With the worldwide COVID-19 quarantine measures, we hope you are all safe, healthy, and able to stay home during this time. This kind of event gives us all opportunity to refocus on what is most important to us and be hopeful of brighter days that will surely come.
At GEMS, we have been closed to the public for almost a month now… not only to do our part to prevent the transmission of the illness, but also to protect our team members who are essential to caring for the horses and the ranch.
Though our gates have been closed, tours have been cancelled, and fundraisers and events have been postponed, the horses in our care still depend on us for their feed, vet care, farrier care, and training. We have stayed plenty busy during this time ensuring our promise to provide exceptional care to our Mustangs remains unbroken!
In this newsletter we’ll share some exciting news, what we’ve been up to, and social-distancing-approved fundraisers!
We understand that this may be a financially difficult time for your family as well, but if you are able, please consider donating to GEMS and join us in giving wild horses an opportunity and a voice.
The GEMS team
Cremello & Black
In September 2019, nearly half of the iconic Mustangs of the Onaqui Mountain HMA lost their freedom. These horses had strong family bonds, friendships, and natural herd dynamics. Since being gathered, they were displaced, split from their families, and placed into holding facilities.
On January 31, we had a chance to help them. Whether by giving these horses sanctuary where they can live free once again, or giving them loving adoptive homes where they can be cared for and appreciated for the rest of their lives, we had an opportunity to secure the futures of these horses.
We took that chance and showed up for the horses.
We made the commitment to save two bonded stallions – Cremello and Black.
Cremello was a stallion beloved by photographers and local advocates, and the bond between him and his lieutenant stallion, Black Buddy, is a treasured connection. Both boys were older, immediately deeming them Sale Authority and at risk of being purchased for $25 without protection.
Several local advocates reached out and requested that we not only take Cremello, but to please purchase Black as well because they must remain together.
So at the end of January, we traveled to Delta, UT for the public adoption event of the Onaqui horses.
We went with the promise to purchase Cremello and Black to ensure they could return to the freedom and kinship they once knew… or at least the next best thing.
When we arrived, we found a bond between these two horses that surprised us all! Folks had been telling us that they were inseparable throughout the gather process and in the pens, but what we saw in person brought me to tears. In the pen with them were several other former stallions who were constantly stirred up and picking fights with one another. But Cremello and Black stayed tied to each other in the corner away from the other horses. A couple times when they couldn’t avoid getting mixed up in the rumble, they would immediately return to each other like magnets.
Once we witnessed these boys in person, we knew that our decision to bring them home and give them Sanctuary was absolutely essential. These boys were meant to be free… and together. We would give them that.
The next day, we bid on each of the boys and were unopposed. Not a single other person bid on them. Whether that was because people respected our goals to keep them together, or because no one wanted to adopt two former band stallions in their teens… we were grateful. Every dollar that we saved from their adoption fee we could put towards their long term care.
We were so excited that after much time preparing for this moment that we could finally rest easy knowing the boys were safe and coming home with us! …. until we were told about one little issue… Black was still a stallion and needed to stay to be gelded! After debating whether we should bring Cremello home first, and come back for Black, we decided that both boys would be happier if we kept them together throughout this process. So thankfully, the BLM graciously allowed us to keep Cremello there with Black until after the procedure and recovery was over and we could pick them both up.
About a week before the Coronavirus outbreak, we received the call that Black had been gelded, recovered well, and the boys were ready to be picked up – finally! However before we could get the truck ready for the trip, the holding facility was shutdown due to COVID quarantine measures.
So what this means now is… the boys are healthy and together but remain at the Delta, UT holding facility. We own them, have all paperwork completed, and brand inspection transferred. We just have to wait until the human quarantine is over so we can finally pick up the boys and bring them home.
We are eagerly awaiting that call and will leave immediately to get them before anything else happens to postpone their freedom!
These two horses found a special connection years ago in the wild… a brotherly kinship that endured the trauma of being removed from their home, separated from their family, and held in holding facilities. They deserve their freedom. And thanks to the generous support of everyone who donated and helped make this happen, their freedom will be returned.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the adoption, transport, and care of these boys. It is because of you that we are able to give them lifelong safety and freedom!
So what did we do with our empty trailer at the Onaqui Adoption Event??
WE FILLED IT OF COURSE!
We brought home 7 horses…
4 went to our new partner TIP Trainer – Stefanie Skidmore! (read more on this below)
2 stayed with our Head Trainer, Stephanie Linsley, to be gentled, saddle trained, then offered for adoption.
