I first heard of Jason Meduna several years ago when he started his pig farm here in Saunders County less than 10 miles from our place. He put up signs on the highway similar to those on the television show *M*A*S*H*, with arrows pointing every direction referencing pigs, swine, etc. It caught our eye and one day after church, we turned onto the gravel road at the signs and drove by his place. It was obviously an old farm that he refurbished. The place was cleaned up, the old buildings and the house painted, from what I recall, and a replicated wooden water tower was built. It was a cute, cute place! Although we found it curious we never saw a lot of pigs, having just restored our own place, we were impressed with what he had done to the place. The Lincoln Journal Star (I believe) did a story about him. I seem to remember there was a hint of family discord in the story, but can’t recall the reason.
Before long we started hearing about the mustangs he had acquired. Again, we took a trip by his farm. On the opposite side of the road, he had set up makeshift corrals made of tree trunks and branches – kind of an old west look. There were a lot of horses, but plenty of hay and water tanks. They looked well cared for. I heard he planned to train these mustangs and “sell them to acreage people”. Having friends who had been challenged with mustangs, we chuckled at his idea.
I was concerned with the number of horses I saw there and would occasionally drive by just to make sure they were being fed and was always glad too see that they were. It wasn’t long before I stumbled across his website. Not the same glossy website we all visited recently – if I recall it may have been a free web site, but it was my first glimpse of the shirtless trainer. I found this display a little odd or distasteful or a bit of both.
Once, when visiting a local tack store, I commented on a vintage black show saddle, complete with tapaderos and a typical narrow tree as was common when it was crafted. It had a sold sign on it. She said that some mustang guru bought the saddle and he planned to ride across the state to showcase his mustangs, using this antique saddle. There were fliers hung up in the shop advertising his mustangs and I recognized the name as our “neighbor”, Jason.
I can’t recall if he was representing himself as a trainer at that time or offering mustangs for sale. Later, there were rumors in the area about his “training” methods and concern for the horses he trained. I didn’t know of anyone who had sent a horse to him for training nor did I know anyone that bought a horse from him. It was all local gossip at the time. There were other stories, dark stories, unrelated to horses. Again, more whispers among the locals. The horse world is a small world in these parts, but we never crossed paths. He was one horse person I didn’t want to meet.
As quickly as he put up the pig farm and acquired his mustangs, he was gone. Wyoming, we heard. I drove by his farm. The makeshift corrals were no longer standing. No horses were in sight. We heard someone bought the property. And we never gave Jason Meduna any further thought until I saw the recent plea on Craig’s List regarding the “now famous” missing Rayu. And then Fugly’s first post shortly thereafter that things were amiss in Alliance, Nebraska.
Having never met Jason Meduna or knowing anyone that personally knows him or his ranch, I can only speculate like so many about who he is and why it happened. I’d like to think he started out sincere. Acquired a few cheap horses to have on his farm. Perhaps he saw it as an opportunity to make a dime or two – buy cheap, work your magic and sell to those “acreage people” who want to make their country dream come true. Around this time, the BLM was offering older horses for $25. Maybe he did become somewhat of a hoarder. I don’t know how he acquired the land in western Nebraska, but evidently he went there with a purpose. To keep expanding his herd.
The idea of a sanctuary for unwanted mustangs isn’t a bad one. Someone with money and a brain might be able to make something like this work. I won’t go into all the reasons why it didn’t work for him. Read one or two news articles and I think we can all figure it out. Those same news stories also reveal that there were offers to help when things started to go south and he was either too arrogant to believe that he needed help or in denial that a problem existed or just plain too stupid or lazy to do anything about the problem that he created. He certainly wasn’t the man for the job or a man of his word. His horses were suffering, his wife was working two jobs – what was Jason doing?
Jason planned to save 300 horses. Thanks to a team effort - both local and national - 192 were rescued from Jason. I don’t think any of us know what will happen from here. It’s not over yet.
Hay and feed-based wormer are urgently needed. Donations for hay are being collected by Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado. If you would like to contribute to the effort, Paypal firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have access to Paypal you can mail donations to: Front Range Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 307, Larkspur, CO 80118. Please notate on your check and/or Paypal donations that it is for "3-Strikes Mustangs". Any and all help with hay is greatly appreciated
The Nebraska Humane Society has also been involved with this effort. If you would like to donate locally, contact Kristi B at the Nebraska Humane Society by calling 402-444-7800 ext. 325. http://www.nehumanesociety.org/ .