The term "buyer’s remorse" took on a new meaning to Ruth and Donald Tartaglia as wranglers dragged their $190 wild mustang, bucking and squealing, out of its pen and into a nearby horse trailer.
"I was like, ‘What did I do? What am I, a fool or what?’ " said Ruth, who admits she knew nothing about horses when she made a rather unusual impulse purchase Feb. 28 at a Bureau of Land Management auction in Apache Junction.
The northern Pinal County couple didn’t own a stable. They didn’t have any saddles, bridles or brushes. Neither had any riding experience at all.
"I was like, ‘I hope you know what you’re getting into, because I don’t,’ " Donald said he told his wife, although he agreed to give horse ownership a try.
To their dismay, the Tartaglias soon found out that wild horses can take years to train, and that some never adjust to life in captivity.
What they didn’t know was that their recalcitrant mustang, Snickers, would soon become a gentle and beloved addition to the family.
At first, the 4-year-old horse stayed at the home of a helpful neighbor with wrangling experience to begin training and adjusting to life among people.
Meanwhile, the Tartaglias built a stable and bought everything Snickers would need in his new home.
Still, they didn’t know if they would ever be able to ride him, or how he would react to their children and pet dogs.
"When we first got him, everything scared him," Ruth said. But she visited Snickers every day while he trained, and a bond began to develop. Snickers was no longer agitated by her presence. He began to come willingly to her. Before long, Ruth was riding Snickers. He even seemed to like it.
"He’s such a willing horse," she said. "As long as you’re good to him, he’ll do anything you want." Now the Tartaglias no longer question their decision to buy a wild mustang. Snickers was a bargain after all.
"It’s just like this horse was meant to be my horse," Ruth said.