It’s Been A Year!

by Ann Ruttan

Hello friends.  This is a long overdue update on my progress as an artist, a rider, a person and most important, the owner of Reuben Morgan Wilder, the infamous black stallion of the Ochocos.  I will assume that readers of this update will know the story of how Reuben came into my life and so will proceed on from last year, November 8th, 2012 when he came into my life in an official way.

Thanks to Kate Beardsley and Laurie Adams and my wonderful husband, Marv Hautala, I adopted Reuben on November 8th, one week before my 66th birthday.  These three encouraged me, and I have been on an amazing adventure because of all of them.

In June 2012 Reuben was racing around the Ochocos being the “bad boy.”  Laurie Adams, Kate Beardsley, Marv and I, and several others were gathered in the Ochocos to count wild horses.  Slater Turner (head of the forest service) had requested that Kate capture the black stallion as he was such a danger to humans.  Several people had said they would shoot him if he attacked them again.

As we discussed the future possibilities for him, Laurie Adams said to me, “He is for you.”   I, having never owned a horse, had not considered that possibility as I knew I did not have the necessary skills.  As you all know, Reuben was captured by Kate and Laurie.  He was committed to Kate’s care while the speculation about his lineage was resolved.   In early November, DNA test results proved that he was indeed an Ochoco mustang.  Mr. Slater Turner sent a forest service crew (wonderful people) to deliver him to the BLM for processing.   Marv and Laurie and I followed Kate and the crew as they drove him to Burns for processing.  I sat in our car thinking – what have I done?  He was processed with quiet, competent kindness by the crew at the BLM corrals. I signed the adoption papers that day.

Reuben returned that day to Kate’s care and keeping.  Kate is a TIP trainer and certified by BLM to bring horses through the process of learning their first skills (being halter broken, learning to load in a trailer and learning how to pick up their feet).  Marv and I began our bi-monthly treks to Bend and then to Terrebonne.

And so began 2013.  Kate Beardsley moved to Skyhawk Ranch in December and began the long and arduous process of starting the non-profit “Mustangs to the Rescue.”   Reuben was gelded in February by the ever kind Dr. Paul from Cinder Rock Veterinary Clinic.   I was fortunate to have Laurie Adams devote hours of her time to me and Reuben and somehow we transformed a wild stallion who I couldn’t halter, to a sweet gelding who would quietly follow me around.  Kate spent a lot of time coaching me and helping Reuben gain his first necessary skills – not only the BLM TIP requirements, but also high-lining, ponying, and learning to traverse the obstacle course at Skyhawk Ranch.

In March, I called Richard Cockle, the Oregonian reporter who had written articles about wild and abandoned horses to tell him a “success” story.  He wrote an article about Reuben that became the front page story in the Oregonian.  Amazing!

Marv and I rented a home at Crooked River so I could spend time every day with Reuben. My long lost friend, Kay Limbaugh, came back into my life and recruited volunteers and donations for Mustangs to the Rescue.  I met many wonderful people and became an expert poop scooper (lots of horses-lots of poop).  The time at Skyhawk with Mustangs to the Rescue was invaluable.  Not only were there lots of horses and poop to scoop- there were lots of learning opportunities.  I watched several trainers work with horses. Their goal was to help them develop the necessary skills for their futures.  Anna, Teresa, Joy, Tracy, Bethany, Terri, and Sandy, all shared their knowledge and ideas with me. Randy Bickle trimmed Reuben’s feet and taught me where to stand while holding Reuben’s lead rope.   I was a pilgrim in a strange land, but boy, it was wonderful!

The clinician, Terry Nowaski, came to Skyhawk for a week of equine sign language and air scent training.  It was eye opening.   I went to training sessions with the T.A.M.E program that was designed to teach people how to gentle and train mustangs.  This instructive program was put on by Gayle Hunt and her group – The Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition.   I listened to vets, the BLM director, and several trainers who shared their methods and ideas.  I learned from Lisa Murphy who came to Skyhawk Ranch and spent six weeks training volunteers.  I learned from Tracy Stout who is the gracious owner of Skyhawk Ranch who gave Mustangs to the Rescue a home as an act of generosity and concern for horses in need.

Reuben, Marv and I joined Kate at the Actha ride in the Ochocos .  Reuben was the guest speaker at the endurance ride camp fire.  Many of the riders had met him before when he charged them and made a “bad boy” appearance.  He apologized for his rude behavior and presented himself as a model citizen.

As summer came to a close we returned home to rejoin our family and meet our new grandson, Wilder Ruttan (not named after the horse – Wilder is a family name). We knew that our time in Central Oregon was over, as we were needed at home.

In the most providential way, Reuben became one of the horses that the great Dave Williams is training.  Dave is a very well known horseman whose mentor was Tom Dorrance.  He, due to most unusual circumstances, was able to take Reuben into his training stable.  In addition to being a great horseman, he is a kind and generous person who allows me to work with him every day.  I have spent two months going Monday to Friday to Dave’s place in St. Helens, and am on the learning curve of my life.

