Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tico and Timo

Imagine for moment a young boy sleeping. The boy can only sleep once complete exhaustion has taken over the fear, loneliness, pain and survival instinct that only an abused child knows. As the boy sleeps he begins to dream. The dream is a retreat for the mind. 

Out across the sky an angel is on his way, flying through the night sky with beauty and grace. The boy is gently awakened to the sound of a nicker. The angel is a bay horse with a five point star on his forehead.  The boy carefully eases onto the winged horse’s back. The winged horse whinnies softly as if to say are you ready to go?, and they are off into the night soaring across the sky; climbing higher and higher-far away from the house that is not a home.

The boy has this same recurring dream over and over for years to come. His love for horses grew right along with him. At age 15, the boy, now a young man, leaves home with a broken jaw and two stab wounds vowing never to return again. The young man’s name is Tim Harvey.

In 2001 Harvey adopted two mares and one stallion from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Sulphur Springs Herd located in Utah. The horses were shipped to a BLM holding facility in Tennessee. Tim had already paid for his horses and was getting ready to head home when Kathy Malloy stopped Tim and asked him to come and look at a young stallion. The yearling had been adopted by a family who changed their minds and didn’t want him. 

The two year old was in a paddock all alone and, as Harvey rounded the corner, he came face to face with the exact horse he had dreamed of as a child, a beautiful blood bay with a five point star on his forehead. This surreal horse stopped Tim dead in his tracks, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The yearling, Tico, was loaded up with other the mustangs heading for their new home in New Hampshire.

 Image provided by Tim Harvey

Tico was used as a stallion until he was six years old and sired many babies. Tico was gelded and Tim worked with Tico extensively. Tico was truly afraid and wanted nothing to do with people. Harvey understood fear and was ok with Tico taking his time.

In September 2005 Tim and Tico started working with Mark Rashid. The two men became fast friends and maintain a close relationship to this day. Tim and Tico went to Florida the following winter in February to work further with Mark. Harvey signed up for a series of three different, three-day clinics.

Image provided by Tim Harvey

Rashid’s book “A Life with Horses: The Spirit of the Work,” recounts the first time he met Tico and some of the progress Tim and Tico made together. 

Tim and Tico continued to work together for co-existence. Tim took Tico trail riding on a regular basis. Tico was even in a hometown parade on the fourth of July. 

“Tico’s training advanced nicely” Tim states, “when suddenly Tico starting having blow-ups.”  Tico just never quite settled into his domestic life style in spite of the bond he shared with Tim. Tim shared with me that he felt Tico’s spirit was fading, he could see it in Tico’s eyes and made the decision to let Tico go.

Image provided by Tim Harvey

In May of 2010 Tico came to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Tico has been returned to the wild to live out his days, protected and free from any possibility of being rounded up again.

Mark Rashid stopped by the sanctuary to see Tico. I took him up to Tico's pasture. Mark said Tico looked like a completely different horse, so relaxed rather than muscles tensed, with his head held high and eyes wide. He was happy to see Tico looking so good.

Mark has completed his first novel “Out of the Wild” in which Tico is the fictional character. Mark also shared with me that he has another book in the works that will have a chapter about Tim and Tico.

Tico has a beautiful herd of 14 Spanish mares.

There is a new baby from a mare that came in pregnant. On the morning this image was taken I witnessed Tico gently nudging the new baby colt along with the rest of his mares. It was so amazing and beautiful. Tico has taken on the role of proud papa so naturally and yet he has never had a baby in a herd setting before.

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