4-legged babies’ at home on the range near Yokena

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 8, 2000

Carol Pownall gives her mustang Cheyenne a kiss as Smokey and Starbuck look on. Pownall treats her wild mustangs like her children, with plenty of love and care. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

Visions of horses running free on open plains, with their tails and manes blowing in the breeze had long occupied Carol Pownall’s thoughts.

So a couple of years ago, she did something about it. Inspired by her daughter, Pownall adopted three wild horses.

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“Owning a wild horse has always been something I wanted to do,” she said. “I love wild things and there is just something about wild animals that appeals to me.”

First there is Starbuck, who is still a little shy around people, and then there are Cheyenne and Rio.

“It takes a lot of time and patience to work with them,” Pownall said. “Most of all it takes a lot of love.”

Little did Pownall know that when she adopted her three mares she was getting a little more than she bargained for. Namely, Geronimo and Gerico.

“I only had Cheyenne for four weeks when she had Geronimo,” Pownall said. “We had Rio for about a year, and we came out to feed them one day and there was Gerico.”

Pownall, who lives about two miles from Yokena, plans to increase her brood by one Saturday when the Bureau of Land Management kicks off another adoption of wild horses and burros at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.

“This is not for just anybody to do, but they are good horses,” Pownall said. “They are not crazy like some people think.”

The adoption is open to anyone 18 or older with adequate facilities to care for a horse.

Pownall’s daughter, Dawn Irons, who adopted a mustang, Smokey, years ago, said she thinks the wild variety has more to offer than most horses.

“They are out in the wild and they have been through more than other horses because they have to learn to fend for themselves,” she said. “They are survivors.”

Pownall said she feels her “babies” are misunderstood by a lot of people. “They have stability, stamina and strength that really makes them special,” she said.

All of Pownall’s horses are from Nevada, but the one she plans to bring home Saturday hails from Utah.

Pownall said droughts and wildfires throughout the western United States have left thousands of wild horses and burros with little grazing space.

“If someone doesn’t adopt them, they will die,” she said.

More than 175,000 animals have been placed in private homes since the Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program began in 1973.

Pownall said her dream is to one day have as many of her wild ones as she wants.

“My husband and I talk about getting enough land to have hundreds of them,” she said. “That way none of them have to go without a home.”