Claude Steelman has opened his new gallery WILD SHOTS at 734 Main Avenue in Durango CO. If you live here or are in the area be sure to stop in, meet Claude and select from among large canvas wall photography to note cards and books. Claude and I had quite a number of adventures together after he adopted his first mustang colt he named Pancho.
We ran into each other in the Durango PO where he opened a notebook and showed me a picture of the buckskin colt, who had open wounds probably from being trucked out of Carson National Forest with other frightened wild horses.
He told me he liked my last film “Heart & Soil” and he thought Pancho’s story might interest me. Meeting Pancho at the holding facilities in Farmington was just the beginning of my adventures investigating, interviewing and following leads and stories about America’s wild horses. I enjoyed making the little videos about mustang adoption stories that you can see posted on this site but as I learned more about the true crises for the horses I felt that covering adoption stories alone did not serve the greater cause at hand. In a perfect world all the wild horses could remain on the land but I know that the ever dwindling resources cannot over the long run sustain an increasing fertile population. Adoptions are one of the ways people can help the mustangs and I admire those who sign up to take on the task, Claude included.
Claude spent a lot of time gentling Pancho for riding. Pancho was very sweet and liked people early on but riding him was a different matter. Everyone who works with a mustang must learn to connect, to be patient and consistent and both the trainer and the horse needs to acquire trust for one another. Horses are social creatures, in fact I’ve heard stories that a horse left alone for too long, often gets sick and dies. Claude worked at finding a companion for Pancho. We went to check out some mustangs that were trained by the inmates at the prison in Canyon City and Claude spent time searching on -line and looking around at stock shows and fairs. In the end he decided on a mature grey horse, rescued via Colorado Horse Rescue, from a near death situation at Three Strikes Ranch.
I have some great video of the introduction of both Pancho and Cisco entering Claude’s life and their not always cozy warming up to one another. I hope to have time to make that video one of these days and see how these two – horses of a different color, have become brothers. Besides tummies filled with plenty, they hang out – enjoying life and likely keeping an eye out for sunrises and sunsets when they’ll get a visit from their life-line buddy, Claude. Visit his gallery or website: www.wildshots.com