Echo River Ranch

Beer Barrel
1972 - sold in 1987

This horse was the first horse ever trained by the ranch. He was a healthy 15 year old horse who never forgot his wild roots. He took us a long way in developing our bond with horses.

missing pictures

Statistics - A Description of Bippers

Beer Barrel Beer Barrel went by the barn name "Bippers". He was a wild mustang gelding and per his BLM neck brand, he was born in 1972. He was about 15 hands (or 60 inches) tall at the withers. Bippers was a gorgeous piece of horse flesh. He was built like a horse of morgan breeding, of course being a wild mustang, his bloodlines could have been from any breed.

Horse Statistics At A Glance Bippers body was a rich red bay color with a fabulously full mane and tail that were black. He had a little white star on his forehead, lots of excess hair on his fetlocks like feathers of a draft horse, and a BLM freeze brand hidden on his neck under his mane.



The Beginning - How We Obtained Bippers

Beer Barrel            Picking Up A Wild Horse

In 1978, ranch ownership was horseless when they decided to go look at the wild mustangs offered up for adoption by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). A borrowed truck, a rented stock trailer, and an adventure down some back roads outside of Spanaway, WA. We found a large pen full of horses panicking at the sight of humans. A single bold horse stood in the center and stared us down.

He had been captured in the area of Burns, OR, his BLM brand said that he was about six years old, and he had already been gelded only a few weeks earlier. Now he was our responsibility and if we cared for him, we could earn legal ownership in a year.

The trailer was opened and backed to the end of a shoot. We watched as some men positioned themselves along the shoot. Then the men started the wild horses running in a circle, everyone watching the horse that we had selected. About the third loop, a gate opened right in front of him. It happened so fast that he was in the shoot before he knew it. The men yelled and slapped his behind as he ran past and he shot right into the trailer. The door was slammed and locked before he had time to turn and dash back out. He spun in the trailer, unsuccessfully searching for an exit.



Beer Barrel            The First Day with a Wild Horse

Because this was our first experience with a wild mustang, one of the men shared some great advice. He suggested that we put the horse in a small enclosure and withhold access to food and water (temporarily of course) unless he was willing to take it from our hands.

We released Bippers into an enclosed stall inside an old cattle barn. He was wide eyed, so we left him alone for a bit. After a couple of hours, we carefully stepped into the stall with our arms wrapped around a bucket of water. He didn’t hesitate, he plunged his nose into the water and drank his fill. Then he slowly smelled the arms holding the bucket, moistening them with the water from his lips. We were not sure who was more scared, him or us. Then he backed himself into a corner of the stall and glared at us.

There was no aggressive behavior. Next we brought in a flake of hay. He carefully accepted each handful, but promptly backed himself back into his corner to chew and eat it. We talked to him the whole time and at some point started calling him Bippers. He never took his eyes off us.



Beer Barrel            First Week with a Wild Horse

The next morning, Bippers drank and stood eating the hay offered to him without backing away. By the third day, he was greeted our noises entering the barn with friendly nickers. It all seemed too easy.

When we started tempting him with a little grain, we were able to pet him, brush him, and even put on a halter. We were soon leaving the water and hay in the stall for him to eat at his convenience.

When he got nervous or when we made too fast of a move, Bippers would shoot to his corner with his rear end towards us. All we had to do was quietly reach out and gently touch him; he would immediately turn and face us. He wanted so badly to trust us, or maybe it was the grain in our hand.

We attached a lead rope to his halter and easily pulled and lead him around the large stall. But the first time we opened the door that accessed a four acre pasture, Bippers shot out like a bullet, taking the lead rope with him. We wondered if we would ever touch him again, as the pasture grass was many inches high. Fortunately, he had a sweet tooth, because when he heard the grain bucket in his stall, he came right back in.



Horse Tails - Funny Things & Stories About Bippers

Beer Barrel Bippers was always a wild horse when he was free. But once he was touched, he would give himself as calm and tame as any non-mustang horse. He was soon under saddle and being ridden in the pasture and a few nearby trails.

As life happens, we had to move. We didn’t own a horse trailer, so we practiced leading Bippers between a couple of boards. Then we rented a trailer for the move and placed the boards in the door way of the trailer and he lead right in. Only when we got to where we were going, he wouldn’t get out of the trailer. We put ropes across his chest and it took four men (two on each rope) to pull him out. Once we got our own trailer, unloading got much easier.

Bippers was the first horse that we rode in distance riding known as Washington State Competitive Trail Rides (CTRs). He was extremely sure footed and traveled the trails alert to everything. He was respectful of the judges and placed well for several years. He was also ridden in the high country out of Cowlitz (White Pass area) and DeRoux (Cle Elum area) Trailheads. He helped develop and build trails out of a temporary ranch site near Bucoda were we sponsored many CTRs and Competitive Mounted Orienteering rides (CMOs).

As we began to acquire more horses, Bippers was obviously the protector. And when Echo was born, he acted the proud pappa (though he was not). As our herd grew, he began to keep the other horses from us; he would chase them away if they attempt to approach us. It was easier to keep him in a separate area, which was inconvenient, but it was not fair to him either. Eventually we made the decision to find him another home.