Horse flourishes in new homeMEDORA, N.D. (AP) — Bashful, a 3-year-old horse born in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, walks calmly into the buffalo pens, where he was rounded up a year ago. His owner, Dan Sparling, guides him with ease from the horse’s back.
By: An AP Member Exchange By Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press, The Jamestown Sun
MEDORA, N.D. (AP) — Bashful, a 3-year-old horse born in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, walks calmly into the buffalo pens, where he was rounded up a year ago. His owner, Dan Sparling, guides him with ease from the horse’s back.
Sparling, who resides near Bismarck, pats the horse affectionately as he tells Bashful’s story. Bashful seems bored at the story he’s heard many times, but listens patiently anyway.
To control population and administer a research contraceptive, wild horses in TRNP near Medora, including Bashful, were rounded up and sold at auction Oct. 23, 2009.
It may be hard to believe the now docile Bashful jumped from the sales arena in a panicked attempt to escape.
He knocked William Friedt, a 79-year-old Dickinson man, to the ground, injuring him. Bashful’s leg got caught in wires of the 6-foot fence he jumped and he, too was injured before the situation was brought under control, Sparling said.
Bashful and Sparling were back at TRNP to celebrate their bond and how far Bashful has come.
“We wanted to bring the horse back into the park and kind of complete the cycle ...,” Sparling said. “I knew it was possible, very much so. Jumping out, he was just scared.”
Sparling and his son, Michael, purchased Bashful for $35, likely saving him from being sent to a slaughterhouse, Sparling said.
“We had several months of just taming the horse, just trying to get close enough to the horse so he wouldn’t run away from us,” Sparling said. “I did all the taming without ever putting a rope on the horse, so I was able to touch him all over his body before I put a rope on the horse.”
The Sparlings use Parelli Natural Horsemanship methods of taming the horse, he said.
Sparling has been riding Bashful since June, he added.
“Now he’s a pretty typical horse,” Sparling said.
However, he likes Bashful better than domesticated horses because of the instinct still present within him.
Marylu Weber, who named Bashful while observing him before being captured, said she is not surprised at his progress.
“They gentle real easy,” she said, adding she has three wild TRNP horses of her own.
Bashful was given his name since he is shy, she said.
“He always stayed behind his buddy and he would just peak out behind his buddy — that says a lot about his temperament,” Weber said. “That’s why he had problems in that sale barn because he didn’t tolerate the pressure he was feeling, so he just tried to escape. There wasn’t anything aggressive at all about it. It was just fear.”
Bashful’s reaction is miles away from his now sweet personality, she added.
“You wouldn’t even know it was the same horse that jumped out of the sales arena,” Sparling said.
Friedt, who hasn’t fully recovered from injuries the horse has caused, said he is glad Sparling took the time to tame Bashful.
“I can’t blame the horse,” Friedt said, adding he grew up with horses.
Sparling is working on building Bashful’s performance skills.
“With man-made things he’s still a little shy, but he gets over that quickly,” Sparling said. “He’s a very willing partner, very calm. He’s an awesome horse. I’ll be able to do almost anything with him.”
Sparling’s goal is to be able to ride Bashful without anything on his head by using his body and legs to direct him.
Ashley Martin is a reporter for The Dickinson Press, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.