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RU The Sundance Kid
"Sunny"

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Photo by S. Ralston

  • BLM Freezebrand 09853996
  • Dark Bay Yearling Gelding
  • Mustang # 3996
  • Born Summer 2009
  • Captured from the Dishpan Buute HMA, Wyoming on July 14, 2009
  • Will be registered with the Wild Horse and Burro Association
  • Sponsors: Julie and Peter Richards
  • Students: Jenny Katz and Alli Sommerkorn

March 2011
    Sunny has gotten so handsome lately! He is shedding out quickly and is looking great. In March we moved the horses to their new home in the Red Barn on campus, and the move went very smoothly. Sunny was a little nervous because of all the commotion, but he got onto the trailer quickly and without a fuss. Getting off of the trailer at the new barn, he hopped very elegantly off the trailer and made everyone laugh. We put him in a stall with a big window so he can see everything that goes on outside and get used to different people and stimuli. For the first few days in their big new field, Sunny and the other horses just couldn’t stop galloping and playing and rolling around, after a long winter I think they were glad to stretch out their legs.  Sunny has partnered up with Santana as his playmate, and they groom each other and play all the time.

Sunny has also started working with his two Ag Field Day students, getting ready for the big show and learning all the commands he will need to succeed in it. He’s making quick progress and is a willing learner.

Alli and I have continued to work with Jose in the round pen on perfecting Sunny’s skills. He is good at free lunging and ground driving. We’ve also continued introducing him to new objects.  He is very timid around the umbrella but he is slowly learning not to be afraid of it. He also met the spray bottle recently, and to our surprise he loved being sprayed by it and was not afraid in the least. We’ve been rubbing him with all kinds of objects, such as towels, stuffed animals, blankets, cardboard, and plastic bags, and he quickly understands that there is nothing to fear.

Sunny’s just a great little horse with a lot of personality and a lot of potential, and Alli and I are both hoping that he can find a good home. Hopefully he will shine at the previews and inspire a potential adopter!


Written by Jenny Katz


February 2011

    You wouldn’t believe how handsome Sunny has gotten lately! He is shedding out quickly and is looking great. In March we moved the horses to their new home in the Red Barn on campus, and the move went very smoothly. Sunny was a little nervous because of all the commotion, but he got onto the trailer quickly and without a fuss. Getting off of the trailer at the new barn, he hopped very elegantly off the trailer and made everyone laugh. We put him in a stall with a big window so he can see everything that goes on outside and get used to different people and stimuli. For the first few days in their big new field, Sunny and the other horses just couldn’t stop galloping and playing and rolling around, after a long winter I think they were glad to stretch out their legs. Sunny has partnered up with Santana as his playmate, and they groom each other and play all the time.

    Sunny has also started working with his two Ag Field Day students, getting ready for the big show and learning all the commands he will need to succeed in it. He’s making quick progress and is a willing learner.

    Alli and I have continued to work with Jose in the round pen on perfecting Sunny’s skills. He is good at free lunging and ground driving. We’ve also continued introducing him to new objects. He is very timid around the umbrella but he is slowly learning not to be afraid of it. He also met the spray bottle recently, and to our surprise he loved being sprayed by it and was not afraid in the least. We’ve been rubbing him with all kinds of objects, such as towels, stuffed animals, blankets, cardboard, and plastic bags, and he quickly understands that there is nothing to fear.

    Sunny’s just a great little horse with a lot of personality and a lot of potential, and Alli and I are both hoping that he can find a good home. Hopefully he will shine at the previews and inspire a potential adopter!

Written by Jenny Katz

February 2011

    Sunny is really showing his personality and increasing confidence.  Although he is still young and hopefully will grow much more, his potential is becoming more and more apparent as I watch him develop.  One day this horse will make someone a great little friend.

    Jenny and I have continued to work with trainer Jose Romero-Bosch.  Both Sunny and I have been learning a lot from this dedicated individual.  With Jose’s help, Sunny and I have been able to establish a more trusting and successful relationship.  Jose has helped me develop a better understanding of my own body language, eye contact, and clarity in commands that has facilitated the good relationship Sunny and I maintain today. It is extremely rewarding when I see a horse that was terrified of me in the beginning, follow me around asking for scratches!

      In addition to Sunny’s progress in training, he has consistently been one of RU’s top scoring horses in our behavior tests! Sunny also seems to be enjoying the nutrition study because he never has leftovers and is now over 700 pounds.  During the evaluations Sunny does wonderfully with all commands, lifts his feet without any problems and is definitely the bravest horses per pound. We have been working on perfecting his turns and he just had his first lessons in ground driving.  I have also been working on stretches and desensitizing him to novel stimuli.  He is absorbing everything so well. I am so proud of him!  As a new student to horses, it has been extremely rewarding to work with such a willing and docile horse.

Written by Alli Sommerkorn

January 2011
   Sunny and the other horses have come in for the semester, and he has been making rapid progress. He no longer runs away from us in the field or shies away from contact; instead, he walks up slowly and calmly for a scratch and stands quietly while we attach the lead rope to bring him in. He is such a gentleman. He has also become much more affectionate.

