KBR Wild Horse and Burro News

Living the book that they will publish

Part Two

The Lucky Horse Corrals

Willy and Torsten went over to view the horses at the Lucky Horse Corrals where orphan foals found on the range are cared for and where mature horses rounded up by the state are held for adoption. They wanted to see how some of the "graduates" from the corrals were doing. As we had now come to expect, they didn't just stand outside the fence to shoot photos and interview Shirley.

Finding that great itchy spot.
Rio checking Willy's notes.

Gentling a wild horse

Willy and Torsten wanted to have a sense of what was involved in gentling and training a wild horse. We asked them if they wanted to try gentling one, with appropriate coaching, of course. They thought it would be a great idea.

We picked out Rusty, a 7 year old Virginia Range gelding, from the group of horses at the Lucky Horse Corrals. Rusty is one of several horses rescued from the state corrals by Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue that are being temporarily cared for in LRTC's Lucky Horse Project. Rusty was chosen from the group of wild horses simply because he was photogenic. It turned out that he had the perfect temperament for this project.

We should have named Rusty "Cool Hand Luke" because he turned out to be level headed and took almost everything in stride. While the coach and students had to do things correctly in order to make progress, Rusty didn't overreact to small mistakes. He also seemed to think about what was happening rather than blindly reacting, and he would remember everything he was taught from one day to the next.

The first day (late Tuesday afternoon) was spent making contact with Rusty with a bamboo pole, scratching him, and ultimately making hand contact.

On day two (Wednesday) Willy, Torsten and Rusty learned about the sliding neck loop and the quick halter. Rusty learned to give to light pressure right away so the quick halter was replaced by a regular halter and lead rope, and within a few minutes Rusty was leading well, including going places outside of his pen. So long as Willy and Torsten stayed light on the line, so did Rusty, and the horse did amazing things for a horse that had been worked with for less than five hours.

Learning the sliding neck loop.
Giving to pressure in the quick halter.
Willy leading Rusty.
Walking over the log star.
We ended the session getting Rusty used to having his feet held, which he did so long as he didn't sense that we were trying to "trap" his feet.
Willy picking up a front hoof.
Nice job, Rusty.

Continue to Part Three

Return to Part One

Note: These photos may make gentling a wild horse look easy. Each success followed careful
work in which the horse was continuously evaluated and his willingness to comply was developed.

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