Gentling wild horses

Posted on Jan 14, 2015

I am still in Pike River working with the wild horses that were captured as part of the cull. Grandpa, Dad, Ty and I reached out to as many people as we could to let them know about these beautiful animals… and that they may be available for sale. Right now, we have a long list of people that are considering adopting them – willing to pay good money.

So I have struck a tentative deal with Matt Pincher, the only Rancher issued a permit to capture in the area, to let me gentle as many of the wild horses as possible… and to sell as many as I can to the highest bidders.

The only problem is… the sale is tomorrow morning.

I definitely have my work cut out. But with Grandpa, Dad and Ty here supporting me every step of the way – I’m hopeful we can make a lot of progress.

So, there are three basic ideas to keep in mind when trying to gentle a wild horse:

To begin, the horse needs to feel safe. It’s only natural if the horse is in "self preservation" mode at first, relying on his "flight or fight" instinct. But if he begins to feel secure and protected, he'll be less volatile and the gentling process will be safer for both the horse and the handler.

Then, the horse needs to start to bond with the handler. Bonding begins with communication, and it’s a two-way street. The handler needs to “listen” to the horse by watching his cues to understand what he’s trying to communicate – and not just focus on telling the horse what to do.

Finally, the horse instinctively needs a leader. The idea is to try to stimulate the animal’s natural curiosity by keeping his thinking side active – so he'll be less likely to panic or become violent – and more open to following your lead, more open to learn.

If the wild horse feels safe and the handler forges a bond with the animal – then the handler can begin to establish himself as the natural leader.

This takes time and patience.

And right now, even though I’m definitely short on time… it’s still important that I follow these steps. Because fostering security, bonding and leadership is the best way to produce a horse that is really willing to learn.

And it’s imperative that I gentle as many as I can. I truly believe their lives depend on it.