(Originally posted on our page 6/13/2017
What is it about mustangs that draws so many to feel connected to these magnificent creatures? There is likely a different answer for every person who is drawn to mustangs, but for me, it is a combination of a few traits and circumstances. Mustangs are survivors. They survive winter with little to eat, they survive predator attacks, they survive humans rounding them up and separating their family bands and thrusting them into the foreign human world. They are also incredibly adaptable and forgiving, while also being strong and protective at times. Mustangs are incredibly misrepresented and misunderstood. There are many misconceptions of mustangs that label them as not trainable, not trustworthy, not valuable, and not beautiful. These misrepresentations are often passed around by professionals in the horse world and repeated by many horse lovers. I cannot tell you the amount of times that a professional trainer or some other equine professional has told me that you can never fully trust a mustang. People often fear what they don’t understand or don’t know. It is for these reasons that I am drawn to mustangs. I relate to them, I feel a kindred connection to them, and I want to bring awareness to this magnificent breed of horse.
A few years ago, I became interested in mustangs and became actively involved in rescuing mustangs from the slaughter pipeline. I joined Save the Mustangs Network on Facebook and never looked back. This led to me personally rescuing several mustangs from killpens or auction, adopting an orphan mustang foal, and fostering and gentling several other orphan mustangs. You could say I have a thing for mustangs. The truth of the matter is, they call to me. They speak to me with stories in their soft, wise eyes. And they know me, even when I do not know myself. They are honest, sometimes brutally so. But, they are also fair and forgiving. They are all the things I admire and aspire to be as a human, yet they are horses.
Because I believe that mustangs have so much to teach us about ourselves, I have developed Mustangs MEND. The main principles of this program are Mindfulness, Empathy, Nurturing, and Dignity. I believe that through these core principles, humans and mustangs to learn one another and heal one another. This not only benefits humans who have suffered from trauma, but it also helps these magnificent mustangs who go through the program get that much closer to finding a permanent home where they see humans as partners and caring friends.
Mustangs MEND will acquire mustangs in need of gentling, either directly from the BLM or from local rescues and individuals. Human participants in the Mustangs MEND programs will be the ones gentling mustangs. Prior horse experience is not necessary as every participant will work closely with a mentor who is skilled in working with humans and gentling horses. The gentling program will be graduated, in that participants will start with the less challenging, less intimidating horses (typically foals and youngsters) and move on to the larger, more powerful mustangs after gaining significant experience. While I realize this program may sound absolutely pie-in-the-sky, when-pigs-fly wild, it is not unprecedented. The mustang prison programs teach inmates with no prior horse experience to gentle and train mustangs under saddle. I believe that the gentling process often requires a lot more “feel,” relationship, and connection. A person can often be better at accessing these abilities when they have no prior understanding of horse training.
Additionally, in order to generate some revenue for the organization, we will also have retreats and seminars for people who would like to practice mindfulness and self-introspection through horsemanship. I believe Mustangs MEND is a win-win for horses and humans and I can’t wait to show you what we have to offer!