1st Birthday

Dreamcatcher at 1 year old

This past year has been on crazy whirlwind of unexpected twists and turns. First trying to garner support to stop the helicopter roundup and removal of over 300 of our beloved wild Onaqui horses which unfortunately still took place in July of 2021. Then switching gears to spending months on end in the BLM corrals in an effort to identify what horses were held in captivity and find adopters willing to offer safe, long-term placement. Several sanctuaries stepped up as well as enough private adopters that all 303 horses were eventually adopted.

In the last blog segment I was so excited to finally be able to announce that I was reuniting South Onaqui yearling Dreamcatcher with his band brother Teton and they’d both be coming home with me to join my Swasey mustang mare Cheyenne Grace. (you can read more of that story here) It literally seemed like ages between the close of the internet auction on December 15th and my pickup date of January 4th where Dreamcatcher and Teton were loaded into a trailer and made the lengthy drive west to be introduced to Cheyenne Grace.

Dreamcatcher at 1 year old

Cheyenne was estimated to be 2 years old at that time, Teton was a year and a half and Dreamcatcher 9 months. While I don’t know the exact date of birth for Teton, I found him as young as 10 days to 2 weeks old in 2020 and found Dreamcatcher when he was less than a week old so lucky them instead of having a birthday, they’ll celebrate a birth week every year! This week happens to be Dreamcatchers big 1 year birth week!

In the 3 months he’s been home he’s gotten spoiled rotten by Cheyenne who went from being very annoyed she was no longer the only princess in the palace getting mom’s attention to doting on the little one and keeping a close, watchful eye to make sure he’s okay. She loves to lay her chin over the top of his neck and will stand and groom him using only the gentlest of lips. Teton also takes very good care of his little band brother although he’s also of the belief the kid needs to be a little braver (I agree) so it helps tremendously with training having Teton around to guide when Dreamcatcher gets stuck.

Dreamcatcher while in the Utah BLM holding facility awaiting adoption

So far he’s been wonderful about being haltered, leading both inside and outside of his pen, he loves spending time in multiple arenas and is getting acquainted with the round pen slowly. He’s very tolerant of having new things on his back like towels, tarps and a saddle although the other two seem very intent to help him out and pull whatever I put on his back promptly off. He thinks a spray bottle is kind of interesting but also very suspicious and when the rope drags around on the ground he feels the need to kill it immediately to save us all from danger.

Dreamcatcher has gotten to meet many dogs, both very big and very small, and finds them all interesting. He’s decided that he likes chasing chickens and peacocks are kind of like dragons and not to be trusted. Cats are somewhere inbetween and he would prefer if they please just leave him alone. Slow feeders are fun, but empty grain bags are maybe the best toy ever because he can stomp them AND shake them all over the place and annoy his sister. He’s learned that when mommy sits on the top of the pen panels she’s probably up to something and he needs to keep a close watch.

Dreamcatcher (left) and his best friend Clover (right) at a week old on the Onaqui HMA

Dreamcatcher is very good about having the farrier come and make his feet pretty again and once he realized what that was all about he might have even liked it. He loves to come to the fence and greet anyone that walks by and most that meet him call him a puppy because he’s very content to stand and lean against the humans for endless amounts of time getting lots of pets and scratches.

When Dreamcatcher gets startled his back legs pump super fast like he’s riding a bicycle, but he doesn’t actually move much. I do something similar when I get scared so I can’t really blame him. Every day he’s getting better about having his own time to learn and play by himself without Teton or Cheyenne around and has figured out that he actually will survive. And it might even be fun.

Dreamcatcher 1 year old

Dreamcatcher gets to go say hi to lots of other horses on the property and so far he’s liked them all – the little mustang fillies he says are his favorite. His eyes get very wide and he holds very still so they can sniff him and squeak at him. He also likes the pretty little paint gelding his same age who begs him to play from inside his corral. He’s learned to step up onto, and walk over, a bridge. He can even back off it and turn around on it if he’s in a good mood! He is great about weaving through poles and will chase Teton as fast as possible in the big arenas bucking and kicking and standing up to play spar. That’s his favorite way to spend an afternoon. Cheyenne disagrees because she’d rather have her boys home even if they are annoying a lot of the time.

It’s a continuous work in progress to wrap my mind around the reality that these precious beings I watched grow and flourish with their wild horse families are now in a pen following me around like ducklings. Every last time if I had a choice I’d rather they be back wild and free in that desert with the rest of their friends that were left behind. Since that isn’t a reality unfortunately, every day the goal is to make it a great day for them. Teach them new things, give them as much love as they can tolerate and give them consistency. Teton in particular absolutely LOVES to learn and as Dreamcatcher ages and learns confidence from his role model of a brother he undoubtedly will too. Right now eating, playing and pets are his favorite ways to spend the day and not necessarily in that order.

It’s crazy to see how far they’ve come in such a very short time – both in what they’ve learned and how fast they’ve grown. There’s no telling what the next year will hold for this little guy, but at the very least I hope it’s another 365 good days as a little Onaqui mustang.

Dreamcatcher at 1 year old
1 week old baby Dreamcatcher running with mom Marley in the Onaqui HMA
Dreamcatcher (far right) in the Utah BLM facility awaiting adoption
Dreamcatcher at 1 year old
3.5 month old Dreamcatcher on the range

*** Many thanks to Karen Larsen Betten for taking the images of me with Dreamcatcher for his birthday week!

4 Comments on “Saving the Onaqui Pt – 12 Dreamcatcher’s 1st Birthday

  1. What a great birthday week!! Love the story! Thanks for letting me be an auntie!!


  2. I love all the emotion and details in your post. I love your attachment to these horses. I love the love and human kindness you show each mustang after everything they’ve been through, so they feel drawn to you and safe with you. I hope to come up soon and visit your ranch and the Onaqui with my friends Christi Sanderson, Liz Uribe and Lisa Manifold who I believe you know.


  3. Jen, you are an inspiration in wild horse advocacy. Thank you for loving these beautiful babies. They deserve happiness.


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