Mustang sanctuary is ‘Steadfast’ about helping horses
Paintbrush, a 4-year-old mustang recently removed from the Douglas Creek herd in Rio Blanco County, was nervous with a handful of strangers hanging about. So he moved closer to the person he’s coming to trust — Tracy Scott.
Not a bad move on his part, because Scott will definitely reward that trust, not just for Paintbrush but for other mustangs. Scott has a lifelong love of horses, especially wild horses. And she and her husband, Blaine, are developing a mustang sanctuary called Steadfast Steeds on land they own on Glade Park.
The facility, just west of the Glade Park Store on 16 1/2 Road, will have a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5. There will be demonstrations with some of the half-dozen mustangs that now live at Steadfast Steeds, talks about mustangs and their needs, information on Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching, as well as music.
Tracy Scott felt the connection to mustangs as a young girl in Kansas City, reading books such as Margarite Henry’s classic stories of wild horses. She grew up riding domestic horses, but remained interested in their wild cousins.
Blaine Scott, by his own admission, doesn’t have “the horse gene.” He followed a different calling. He is the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Grand Junction. He is also a photographer who has become expert at capturing wild horses with his camera. And he has embraced Tracy’s idea for the mustang sanctuary.
The Scotts’ vision for the facility is multi-faceted. But Steadfast Steeds is not a rescue center for domestic horses, or even for neglected mustangs.
It is, as the brochure says, “A Mustang sanctuary devoted to showcasing America’s wild horse as a ‘living national treasure’ in a publicly accessible environment.”
“My he art is with the 46,000 wild horses in BLM holding facilities,” said Tracy Scott. “That’s not a life for horses, even the long-term holding in the Midwest. So what do we do with them?”
While Madeline Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, has proposed a massive mustang sanctuary in Nevada, the Scotts believe one part of the solution may be small, private sanctuaries that can care for 10 to 20 horses.
So part of the Steadfast Steeds mission is to provide homes for some of those mustangs — now in holding facilities — in a more traditional herd setting. The 42 acres they own on Glade Park isn’t large enough to handle many more horses than they already have. But they hope, in time, to acquire additional land to provide long-term care for more horses.
In addition, they want to help people adopt mustangs in such a manner that, as Blaine put it, “there is not a high recidivism rate.”
Too many people have adopted mustangs without having a clear understanding of the differences between wild and domestic horses. Mustangs, for instance, often founder easily on rich green pasture because they are used to desert forage. And, while they are intelligent and usually make great riding horses, their herd instincts and fear of predators can create training or handling difficulties.
So another part of the Steadfast Steeds mission is education about mustangs, both for people interested in adopting them and for the public at large.
The Scotts also hope to persuade people to help them support mustangs by donating to Steadfast Steeds, a nonprofit charity, by sponsoring a mustang or a family band.
But Tracy and Blaine Scott recognized early on that donations alone would probably not suffice to provide the revenue they need to run the sanctuary. So Tracy took the training to become a certified equine facilitated learning and coaching trainer through a Longmont organization known as “Coaching with Horses,” run by a woman named Kathy Pike. That provides an income stream for the facility.
Equine facilitated learning is a way for people to explore their own anxieties or confidence issues by working with horses.
“When you go in a round pen with a mustang, the horse lets you know whether you’re acting like a predator,” Tracy said. “We humans have become very left-brained, very logical and predatory. Working with the horses uses your right brain. It brings you into the present and puts you in tune with your body,” she added.
The Scotts’ joint involvement with horses was a gradual progression, beginning even before they were married in 1995. As they raised their daughter and Blaine served congregations in Colorado Springs and then in Cheyenne, Wyo., Tracy began riding again, usually on friends’ horses. She joined a female equine drill team in Cheyenne called the Foxy Trotters and performed in parades and other exhibitions.
When the family moved to Grand Junction in 2005, they brought with them Tracy’s appaloosa-mustang and Dutch warmblood cross with the Lakota name, Maza Ska.
Tracy Scott became involved with the Friends of the Mustangs group here and soon learned of one horse in need of adoption. After much discussion, she and Blaine agreed to adopt Izzie, a young mustang mare from the Little Bookcliffs. But Izzie came with a surprise, and soon their horse herd had grown to three with the addition of Izzie’s foal, Cassanova.
That prompted a discussion of finding a new, larger property and the discovery of the place on Glade Park, Blaine Scott said.
“I thought, ‘Wow, we could live here in this beautiful setting and do something to help mustangs,’ ” he recalled. “Tracy supported me for 18 years in my ministry,” he added. And because, as Tracy says, “I have a calling, too,” Blaine wanted to support and be involved in her efforts.
“I genuinely believe God has a will for this,” he said. “So we bought the property” in late 2010.
Now, Steadfast Steeds has a home, a mission and a couple dedicated to finding ways to assist mustangs.
For information, go to http://www.steadfaststeeds.org.