Heath Weber brought us Dinosaur in southern Utah. On his first day with us, he singed off all his whiskers sniffing a roaring fire. He was hilarious, harmless, and had a personality that was even bigger than his extra-large head.
What C-Star lacked in height, he made up for in bulk and muscle. Sturdy and surefooted, he could be trusted to conquer the most treacherous terrain America had to offer. From day one, C-Star was affectionate toward humans and a quick learner.
Yes, I rode a horse named Stumbles across America. Contrary to his name, Stumbles proved to be a great saddle horse on the trail. With a no-nonsense attitude, he could be relied on to get from point A to point B, but not for a happy greeting in the morning. He approached each challenge very cautiously and methodically, always thinking things through.
More tank than horse, there was no obstacle that Tuff couldn’t handle. Even fully loaded with two hundred or more pounds of gear, Tuff had no problem busting through thick brush, toppling over trees, and hopping over large rocks.
Frisky was a great horse trained by legendary mustang trainer Wylene Wilson. After the ride, he was given to Jerry and Margaret Hodge in appreciation for all their support for Unbranded.
Chief (aka Grey Horse)
When we were picking out the mustangs, I was attracted to one horse in particular. The prison guard at the Kansas correctional facility told me he had been adopted but was brought back—a red flag for poor disposition. I adopted him anyway. I named Chief after my grandfather, Wesley Masters. He can be a little ornery sometimes, but you can’t help but love him. -Ben Masters
You could put anyone on Luke, strap thousands of dollars of camera equipment to his side, and even fly-fish off his back without a worry. After the ride, Luke was donated to the Mustang Heritage Foundation, where he was auctioned for $25,000 dollars to support mustang adoptions.
Spooky’s name was changed to Violet at the request of Kickstarter donors Lesley and Sherry Al Sharif from Bahrain. Spooky and Violet weren’t good names for a fast-pacing bulldozer of a gelding, so most of the time I call him Violent for the way he attacked the directions he received. He was my best horse and could’ve easily died in a preventable halter- related injury that took him out of the trip.
Bam-Bam was a linebacker powerhouse of a mustang. He jumped logs like a mule deer and attacked the trail with furiously quick hoof beats.
Heath Weber brought us Cricket in southern Utah. He passed away from natural causes near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was very sad to lose a member of the team but satisfying to know that he died in the wild where he belonged, not in a holding pen.
Django had a quick step to cover miles fast and a light mouth to get you there in style. He was the kind of horse you could rely on in any situation.
Just relaxing. Getting down the trail quickly was not a high priority. We often found JR rolling in fields of flowers.
Tamale was a no-nonsense, well-made mustang. He suffered a bowed tendon in Arizona that took him out of the trip, except for a few days in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. His injury flared in the Bob, and he was retired before reaching the Canadian line.
Thamer always said that Donquita was the third most famous donkey in the history of the world, behind the donkey that carried Jesus Christ and Eeyore. She was the only lady on the trip and shared mother status with executive producer Cindy Meehl. When horses strayed from the herd, Donquita would bray continuously until we were reunited. She was our guardian and would attack any unwelcome dogs, sheep, or intruders. She never let a bear into camp, and she stood diligently over the gear and food at night. Although Donquita was definitely a princess, her wild upbringing didn’t involve civilized table manners. She would eat anything—cornbread, trail mix, cardboard, plastic spoons—but understandably drew the line at our socks.
Val brought Ford down from Wyoming. He was the most herd-bound horse of the bunch, which made him a perfect pack horse.
Gill’s personality was that of a dog. Thamer was even trying to figure out a way to teach him to fetch in the hopes of his being a duck-hunting retriever after the trip.
Simmie was a great worker but wasn’t afraid to complain. He’d moan and groan in the morning when it came time to tack up but was one of the steadiest horses in the string.