Thursday, December 23, 2010

Alder Hill Farm's Flip Mustang A Day Challenge #16

"Flip's Dream"
3.5 by 6 inch Acrylic on Gessoed Matte Board
by LindaLMartin
I've been thinking of doing a special painting the day before Christmas Holiday. A photo send to me by Scott Litherland the horseman repurposer at Alder Hill Farm gave me an idea. Flip is a very special horse.  Released into the care of Scott and now a part of Alder Hill's growing accompaniment of  rescued mustangs, Flip is quickly becoming the poster boy for  wild horses that are adopted from the BLM and then released into the general domestic population. For this horse, he was untitled when realeased to Scott, with a BLM brand and because he was an older stallion, he requires special handling to make him safe to handle and useful.

Flip's actions suggest that he was an active band stallion that when captured, he probably lost his harem. He is continuously calling to mares and  pacing the fence line. He is a hard keeper, a horse that for some reason wears himself down from worrying himself for want of a family. Now safely at Alder Hill Farm, before his training will continue  he will be gelded and fed a special diet that will hopefully build up his condition and help him to adjust to being in captivity.

There is much more to Flip's story that isn't known. He was named Flip because of a damage ear that seems to have been bent and broken over. This might have been done  while he was in the wild  and fighting other stallions or it might have been done with rough handling and force by his captors, early in his captivity. The origin of the injury will probably never be known, simply because the origin of his captivity is not, at this point, known. He is branded with a BLM brand, which dates him at about 15 years of age. According to Scott, once he is able to be handled, Flip's neck will be shaved over the brand area to better read the symbols and perhaps find out where he is from and a little of his early history.

When a Mustang is selected by prospective owners there is a year long process that is suppose to be followed, including a final inspection to determine that the animal is safe, healthy, in good care and is not a danger to himself or others. Once the inspection is complete  the title is given to the new owner. Once the Mustang is given a clear title, the new owner can sell or give away the horse at any point. Unfortunately upon preliminary research, Flip was found to be untitled.  So many questions remain. Who Howned him and how did he end up at a horse sale auction? Yes, that is where he was found and purchased for $100 by an experienced horse woman in Oklahoma. According to Scott she phoned him to take Flip because she didn't have time to dedicate to his handling properly. She literally saved him from being purchased for slaughter.

"Update: Flip passed away in the Summer of 2012. His estimated age was between 17 and 20. In the remaining months of his life he was turned out with the herd where he formed a band of three mares. One of the mares had a young foal that he adopted as his own. Even after his ordeal Flip never forgot his wild heritage and took the young foal under his wing to teach him the ways of the horse."

If you would like to commission a painting for the Mustang A Day Challenge please  contact me at
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  1. What an interesting story about Flip. I think anyone who has an adopted or rescue pet wonders what their life was like before. With our little Feisty, I wonder if his old family just let him fly free, or if they were heartbroken when he flew away. If only they could tell us!

  2. Purple Pony, I know you are right. As I was painting these rescue paintings this past week I was thinking about just that. There is a difference with horses, especially wild horses. One is suppose to beable to trace a wild Mustang horse back to its original gather area on the range by the freeze brand on its neck and even know who the original adopter was. But in the case of Flip there seems to be a broken link in the chain of information.