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Mighty Mouse: the stallion who came in from the wild

July 10, 2010

The story of a six-year-old stallion's path from life in the wild to being ready for adoption is recounted by Victorian Brumby Association president Colleen O'Brien.

VBA Mighty Mouse with Kristin.
VBA Mighty Mouse was caught from the wild as a six-year-old stallion with his two young mares, VBA Matilda, 2, and VBA Holly, 3.

A strong young stallion with his own family who were all in great condition, Mighty Mouse was living the life that any horse would, given the chance.

The night Mighty Mouse and his mares walked into a trap yard, all of that changed forever. They had become a statistic, the extras that had to go.

Capture is an incredibly high-stress experience, even when done in the most humane manner possible.

Added to this, the week that Mighty Mouse was caught, a less experienced ranger was on duty and crucial errors were made.

The night after this family group was caught, a group of bachelor stallions was also caught. The ranger made the very bad decision to put them all in together in a holding yard.

Mighty Mouse, the protector of his herd, was already incredibly stressed, trying to deal with his changed circumstances and his inability to save his family.

Now he had to fight just to keep them.

By the time that the error had been realised and the horses separated, Mighty Mouse was covered in bites and injuries and both his heavily pregnant mares, Holly and Matilda, had been injured badly.

VBA Mighty Mouse in the yards after his capture.
Holly had one of her ears almost torn off and was bleeding heavily around her face. Matilda had sustained an ear injury as well as a kick to a back leg that had severely damaged her tendons.

In the wild, Mighty Mouse would have been able to keep his mares a safe distance away from other stallions and, if a fight had occurred, Holly and Matilda would have stood at a safe distance from the fighting.

Two days later, when we arrived to pick up the group of Brumbies, we were confronted with a terrible sight.

Matilda's leg had become badly infected and she couldn't bear any weight on it. We were faced with transporting this youngster seven hours to try to save her or euthanizing her.

We made the call that we would take her home, give her the best of everything and, if there was some improvement within 48 hours, we would continue battling to save her.

Keep in mind that this was not going to be like treating an injury in a domestic horse.

Matilda thrived when she got to Brumbies Run. Her injury is healing well, although six months of paddock rest is required to see if she will ever be riding sound.

Holly's ear has healed up well, although she will always have one floppy ear due to the injuries she received.

Mighty Mouse began his basic education and was gelded. Mouse, as we called him, was calm, sweet and interested in people - a real joy to handle.

Just before he was gelded, though, we began to notice a change in his attitude. No longer waiting at the front of his yard for us, Mighty Mouse seemed depressed, standing at the back of his yard with his head down.

He ate all his feed and drank enough, but all was not well.

After he was gelded, we turned Mighty Mouse out in the paddock with a gentle domestic gelding and several other recently gelded stallions. They were a gentle sociable mob and all were happy - except Mouse.

Mouse spent his days standing at the gate next to the yards that he had been trained in, head down.

We had to bucket water to him as he wouldn't walk 50 metres to the dam. He wouldn't even leave the gate to eat from the roll of hay, 15 metres away.

The vet had examined Mouse before she gelded him and there seemed to be nothing wrong physically. He was just the saddest little stallion in the world.

It was depressing just looking at him - you could feel his sadness.

Matilda, a stunning two-year-old true black filly, who is in foal to Mighty Mouse.
One day, we had let one of his mares, Matilda, out in the house yard to graze and she went and stood next to Mouse.

Although he didn't seem to care about anything, I opened the gate and invited our little wild stallion into the house yard. He timidly came through and then stood there, shut down again.

I observed him for the rest of the afternoon and he started to follow Matilda, who by this stage was quite domesticated.

That night, we walked behind him to put him away in Matilda's paddock with her and her companion. He hasn't looked back.

Still quiet and calm, Mouse is once again a happy stallion, surveying his new world through hopeful eyes.

To help Mighty Mouse acclimatise to his new domestic life, we are looking for a special home which would be able to rehome him with one of his mares, Holly.

Mighty Mouse is a six-year-old bay gelding, about 14 hands. Holly is a three-year-old brown mare who is currently about 14.1 hands and will grow more after she has foaled.

Holly has one permanently floppy ear as a result of the injuries she sustained. She has no pain and is totally comfortable with her damaged ear being handled, scratched and so on.

Please bear in mind that this is a three-in-one type of package. All three Brumbies will be super all-purpose riding horses.



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