This project has been put on hold long term. We tried Kickstarter campaigns and such but it just wasn’t successful, and the time to market such an idea wasn’t feasible for me. So if you want the gist of my basic initial idea, keep reading below.
In light of how things have evolved over the years, I have become the project myself. This little horse has molded and shaped me in many ways. I bought him in the hopes that he would be therapeutic for others but in the end, he was therapeutic for me.
The Wild Horse Project is in the process of forming. The Project’s focus is to utilize BLM horses for therapeutic purposes. Studies have shown that mustangs can have a great impact on humans that choose to work with them. The BLM started allowing inmates to work with wild horses and recorded amazing changes. I believe, strongly, that BLM mustangs can be willingly used for therapeutic horseback riding and Equine Assisted Therapy. The first mustang I’ve worked with closely, Cello, has proven this to me without a doubt. In our first year (starting 2013) we hope to select, train, and introduce 2-4 horses to therapeutic programs.
Our second mission is to host horsemanship clinics to raise funds and help educate riders and trainers on humane, communication based (not force-based) interactions with their equine partners. Living in the mountains can create isolation problems, and the cost of living makes paying a trainer extremely expensive. By bringing in trainers for short periods of time (on average 3 day clinics) we hope to make equine education affordable and accessible to more.
Our third mission is to supply arena time at our local arena to therapeutic programs that wish to utilize our county’s resources. Indoor arenas are few and far between in the Vail Valley, and we are famous for our snowfall. This puts many therapeutic horsemen and women on hold during inclement weather. We want instructors able to teach, and riders able to ride, at all times of the year.
Our fourth mission is to distribute our excess funds (if there are ever any) to therapeutic programs in need, or to therapeutic riders with financial constraints. Instructors need pay, horses need hay, and trucks to get to and from arenas and trails; many of the riders have medical conditions that make budgeting for lessons hard. Again, with the cost of living in the mountains, these are very real concerns that restrict programs and the potential for growth. We hope to make the cash flow a little stronger with financial contributions.
Why mustangs, you ask? Mustangs are considered feral horses and live off government land. Like any animal, their numbers and needs have to be managed. They are rapidly reproducing, and not enough mustangs are finding permanent homes on ranches and in stables. They are in danger or running our of food and land, which is prompting many legistlators to consider opening slaughter houses.
Contributing to the problem is general horseperson’s view that mustangs are “scrub ponies.” They are unwilling to consider adopting a wild horse, and choose instead to breed, import, or purchase a domesticated horse. Events like the Mustang Makeover are showcasing how great these horses can be and attempting to turn that tide of opinion. Many mustangs are adopted and “trained” by unqualified people, which has contributed to a widely acknowledged bad reputation. Between our program and clinics we hope to change that slowly but surely.
There are some who adamently argue that wild horses should stay wild, but should they if they are in danger of slaughter or starvation? This is not true for all herds, but as a whole it is presenting the BLM with a problem that is leading to consideration of extreme actions (such as slaughter.)
Mustangs can be trained with holisitic, communication based methods that do not involve force or fear. When given the option, they can (and most often do) choose to see humans as part of their herd and willingly work together. Most of the trainers at the Mustang Makeover’s showcase this bond and training style.
As the saying goes, anyone can MAKE a horse do something, but not everyone can make a horse WANT to do something. The Wild Horse Project will only partner with trainers well versed in making the horse WANT to work with us!