By Raiza Giorgi

It took several months to get a herd of 10 miniature horses off a property in the Carpinteria backcountry and bring them to the Santa Ynez Valley, but now veterinarian and farrier Ingrid Wolff is seeing that they get the proper care and get adopted into loving homes.

“I was contacted by a client of mine that knew of the mini horses, and the owner, while he loved them, wasn’t able to take care of them and had let them roam free on his property for several years. His situation had changed and he simply wasn’t able to check on them routinely and needed help, so I helped,” Wolff said.

Ingrid Wolff gives a treat to Chief, the former dominant stallion.
Photo by Raiza Giorgi

A few of the horses needed medical attention, she said, and the property was so remote that she hired a friend to help her catch them and bring them to Santa Ynez.

As Wolff told the story of the horses, the remaining five of them roamed a green pasture at a boarding facility in Santa Ynez where horse trainer Ashley Salter operates a lesson business, iRide4You. Salter agreed to help halter break the horses and get them used to people so they could be adopted out.

The group included four stallions and six mares, and three of them were pregnant. Wolff gelded the stallions and had each of them vaccinated and micro-chipped.

“Their feet were all terrible, and it was a progress to get them ready,” Wolff said.

Trainer Ashley Salter coaxes the herd of miniature horses that were rescued from a property in the Carpinteria backcountry. She has prepared them for being around people.
Photo by Raiza Giorgi

Salter calmly walked near the group of horses and crouched down, holding her hand out. One curious horse sniffed the air and walked up to her, taking the treat and holding her head down for a pet of approval.

“I started with Nugget. I sat in her pen for three days and she didn’t engage me. She finally started to interact with me, playing a game of coming close and then backing away. On July 7, I caught her for the first time,” Salter said.

Salter’s lessons mainly revolve around teaching young kids how to be around horses and the beginnings of riding etiquette.

“Training a child in horse safety is like training a young horse in child safety. You have to teach about rules and respect, and it comes on both sides,” Salter laughed as one of the horses nudged her for another treat.

The horses have been adopted mostly by people in the valley, although a few have gone to Nipomo and back to another family in Carpinteria. Wolff and Salter have emphasized that the horses aren’t trained for riding but have that potential with a trainer.

Salter said she will miss them once they have all been adopted out, but one will remain on the property where she gives lessons.

“I love coming every morning and getting a whinny from the horses as they run to greet me,” she said.