EXETER TWP. — The last time 84-year-old Adella Yevich of West Wyoming rode a horse was over 60 years ago with friends through trails “somewhere in Hanover,” she said.
On July 24, Yevich was back in the saddle again, this time, on a wild mustang named “Little Toy Gun,” at a meet-and-greet at SSR Quarter Horse Breeding and Training in the Harding section of Exeter Township.
The event was a way to introduce the mare, who as recently as April, was running wild through open lands near Twin Peaks, California.
“I had problems putting my foot over,” said Yevich, who had a hip replacement two years ago. “But otherwise, I had no problem at all.”
Little Toy Gun is one of thousands of horses the Bureau of Land Management has removed from ranges in the American West since 2007 as away to protect natural resources and ensure herd health. The 4-year-old mare was transported from California with dozens of other horses to Massachusetts to eventually be adopted.
On April 15, the mustang was selected at random to be paired with trainer Kendall Jackloski, 26, who owns SSR with her mother, Toni. Jackloski has been preparing Little Toy Gun to compete in the “Extreme Mustang Makeover” next month in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
Jackloski said the horse has come a long way since she first met her. “She was really thirsty and crazy,” she said. “She rocked my trailer all the way back from Massachusetts. When she came here, she reared all the way back and got stuck under the metal piping under her pen.”
As people of all ages and abilities lined up to ride her, the now gentle mustang with a long, braided, black mane and a shiny cocoa coat, obliged as she carefully walked around the corral.
“It was great,” Rose Frati, 62, of Wilkes-Barre, said of her ride.
Frati said it’s been a long time since she rode a horse, and getting back in the saddle was on her bucket list.
“It was comfortable,” Frati said. “She’s a good horse, and seems gentle, but I’m sure she still has a wild streak, as with all animals.”
At the Extreme Mustang Makeover, Jackloski will compete with about 30 other trainers who received the mustangs in April. “I’ve been showing her and she’s doing really well,” she said. “I think the time I put in will pay off.”
Jackloski, who said she fell in love with Little Toy Gun the day she met her, will have the chance to buy her at an auction immediately following the competition. Sunday’s event and others held in recent weeks helped raise money so Jackloski will have a chance to keep her mare. Jackloski said she’s heard the horses usually go for around $5,000.
“I’m going to have to be medicated if I can’t bring her home,” she said.
Jackloski’s students, Mikayla Worlinksy, 18, of Swoyersville, and Madison Riley, 15, of Dallas, guided Little Toy Gun around the corral.
“She is a completely different horse now,” said Riley. “When she first came, she was very hairy and we had to cut a lot of hair off of her.”
Worlinsky said everyone has become attached to the horse.
“I just hope she gets her back,” she said. “We’ll all be crying if she doesn’t come home with her.”
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at email@example.com.