LRTC Wild Horse Mentors'
Part Three

Horse & human regarding each other
It's all about the horses (and burros)...

The workshop is ultimately about animals. Thousands of excess wild horses and burros have to be removed from public lands in order to maintain ecological balance. Since healthy ranges produce healthy animals, maintaining appropriate horse and burro populations is not only beneficial to their environments and the native animals that share those environments, but it is beneficial to the horses and burros left on the range.

The focus of the workshops is to provide for a safe and humane transition for those animals that have to be brought from their "natural" environment. The Wild Horse Mentoring project is designed to provide assistance to the hundreds of wild horse and burro adopters. The Wild Horse Workshop provides supervised, direct "hands-on" experience for the volunteer mentors.

Make no mistake about it. These animals are wild when they arrive at the workshop.

Settling in
A couple of jennets grooming each other
"I dunno Harry.
Think we can do this?"
"It's not so bad."
Some interesting markings
Some of the holding pens
Taking a snooze
A nice burro
"Room service!"
Up close and personal
The horse joins the parade
It's all about the people...

It's the volunteers who make the whole concept work of providing support for wild horse and burro adopters and ensuring that the animals are well taken care of. Without these volunteers who participate in so many functional areas in so many regions, we would have no program. Thanks to you all who work to help wild horses and burros, either in your region or in your own back yard.

Here are many of the 2003 workshop participants
(At least the ones we could get out of the pens long enough to snap a photo!)

No Excuses!

We don't accept excuses that it's too windy or it's too noisy (etc.) to gentle or train horses and burros. These are wild animals brought into a fairly dark and noisy indoor arena, with work going on in ten pens simultaneously and with animals being moved in and out through the adjacent alleys. With the exception of one horse that slipped and suffered a mild strain while running up the alley, all these animals got worked without injury to a single horse or participant, which is the historical safety record for this program.

Thinking Outside the Box

One of the primary objectives in gentling wild horses is to establish from the very beginning a baseline behavior pattern where the horse engages his curiosity rather than his self defenses. Curiosity fuels learning. Stress (fear, anxiety) suppressed learning. If we can encourage the horse to interact and learn from us he will usually be easy to work with.

In this game we let the horse discover us. When he uses his curiosity while free from the interference of fear, he can quickly get accustomed to our presence.

A stud visiting the poker game
One of the "games" we'll often play is called the "poker game." We simply hold a poker game in the pen with a wild horse and let him interact with us. We avoid directing our focus at the horse so his survival instincts won't be stimulated. (We humans are, after all, a predator species.) Once the horse is comfortable being around us and his focus is directed using basic clicker training, he will often be comfortable enough that he will let us halter him without our leaving our chairs.

Click Here to view more images of the poker game

Click Here to view a video of the poker game

How tame can these guys get in less than a week?
Frank Bell and a "wild one."
Pretty relaxed with Frank around
(Don't try this at home. Individual horses will vary)

Wild Horse Predators
Cougars, bears and wolves can take down wild horses, but as a practical matter only the cougar is present where wild horses range and only a few out of hundreds of herds are subject to predation by cougars.

Continue to Part Four

Return to Part Two

Wild Horse Workshop Objectives

What is a mentor?

Check out the Workshop Sponsors

Album of Wild Horse Workshops

Return to LRTC Wild Horse Mentors

Return to KBR World of Wild Horses & Burros

Go To KBR Horse Net