1 has a special story to share and will remain with GEMS as a trained Ambassador!
Our Training Barn …
Your sponsorship can help fund the expenses for
the care and training of these horses.We promise to give each horse the physical, mental, and emotional rehabilitation they need while in our training program. Each horse is trained with compassionate methods based in building horses’ confidence and trust in their human partner.
You can make a one-time donation, or sponsor one of these wonderful horses monthly, for the duration of their training.
I’m super excited to announce our new GEMS Partner TIP Trainer – Stefanie Skidmore.Beginning this year, at GEMS we are shifting the focus of our Training & Adoption Program in an effort to offer Mustangs at a higher level of training. Each of the horses we bring into our training program will receive more training time and will be offered for adoption once they have been developed under saddle. In the past, we have offered horses for adoption as soon as they were at least TIP trained, and they would be adopted quickly so we didn’t have the opportunity to start many under saddle. Unfortunately, we see a greater rate of struggle and even return with TIP trained horses than saddle trained horses because adopters may not be realistic with their expectations of a newly gentled horse. Therefore, to keep with our mission in increasing the rate of SUCCESSFUL adoptions, we are focusing our efforts on producing quality saddle trained Mustangs that have a greater chance at being successful in their new homes.
We do understand the demand for TIP trained Mustangs still, and in order to maintain a steady number of Mustangs available for adoption at all levels, we are partnering with another TIP Trainer – Stefanie Skidmore. We chose to partner with Stefanie because her training philosophies and methods are well-aligned with the philosophies we employ at GEMS. Stefanie uses a beautiful, compassionate approach to horsemanship which allows each horse to blossom at their own speed. We’ve worked closely with Stefanie over the past couple of years as she has picked up Mustangs through our Storefront and we have always been impressed by the amount of time, effort, and care she puts into developing each horse and matching them up with an appropriate adopter. She has always proven to be a strong advocate for the Mustangs and we are proud to partner with her moving forward.
What will this partnership look like? We will be listing the TIP Trained Mustangs that are available for adoption with Stefanie on our website and social media. Folks will set up meetings/visits and all communications regarding adopting her horses with Stefanie directly, we are simply listing her available horses because we are confident that the Mustangs started by Stefanie are off to a great start and would be an excellent choice for adopters looking for TIP Trained Mustangs.
At times, we may take Mustangs from Stefanie’s TIP Training program and bring them into our saddle training program. This will allow space for Stefanie to bring in more horses needing gentled and will provide more training for horses who are struggling to find homes. We also welcome any of Stefanie’s adopters to bring their TIP trained horses to GEMS for saddle training!
Overall, we are excited to expand our reach and provide adopters with more resources for happy, well-started Mustangs.
Let me introduce you to our newest Ambassador in training… Maia
This special mare was another that local advocates alerted us to at the Onaqui Mountain Adoption Event … and we are so glad they did!
At 13 years old, this gal has lived through a lot! But since September, she was rounded up, separated from her family, lost her eye from an injury in the pens, then was branded with the big U because of her age… determining her as most likely to be sent directly to long term holding if she was not adopted at that first adoption event.
We purchased her for $25 and she is here to prove everyone wrong. She is bold, curious, and wants so badly to connect with people. She is also beautiful, tall, and strong!
We have given her the name – Maia. In Roman Mythology, Maia was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring and rebirth. We thought this name honored her strength and perseverance as a mother of many foals over the years, a senior member of her herd, and one who will be reborn from adversity.
Maia will be a permanent ambassador here at GEMS to help show people how incredible the “Unwanted” Mustangs can be. So many are overlooked because of their age, or because they are mares, or because of some kind of “disability”. We will honor Maia in her uniqueness and allow her authentic self to shine.
Maia is coming along so well in her training in such a short period of time. In the last week, she has turned the corner and developed a beautiful trust in Stephanie. While a week ago she was still nervous to be approached, today she is running to Stephanie at liberty and leading all over the property!
This kind of transformation from a fearful, forgotten Mustang into a willing and confident partner is exactly why we do what we do!
If you are inspired by the stories we’ve shared in this newsletter, please consider making a donation to the horses’ care and training.
Want to make a bigger impact?
Set your donation to “recurring” to automatically donate each month.
We pay nothing to executive salaries, so you can be sure that every dollar goes directly to the care of Mustangs like Cremello, Black, and Maia.
42132 Ridge Road
Deer Trail, CO 80105
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