Richard Alaniz of Comanche Creek Mustang Ranch draws attention to the plight of feral horses.
Written by Zak Hansen / Photography by Steve Macintyre
Nestled at the base of the stunning Organ Mountains and bordered directly to the south by thousands of acres of Bureau of Land Management land, sits Comanche Creek Mustang Ranch. Ocotillo, Spanish dagger, creosote, mesquite, prickly pear, and barrel cacti dot the desert floor, each with their own centuries-old medicinal and spiritual properties.
Richard Alaniz, as they say, has worn many hats. He’s been a Vietnam combat veteran, a Hollywood stuntman, a published author and lecturer, a spiritual counselor, a shaman, a college grad with degrees in psychology and fine arts, a musician, a husband and father, a Punong Guro (principal master) of Balik Kali Silat martial arts—a mixture of Filipino and Indonesian Silats—a horse trainer, and a wild mustang advocate.
These days, though, it’s a cowboy hat fixed atop his head, as he busies himself at Comanche Creek Mustang Ranch.
Descended from the Pecos River People—a mixture of the Mexican, Spanish and Comanche cultures who established themselves along the Pecos River, from what is now Roswell on through Presidio, Fort Davis, Marfa and Redford, Texas—Richard spent over 40 years visiting the Mescalero Apache Reservation on a twice-yearly basis to study their cultural and spiritual practices.
In that time, Richard became close friends with many of the Apache families, and would join them in chasing, roping, and then breaking the wild mustangs, which they hand-picked for buyers on and off the reservation. Though small in scale, this helps to limit the growing wild horse population, forced to compete with local cattle for increasingly limited grazing resources.
Richard remembers the majestic beauty of these horses as they ran wild, finding something in their untamed nature resonated inside him. After retiring from the movie industry, in 2006 Richard returned to New Mexico intent on shedding light on the plight of wild, feral horses and to train those horses that might otherwise go to slaughter.
Nestled at the base of the stunning Organ Mountains and bordered directly to the south by thousands of acres of Bureau of Land Management land, sits Comanche Creek Mustang Ranch. Ocotillo, Spanish dagger, creosote, mesquite, prickly pear, and barrel cacti dot the desert floor, each with their own centuries-old medicinal and spiritual properties. At the ranch, Richard has set out to produce a mustang that is “not only beautiful, but also disease-resistant for ease of care, hardy in all elements, sure-footed and easy to mount,” he says. “Most of all, my idea was to help preserve the wild mustang, its history, and the old Western culture that comes with it.”
With his friend Todd Chico, a Mescalero Apache cowboy, Richard sought out a small herd of wild Apache mustangs from the White Tail area in the backcountry of the Apache reservation. Richard hand-picked a beautiful mare—soft eyes, full mane and in a Bay (dark brown with black mane and tail) color. After roping her and bringing her to her new home, that mare became Peach de Mescal. A suitable stallion for Peach de Mescal was found—Jack Daniels, a Spanish Barb originally from Mexico with a long, wavy mane and strong build—and soon, a foal was born.
This novel breed, which Richard dubbed the Mescal Spanish Barb Mustang, will serve as the foundation stallion for MSB Mustangs, now available for breeding.
“The first foal was Jake Spoon de Mescal, a stud colt who in a beautiful, dark Bay color with large, dark hooves, large soft eyes, a small head and a full, long, wavy mane and tail, is characteristic of the original Iberian Spanish horses,” Richard explains. A second pairing bore Elmira de Mescal, a 2014 Bay mare.
Richard’s primary goal for Jake Spoon is to “bring attention to the value of the Spanish Barb and other mustangs in order to bring people together on both sides of the aisle to help solve the issues of mostly feral horses.”
Like its proprietor, Comanche Creek Mustang Ranch is, just under its surface, bursting with energy. From the working ranch, Richard donates a full 90 percent of its organic egg and produce production to La Casa Inc. domestic violence shelter and the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission. Comanche Creek Ranch can also stand as an onsite location for film production, with ranch livestock including horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs, and snakes for Old West modern ranch-type productions.
Reenactors—Old West townspeople, saloon patrons and girls, merchants, cowboys and buckaroos, Mexican bandits and vaqueros, Apache warriors, and modern cowboys and cowgirls—can work their magic among a corral, teepee, period stagecoach and wagons, gun rigs, and more to come. The location is listed as “under construction” on the Film Las Cruces location database.
Given his silver-screen background, Richard also offers battle and fight choreography and horse stunts; for his bona fides, check out the 1998 Kris Kristofferson vehicle Two for Texas, for which Richard choreographed the 500-man battle scene, along with his work on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Crazy Horse, Holes, and Scorpion King to name a few. Richard also offers horse riding and stage combat clinics for local actors and actresses.
“Most of all, my idea was to help preserve the wild mustang, its history, and the old Western culture that comes with it.”
For more info, visit comanchecreekmustangs.com