Horses We’d Like to Own: Reba

Reba is a 10-year-old, BLM mustang mare, standing a stout 15.3 hands tall and sporting a flashy bay roan coat. Her journey with Sara Wedel has been nothing short of magical in many ways, and the pair have made a name for themselves in the branding trap and on the ranch.

Hailing from the Warm Springs HMA in Eastern Oregon, Sara picked up Reba from the BLM wild horse corrals in Burns, Oregon, in November of 2019. Sara happened to be there to meet a Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) trainer, to pick up a horse for a client and was certainly not shopping for herself. As they made their way through the pens, a stout roan mare caught Sara’s eye. Before the day was over, Sara found herself signing the adoption paperwork and bringing Reba home, much to the surprise of her husband.

Training From the Ground Up

Reba was adopted from the wild horse corrals completely untouched. This meant that at 7 years old, the mare wasn’t even halter broke. Sara knew that it would be a feat to get her gentled, and with multiple client horses in training as well, she was stretching herself thin.

When the training commenced, Reba proved herself to be an athletic and impressive mare, as she jumped out of the 7-foot high round corral three different times. Sara has extensive experience training horses, and working with mustangs, so she knew how to meet Reba in the middle. Sara notes that the hardest part of training Reba was just getting her used to being touched and handled. Once they climbed that hill, trust was built. Then, it all clicked. The saddle went on, Reba never offered to buck or bolt, and the partnership was born.

Sara uses traditional Vaquero training methods as much as possible but adapts for every horse. Reba was started in a bosal hackamore and has since progressed to the two-rein. The goal is to build a bridle horse, and Reba is well on her way.

Photo by Andi Harmon LC Ranch Photography

A Tough Mare Through and Through

They say that when you win the trust and respect of a gritty mare, they’ll ride to the ends of the Earth for you. Reba is no exception. Sara recalls, “There’s been long hard days gathering cattle to ship to summer allotments where it’s hot and we’re covering 20 to 30 miles over rough country and she’s never quit on me once. Even when everyone else’s horses were bottomed out, Reba was still climbing hillsides getting stray cattle, like she hadn’t just gone 13 hours already.”

The roan mare isn’t in-your-pocket, and prefers you have a good reason if you’re going to touch her. She is no-nonsense, hard-working, and the one you pull from the pen to do a hard day’s work.

Photo by Andi Harmon LC Ranch Photography

A Funny Coincidence

The day that Sara was at the wild horse corrals, was the first day that Reba was up for adoption. Reba was never meant to go up for public adoption. She was originally selected to be part of a program where wild mares are captured, spayed, and returned to the range. The program was shut down, and Reba was returned to the corrals to be placed into adoptive care.

A Call That Was Too Close

One fateful day when Sara’s husband was riding Reba (after a few years of begrudging her sudden appearance on the ranch), the mare fell into a downed tree. They pair kept working, until he sensed that Reba didn’t feel right, and stepped off to find a puncture wound in her chest.

The mare had continued to work, after being punctured by a tree limb through her chest, all the way to the back of the girth area. She never showed weakness or pain. The limb missed her heart and lungs but grazed alongside her rib cage. Upon noticing this, Sara’s husband immediately took her back to the barn and called the vet.

Even after being doctored, Reba continued to worsen over the next few days. Sara couldn’t put her finger on it exactly, but knew the mare was not alright. Despite being told that Reba was just healing up, Sara loaded her up and hauled her into the emergency vet. After a preliminary exam, the vet thought Reba might just be sore from her fall. Luckily, the vet decided to check her blood labs just in case. When he came back into the room, Sara knew it wasn’t good information at all.

The Prognosis No Horse Owner Wants to Hear

Reba’s kidneys were failing. The vet said the prognosis was poor but wanted to take it a day at a time. Sara prepared herself for worst case scenario and waited for the twice-daily updates from the vet. Under close care, a watchful vet, and from her own grit and strength, Reba pulled through. Two weeks later, Sara picked her up and took her home.

This big, roan mare proves her grittiness every day, and will outwork anyone around. She isn’t an affectionate or lovey-dovey mare, but she’s earned her place in Sara’s heart forever. She then became the first horse to carry Sara’s W Spur brand.

Photo courtesy of Sara Wedel

[READ ABOUT ANOTHER FLASHY ROAN MARE]

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