Professional  kennel huntsman Ryan Beer covers Mission Valley Hunt's (KS) wide-ranging country on his mustang, Mike. From wooded territory near Stilwell to open cropland and pasture at Flint Hills, the tough grey gelding - originally captured in South Dakota - tackles all obstacles with reliable sure-footedness and stamina. Beer shared the happy Christmas story of how Mike came to be his staff mount.

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Beer and Mike, left, whipping-in at Mission Valley. Photo by Leslie Henry Owen.

We first came by this horse when we were hunting in the Flint Hills, which is two hours from our home country. He was ridden by a guest horse trainer. It was his first foxhunt ever! One of our Masters, Melanie Martin, bought him that day. Soon after Mike was purchased, I started riding him every now and then, and quickly fell in love with the horse.

At the time, I only had one hunt horse so I would ask to ride Mike frequently. He has such a great mind! But being a mustang he can be stubborn at times - usually until he realizes what you are asking of him. Once he understands, he gladly does what you ask. Nearly 100% of the time I am whipping-in on him, as I am our kennel huntsman. Most days I am sure he knows my job better than I do.

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Beer and his mustang head out. Photo by Mavy Jean Photography.

He is as sure-footed as any horse I have ridden. He likes to fly over fences and chase hounds through the hunt country. But when not hunting, he is also a great trail horse. His mustang freeze brand is not very legible, but we do know he is ten years old and was rounded up in South Dakota. He also has a small background in dressage.

Last Christmas, all of our Masters got together and gave Mike to me! BEST PRESENT EVER! I am so grateful for their generous gift of this horse, who helps me do my job keeping up with hounds.

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