   His new-found attentiveness has also made him a great learner. He has been working in the round-pen with Jose, mostly on joining up, lunging, responding to pressure, and being desensitized to human contact and different tools. Jose has a fun time working with Sunny, and he says that behind his cute teddy-bear exterior, Sunny has a lot more going on in his mind than we realize.
As he gets older and more confident, Sunny has also started to really enjoy chewing on things. His favorite chew toy is the end of the lead rope, but any piece of clothing or body part will do as well. We're hoping it's just a phase, and that he will outgrow it soon. We've been working on his aisle manners - being tied in the aisle, standing still, lifting his feet, not walking out of his stall if the door is open, etc - and Sunny usually seems very eager to please and try new things.

   Sunny has been participating in our feed trial on the effects of meal-feeding corn (and eventually oats) on excitability and trainability. This trial is not only important in order to help improve horse nutrition in general, but it also helps monitor Sunny's individual training and progress. The behavior tests involve basic commands, and Sunny has excelled at them all.

December 2010

    Sunny has really enjoyed his 24/7 winter turnout, especially because he has the thickest coat of all the horses. Being with his friends all day, like he was before he was captured, has made him  much more confident and happy, and he especially loves running around and playing with RU Levi and RU Koda in the snow. In addition, the daily check-ups by his human friends has only made him more affectionate and trusting of people. Next semester, we will continue working with him with our two trainers, especially on working in the round pen and on introducing him to novel stimuli. He will also be partaking in our research project on the effects of meal-feeding corn or oats on reactivity to stimuli and trainability, and we're excited to see how he will react.

Written by Jenny Katz

November 2010

    At first Sunny was very hesitant and timid in trusting us, but he is now beginning to trust me and especially to trust Jenny. I am working on keeping my body language and commands consistent and rewarding him after he does what I ask. Sunny is very compliant for all the commands that we have introduced to him. He is very gentle and polite. He recently completed his first round of behavioral tests for preliminary research work. We tested his reactivity to novel stimuli as well as responsiveness to basic commands. He did very well and scored high on all of his tests!
   
    Sunny had his first visit from the farrier last week, and he was one of the few horses who was brave enough that he didn't need any tranquilizer! He was very good for it and his feet look much better. He is successfully picking up his feet, leading, being tied in the stall, groomed all over, and walking over small obstacles. He is very brave and not much fazes him, but he does require more gentleness than some of the other horses when being approached as he tends to be a little timid around people. He is also filling out nicely and growing in a luxurious winter coat! As the winter progresses we will continue working on handling his feet and also trying to get him used to other people besides Jenny and me.

Written by Alli Sommerkorn and Jenny Katz

October 2010

    Sunny and his friends have been out in the paddocks together during the day for the last few weeks, and they seem to really enjoy their time outside. Sunny has especially taken to his stall neighbor, Annie Oakley, and follows her around everywhere. They are both distressed if they are separated.

    The vet came by to check Sunny, as he can sometimes be a bit slow and lethargic, and isn't eating as much as the other horses. We were glad to find out that his heart, lungs and all organ functions appear to be normal and that he has no intestinal parasites in his stool. Jose, one of the trainers, watched Sunny to see how he behaved with the other horses, for signs of any abnormality, but he exhibited perfectly normal herd behaviors. Alli and I were very happy that there were no problems!

    We think Sunny might be a Cayuse Indian Pony, which according to the Oklahoma State Animal Science department is a rare breed characterized by small stature, a blunt nose, a unique slope to the pastern, and high withers, developed by the Native Americans from Spanish Barb and other varieties. These ponies are traditionally extremely hardy and have great endurance, and are mild-mannered. They usually peak at 14 hands.1

    Progress with Sunny has been incremental - he goes through periods where he is very friendly and periods where he is a bit more withdrawn. He is absolutely wonderful to lead, rarely resisting pressure and eager to please. He is also learning how to pick up all four feet. He loves food rewards, and being scratched under his mane. Robin Rivello has continued to work with him and us to get him to trust us more. His practicum student, Lauren, has also put in many hours gentling him and getting him used to scratches!

Written by Jenny Katz

September 2010

    Sunny is by far the littlest and cutest mustang we have! He's a dark bay and very shy. We think he may have been taken away from his mother at too young of an age, and has been severely malnourished, so his progress, both physical and training-wise, has been slow.

    In the last two weeks that he’s been with us he’s already packing on the pounds though. He’s absolutely adorable, especially because he always has his tongue stuck out of his mouth about an inch. He also adores his salt block and has been busily working at it all day every day.  He’s not very inquisitive or friendly, but he’s got a very steady temperament and he doesn’t spook easily. He just requires gentleness and patience. The first time he let me touch him was extremely moving for me, especially seeing how much he liked it. Since then he’s been easy to work with. We started by scratching him all over (he was hesitant about his face at first), then curry-combing him all over. Robin Rivello, the president of the US Wild Horse and Burro Association, brought him into the round-pen for some gentling, and Dr. Ralston got a halter on him. He is responding very well to pressure. We’re going to focus our energy now on making him an expert at being led by a lead-rope so that we can finally put him out to pasture with his friends. Alli and I are both very excited to work with him!

Written by Jenny Katz





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