A long journey home

She bundled up to brave the rain and sparse winds before she exited the 12-acre Durhamville home her husband built only two years ago. The woman, Stacy Gutheinz, greeted her guests and led them to the barn near the house. She called out, "Come on guys," as she walked to the barn. "I know they're back there," she said. "They'll come over here in a minute."

Sure enough, as Gutheinz stood inside the barn looking out, into the pasture, three horses emerged together. Onion, 9, Ice, 10, came into view along with Cowboy, 4, a wild mustang she adopted about 10 months ago through an online adoption-auction.

Gutheinz led all three into their stalls for feeding. Even though it was dinner time, Onion, Ice and Cowboy were more than willing to spoil their supper by investigating the treats Gutheinz hid in her jacket pocket, something they know all too well, she said.

After she got each horse some feed for the evening, she walked out to the separate stable in the pasture. This stall is where the newest addition to the family had been staying since his Oct. 11 arrival to the Gutheinz home.

An ashy, gray and black yearling mustang peaked his head out of the enclosure when he heard Gutheinz's voice call him, "Smoke, come on out, Smoke."

She entered the open area with a large, round bowl filled with grain while Smoke came out of the stable and approached his new owner with ease. Like her last experience with Cowboy, Gutheinz said she "saw something in Smoke's eyes."

She couldn't wait to make the long trip to Ewing, Ill., to pick up Smoke, who had already traveled by trailer from Oregon to Colorado, and then finally to Illinois where the Gutheinzs first met him.

"It's the face, their eyes," she said. "They're wild but they don't want to hurt anyone."

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