A topic I will explore in this post comes up in the movie Running Wild. This movie is about a woman who is threatened to have her family's ranch taken away because of unpaid debts. When she finds a herd of starving wild Mustangs on her land, she decides to work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and open her ranch to have convicts come and care for and tame the Mustangs to make them suitable for adoption.
A big problem the BLM faces with wild horses is there is not enough grazing land to sustain large populations. With the lack of predators, horse herds can easily double in size within a few years. The BLM set up a horse adoption program so private citizens could take in these horses, but many people are not interested in adopting unbroken horses. The BLM did not have the resources to hire multiple trainers, so they came up with a solution to have groups of prison inmates train the horses under the guidance of a professional horse trainer. This program is formally called the Wild Horse Inmate Program (Whip.)
The prison inmates are from medium to low security prisons, and sign-up to volunteer to work with the horses. They are brought out to a ranch each day, and they learn to feed, water, and care for the horses. They first have classroom training to learn about horse behaviors and training methods, and then they are put to work. Over the months, the convicts learn patience, gentleness, and compassion to earn the the horses' trust and make them suitable to ride. The program has become very successful in helping to find these horses homes and also helps the inmates as well. The inmates learn life lessons and social skills that they may not have learned before going to prison. Some of the prisoners have gone on to become farriers or work on horse farms after their release.
Here is a great video and article showing real prisoners working with the wild horses. This quote from one of the men really grabbed my heart:
"Learning how to love that horse; I did not not know how to love. That was a big thing for me, too. I did not know what love was."
VIDEO: Rehabilitation Program Pairs Prisoners with Wild Horses
Here are some interesting statistics provided by the BLM.
- 3,735 horses were removed from public lands to control herd populations.
- 2,905 horses were adopted out to private owners
- 1,430 horses were trained by non-profit groups, volunteers, and federal and state prisoners.
I am Amy. I love movies, TV, and horses. I grew up with horses and taught kids how to ride during my summer breaks from school. Now I am a country girl living in a city hoping to someday move back into a rural area and own a horse again.