Saturday, January 3, 2009
Compiled by Beverley J. Davis
It might seem like the accomplishments of Hidalgo and his kind are now a part of the past, something we only find in books and movies. But modern Mustangs and Mustangers are carrying on the old traditions and proving their mettle in this age of mechanized transportation and supersonic speeds. And in this world of flash and glamour, where the motto is bigger is better, the small Indian ponies of old, who carried the US mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, who followed the war trails with Quanah Parker and Chief Joseph, and taught the US cavalry that size had nothing to do with stamina and heart, are still hitting the trails and going the distance.
Finding a starting place for this journey is not an easy one, but since we must start somewhere, I’ll jump in with the tale Mal de Ojo and Indio Blanco. In the early 1970s, two young adventurers named Nathan and Elly Foote started out of Argentina with the intention of riding across North and South America on their Argentine Criollos, a breed closely related to the Spanish mustang. Unfortunately at the Texas border two of their horses died in quarantine due to a faulty drug administered by the USDA. It might have been the end of the journey, but Gilbert Jones, a Spanish mustang breeder from Oklahoma stepped up and offer them two of his horses, Mal de Ojo and Indio Blanco. Right away the mustangs proved themselves to be as tough and loyal as the horses that they had lost, carrying their new owners from the Rio Grande all the way to Alaska. Elly Foote said that these tough adventurers spent their last years in the green pastures of Burns Lake, British Columbia, Canada. No doubt a well-earned reward.
In the world of competitive trail riding, there are two prominent organizations, The AERC, American Endurance Ride Conference, and the NATRC, North American Trail Ride Conference, both of which has regional rides and accumulates points accordingly.