Sherri Hart cherishes her long-term relationship - 33 years in October - with a sweet, old, lovable former wild Mustang
by: John Klicker, Sherri Hart, who works at Celebrate Me Home in Troutdale, rubs the head of her horse Montana at a Sandy farm on Monday, Aug. 21.

Montana doesn't know it, but Sherri Hart is two-timing him.

Sherri and Montana, a former mustang who once roamed the wilds of Utah, will have been together 33 years in October. He was 10, and she was 18, and she didn't know then if she wanted a horse that old.

'He's my boyfriend,' she coos, stroking his velvet nose and calling him 'my boy' and 'love.' Montana, whose age is calculated at 42 (that's 92 in human years) just stands there and takes it for granted. He's been loved a lot of years.

Six months ago, Sherri met somebody and moved from Sandy to Portland. Now she has two boyfriends, she says, right in front of her horse. It's OK, she says, because Montana doesn't hear very well, so he doesn't know about the other guy.

Ignorance is bliss and so long as he gets his alfalfa and greens - 'He eats top of the line,' she says - Montana is a contented horse. Sherri, who has worked at Celebrate Me Home in Troutdale for eight years, goes out to his pasture every day for a visit.

A horse is a commitment. Food and board, maybe $400 a month, Sherri estimates. But worth every penny.

'I never dreamed he'd live this long, never, never.' Three years ago she had to put down another horse that she had for a long time, and the memory is still painful. Every day with Montana is a plus, no matter how much Purina Senior Equine costs.

Montana, she says, is a 'push-button' horse; he'll do anything you ask. People can walk under him, behind him, sit on him; he doesn't care. Sherri rode him for a long time, but now he's just a big pet.

He has known fame of sorts. He was captured by Dick Peterson of the band The Kingsmen. Peterson is most famous for writing 'Louie Louie,' but for a time, Peterson caught wild horses in Utah and captured Montana as a wild mustang, Hart said.

'They branded him and tied him to a pole for three days to break him,' Hart says. 'And he lived in Huntington Beach (California) for a while and somebody famous rode him, some famous star, but I don't remember the name.'

Being a wild mustang, no one knows for sure when Montana was born, but he had his 10-year teeth when Sherri got him. When she moved to Portland recently, she arranged to board him in his same old pasture with his friends, the cows, and some mares across the way, who still cause Montana's head to go up.

'He's my guy,' she says. 'I'd like to think he misses me, but I don't know.'

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