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John Murray’s Mustang, part three

Published: 12/22/2011
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Editor's Note:
A few years ago, John Murray of Sebago, Maine, adopted a young Bureau of Land Management mustang. He graciously agreed to write about his horsemanship journey for our pages. What follows is the third of several installments.

Read Part One
Read Part Two
Read Part Four

By John Murray

The Auction

The next morning we woke after a wonderful night’s sleep (insert sarcasm) and made our way to the equestrian center at the college.  It was early and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office had not opened yet but all the horses were available for viewing so I had a chance to look around. 
There were many pens, each with anywhere from two to eight horses in each pen and some with burros; about 60 animals in all.   After the BLM office opened I was able to finalize my paperwork and get approved for adoption.  I was proud to show them the photo that I had taken of my brand new horse shelter and fencing that was waiting for my mustang.

I still had some time before the auction was going to start and took another look around the pens.  I found a scrap of paper and started jotting down tag numbers of horses that I was interested in and wrote down other notes such as age, color and size. 
I realized at that moment that I had no idea what I was doing. 
I had never owned or purchased a horse before and really did not know what to look for. I was sure there must be things that experienced horse buyers look for in a horse.  But I had no idea what those things were.   I know I did not want a particularly large horse but other than that, I went with my gut feeling. 
My little scrap of paper quickly filled up with about 10 potential choices.  Round and round the pens I went trying to narrow it down.  I jotted down additional notes and started to rate them by number.  I put stars *** next to the ones of particular interest.  The more stars I had, the more desirable the horse.  There was one that rose to the top. 
He had 3 stars next to his neck tag number of 4149.

I had no idea what the bidding would be like and how high prices may go.  I had a top figure in mind and I was worried that I might be out bid and walk away with nothing. 
The auction got underway first with a meeting with all the bidders and the BLM officials.  They explained the process and the whole reason for the adoption and we were informed that the bidding would start at $125, but they were having a special that day.  Any horse over four years of age, the starting bid was $25.  With that, the auction began.
The auctioneer started in Pen Number One.  There were three horses in the pen and only one got bid on.  The other two were passed over. 
We then came to Pen Number Two and there were four horses in it.  The auctioneer started with the first horse and there were no bids.  He was frustrated and sarcastically asked all the bidders what they were there for. 
Then they came to horse number 4149, the horse with three stars.  It just so happened he was listed as a four year old and the bidding started at $25.   I waited about 15 seconds to see if anyone would get the ball rolling but there was silence from the other bidders. Only the auctioneer’s voice could be heard trying to get the bidding started.
I raised my bid number at the $25 mark…going once…going twice….sold for $25. 
I just bought a mustang for $25. 
I thought I was in a time warp.
What was this? The year 1860 and I just bought a horse for $25? 
There was a feeling of victory at first, then the feeling of joy that brings tears to my eyes even today when reliving those moments.
I don’t think I stopped smiling for the rest of the day. 
Arrangements were made through the help of Ever After Mustang Rescue.  They were there to adopt a yearling prospect for training and to find it a good home.  They offered to transport my horse as well.   They truly care about the mustangs and put good homes for them at the highest priority.

Read Part Four

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12/22/2011 Molly
Ok what happened to the ones passed over? - This sounds a little alarming...BTW the picture of the horse is marvelous, nice build. I also think getting a green horse for your first horse is a stretch, but it can go both ways. I discovered that my mustang is VASTLY more cooperative and has less baggage than my two "blueblood QH's" - soo reading this is very interesting.
12/22/2011 Sarah
I've known John for years. Great to read his story!!
12/22/2011 Ann W. Firestone
Congratulations!!! I am loving your story and can't wait for the next installment. Hope you are having a great time with your new horse.
12/23/2011 John Murray
Molly, to answer your was a little disturbing that so many were getting passed over. But after the auction was completed, people were allowed to adopt the leftovers for the base adoption price of $125. All of the animals were adopted. The BLM not longer uses the auction format. They use a first come, first serve system. My thanks to all and your wonderful comments. I am so pleased you are enjoying the story.
12/24/2011 Molly
Thanks John for the info- I really am enjoying your story - My mustang Gem was purchased by someone else at the same auction place and hearing about this is fascinating - thank you again for such a wonderful read.

"Nothing on four legs is quicker than a horse heading back to the barn" - Pamela C. Biddle/Joel E. Fishman