Age: 1998 / Breed: Grullo Mustang / Gender: Gelding / Resident since: 2009

“Grullo”: Grullo is a color of horses in the dun family, characterized by tan-gray or mouse-colored hairs on the body, often with shoulder and dorsal stripes and black barring on the lower legs. The word “grullo” originates from the Spanish word “grulla”, which refers to a slate-gray crane. The appearance of grullo color among domestic horse breeds raises interesting questions about the Tarpan, a relative of the domestic horse that became extinct in the 19th Century, which appears to have had dun or grullo coloration. The Tarpan has been considered a true wild horse, an undomesticated relative or ancestor of the domestic horse.

Paco was captured by the BLM in Idaho’s Owyhee desert in 2000 at the approximate age of two. An alleged descendant of Spanish Mustangs, he was first adopted by cattlemen and sold a year later with the name “Not Worth 2 Cents”. For the next nine years, he was sold again and again, and then given away to an abusive cowboy. When it was decided he could not be easily trained, his owner adopted the use of a 2×4 piece of lumber as a means of submission. Beaten, starved, and forgotten, he was rescued by IHR in 2009.

Paco was incredibly thin and even more nervous, literally shaking in fear – his fight or flight instinct on alert at every moment. He had long untrimmed hooves, a matted mane and tail, and numerous scars from years of beatings. He was untrusting, wouldn’t accept a halter, and took months to gain enough confidence to join up with the rest of the IHR herd.

After receiving veterinary care and extensive training, Paco is now a healthy weight, will allow a halter, and has become a member of the herd. He can be lunged and approached with treats or feed and is accepting of blankets and brushes along his back. Paco’s successes are testament to the power of rehabilitation.

Despite the challenges he has overcome, he remains cautious and untrusting, a reminder of the lasting damage humans have the ability to inflict.