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"Of Mustangs and Men"

Canon City Colorado,  has the largest short-term mustang holding and training facility in the USA.   Providing wholesome and stimulating work for minimum security prisoners, its 'Wild Horse Inmate Program 'has been rehabilitating both men and mustangs for the last 25 years.  Through WHIP, prison inmates are taught to select, halter break and train wild horses for use as youth, handicapped or therapy program mounts. Noteworthy too, is the fact that other states such as Arizona and Wyoming have their own WHIP programs.


Mustangs, once regarded as a nuisance by many ranchers who feel they compete with their cattle for grazing, are being transformed by the WHIP program and others like it. The United States border Patrol has found the Mustang to be the best breed choice for patroling vast areas along the southern border that would be virtually impossible to access with motor vehicles. The tough and sure-footed Mustang is very much at home in this terrain, and can be ridden all day, every day. Then too, animals that might otherwise face slaughter as dog food in an effort to control the feral horse population, are more apt to be adopted by private horseowners once they are gentled and trained as riding mounts.


For many of these men, this is not a "second chance", but in reality a "first" chance ... a chance to develop  skills and a work ethic that can be put to use outside the prison walls.  Working with horses does much to help with anger management, since training a horse requires patience and understanding; something many inmates had in short supply before entering the program. Working with these beautiful wild creatures and connecting with them to build trust often helps these sometimes hardened men to explore a softer side of themselves.  Self respect often results from knowing they've put in a hard day's work and actually accomplished something; feeling they've made a positive difference in both the animal's life and in being able to give back to the community.


....for more about horses and prison rehabilitation...  







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