The conclusion of this report is:  I have ridden Reuben twice.  Dave has taught him many skills and works with him daily.  He rode him yesterday and I joined in – riding Dave’s mare, Freckles.  Reuben went on a ¾ mile trail ride.  Dave said he had never had such a good first trail ride in all his years of training.  Reuben was brilliant, and lead the way for me and Freckles down the road, across and field, into the woods and up an embankment and back home.  He looked very confident and calm and never a startle or hiccup.  What a day.  Dave and Reuben 2013 First RideTomorrow is November 8th. It’s been a year.  I am baking horse treats tonight so we can have a party tomorrow.

I am continuing with my Reuben paintings.  Trying to capture my beloved horse’s personality is challenging.

Each person in Reuben’s story has been necessary.  Without Laurie, Kate, and Marv, the story would never have started.  Without Dave the story wouldn’t be at this milestone.  What will happen next?  I don’t know.  I do believe that Reuben is the spokeshorse (as Laura Robson said) for all of the wild horses.  They are part of our history and culture.  The debate about feral vs. wild, etc. is not the most important point as far as I am concerned.  I believe that we can learn to treat them all well. I think that the volunteer interest in Mustangs to the Rescue, the large attendance at the T.A.M.E. training, the enormous efforts by individuals to help, the national news stories about mustangs, the documentaries about wild horses, are the starting point for a dialogue that will help us make choices necessary for their benefit, which is ultimately for our benefit.

I know this is a long report, but it has been quite a year.


Hello friends!

I just wanted to pop in to let you know that Reuben and I were in the news! Richard Cockle, of The Oregonian, wrote a lovely article about our journey. You can read all about us here.

I hope to have an update soon on Reuben, paintings I’m working on, and life in general!  Stay tuned!



First Update of 2013

by Ann Ruttan

Hello Friends.  I write Blog Post #1 for 2013 and I am amazed.  Can it be 2013 already?  Can this be the official beginning of my year of the horse?

I have an update to share.   A change has occurred that will make my year of painting the wild black stallion much more feasible.  As you know from my last post, he is now my horse.  Yes, really.  He is my horse.  He was  living in Bend with Kate, his trainer and a true horse whisperer.  She has recently moved her whole operation to Skyhawk Ranch in Redmond. (It is here on the internet and you can see pictures of this beautiful facility.) It has a covered indoor arena as well as outdoor arenas and miles of trails.    My husband and I have agreed to go over to that area once a month for 5 – 7 days at a stretch so I can paint and draw Reuben. In this facility, it will be so much more comfortable.  It is an exciting opportunity for me.  I have loved working on the pieces of Reuben that I have started, but I need more time to study him and get a personal sense of how horses move, hold themselves, etc.

As some of you may know, I spent three years doing field work on Lewis and Clark in 2001 – 2003 and it was a huge artistic learning curve.  I am hoping that that kind of intense field work, followed by studio work, will be an opportunity for artistic growth.  I am so excited about doing this work.  Additionally, I will get to work with MY HORSE.  Kate will teach me how to help with the gentling process and form a bond with him.  I have seen him once a month since he was captured and I can tell you he is making great progress.  I have spent some time in his corral petting him and although he isn’t sure about people yet, he certainly tolerates it well.

I am including a picture of Duncan, the Ochoco mustang who I was riding when I met Reuben.  He is a special friend to Reuben and he stands near him often.  I was trying to get close to Reuben to take a close up photo, the wind was howling, there was ice on the ground and Duncan was sure that I had treats.  He wanted to stay close-hence the photo.  He is a lovely animal, smart, kind, strong and patient while waiting for a snack.  It was fun to spend time with these two mustangs and watch them interact.

Duncan up close and Personal

Thanks to all of you who commented on the first draft of my first Reuben painting.  I felt encouraged by the positive remarks.  I will keep blogging along and keep you posted on this huge personal adventure.  Again, thank you for your interest and support.

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My New Artistic Journey – Part 3

December 10, 2012

Hello again friends.  As I told you, I am not a wildlife painter.  Also, as I told you, this is the year of the horse.   It is quite a challenge and very exciting.  I have been working away on trying to capture Reuben.  As you know, he is a beautiful black horse.  As you probably […]

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My New Artistic Journey – Part 2

November 14, 2012

It is awesome to think that there are people out there actually keeping up with my account of Reuben Morgan Wilder. Originally, I had planned to share a sequential tale of the BLACK STALLION year one, year two, and lead to current events and the art project that is springing from this amazing set of […]

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My New Artistic Journey – Part 1

November 6, 2012

Hello!  Remember many months ago and my announcement about a blog? Well, finally – here is blog number one. I am starting a new project for my art life. This is “The Year of the Horse.” It is a long story and will come in installments. Two years ago, I met a wild black stallion […]

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June 27, 2012

Hello Friends, Welcome again to my web page,  Thanks to the wonderfully patient Suzi Beech, my web page manager, there are going to be new techno changes on my web page.  Suzi has convinced me that blogging and Facebook are the way people like to communicate now.  So — because she is coaching me […]

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